As a filmmaker, you can probably recall what it was like starting out in Hollywood: new in town, pockets empty, exploding with energy and ambition; the great ideas practically shooting out of your tear ducts, you feel so full of creativity. Maybe you’re in this very position right now, sitting in your studio apartment surrounded by spec scripts and mood board and sample budgets, just champing at the bit for the opportunity to turn your dream project into tangible reality. You have everything you need—except the IRL business partners you’ll need in order to bring your TV show, documentary or narrative film to life.
But! Before you resort to crazy capers—like disguising yourself as a nurse to sneaking into Cedars Sinai and swapping out a bedbound studio exec’s medical chart for your hot-shit pilot script—you should know: there’s a better way. One that won’t get you arrested for impersonating hospital staff. Just ask any of the 32 filmmakers (representing 15 projects) who took part in Film Independent’s 17th annual Fast Track film financing market, which took place November 4-6 at The LINE LA on Wilshire Boulevard, where no subterfuge was required.
As per usual, this year’s Fast Track was a fast-paced, intensive three-day event that saw participants connect in timed intervals—speed-dating style!—with a wide range of established financiers, production companies, representation and other film industry professionals with the power to help projects level-up.
“Fast Track provides an invaluable opportunity for filmmakers to expand their networks and forge strategic partnerships with high-level executives,” said Jennifer Kushner, Film Independent’s Director of Artist Development. “The projects and talent we’ve curated for Fast Track present an exciting range of stories that we’re thrilled to introduce to the participating industry,” she said.
Recent Fast Track projects have included Bing Liu’s Oscar and Film Independent Spirit Award nominated documentary Minding the Gap, filmmaker Hikari’s 2019 Berlinale Jury Award winner 37 Seconds, Kirill Mikhanovsky’s Sundance premiere Give Me Liberty, the Christina Choe’s Spirit Award nominee Nancy and more. Past Fast Track participants include Chloé Zhao, Courtney Hunt, Robbie Pickering, David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, among others.
This year’s industry participants included A24, A Kindred Spirit, Big Beach, Big Swing Productions, Blumhouse, Cold Iron Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Hulu, K Period Media, LA Media Fun, Lagralane, MARCO, Neon, Participant Media, PASTEL, Roadside Attractions, Sight Unsees Pictures, Tango Entertainment, Tremolo and YOMYOMF—not too shabby!
So just who where the filmmakers sweating it out on the opposite side of the table under the hot lights of the LINE LA’s conference center this year? They were:
- Title: Arezou
- Producer: Liz Cardenas
- Writer/Director: Sophia Kiapos
- Logline: Arezou is a Persian tale set in post-revolution Iran, about a 12-year-old girl who discovers the secret world of an illegal, underground ballet group and rewrites her destiny.
- Title: Dealing With Dad
- Producer: Tanner Kling
- Writer/Director: Tom Huang
- Logline: Dealing With Dad follows the story of Margaret Chang, who reluctantly goes back to her hometown with her brothers to deal with the sudden depression of their dad. The thing is, everybody hates him and he’s actually nicer depressed than well.
- Title: Downtown Owl
- Co-Director/Producer: Lily Rabe
- Producer: Bettina Barrow
- Logline: Julia, a teacher, arrives in Owl, North Dakota seeking clarity and a respite from her husband. Her presence causes a ripple effect on Mitch, a mediocre football player who plots the downfall of his philandering coach, and Horace a soon-to-be widower and staple of Owl. Their stories converge months before the blizzard that will change their lives forever.
- Title: Fire.w*rks
- Producer: Moira Griffin
- Writer/Director: Faren Humes
- Logline: Dreams of a memorial and fleeting home are dredged up on the eve of Loggy’s last night at Liberty Square.
- Title: Kalpana
- Producer: Rahul Chittella, Guneet Monga
- Logline: The true story of Kalpana Chawla, who immigrated to Texas in 1982 and became the first Indian-American in space.
- Title: Late Bloomers
- Producer: Alexandra Barreto, Taylor Feltner
- Director: Lisa Steen
- Logline: A selfie obsessed millennial lands in physical therapy. Her new BFF, an 80-year-old Polish woman, helps her get a grip on life and come to terms with her mother’s Alzheimer’s.
- Title: Malpelo
- Producer: Camila Zavala
- Writer/Director: Victoria Rivera
- Logline: Mia, a solitary free-diver, makes the treacherous journey to Malpelo Island to investigate the disappearance of hammerhead sharks, trapped on a boat with an all-male crew who prove to be just as dangerous as the predators she’s studying.
- Title: Puff
- Producer: Samantha Jennings
- Director: Del Kathryn Barton
- Logline: After accidentally witnessing a woman being brutally raped, a 12-year-old girl is left catatonic with shock and struggles to make sense of what she saw, until she discovers renewal in the inestimable world of her own imagination.
- Title: The Inspection
- Producer: Chester Algernal Gordon, Valerie Steinberg
- Writer/Director: Elegance Bratton
- Logline: A homeless young man joins the Marine Corps to change his life but must conceal his attraction to his drill instructor in order to survive boot camp during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
- Title: Washing Elena
- Producer: Vanessa Perez
- Writer/Director: Maria Ponce
- Logline: Upon her best friend’s death, Indalia sets out to uncover the mystery surrounding it, making her confront her own biases and lingering guilt about her friend’s conversion to Islam.
- Title: Ady
- Director: Nicholas Bruckman
- Producer: Amanda Roddy
- Logline: A young father diagnosed with ALS uses his story as a tool to fight for health care, launching the most unlikely political movement in a generation.
- Title: Duty Free
- Director: Sian-Pierre Regis
- Producer: Meredith Chin
- Logline: After a 75-year-old immigrant mother gets fired from her job, her son takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life. As she struggles to find work, he documents a journey that uncovers the betrayals plaguing her past and the economic insecurity shaping not only her future, but also that of an entire generation.
- Title: Socks on Fire
- Director: Bo McGuire
- Producer: Tatiana Bears
- Logline: A poet composes a cinematic love letter to his grandmother as his homophobic aunt and drag queen uncle wage war over her estate in Hokes Bluff, Alabama.
- Title: Squeegee
- Director: Clarke Lyons, Gabe Dinsmoor
- Logline: In a world that views them as aggressive and up to no good, inner-city Baltimore kids pick up squeegee sticks and spray bottles to help make ends meet while trying to find themselves as they enter adulthood.
- Title: Sweetheart Deal
- Director: Elise Levine
- Producer: Peggy Case
- Logline: On Aurora Avenue, Seattle’s infamous prostitution track, four women befriend a quirky self-proclaimed healer offering to nurse them through the horrors of heroin withdrawal inside his warm and welcoming motorhome.
And, at special reception on November 6, Film Independent presented three special grants supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, given to projects exploring themes of science and technology or which depict the lives of scientists, mathematicians or engineers in exciting and innovative ways. This year’s recipients were: producers Guneet Monga and Rahul Chittella for Kalpana (the $20,000 Sloan Fast Track Grant); Camila Zavala for Malpelo (the $30,000 Sloan Producers Grant for the development of a project); and to 2019 Film Independent Episodic Lab Fellow Justin S. Lee for his pilot Welcome to the Scene (the $10,000 Sloan Episodic Lab Grant, for development.)
Monga and Chittella’s Kalpana also received a separate Fellowship through Film Independent’s Global Media Makers program, funding their travel to Los Angeles and making their participation in Global Media Makers and Fast Track Possible. GMM is supported through a partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Film Independent Artist Development promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. To learn how to become a Member of Film Independent, just click here.