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TechScale Berlin: How technology diversifies storytelling

New technology has allowed us all to rethink how stories are told, and given storytellers the chance to tell tales in non-traditional ways. Jewell Sparks meets with three Spanish filmmakers who took their craft online.

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Pedro, Paula and Gonzalo from EsImprocine, a team making Spanish short films about life in Berlin. Photo: Facundo Prats

New technology has allowed us all to rethink how stories are told, and given storytellers the chance to tell tales in non-traditional ways. Jewell Sparks meets with three Spanish filmmakers who took their craft online.

Digital media has allowed us all to rethink how stories are told, and given storytellers the chance to tell their stories in non-traditional ways. For example, this year’s Venice Film Festival emphasised diversity within its Competition lineup. The 2020 slate marked a historic high of eight of its 18 titles being directed or co-directed by women. Director Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” took home the Golden Lion – she was the first woman to win the award in a decade. Following suit is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which started September 10. Most press and industry professionals, including myself, are attending virtually due to the pandemic. 

Although the pandemic has damaged the film, media and entertainment industries, it has also enabled increased participation from a diverse group of skilled professionals across the globe. Considering the film industry has been under fire for its lack of diversity amongst both women and underrepresented groups, the digital evolution is levelling the playing field and becoming more inclusive of diverse voices in both film and media. We have been able to see the powerful aspects of technology and how it has enabled the discovery of new talent and voices while fostering collaboration and ingenuity. Everyone has a story to tell. Unfortunately, industry veterans, limited access and resources keeps these stories left untold. 

Jewell was able to catch up with Pedro Deltell (PD), Gonzalo Piñán (GP), Paula Galimberti (PG) of EsImprocinePedro and his team have identified a new way of storytelling that allows them to develop and film stories of Spaniards living in Berlin, and bringing characters to light by using YouTube as a media form for their series Berlineses. EsImprocine has won over 13 awards for their content.  Most recently, they won the Audience Award during the The Indie For You Web Series Fest. Their improv webseries Berlineses2 will be out later this year and we can’t wait to watch. 

We caught up with the team to learn more about their craft.

What inspired you to start your company EsImprocine and your web series?  

PD: A few years ago I was tired of being an expat. I wanted to go back to Spain. I felt the need to live in my own language and not under rules and codes that differed so much from the ones I know. Then the global economic crisis happened, and it was very hard on Spain. Thousands of Spaniards came to Berlin, bringing my land to me. I started going to Gonzalo Piñán’s improv classes, and started to think about making films. I met some great people while taking these classes and together we filmed a few scenes and decided to continue filming our improvs. 

Who’s your audience?

PG: We think our audience is probably (until now) mainly Spanish people living either in Berlin or in Spain. Spanish people who are planning to move to Berlin or to any other place in the world. But our films can relate to all expats, as we tell stories that deal, among other things, with that weird feeling of being “forced” to adapt to a new culture, breaking ties with the past and starting all over again: making new friends, dating, making it as an artist, the hassle of finding a room.

Paula Galimberti is seen throughout some of your webisodes, how did you meet? 

PD: Paula Galimberti, is an improv expert and a well known actress in Madrid. She was teaching an improv workshop.  I spoke to her about our project and she loved it. She liked the idea of merging improv and cinema together and that is how she became part of our team. Her, Gonzala and I now all work together to produce webisodes sharing the experiences of Spaniards in Berlin.

What are some of the advantages of creating improv films via digital media? 

PD: The films are faster to make and cheaper to produce. Since there are no pre-written dialogues, as filmmakers we are able to work with an idea and let the actors improvise. The stories are more authentic, and if you are an expat, it is easy to identify, and relate to the stories. 

How did the pandemic affect your lives as creators? 

PD: During the pandemic, I edited nine films which we are releasing before the end of the year.  Adding subtitles to films takes a lot of time and to date – we finance all of our digital films ourselves. Most recently, we completed a crowdfunding campaign, which helped a bit, but of course it’s a lot of effort. I love writing poetry, and the pandemic was an inspiring time for me to write. I am happy that the open mic spots in Berlin have reopened! 

GP: Eloi and I composed the music for the final Berlineses 2 episodes. I try to explore different styles of music, like, trap, techno, salsa, latin rhythms or pop.

How do you cast your films?

PD: I usually personally interview all actors in order to get to know them better. I utilise a process similar to scriptwriters and ask character-related questions. Typically, my characters end up being a “parody” of what comes out of the interviews. During these digital times, authenticity is key. I look for authenticity as well as acting capabilities. 

What was the inspiration behind Berlineses and Aislados?

PD: Inspiration for the Aislados series came from problems that we have had with tourism while traveling to Mallorca. We were able to create our first material for Berlineses by being ourselves. Berlineses2 will explore Berlin society and its cultural mix.    

PG: Adapting to a new culture can be very hard, especially at the beginning. We have all experienced that feeling, as we are expats ourselves. So we hope our films can make people feel less alone and maybe more understood. We also like to add a touch of humour to our stories, and to maybe even cause controversy as a result of our cultural differences. 

What’s next for EsImprocine as a company, given restrictions are being lifted post-pandemic? 

PD: Other than going to some open mics laughs)? Well, we have finished the digital films, and are in the process of adding music. Personally, I will also attend literary workshop in Andenbuch [a Spanish library in Berlin], held by Argentinian writer Alan Pauls. I am also very motivated to write a book right now.  

PG: We want to build up an international community of Improvisation cinema. Our goal is also to make Berlineses available to those who speak French, Turkish and Italian as well. We can also start making a series based upon native English-speaking actors. We would also like to apply for and receive some cultural subsidies to create our stories.