EXCLUSIVE Interview with EAVE Head of Studies Lise Lense-Møller

About the selection for the EAVE 2021 Producers Workshop

2020 and its challenges have affected the industry. Has this affected the kind of applications you received?

We always have a very wide field of applications, from the very experienced to the relatively new to the business, and every year is different. So it is hard to point to a clear trend.  Perhaps, this year, we have a few more applications from the very experienced from larger companies, and perhaps we have a few less applications from far away countries – such as Asia and South America.


Did you notice any trends this year… in terms of countries/regions applying?  In terms of projects / topics / genres? In terms of company set-up / profiles?

Again it is hard to distinguish between more or less random variations from year to year and real trends, but there is a high number of very experienced candidates and many from the UK – I am guessing as a result of Brexit and suddenly being cut off from the Creative Europe programme and co-production opportunities.  There seems to be a trend towards more genre films and more experimental content with a goal of becoming arthouse-mainstream. 

There is also a bigger variation in types of companies, set-ups, and business models than in previous years. There is no doubt in my mind that people are exploring new models, trying out alternative set-ups –hoping that they will be able to meet the future and be sustainable in a very insecure moment. Our industry was already going through major changes before covid – with the impact of the platforms e.g.  - and I think that people in general feel insecure about how to position themselves in the future. There are many creative ideas out there, and one of the big benefits of coming to EAVE is sharing ideas and finding new inspiration.


The unpredictability of the next months did not translate into less applications. How would you explain that and what is your feeling about this based on the interviews?

I did have a lot of questions about virtual vs. real workshops and applicants prefer real life workshops – as do we. But it also seems clear that people will rather be part of the 2021 cycle than not – even with the risk of it being partly or fully on-line. I am guessing that the crisis and the producers’ need to reflect, rebuild and reinvent their companies fully outweigh the risk of an on-line experience.



What are the expectations/motivations of the producers applying. Why do they want to do EAVE? Did this change in the context of the current crisis?

EAVE has become so much of a brand that people just want to be part of the network.I think this is a bigger motivator than any concrete content input. They see that every major festival always features numerous EAVE projects or alumni’s in the official selection.They see how EAVE graduates have a new sense of their own professional identity and purpose.Of course they also have specific goals – such as learning more about European co-production beyond the usual suspects of whatever region they come from or finding co-producers for a concrete project. For most it is the possibility of stepping up professionally and substituting the inherent loneliness of independent producing and the fragmentation of living in a project economy with coherence and sharing in a professional ‘family’ of equals.I don’t think that has changed – only intensified in the current crisis.


In terms of gender equality, how is the ratio of applications from women and from men?

The last years, there have been more female applications and participants than male.We do strive to have gender balance, but this year we will end with approximately 60/40 in favor of women.I am sure that over a longer span of years, it will have evened itself out.


Do you receive a lot of applications from outside of Europe?

Every year we receive quite a lot of applications from outside Europe – this year ‘outside Europe’ also include UK-applications, and we also have a lot from Canada, who have become eligible for Eurimages in recent years. We can, however, only admit 20% from outside the creative Europe countries, which is often a challenge.In my opinion, it is hugely important in our global, challenged world that we find coherence, understanding and cooperation through cultural dialogue, and it is also hugely beneficial for the workshop as such.I never stop to be amazed at the fact that producers from countries with practically no industry structures and no financing opportunities and producers from countries with very elaborate structures and a (relative) abundance of funding have much more in common than not, and they always benefit mutually from each other’s input.Very often, the ingenuity, the creativity and the passion driving the producers from the countries with emerging film industries really inspire the more established ones, who can then in turn share some of their experience and insights – or ability to co-produce.


Have there been applications from BiPOC communities in the past and has there been an evolution over the years? What is EAVE’s position in terms of diversity?

We absolutely encourage and welcome applications from BIPOC communities and have seen an increasing number of participants over the past year, but it can still get better. It is our opinion that the composition of a society should be reflected back to the audience from screens all over and that filmmakers of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to express themselves and tell stories that combat the tendencies to portray ‘the other’ as one-dimensional characters or clichés.In an increasingly polarized world, this is vital – but there are structures in our industry that create serious obstacles for a sufficiently diverse and balanced representation.To the extent we can be part of changing that, we will.


What would be a ‘good’ moment to apply for EAVE in terms of career stage? What is EAVE looking for in terms of profiles?

You can come too early, but probably not too late.This is not a basic workshop and it is easier to profit fully from it if you have done some films and maybe even co-productions.But the participants who come after 15-20 years in the business also take something home with them – new inspiration and perspectives e.g.

We actually look for very different profiles.We do not choose participants based solely on merits or quality of project.We actively look for diversity - not just in terms of the usual: gender, age, race, nationality etc. - but also in terms of points of view, experience, focus (e.g on format or genre), company set-up etc.It is our opinion, that the more diverse the group we put together is in any given year, the richer the experience for the participants.


What are the different forms of impact that EAVE can have on a wider level than just individual producers and companies?

I think the impact is subtle, but also profound in a number of ways. We want participants to become ‘distinct voices’. We encourage them to look beyond the single project and engage in long-term strategies in their industries. We promote a certain level of ethics and unwritten terms of trade, so that co-production becomes ‘easier’ and cooperation natural. We look for participants who actively ‘give back’ and create ‘rings in the water’– whether in the shape of training others in their local industries, engaging in initiatives empowering underrepresented or marginalized communities, or creating high-quality, genuine content for specialized audiences.We encourage people to take a stand when it comes to what they want to bring to the table – or the screens - through the projects they choose.


Is there any positive or long term effect of switching to online workshops this year?

It is always good to be forced to do things in new ways. For sure, you see things in new perspectives and learn that some of your ‘fears’ were just that – fears and prejudice. While we have to a large extent managed to maintain the spirit of EAVE even in the on-line format, there is no doubt in my mind that the ‘real meetings over time’ (especially new meetings) cannot fully be substituted by on-line meetings and the on-line format is also much more time consuming in a workshop context – which is not an advantage to film producers who are generally overworked and underfinanced. But I do think that some of the things we have learnt in 2020 may result in some changes in the coming years in relation to EAVEs developing green policy. It is conceivable that e.g. some non-interactive plenaries could be done on-line to reduce travelling.


Could you describe EAVE 2020 with one word?

We always have very intensive workshops, This year has been very Screentensive! You could also say that EAVE is following the growing appetite for genre projects – this year we turned all our participants into zoombies.

Page published 17 December 2020. Updated 27 April 2022.

Donate to the EAVE Alan Fountain International Scholarship Fund

A scholarship has been set up to honour the memory of Alan Fountain, former Head of Studies and President of EAVE, who passed away in 2016. Its goal is to enable one producer from outside the EU to participate in all three sessions of the EAVE Producers Workshop each year.

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