“PolinArts” at Dragon Forum

It’s been a long time since my last post, but things were very hectic on this side (the pros and cons of doing films  part-time). The whole of the last month was committed to finding a producer, who could support the project during the Dragon Forum and after.  Difficulties in finding the right person were expected, especially with such a niche project like ‘PolinArts…’ . And believe me, difficult it was.

photo1After numerous emails sent to production companies- only 2 got back, kindly declining the offer. Then, still hopeful, I approached individual producers who work on a freelance basis. I had more luck there in terms of finding people interested in the subject of the film; unfortunately, none of them was available to attend the Dragon Forum. Finally, with the workshop dates approaching and stress level reaching top levels- I contacted a Polish producer,  with whom I am preparing my next short film. Turned out Marcin was very keen in joining the project and immediately suggested industry people who we should get in touch with.  Unfortunately, Marcin was unable to join me during the Dragon Forum. However,  my very good friend, Krzysztof Broda-Zurawski, agreed to support me during the workshops.


Krakow Film Festival- banners at the entrance to the festival centre


The first day of the workshops- thrown at the deep end and asked to pitch in front of the whole group- here an Italian friend with his project “Florence, the Consul and me”
A screenshort of the presentation given by Nicola Lees from TVmole.com on how to prepare for the pitch
Panel of British representatives explaining documentaries opportunities in UK
Krzysztof and Mally- resting in between individual consultations in the festival cafe
Krzysztof and Mally- resting in between individual consultations in the festival cafe



Our “PolinArts…” accepted to Dragon Forum 2014!

STOP THE PRESS! We have some good news again!

Our project got accepted to the Dragon Forum 2014, training program for development and marketing of documentary films.  Each year, Dragon Forum takes place at the end of May as part of the Krakow Film Festival and this year is no exception.

We applied for it literally at the last minute, so we were even more glad when we found out that we were 1 out of 15 projects chosen by the Dragon Forum’s panel! You can imagine that excitement we felt when we got the confirming email!

No wonder! Participation in this project will give us a chance to pitch the film in front of the European commissioners.

Last year's panel of commissioners

Last year's participants pitching at the forum.. It's going to be us this year...
Last year’s participants pitching at the forum..
It’s going to be us this year…

Believe it or not, but that’s not the end of good news! Somehow, things work in our favour, and we just found out that the special guest of 54. Krakow Film Festival is United Kingdom. What a coincidence, right!?  For us, this means that Dragon Forum will have decision makers associated with Channel 4 and BBC in the panel.  How funny and amazing at the same time, would be to get one of these TV stations to back our project!? But you never know, Dragon Forum can open the doors for us.  The forum’s website says  “We hope that it [the presence of the above guests] will turn into long-term and fruitful cooperation”; we hope that too! Very much so…

However, this development brings us back to the necessity of having a proper producer on board. Somebody ( ideally a company) who can handle the legal and financial aspects of the film’s production and distribution. We have two weeks to find such person/ company as we need to pay for our participation by 9th May. So the hunt begins…

Our strategy is simple:

1. Finish the trailer and make sure it has the Polish and English subtitles (Mally is nearly done with the edit; Norma awaiting the list of subtitles to proof-read)

2. Translate the proposal, so it’s ready to be sent out in both languages (Mally and Kasia already working on the Polish translation; Fraser and Norma soon to be polishing the English version)

3. Use the list of companies (put together by Valeria)  who in the past submitted independent documentaries to the Sheffield Documentary Festival and ask for meetings…

4. Get the marketing team going so we can create some buzz before the workshops (that will include be Anna-Jane, Ben, Andy, Carolyn and Bartosz, with his technical crew)

Aiste, as always, we hope, will be overlooking and helping out with this “simple” yet complicated procedure.

Please keep your fingers crossed!

Dragon Forum takes places in this historical city
Dragon Forum takes places in this historical city

Making an animation for our trailer

One of my dreams for the “PolinArts..” was that it would have an animated section.  Last year, I found a very interesting study which I wanted to present using exactly that medium. As I didn’t know any animators-  I decided to do it myself.  I had never done an animation before, so the idea of trying something new was very exciting.

Check my last year’s post: How to make it yourself: hand-made animation

However, after preparing the cut outs and watching endless videos on how much effort goes into animating a minute of a film- I found the prospect daunting enough that I decided to wait till I had somebody to help me.

It took more than six months, but finally, last Monday,  Valeria, Aiste and I took the bull by the horns and within one evening we made the history happen.  Poor Aister, who left home at 7am for work, was exhausted so could only stay till 9pm. Luckily, Valeria was determined to finish it with me and I am so grateful to her. I wouldn’t have done it without her. We put together just one scene, as that how much we needed for trailer, but we learned so much and had loads of fun! There also some frustration, of course, especially when our camera went to sleep and we had to adjust the close up over and over again. Or when our lovely protagonist, held together by blue tag, started falling apart under the hit of our hands and the lamps directed at it.

But it’s all finished now and it looks sooo cool! Take a look at the pictures below.

Background 1 being put up by Valeria and Aiste
Background 1 being put up by Valeria and Aiste
Testing the floor and background 1


Now, testing a second floor, still with background 1
Finally we decided on a black cardboard floor and light blue background (which was in fact a simple bed sheet- we did say it was a DIY animation, right?)
Finally we decided on a black cardboard floor and light blue background (which was in fact a simple bed sheet- we did say it was a DIY animation, right?)


The actor and his prop are brought in on the set- camera ready?


Valeria and Aiste stayed all evening in good spirits- bless you, girls.
We have time for a little snack, right?
We have time for a little snack, right?
Valeria and her first ever animation- trumpets please!
Action! Valeria and her first ever animation- trumpets please!
The animation of the little fellow required a lot of real life testing on a wall- how does a body works when you push something heavy; years of training dance and acting came finally to a good use
There were times that our actor showed true star quality by making problems on the set when the blue tag that hold him together started melting: “Nurse, can we have some more blue tag on the set, please!?”
Aiste overlooking the set like a professional AD “little bit to the right, girls!”
Valeria in full concentration- it wasn’t easy you know

PolinArts on twitter

The time has come for “PolinArts…” to go global and let the the World know about its existence. So we set up a twitter account, just for this project.

Please follow us @PolinArts and spread the word about our project. In return we will spread the love for Polish arts.


Production of ‘Herins’ by PAiL (Polish Artists in London)

The production team is slowly settling into the new tasks each person was assigned. To improve communication we have utitalised a large number of social media, like Doddleit, Trello and of course Facebook. However,  the filming has not stopped even for a minute.

For the past 3 weeks I have been visiting a number of rehearsals for a new performance prepared by PAiL (Polish Artists in London Association), which will be performed this coming Friday 28th March at London Metropolitan Archives’ series of Culture and Heritage Guide event.



The production, entitled ‘Herins’ is being prepared and devised by Margot Przymierska, the funder of PAiL, and Zuza Tehanu, the funder of Dark Soul Dance Theatre.  This is the first time both ladies work together yet they have hit of straight away which led to some very thought-provoking ideas.

2014-03-10 00.37.142014-03-10 00.44.39

“HERein’ is a theatre and multimedia project commissioned by the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and PAiL London & PAiL West Midlands. It will be performed at LMA’s series of Culture and Heritage Guide events (28th March 2014). Future dates and venues include: ‘eMigrating Landscapes” (June 2014); PAiL Presents at Rich Mix (Autumn 2014).

At the core of “HERein” lays the exploration of the question: how can we begin to archive our current experiences of travel from one country to another? What is the social value of preservation of our individual emotional landscapes generated on the way?


Below is a stream of thoughts and reflections from Margot, about the direction they took in devising the show and how the original ideas changed along the way:

Margot Przymierska: I met Marta Lomza from London Metropolitan Archives sometime in 2013 when I went to a seminar on Polish presence in London, documented by the materials in the Archives. There weren’t so many documents which was surprising and Marta explained that she was interested in obtaining more for the Archive, including any traces of activity of Polish people in London today. That’s when I mentioned about the work we do at PAiL and we stayed in touch since. In the meantime we met for a coffee in East London- as it turned out we are neighbours and MArta shared her plan of dedicating a whole day to talking about Polish heritage in London and that her conference would be taking place at the end of March. We both thought it a great occasion to show something with an artistic touch. After our chat I though a lot about what I could present and there were already a few ideas loosely related to migration and being a stranger in a foreign country/ city kicking about in my head. It would definitely be a theatre piece- i thought at the time. Then we met at the Archives with Marta for a bit of research and i remember seeing sheets of documentation mainly consisting of minutes of meetings and dry reports from conferences from decades ago and i realised that there was something major missing- that was an element of real personal stories, i found it hard to connect with pages upon pages of facts, numbers and names- which somehow were devoid of personalities, reduced to just figures of what once was real people who lived. My initial reaction was to somehow unpick those live stories but I wasnt sure how yet…
Then I talked with a few people about their migration, the precise circumstances of embarking on a journey from Poland to the UK, I was fascinated by their past, the past I never experienced because we were born in different realities entirely… That was one of the elements which I later kept in what became ‘HEReins’. In time, the more I enquired about the details from known to me people – all of them coincidently women – I realised that some memories are just too personal for them to share and besides it would take a long time to get to the bottom of those stories – time i didnt have since the date of Marta’s conference was approaching. I often shared my thoughts with my friends- again- mainly female- and gradually I saw a whole different type of stories, or snippets of them, unfold before me. They were fresh memories of my female friends and their take on migration and their journeys… and after a while I couldn’t help but let my own memories surface and intertwine with the memories of my friends… In the end I realised that what I already heard and experienced myself as a young migrant woman was making a new narrative, which was very close to my heart. That’s when I decided that precisely those stories should be the core of the new piece.
Then in a pure coincidence I bumped into Zuza Tehanu – It happened a couple of times and I thought there has to be a reason for it.. I met Zuza 3 years ago when her Dark Soul Dance Theatre took part in one of the early PAiL events. I attended their rehearsals and saw how Zuza worked and immediately realised how accomplished as a performer and a director she was. So when I spoke with Zuza about HEReins it was only natural that I invited her to collaboration. Very luckily for the proejct Zuza agreed to take part and her input was extremely stimulating and whole hearted. At the beginning of March we began rehearsing- firstly spending hours talking, researching, sharing own experiences and a great bond appeared which meant we began understanding each other without words. Zuza has a vast experience creating devised theatre whereas I mostly worked with linear stories and scripts so our creative exchange was often an explosive one but always very opening and inspiring. Currently we are still rehearsing for HEReins and now it’s less than 2 weeks to the premiere. We are still testing the ideas and are blissfully uncertain where the whole process will lead us to – there are certain structures we are sticking to but everything in between is still a free exploration. We want to keep it this way. What we show on 28th March during Marta’s conference will be the first chapter of the immensely intriguing exploration and a spring board for future work & development. That takes off a lot of pressure though it’s not about letting ourselves off easily, showing a half-baked product. We are aware of merely scratching the surface of the subject – that are the contemporary stories of young migrant women who may not have the whole historically traumatic background – their stories unfold in a different yet very interesting way. And that is what we are attempting to document or archive if you like through HEReins.


Our Production Party

For the last two weeks my new team has been very busy with tasks each person had allocated. Some have been working on putting together a list of festivals from all around the world with deadlines and submission details, some others have been finding funding opportunities, somebody else was looking for events with Polish artists or another group has been looking into marketing strategies.

In the meantime, I was involved in filming and editing a trailer. Unfortunately, my computer suffered from overheating and presented me with a rather interesting looking mosaics. As much as I appreciated the artistry of my laptop, the prospect of not being able to finish the edit was a bit daunting.


Therefore an idea of a production party,  which my team suggested some time ago, was very appealing. We all needed a break. Therefore, last Wednesday I invited the whole team to a Vegetarian Indian Restaurant in Angel. I wanted to express my gratitude for everyone’s  involvement in the project and to welcome and introduce new remembers, who joined in the meantime.

Indian Veg was the only place that suited my budget but it also offered an all-you-can-eat- buffet, so I knew that even those with massive appetites would not leave hungry. Plus, the restaurant was a bring-your-own-booze so what else can you ask for?  We all had a good time and some of us moved later to another venue. Not bad for mid of a week party, right? Below is a picture from that night, taken by Martyna. This picture warms my heart. I set it up as my mobile’s wallpaper,  just to keep me reminded that PolinArts is the not-a-one-man-band anymore.

PolinArts Team