Nothing Ventured

What venture capital or VC for short actually means is explained the film itself. Banks only lend money against collateral. Those who have none have to turn to VC companies and pay interest of 40%. At least.

We had filmed scenes at a wide range of companies: VC companies discussing projects; entrepreneurs seeking to give shape to their ideas; consultants rehearsing their presentation. In the end we restricted ourselves to just one set of negotiations and used the material shot over two days. What tipped the balance for me was hearing the lawyer for NCTE, the company seeking capital say, "We are a little disappointed by the offer". I felt myself transported into a Coen-Brothers film. The protagonists in our story film are sharp-witted and filled with a desire to present themselves.

They are negotiating the conditions for the loan of 750,000 Euros. After initially failing to reach an agreement, they sidestep to a general discussion about strategic issues. It eme ges that NCTE, a manufacturer of contactless torque sensors, is already in negotiations with a number of large companies. And this ignites imagination, the world is full of possibilities and weighing them up becomes a joy.

The side which was to provide the capital changes position and begins to use the inclusive word "we". Before the next round of negotiations took place, both parties sent a representative to a conference we knew nothing about. They reached an agreement but one which did not survive the next meeting. Once again, the course of events took a surprising turn. One might be inclined to side with the inventor/entrepreneur, work against capital. Yet he too intends to turn his business into cash in a few years time. What we know as direct cinema has been around for over 40 years.

Given the esteem in which story is held today and the lack of esteem for conceptual effort, one would imagine that this would be the predominant form of portrayal. In To Be and to Have (Être et avoir) Philibert did succeed in making a documentary which was direct cinema but he remains the exception. A documentary which chooses to use purely narrative form is necessarily direct. Free from commentary or any other literal explanation, a film of this kind seeks to avoid disintegrating into good or bad generalities.

(Harun Farocki)

Original title Nicht ohne Risiko Script Harun Farocki, Matthias Rajmann Director Harun Farocki Cinematographer Ingo Kratisch Sound Matthias Rajmann Editor Max Reimann TV-producer Werner Dütsch Production Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Berlin, in collaboration with WDR, Cologne  Format video, col. Length 50 min.