Monday, August 31, 2009

Win Independent Filmmaker Conference passes via IndieGoGo and Twitter

IndieGoGo is giving away one All Conference Panel Ticket (worth $320) every weekday to IFP's Independent Filmmaker Conference until it begins on Sept 19. That's 15 All Conference Panel Tickets in 15 days (worth $5,000 total)!

Tickets include access to all 30 conference panels during Independent Film Week (Sept 19-23)

To enter:

1. Twitter about your favorite IFP Conference panel session
2. Include both #indiegogo and #IFPFilmweek in your tweets
3. No limit on number of tweets per twitterer per day (no bots please :)

Daily IndieGoGo "Twinners" will be selected at random from the respective day's tweets.

IndieGoGo provides tools for fundraising, promotion, and discovery. The platform enables people to showcase their work, mobilize their fans, and DIWO (Do-It-With-Others!). Members have raised over $150,000 to date and used IndieGoGo in over 90 countries.

Friday, August 28, 2009

IFP Lab Advisor, Mentor and Independent Film Conference panelist Ted Hope receives Filmmakers Alliance award

You've gotta love Ted Hope. I mean, if you don't, then you either don't love independent film or you are just being ornery! Hope (and what a fitting surname that is), who has worked with IFP in a number of ways, from being an Independent Filmmaker Conference panelist to mentoring our Filmmakers to sitting on the advisory board of the IFP Narrative Lab, received an award from L.A.'s Filmmakers Alliance recently. Presented by Alan Ball (AMERICAN BEAUTY, T.V.'s SIX FEET UNDER) the award recognizes Ted's past and continued gifts to the film community -- from the over 50 features he's produced (21 GRAMS, AMERICAN SPLENDOR, HAPPINESS) to the blog he writes, which tracks developments in our "new film culture and infrastructure, driven by both the creators and the audiences." Come out and see Ted on the "The Times They Are A'Changing" panel about making your first feature in the new landscape, on Sunday, September 20th at 11:30 am.

But for now, watch his moving speech here. and continued here

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time to Check in -- Bryan Wizemann, One Year After IFW

Almost a year after writer-director extraordinaire Bryan Wizemann participated in Independent Film Week's Project Forum last year, he very generously agreed to recap his incredible year for me. Bryan, like all our Project alumni, is most definitely a filmmaking force to be watched! Here he is:

"Attending the IFP market last year proved invaluable. Our meeting with Amy Slotnick (Frida) directly led to our screenplay being optioned by Jamin O'Brien and Worldview Entertainment. They are out to directors right now and development is moving quickly. The script is called Humor Me, written with Andrew Semans, and it follows a woman who gets dumped because she's just not funny, and the movie follows her along as she tries to become funny. It has all the hallmarks of a high-concept romantic comedy, but retains an indie sensibility. We have high hopes for it.

During that year, a short of mine got released into the online ether. Called Film Makes Us Happy, it's a short doc that portends to be the last fight my wife and I will ever have about making films. I could describe it, but better just to watch it, it's currently the featured film at Wholphin's website alongside a short interview.

What I'm probably most excited about is working with the producer Mike S. Ryan toward making the feature An Entire Body. It's a dark, dramatic work, which doesn't make development any easier, especially when most independent financing has evaporated, but we're close. The script won a national award not too long ago, and we've attracted some great people. We're one lead actress away, so cross your fingers... Any additional info on any of the film work can be found at"

So follow Bryan on his website, and follow more checking in from IFW alumni on this blog. And if you have an experience to share, you know who to contact.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One year later - The success of Ian Olds' FIXER is fixed.

Approximately 11 months ago, I sat across a table from director Ian Olds and his producer Nancy Roth. With his delicate features and perfectly coiffed hair, Olds certainly doesn't look like a guy who has spent months in two of the most harrowing and war-torn countries in the world: Iraq and Afghanistan. Olds was there with his feature film, FIXER: THE TAKING OF AJMAL NAQSHBANDI

A feature-length documentary, FIXER follows the relationship between an Afghan interpreter and his client, American journalist Christian Parenti. This intimate portrait of two colleagues shifts dramatically when Ajmal is kidnapped along with an Italian reporter and ultimately, murdered. I had been familiar with the film previously, while on the voting committee at the Tribeca Gucci Fund, which gave the film a much-deserved grant.

Since meeting with Ian at IFP, he and his film enjoyed incredible success. Along with being broadcast on HBO in the next couple of weeks (see schedule here ) won raves at festivals across the world, from IFF Rotterdam to Tribeca Film Festival, where Olds won the " Best New Documentary Filmmaker" award, and Olds was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film .

Nest up for Ian, he told me recently, is a return to fiction film. I can definitely expect him back at Film Week in the future; he is a filmmaking force to be reckoned with.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The first Independent Film Week blog poll closed its voting today. The winner is Courtney Hunt's Sundance-winning FROZEN RIVER.

Here are the results broken down.

1. Frozen River - directed by Courtney Hunt

2. Paris is Burning - directed by Jennie Livingston

3. Roger and Me - directed by Michael Moore

4. (A TIE) Slacker - directed by Richard Linklater and Clerks - directed by Kevin Smith

Not so keen on the comedies, guys?

Thanks everyone for voting, and a new poll will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Counting Down and Looking Back - We are the Mods Update

So, as you can see from our lovely countdown widget to the right, there are only 31 days until the magnificent hubbub of Independent Film Week. I will start looking forward by looking back and reporting on the progress of some of last year's alums, particularly those that blogged for us at Filmmaker Magazine. First up, is E.E. Cassidy, director of the film WE ARE THE MODS.

The film, according to Filmmaker Magazine's Scott Macauley is "a teen drama that references (with, by the way, both imagination and restraint) the classic “good girl corrupted by the bad” storyline familiar from films like Thirteen and Poison Ivy. But it‘s also an affectionate and good-hearted homage to not only seminal films of the 1960s but also to the heady rush of young artistic discovery familiar to any sensitive ex-high schooler. Cassidy‘s tale of the contemporary mod subculture — teens in geometrically balanced dresses and suits who listen to British-flavored rock and ska and drive Vespa scooters — is full of knowing nods to Antonioni‘s Blow-Up, Godard‘s Bande à part and the films of William Klein.

is a dual alum of IFP - first IFP Narrative Rough Cut Lab and then last year's Independent Film Week. In her first entry, Cassidy wrote of her first meetings. An excerpt: "My first meeting was with Stephen Raphael of Requiring Viewing a very cool guy who is working with Lance Hammer and his film Ballast.I also met with the awesome Scott Macaulay, Sam Sibble of the Film Sales Company, Jared Moshe of Sidetrack Films, and Josh Green of Emerging Pictures. It was an invaluable opportunity to have access to such amazing film people."

Since her time at Independent Film Week, Cassidy has been featured in IndieWire, played several festivals – from San Francisco to Brisbane, Australia, and won three awards at OutFest - The Outfest 2009 Audience Award For Outstanding First U.S. Dramatic Feature Film (Cash Prize Of $5,000 From HBO), The Outfest 2009 Audience Award For Outstanding Soundtrack, and The Outfest 2009 Grand Jury Award For Outstanding Screenwriting.

More updates daily on past Independent Film Week filmmakers, and if anyone else has a success story to share, please comment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Theory Meets Practice - Getting and Discussing Distribution at the Independent Film Conference

As I update the IFP newsletter every week, I get to see our "hometown heroes" - the IFP Alumni made good. (Which the vast majority of them do.) This very week, OBJECTS AND MEMORY, a documentary that participated in Spotlight on Docs in both 2006 and 2007 (and I know this firsthand, as I sat, as a potential distributor, across the table from the filmmaker) will premiere to a national audience on PBS, and Ian Olds's wrenching and important documentary THE FIXER will be broadcast on HBO. (I also sat across the table from Ian last year).

It's wonderful of course, to see one's organization supporting amazing and successful filmmakers. But what is also interesting is the various ways that the films roll out in our ever-shifting distribution landscape, and how everything these filmmakers deal with -- every decision they and their dedicated teams make - is something that is continually shifting, and being addressed throughout the Week, by them and their colleagues, at the Filmmaker Conference.

Take distribution - a subject of much angst, confusion, fascination, excitement. If you look at the films in the newsletter for the last two weeks, you can see the broad array of distribution paths different films take these days. COLD SOULS, Sophie Barthes' philosedy (when this term takes of in the same way as "Mumblecore," please credit me) took the path of least resistance - traditional arthouse theatrical. While the social issue documentary MADE IN L.A. rocked out the multi-platform hybrid release with not only a PBS broadcast, but multiple ways of distributing the DVD - which includes allowing organizations of different sizes to put on screenings that will benefit their own related missions. While the MADE IN L.A. team (Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo) were able to be effective by partnering their unique self-distribution ideas with more traditional distributors - PBS and California Newsreel - the innovative filmmaker Nina Paley created an bold new way of self-distributing her daring and genre-defying film SITA SINGS THE BLUES. Using the Creative Commons share-alike license, she writes on her website, she is able to ask anyone to "please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues."

So while in one room, filmmakers like Barthes, Bahar, and Carracedo are sitting at tables, pitching their projects to producers, distributors, and broadcasters, other tastemakers and filmmakers are in another, engaging in enlightening conversations about the ways in which these films can intersect with an audience.

And this is just one example of the synthesis that is Independent Film Week - a true coupling of practice - working filmmakers finding funds, finding distribution - and theory -- panels discussing big questions like where will distribution go next? How does Web 2.0 affect this? What are the new innovations? How can social media help with financing? By the time the Conference rolls around, some of the answers may be different than they are today.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Line Up For The Good Pitch at Independent Film Week announced

The lineup for the Good Pitch at IFP’s Independent Film Week, taking place in New York City on 24 September was announced today.

The Good Pitch brings together inspiring social-justice film projects and a group of expert participants from charities, foundations, brands, government and media to form powerful alliances around groundbreaking films. For more information see The Good Pitch Website

The Good Pitch in North America is a partnership between the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP), generously supported by the Fledgling Fund, Working Films, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tides Foundation and anonymous donors.

From nearly 200 applications, eight filmmaking teams have been selected to pitch their films and outreach campaigns to an invited audience, in order to amplify the impact of their social-issue documentary projects.

The selected filmmakers are Michael L. Brown (25 to Life), Glenn Baker (Easy Like Water), Mai Iskander (Garbage Dreams), Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel (Rose & Nangabire), Gayle Ferraro (To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America), Beth Murphy (What Tomorrow Brings), Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern (Youthbuild) and Mary Ann Smothers Bruni (Zhinan).

For the full press release, visit:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learn how to Doc It Out at Independent Film Week - by Agnes Varnum

Though two years old, blogger, programmer, Fair Use advocate, and general indie film woman about town Agnes Varnum wrote THE definitive guide to attending what was then called the IFP Market (and now called Independent Film Week) for documentary filmmakers. Counting down 38 days to this year’s incarnation, I have posted the somewhat outdated but still very relevant guide and in the next 5 weeks, will have weekly advice and updates from filmmakers of IFW’s past.
Note: this post was published in IndieWire in August of 2007.

Doc Filmmakers Guide to the IFP Market
By Agnes Varnum

Approaching its 29th incarnation, running from September 16 -19, the Independent Feature Project’s Market has become an important stop for documentary films. Unlike a festival, the Market is intended to give buyers and festival programmers a peek at new work. Through closed screenings, networking meetings like “speed dating” as well as buyer-requested one-on-ones, and a host of typical parties and social opportunities, to the uninitiated, the Market can be, as IFP executive director Michelle Byrd called it, “mystifying.”

This year, the Spotlight on Documentaries section of the Market (there are also programs for narrative work—No Borders and Emerging Narrative), will host 65 work-in-progress, 20 completed features and 6 completed short projects. Director of programming Milton Tabbot notes, “An interesting theme this year are science-related projects, and projects by new filmmakers from other disciplines, particularly performing arts. We saw less of the kids-in-competition projects than we have in the past few years.” The 91 selected projects represent about 20% of the total submissions, so the programming is highly selective. “Filmmakers should consider whether their work is ready for industry exposure. Few projects in the Market are in the first stages of development, though presentation is important. A great pitch will get in, even if it’s early.”

An important aspect of what the Market offers its selected projects is screenings at the Angelika Theater. Only open to the industry representatives accredited by the Market, they offer a chance for filmmakers to see their work on the big screen, often for the first time. Christopher Wong, who attended the 2006 Market with “Whatever It Takes,” said, “The screening allowed me to judge the reaction of a totally unbiased audience to my film. I got the chance to see what was funny, what made people cry, and also what didn't work.”

After scheduling a single screening for each project, remaining open slots are sold. Wong and others advise purchasing an additional screening if possible. However, a Market alumnus who preferred to remain anonymous notes, “Everything had a price tag on it and a hefty one at that. If you want an extra screening, pay this. If you want a full page ad in the catalog, pay that…Before it was all said and done we paid close to $1000 and this didn't include the cost of lab fees and press materials.” But, for many, the opportunity to network with the industry heavy-hitters in attendance outweighs the sometimes hefty price tag of attending.

Jeremy Stulberg, who attended the 2005 Market with “Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa,” then in the early stages of development, said, “We met our Consulting Producer Emily Gardiner Herzog there [and] we also had a meeting with Diana Holtzberg and Jan Rofekamp of Films Transit International, who ultimately ended up repping the film.” Most of the filmmakers surveyed for this article advised managing expectations—that you probably won’t walk away with a distributor or a pocketful of cash but as Hugo Perez (2006 Market with “In the Footsteps of Orpheus” and 2007 with “Summer Sun, Winter Moon”) put it, “Think of your meetings (official and otherwise) as the beginning of a conversation that will continue to play out after the market is over.”

This year will see 31 filmmakers who have attended the Market in the past. Shannon O'Rourke (2006 and 2007 with “Maybe Baby”) and Tracy Heather Strain (2006 with “Lorraine Hansberry Project”) have seen 10 Markets between them. Both offered that connecting to other filmmakers can be as fruitful as making industry connections. O’Rourke said, “It's a really fun venue for meeting other filmmakers, seeing and supporting each other's projects, and connecting as artists in a country with drastically diminishing sources of funding for independent filmmakers.” Strain adds, “We help promote each other's projects.”

If you are keeping track, advice so far is mange your expectations of what will happen during the 4-day gathering, don’t go overboard on spending and be open to networking with other filmmakers. Michael Chandler, (2006 Market with “Knee Deep” and 2007 with “Greedy Trial Lawyers: Will We Miss Them When They're Gone?”) advises “It is intense: be prepared for hectic.” Chandler pointed out that the industry reps by and large hadn’t seen material from his film at the time of their meetings. Byrd told indieWIRE that in response to feedback from last year, DVDs with 3-minute clips from all documentary projects have been sent to buyers in advance. So, in addition to a dossier with written synopsis submitted by filmmakers, buyers also now have the opportunity to watch clips in advance. Advice about showing clips? Chandler said, “I saw one woman showing Hans Robert Eisenhauer [Arte/ZDF] a video on her laptop--a good idea for next time.”

Who can you expect to meet at the Market? A big portion of the program for works-in-progress are buyer-requested meetings. After perusing the dossier, industry reps from long-time Market supporters like HBO, PBS and ITVS, A&E Indie Films and the Sundance Channel, and new this year, Participant Productions and BMP Films, tell Market staff with which filmmakers they want to have a half-hour meeting. The Market schedules those meetings and provides filmmakers with a schedule. Not in works-in-progress? Attend the speed dating events and networking breakfast and luncheon hosted by sponsoring companies.

Some projects have lots of meetings while others may have only a few. Strain said, “I try not to compare when other projects and filmmakers receive more favorable time slots, bigger screening audiences, longer meeting lists, or more personal messages…instead, I ask myself things like: ‘Did I present my project in the most compelling way in print and in my pitches?,’ ‘Was my application sample strong?,’ ‘How much time did I spend inviting people to my screening before I left home as well as at the Market?’ and ‘Are my marketing materials effective?’”

In addition to screenings and one-on-one meetings, there is a tape library. Some buyers will camp out in front of the small screen to see as much as possible. In addition to providing filmmakers with a list of the people who attended your screening, filmmakers also receive a list of who watched your film in the tape library. Says Tabbot, “The usual thank-yous to people you meet with is an important follow-up step, but also, stay in touch with IFP. We want to serve as advocates for Market alumni, whether it is putting in a good word with a festival or announcing updates in our newsletter.”

Awards and prizes at the Market vary each year. This year, The Fledgling Foundation is sponsoring awards for a socially conscious project and an Emerging Latino Filmmaker award. Nominees will be announced at a later date. In 2004, “La Sierra” won a Best Feature Documentary award and went on to have a very successful run. Andrew Blackwell (2004 with “La Sierra”) said, “Without [the Market], showing up at our first big festival would have been more of a shock, and we would have been less prepared.”

The piece of advice repeated over and over from each of the filmmakers who contributed to this article, is best said by Sarah Jo Marks (2006 with JUMP! and 2007 with “Girls on the Wall”), “Think about not just this project, but future projects and use this opportunity to meet people that can help further your career. And have fun! You're in New York, eat a good meal, enjoy the city.” Tabbot concluded with, “If you have questions, call me. We are here to help ease anxiety and to give the best advice we can.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

IFP Project Forum Announced -- Industry Press Takes Note

Counting down less than 6 weeks to Independent Film Week, industry press has taken notice of the new developments in the Project Forum. First off, Jeremy Kar at Screen Daily focuses on the new industry alliances that IFP has made. The Hollywood Reporter's article stresses the projects, selection process, and the filmmaker opportunities. Finally, both IndieWire and Variety focus on the filmmakers and their projects, highlighting some of the narrative and documentary starpower (Jodie Foster - directing a film called "Cockeyed" and Mario Batali executive producing a documentary on hunger in America.)

For more coverage of Independent Film Week, continue to check back as we announce highlights and details and aggregate press coverage.

Monday, August 10, 2009

IFP Member Survey

Power to the people. Who doesn't want their voices to be heard. As a member-based organization, IFP knows one essential thing -- our members make IFP what it is. So, if you aren't happy, we aren't happy. And this is not just Kumbaya-cheesiness, it's the bottom line.

With that in mind, we have designed a new survey allowing you guys to tell it like it is -- be as honest as possible; we are looking to the future here!

If you are a fast typer-slash-thinker, it shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes; if you however, prefer to pour yourself a mimosa and langorously ponder these very important questions, perhaps you will enjoy 45 minutes of thinking about the independent film community and your role in it. Thanks so much! Here is the survey:

Click HERE to take it!





Monday, August 10, 2009 (New York, NY) – IFP, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, announced today the line-up of its Project Forum of the 31st Annual Independent Film Week taking place in NYC September 19 – 24.

Additionally, it announced the expansion of its strategic relationship with the Sundance Institute; and new partnerships with B-Side, the four-year-old tech company which runs websites that handle ticketing and mine audience response data for 250-plus fests in North America, and The Good Pitch, a forum produced by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation which brings together inspiring social-purpose film projects and a group of expert participants from charities, foundations, brands, government and media to form powerful alliances around groundbreaking films.

Formerly known as the IFP Market, Independent Film Week is the oldest and largest forum in the U.S. and is qualitatively and quantitatively the best and biggest opportunity for an independent filmmaker to connect with industry professionals – including producers, funders, distributors, broadcasters, sales agents and festival programmers. It is the only forum in the U.S. singularly focused on connecting projects still in development with financing and sales opportunities.

A total of 116 projects have been invited to the Project Forum. Acceptance is by invitation only, and free of charge to filmmakers. All projects are accepted based on artistic merit. Projects participate in one of three sections: Emerging Narrative (for first-time feature directors currently in post seeking representation, completion funding, and festival invitations), No Borders International Co-Production Market (for producers with partial financing seeking additional partners), and Spotlight on Documentaries (for filmmakers in production, post, or with a completed film seeking financing partners, broadcast/distribution, and festival invitations). (See attached for a complete list of accepted projects).

“IFP’s niche has always been the presentation of projects in development,” says Michelle Byrd, executive director, IFP. “We’re really pleased to extend the efficiency of Independent Film Week to play host to a new strategic partner in The Good Pitch, and to greatly expand our decades-long collaborative relationship with the Sundance Institute. And with the support of B-Side, we will dramatically increase our technical proficiency and tools.”

Read the rest of the release here.

IndieWire also has the story!