Coming off the recent holiday weekend, you perhaps had an opportunity to contemplate your own style of “professional attack” heading back into the workweek. Some of us chose to ease in with the measured ease of barbecue-engorged elephant seal infinitesimally inching its way back towards the ocean, taking all day until finally ready to plunge back into the choppy waters of professional obligation. And then there were those who dove in headfirst with no hesitation—ready to start kicking ass and taking names from the get-go.
If that second category sounds more like you, chances are you’d make an excellent film producer, if you aren’t one already. If so, hopefully you already know that tomorrow is the non-Member deadline to apply to the 2021 Film Independent Producing Lab—July 15. The extended deadline for Film Independent Members is Tuesday, June 31.
Maybe you’re wondering: “What is the Producing Lab, exactly?” We could tell you, but why let us yap on about it when you can hear directly from one of Film Independent’s 2019 Producing Lab Fellows, Lauren McBride. Below—whose 2019 Lab project Selah and the Spades is now complete and available on Amazon Prime—shares her experience as part of the 2019 edition of the intensive artist development program. Enjoy!
“There are not many opportunities for producers to receive a lab experience during post-production. Most lab programs (rightfully) support producers through the onerous and mystifying process of financing and developing their first film, and this time is crucial to the success of the project. However, once the money is raised and production is over what comes next is filled with its own mystery and complexity. So I count myself very fortunate to have been one of the first producers to bring a project in post-production through Film Independent’s Producing Lab.
The Fi Producing Lab was helpful in so many ways, as we worked through post-production, planned our festival strategy and solidified our distribution goals. The sage wisdom of the program mentors, kind support of the other Fellows and the unbelievable resources that Film Independent provided all were instrumental in the development of my career and in the success of our film. Three takeaways:
Two words: Rebecca. Green. How she even has the time to lead and organize so much of this Lab is astounding, yet she did it with brilliance and ease. Between managing her duties as founder of DearProducer.com and her own projects, Rebecca brings a fresh perspective on the lab experience. Her use of case studies, focus on what’s happening in the marketplace and unflinching realism about what producing entails allowed me to consider my career in a wider context.
Learning even more from the other Fellows. It was an absolute gift to go through the program alongside the other fellows. They became my friends and advisors, supporters and mentors. It was so helpful to have an automatic network of producers in Los Angeles at a similar career stage. We feel so invested in each other’s projects and careers; it’s a great feeling.
Film Independent’s incredible support. Between their local resources in LA, Member/Fellows network and the Film Independent staff, this organization makes sure its Fellows have access to what they need to make their films—and careers—a success. We were able to use Film Independent’s screening room to screen our film in the run up to our premiere at Sundance—and it was amazing to see so many familiar Film Independent faces on the ground, at Sundance.
Film Independent’s Producers Lab was impactful for my project and my career, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in it.”
For more Selah & the Spades, please watch our recent Film Independent Presents Q&A with series cast and creators.
GOT SCIENCE? GET MONEY.
Now, applying to the Producing Lab is in and of itself an inarguably worthwhile use of your time. But! Besides simply being part of such a supportive, inspiring community, there’s also friggin’ money on the line! Or at least there is if your project qualifies for one of the Alfred P. Sloan Producers Grant, which awards a producer $30,000 to further develop a project with scientific themes. Past Film Independent Alfred P. Sloan grants have helped support projects including The Imitation Game, Experimenter, The Man Who Knew Infinity and others.
Basically, we want filmmakers to create more realistic and accurate stories about science, and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists in pop culture. And through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we offer four separate grants for a total of $110,000 to projects that qualify. The grants cover all areas of production—development, pre-production, post-production and distribution—and are awarded through Film Independent’s Labs and Fast Track programs.
But again, don’t take our word for it. Take it from the filmmakers themselves:
Directed by Logan Kibens, produced by Sharon Greene, and co-written by both, 2016’s A.I.-minded indie rom-dramedy tells the story of Joe (Martin Starr), an engineer who “borrows” his partner Emily’s (Mae Whitman) voice—and even personality—for the digital customer service rep he’s building. The film received the 2017 Sloan Fast Track grant and the 2016 Sloan Distribution Grant through Film Independent. Watch the film now on Amazon Prime, Hoopla or Kanopy.
Directed by Peter Livolsi, The House of Tomorrow stars Alex Wolf and Asa Butterfield as, respectively, Jared and Sebastian—a pair of individually troubled young men who become unlikely friends. Jared is a frustrated suburban punk rocker, while Sebastian lives with his grandmother Josephine (Ellen Burstyn) in one of eco-futurist Buckminster Fuller’s arresting geodesic dome structures. The film received the 2017 Sloan Distribution grant through Film Independent and was released in August of 2018. The House of Tomorrow is available on Showtime and Amazon Prime.
So—ready to get your Producing Lab application together? We thought so. [NOTE: an earlier version of this blog originally ran in 2019. It has been re-posted here with minor edits.]
Film Independent Artist Development promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. To become a Member of Film Independent, just click here. To support us with a donation, click here.