Film Dispatch from the Talents Campus: From problem solver to producer

Talent Campus Gempar dan Wigoyo
© Goethe-Institut Indonesien/Veronika Kusumaryati

In one corner of Postdamer Platz, I sat with Batara Gempar, Indonesian young cinematographer and Suryo Wiyogo, producer to talk about their experience at the Berlinale Talent Campus. 

A cinematographer as a problem solver

I met Batara Goempar in 2006 when both of us attended the Jakarta Arts Institute (Institut Kesenian Jakarta). He studied cinematography while I was at the cinema studies program. When I started curating short films, Batara has worked with several directors. “I started working in the film industry through Garin Nugroho’s Opera Jawa.” Right after that, he quickly rose as one of the most talented young cinematographers in the country.

“Cinema as an art form is truly appreciated here in Germany. Even for a profession like a director of photography (DOP), people do really notice. Back in our country, a DOP is nothing. People consider them simply as arrogant people, you know. But here, I don’t know, people really appreciate us.”

So what are you doing here, I asked. “I have a chance to meet several well-known DOP. It amazed me. I am doing networking too. How as a DOP, we network? For me, networking is being able to talk to people. Like…when you chat and think that this person is an interesting person to work with. We also have several technical classes. This year we focus on pre-visualization. I learned a lot from the session “The Survival Guide to Digital Workflows”. Roy Andersson and cinematographer Gergely Pálos discussed Andersson’s film A Pigeon Sat on A Branch Reflecting on Existence extensively.”  He continues, “Being a cinematographer is being a problem solver. That’s what I learned. For a cinematographer, well, for all filmmakers, a script is a problem. Our task is to solve it.”

Film Festival as an industry and “school”

“I think the most interesting thing in the Talents is not the session itself, but in the chance to build networks with people,” says Suryo Wiyogo, cofounder of Hide Project Films from Yogyakarta. Suryo Wiyogo entered the Indonesian film scene through film festivals. That’s how he got to know his working partner in Hide Project, director Ismail Basbeth (the 2012 Berlinale Talent). “Basbeth encouraged me to apply for the Berlinale Talents.”

In Yogyakarta, most of his filmmaker friends do not attend any film school. They learn filmmaking from communities, meeting film people here and there, and from film festivals. “We learn from that. Making film is a sort of training. It is an everyday practice but we don’t have a strong theoretical basis. That’s why we go to a film festival. For Basbeth, for instance, he needs to go to a film festival to see the film world itself,” he explains.

Unlike other producers in the Talents, Suryo Wiyogo does not bring any project to the Berlinale. Instead, he focuses on meeting people and getting some energy. “In the first and second day, I haven’t found any positive vibe. But then in the third day, I started fitting myself to the Berlinale.” For him, the intensity of the meeting is important. During the festival, we could find him hanging out in the European Film Market, meeting and talking to distributors, producers and members of film boards.
“Classes on distribution is bit useless for Indonesia as we only have one theatre chain. We don’t really have an art house cinema market. How the industry works here is also very different.” Yet he finds that being in the Talents and getting an industry catalogue is enough for him. “After this and previous experience in the festival, now I know how to use this book.” In addition of preparing a new project for Hide Project Films (it is a coproduction of Indonesia and Japan), Suryo is starting to work in a big commercial production. Good luck Suryo!