Europe is getting serious about film business training. Richard Brass speaks to graduates from some of the key courses.

A solid business training should be an essential part of any film-maker's education, says Alex Marshall, who completed the six-month Mega course at the Media Business School in Spain in 1999. He followed it up with the school's marketing and distribution course two years later.

Without such training, Marshall believes, film-makers leave themselves open to being ripped off.

'Part of the reason a lot of producers don't get to hang on to their rights is because they don't understand business,' he says. 'A lot of other people do understand business and manage to take a lot of rights away from them.'

Marshall has built on that business grounding and now runs commercial affairs for UK film sales company Velvet Octopus, set up by Spice Factory, which offered him an internship after he had finished in Spain.

He attended Cannes with a slate of eight films, and is in no doubt about the benefits of film business training.

'It's absolutely necessary. I'm in a position now where I'm working at quite a high level on the financing side, which wasn't what I expected to do. I realised that financing is not something to be scared of. It's something you have to engage with, but you should engage with it in the same creative manner as you do any aspect of film-making.

'I also got an amazing opportunity to build an instant network at a high level. It would have taken me years to build that kind of network.'