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Emerging producer James Cotton at BAM 2014

July 2014

British Council led the largest ever film delegation to the Bogotá Audiovisual Market (BAM) in July, where the UK was being honoured as guest country for 2014. Emerging producer James Cotton, participating in the new talent-focused 'Bammers' section of the market, reflects on his trip to Colombia

'Travelling to Bogota as part of the British Council’s UK delegation for BAM 2014 took me to South America for the first time, and was a fantastic trip in many respects.

Even before the plane had taken off, I had my business cards at the ready and was making industry connections as I got to know the fellow delegates, many of whom I was meeting for the first time. Though selected as one of three BAMMERS from the UK to represent emerging talent, I found myself taken seriously on both sides of the pond; by fellow delegates and many established industry figures in Colombia once we’d arrived.

I found the atmosphere extremely welcoming, and everyone was very helpful. The locations of the Chamber of Commerce, where the BAM Talks were held, and where industry screenings were held were not far from each other, so understanding the geography between the three didn’t take long. Nevertheless, “angels” was the term attributed to the youngsters in black t-shirts who were on hand to ensure all ran smoothly for the delegates – both during daytime events, and arriving at evening functions!

For those functions that required travel beyond arranged minibuses, the Bogota taxi was both a staple and an experience; tiny, yellow vehicles that whizz around complicated one-way systems without seatbelts, and interiors decorated with Colombian paraphernalia.

As a young-gun, I didn’t get the Hilton experience that the grown-up delegates did. Rather, I got to stay with a Colombian friend and animation director with whom I’d made a film previously – perhaps the reason I was a shoe-in for a spot on the delegation! I relished the opportunity as having a friend as a personal guide; experiencing all that Bogotá had to offer culturally and gastronomically. I've never consumed so many fruits I’d never heard of in a week-long period before! However, it was not the fruit that won the prize of best culinary delight. Oh no, Astrid y Gaston’s ‘Andean Lamb’ blew away all other competition on an evening meal out with three Canadian delegates.

As well as tasting and visiting all that Bogotá had to offer, there was also some serious networking to be done, and I had the pleasure of meeting personnel from many of the best production / post-production companies in South America, including Dynamo, Cinecolor, 64a Films, Caracol and CMO. I also had the pleasure of visiting the animation studios of Hierro, and ingratiated myself further with national film body Proimagenes in Colombia.

If there was an hour or two spare in my schedule, there was always an opportunity to either catch a BAM Talk or see a film. Hearing Gareth Unwin talk about The King’s Speech was my pick of the talks, whilst  home-grown Gente de Bien pipped a comedy starring Carlos Valderrama as a town mayor to my pick of the BAM screenings.

All in all, it was a rather successful time, and I met many people with whom I’ll connect with in the UK, and with whom I hope to develop inter-continental partnerships. Many thanks must go to the British Council, the people that made BAM tick, and all involved in organising.

Oh yeah, and I got to ride a llama.'