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Programs Fri 4.5.2024

Fiscal Updates! Down Below, Surrender, Big Mike’s Cabin!

Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program supports an inclusive variety of projects, narrative and nonfiction, shorts and features, as well as the occasional new media project, special event or advocacy initiative. Each month, our Fiscal Spotlight column introduces three new fiscally-sponsored projects worth supporting.

But maybe you’re curious how some of those prior subjects have turned out? That’s right: it’s time for another FiSpo Update highlighting the recent achievements of previous Fiscal Spotlight subjects. Curious how it all works? See below:

Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program opens the door to nonprofit funding for independent filmmakers and media artists. The projects and makers participating in the program express a uniqueness of vision, celebrate diversity and advance the craft of filmmaking through the creation of these special works. To see the full range of projects that are part of our program, visit our Sponsored Projects page.



Project Type: Fiction Feature

Project Status: Production

Filmmakers: Collin Davis, Matt Valdez Litwiller

Synopsis: A reclusive classical composer with writers’ block attempts to find inspiration at an old family lake house, but instead discovers a mysterious sound emanating from the bottom of the private lake. In the face of personal and professional failure she must confront the lake, the family’s dark past and her broken present, to uncover the music she has deep within her.

Filmmakers’ update: “The Down Below team has been busy at work and is delighted to announce that our first day of production will be on April 28, in Chicago. As fundraising continued through fall and winter, our team shot and recorded an original piece of music composed for the film by Mary Kouyoumdjian, featuring a 12-person orchestra led by Alan Pierson of Alarm Will Sound. This work will feature heavily within the film and was vital to conceive, compose and record ahead of shooting. The majority of the film will take place at a private lake house property near Marshall, IL, roughly three hours from Chicago. Our experienced and nimble team will tackle the challenges of filming on location, night shoots and the emergence of a once-in-a-generation cicada swarm (!!!) throughout our 20-day schedule in the month of May. The film is anchored by the performing talents of Teri Wyble (as Alex) and Hugo Armstrong (as Josiah).”

Action items: “With enough funding to move forward with production–thanks to the assistance of the Fiscal Sponsorship program at Film Independent–we are absolutely thrilled to begin filming. With an eye on the fall festival submission cycle, Down Below is still seeking finishing funds to elevate our post-production process.”

Project page



Project Type: Fiction Feature

Project Status: Post Production

Filmmakers: Jess Dang, Jessica Olthof, Darren Haruo Rae

Synopsis: Triggered and wanting to escape her past trauma, Naomi, a young Asian American woman, falls into the world of blackjack to regain a sense of control, but soon finds herself addicted to the game. By day, Naomi is successful at her job. By night, she is a high-limit blackjack player. Her compulsive gambling puts her in a secret cycle of shame, as she suppresses her internal feelings to appear externally sound and impacting her mental health.

Filmmakers’ update: “We’re excited to announce that principal photography for Surrender officially wrapped at the end of February, after four extraordinary weeks on set in Los Angeles! We’re so grateful for the incredibly talented cast and dedicated crew who made this project a reality. And of course, Film Independent’s ongoing support through their Fast Track Fellowship and Fiscal Sponsorship program. Together, we’ve created a visual piece that centers on the critical social issue of problem gambling–a topical conversation our team hopes to bring light to. Collectively, we cannot wait to share our film with the world. After over a year of development and pre-production, this marks a significant milestone, and now we’re looking forward to the next phase of the process: post-production.”

Action items: “We seek to raise additional funds to cover the costs of sound design, visual effects, color correction and other essential elements to finish the film. Thank you for your continued support and dedication as we work towards bringing this project to its completion. Follow us on surrenderfilm.com for updates.”

Project page



Project Type: Fiction Feature

Project Status: Development

Filmmakers: Rebecca Holopter, Verity Butler

Logline: A year after closing their beloved flower shop, two women struggle to save their friendship while staying at a cabin in the Ozarks, until they receive help from a mystical maintenance man, a benevolent ghost and a wise pet rooster. Set against the backdrop of Missouri’s Table Rock Lake, with the powerful female bond of Thelma & Louise plus the healing essence of Nomadland, our film aims to celebrate women in their 40s and the beauty of platonic soulmates. We’re committed to capturing the charm, warmth and sense of community unique to the Ozarks–a facet rarely depicted in mainstream media.

Filmmakers’ update: “We’re thrilled to announce some exciting updates from the Big Mike’s Cabin team! Our Casting Director, Jane Flowers, has brought together an impressive ensemble of talented actors, including Brett Cullen (Joker, Lost), Christian Camargo (Dexter, See), Cleo King (Mike & Molly, Deadwood) and Jenny O’Hara (King of Queens, Mystic River). We’re also in discussions with other renowned actors, and we look forward to sharing more casting news soon. Our project has already gained traction, as evidenced by a recent feature in the Springfield Daily Citizen. The team will be returning to the area in March for interviews, location scouting and crew meetings as we prepare for physical production.

Action items: “We invite you to be a part of this journey by donating to our project and staying updated on our progress through our website. Your support is crucial in bringing this story to life.”

Project page


For more information about any of our Film Independent programs (including Fiscal Sponsorship) and how to apply to them see our Artist Development page.

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(Header: recording original music for Down Below)

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