EDN Member of the Month – Elena Mera
In this monthly interview series EDN focuses on one of its many members to show both members in the spotlight and the diversity of the EDN membership group. Our EDN member of the month for October 2018 is Elena Mera, International Sales and Marketing Director for TV Programs, Treeline Distribution, Spain.
EDN has among other things talked to Elena Mera about Treeline Distribution and the project Let me Live in the Forest, which she is executive producing. Elena Mera has a BSc in Communication and her first steps into the film industry were in Santiago de Compostela (TVE, TVG, CTV) working with directing and production. In 1997 she started in distribution of audio-visual content in Antena 3 and since 2001, when she joined New Atlantis, she has focused on the documentary genre.
Examples of titles Elena Mera has worked with are: The secret files of the Inquisition, Sex Mundi, CERN, Medieval Spain and Ingenio Natural, all of them sold international. Recently and with Treeline Distribution she is amongst others collaborating on the projects Manoliño Nguen and Antarctica (both in production) in their initial phase and with The Journey of Unai, The Sleeping Land and The Code in the festival phase. With Let me live in the Forest she is involved as executive producer.
EDN: Can you start by telling more about your background and your road into the world of documentaries?
EM: My first steps in the audiovisual world were more focused on production and directing, when private TV started in Spain in 1990 I was in my 20’s and took advantage of the great opportunity that this meant. A lot of jobs were created in different departments and activities linked to the industry. And it was like that, a little bit by chance as I started in the world of international distribution. I spent 9 years working in Antena 3. In 2001 I took the challenge to join New Atlantis as international sales and co-productions director, it was a documentary focused company. And that's where this road started.
EDN: You are International Sales and Marketing Director for TV Programs at Treeline Distribution. How would you describe the company profile and how do you work with documentaries within the company?
EM: Before founding Treeline we had always worked in TV channels or large production companies where our area was a department within the company. We were aware that for independent documentary producers it is difficult to maintain a department for this important business area, so we decided to offer this service without being a burden. We like having a fluid relationship with the producers and we try to work on the projects from the beginning. The idea is to incorporate a few hours but of quality per year and get involved in 3 or 4 projects that we can help to develop and/or finance. We want the producers with whom we work to feel like we are part of the team.
EDN: How do you decide which projects to step into at an earlier stage and also be part of the production?
EM: The first years our participation in the early stage was mainly consulting - both on funding and on content. This allowed us to collaborate with several projects at the same time. Over a year ago we have started to also be part of the production.
The first thing we have in mind is that we like the project and believe that it is a universal story that a large audience may like. We have very much in consideration that the project has a natural path to look for financing, TV channel, public funds, natural co-producer. And of course the affinity with the team we are going to work with.
EDN: How should producers/directors best get in touch with you if they have a project fit for Treeline Distribution? And at which stage do you prefer to receive the project?
EM: The best way usually is sending a mail, but a phone call is also welcome, after the conversation I will ask to receive the info by mail but it is always nice to talk.
Any stage is fine but at this moment, since we are involved in several things, we prefer if the project is at least in a very advanced development status but still with room for changes.
EDN: You are currently the executive producer of the documentary Let me Live in the Forest. What is the project about and what is the current stage of the project?
EM: It is the story of a group of young farmers and environmental activists setting up camp in an abandoned agricultural area in the heart of the Forest of Dean, in the south of England. They just wanted to work the land and live in a self-sustainable way with little more than what nature provides. In a short time, the forest begins to change and the area is revitalized. The life philosophy of this group attracts the attention of more and more people, and the community grows. Many inhabitants of the neighbouring towns are also interested in the unique community, participate in its activities and integrate them into their daily lives.
However, the obstacles show up in no time. A well-known landowner in the region performs dubious legal maneuvers to acquire this lands that, until then, were in a legal limbo. It is the beginning of the nightmare. And they realized the fragile balance they had built...
Let me Live in the Forest tells the story of that community and its struggle for survival. A history of occupation and possession, custody and control in the use and abuse of lands, and a project focused on what it means to struggle to live in a different way.
The story is told from inside as one of the directors lived with the community during 6 months. There is a lot of shooting already done, we still need 20-30% and the story is almost built although the directors are aware that once they talk with the different parts involved they have to be open minded and accept that there can be a twist.
EDN: When did you come on board Let me Live in the Forest and what fascinated you about the project and its subject?
EM: I joined the project in June, I was fascinated by the footage they showed me, and I was fascinated by the story but even more by the big story behind the story. I think it is a story that in some way reflects the society we are living in, a story that invites reflection and debate.
It has many nuances, it is a story of good and bad but surely we will not all agree on who are the good guys.
EDN: This month you are taking part in the EDN activity Lisbon Docs with Let me Live in the Forest. What are your expectations for the workshop and pitching?
EM: Lisbon Docs will be the official presentation of the documentary. We know the workshop will allow us to better define the project and to sharpen the pitch. And of course we would like to find an international partner.
EM: We are not really sure so we prefer to wait for Lisbon Docs and hear the first impressions.
For an overview of all previous EDN Members of the Month, please visit: