Programs Tue 8.26.2014

Show Passion, Not Desperation—And More Words of Wisdom from the Film Independent Forum

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Ten years ago, Film Independent decided that the best way to help up-and-coming filmmakers learn how to navigate the business would be to convene a forum of people who had done it expertly and let them do the talking. We invited some of the savviest independent film people we could find: bold filmmakers (including Mario Van Peebles, who had just made Baaadasssss!, Catherine Hardwicke, fresh off of Thirteen and Jeremy Coon who’d just finished Napoleon Dynamite) to sit on panels alongside the suits (top producers reps, sales agents and distributors). Geoffrey Gilmore, then-director of the Sundance Film Festival, gave the keynote. Thus, Film Independent’s first annual Filmmaker Forum was born. We called it “Sell Your Film Without Getting Screwed!”

In the decade since, everything and nothing has changed. The business, of course, has undergone a radical revolution thanks to affordable technology and new models of fundraising and distribution. (Does anyone even remember life before Kickstarter?) Our tenth anniversary Forum happens October 24-26. It’s is still a convening of bold and savvy artists and execs sharing lessons and trends and industry insights, and we’re still aiming to help filmmakers realize their artistic vision—and keep from getting screwed.

We’re right now putting the finishing touches on this year’s Forum lineup. Film Independent Members can buy pre-sale passes starting today through September 2 at the special rate of $215. (Buying passes during pre-sale gets you first pick for IndieLinks meetings; Forum attendees can schedule themselves one-on-one meetings with top industry insiders, including agents and managers, casting directors, directors, production and distribution execs—and the available time slots fill up fast.) Non-Members can buy passes starting September 3. For updates, more pricing info and to purchase passes, go to the Forum page on our website.

In the meantime, for a taste of what’s in store this October, here’s a look back at highlights from some of our most provocative keynotes from Forums past.

“I wore my desperation like a coat. It was definitely the first thing you saw when you met me because it was draped over everything I said, everything I felt, everything I thought, everything I did. During that time when I was acting in a desperate manner, I needed help to proceed. I needed a break. I needed to nail the pitch. I needed someone to say yes. I needed a mentor. I needed a green light. I needed access. I needed the secret password. I needed a rich uncle. I needed everything I didn’t have, so that I could make my movie and tell my story…“I didn’t stop being desperate because things started to go my way, I changed my mind and things started to go my way…The biggest weapon that you have in this content revolution is what you wear: Are you wearing this coat of desperation, or are you wearing your passion on your sleeve, because one is a repellant and the other one is a magnet. ”
—Ava DuVernay, writer/producer/director/distributor, 2013 Forum

“Theater owners stifle this kind of innovation at every turn. The reason why we may enter this space and try to release some big movies ourselves this way is because I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution. Not only are they going to kill theaters—they might kill movies.”
—Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, 2013 Forum

“People always say, ‘The production companies are all so stupid; they do not even want to read my screenplay.’ My answer is just roll up your sleeves and work where there’s real intensity of life. Don’t work in an office. Work as a bouncer in a sex club. Something like that. Work as a guard in a maximum security prison. Earn the money and then make your film, no matter what.”
—Werner Herzog, filmmaker, 2011 Forum

“Forget about all the reasons not to do it. Forget about all the films that failed. Forget about all the films that didn’t get into Sundance, or got there, and didn’t get a distribution deal out of Sundance. Choose instead to focus on what has worked and learn from opening your eyes up to the marketplace around you.”
—Joe Drake, co-founder, Good Universe, 2010 Forum

“We now have the power and the tool for something different, but will we fight to preserve the Internet, the tool that offers us our new freedom? Can we banish the dream of golden distribution deals, and move away from asking others to distribute and market it for us? Can we accept that being a filmmaker means taking responsibility for your films, the primary responsibility, all the way through the process? That is independence and that is freedom.”
—Ted Hope, CEO Fandor, 2008 Forum

Pamela Miller / Website & Grants Manager