A European filmmaking masterclass is steadily producing a new generation of producers who, it is hoped, will in years to come go head-to-head with the mighty Hollywood machine.
Can today's European filmmakers make classics like "Metropolis"?
The European filmmaking industry knows it has its work cut out to keep pace with the US market, with European films struggling to reach last year's top 20 box office hits, efforts such as "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "The Chorus" being notable exceptions.
Christophe Barratier's "The Chorus" was a relatively rare example with its French-Swiss-German background of a successful quasi pan-European production and the European industry is bent on fostering greater professionalism and also greater cooperation
across European states, in the US mould.
"Co-production is the future of European cinema," says Marta Ravani, a 27-year-old Italian from the Masterclass Workshop, a public program which trains up 18 budding European filmmakers each year.
"Co-production not just between two but at least three countries," added Michael Reichenberg, 31, an Austrian classmate who shares Ravani's skills in German, French, English and Italian.
Germa n -Fre n ch co-operatio n
The young producers are benefiting from the workshop to pursue a vocation to which both came relatively late as they pursue a year's training funded by French cinema production
unit La Femis and Germany's Filmakademie of Baden-Württemberg under the aegis of the EU's media program.
Teaching young directors to hone their craft
The workshop has been operating for nearly four years and seeks to produce an elite of European producers able to work as a network and plug into their contacts in their respective countries over the years ahead.
Six Germans, six French and six other candidates from across the EU are selected for the program. This year's crop saw Michael, Marta and their fellow chosen few present their end of cycle offerings at the recent San Sebastian International Film Festival in northern Spain.
Lear n i n g from US to compete
Neither Reichenberg nor Ravani are originally from the cinematic scene -- she having studied economics and he medicine.
But both rely on a confident attitude as they go all out to attract public, private and broadcast investment to finance their efforts.
Hollywood producers are masters of marketing and distribution
And both have ideas on how European cinema can learn from the US model on occasion.
"French cinema is sometimes very centered on the director and we want to show that producers can also come up with ideas and initiatives," Reichenberg said. "We're trying to transpose what works for the Americans."
He agreed with Ravani that Europeans should focus on co-productions to compete with Hollywood.
"The only goal if you want to be making films in 10 years time is to find ones which are bigger than just for one country," he said. "It's for the Europe of tomorrow that we are producing."