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Programs Mon 3.18.2019

The Film Independent Forum Returns Next Month. Let’s Revisit its Greatest Hits.

Let’s be honest: higher education is weird. Whether attained through one’s own studious merits or by the scandalous string pulling of a sitcom-enriched parent, applying to, attending and graduating from continued education at any level—collegiate, community, trade school—can be a disorienting experience. One minute you’re the industrious student basking in praise and encouragement from encouraging adults (“Sandi’s a freshman at Boise State? That’s so great!”). The next, you’re faced with the harsh reality of IRL career-building.

This goes quintuple for those trying to break into Hollywood, where opportunities are scant, with a seemingly endless parade of self-styled auteurs competing for resources. Really, any advantage you—the filmmaker—can develop to recognize and leverage literally any fortuity in the system is critical. And you know what helps with those skills? That’s right: more education.

One weekend each year, the Film Independent Forum descends on LA—an intensive three-day crash course in all things film, aimed at equipping visual storytellers with the knowledge, resources and expert advice needed to get their projects both made and seen. And it’s all taking place next month, April 26-28.

Discounted passes are now on sale to Film Independent Members for the 2019 Film Independent Forum. A full lineup of interactive panels, workshops and in-depth discussions will be announced soon. But! In the meantime, why not reacquaint yourself with some of our favorite #FiForum moments of yesteryear?



Who: Jordan Peele, writer and director of the 2017 smash Get Out, then on the way to winning multiple Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Why it’s great. By the time October 2017 rolled around, it’d already been one hell of a year for comedian-turned-prestige-filmmaker Jordan Peele, as his surprise Blumhouse horror hit Get Out continued, into awards season, to wow audiences with its delicate balance of incisive social satire and supernatural thrills. And at the 2017 Fi Forum, Peele sat down with ace interviewer–and Film Independent Presents curator—Elvis Mitchell to discuss both the process and philosophy behind the director’s unlikely awards-winner.



Who: Dees Rees, the Film Independent Spirit Award winning director of Pariah and 2018 awards season favorite Mudbound.

Why it’s great. Dee Rees is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker (plus, her hair is amazing), so 2017 Fi Forum audiences were in for a rare treat, as the director stopped by to talk about her 2017 Sundance hit—and eventual Netflix exclusive—Mudbound with Film Independent president Josh Welsh. At the forefront of a new streaming distribution model that would soon disrupt the entire industry, Rees talked about her passion for the literary adaptation, the challenges of storytelling and the rewards of seeking new ways to find an audience.



Who: Effie T. Brown (Dear White People, Rocket Science), producer and alumnus of Film Independent’s Project Involve program.

Why it’s great. In late 2016, iconoclastic indie producer Effie T. Brown was just coming off a high-profile stint in front of the camera, as the most dynamic (and reasonable) part of HBO’s revival of the docu-series Project Greenlight. But Brown didn’t need the hot lights of premium cable to deliver Sunday’s stirring keynote address—delving deep into her own personal and professional struggles on the long road to career sustainability outside the conservatism of the Hollywood system. Witty and wise, Brown’s speech is a must-see for creators.



Who: John Chu, filmmaker behind titles ranging from Step Up to G.I. Joe to Jem and the Holograms and (eventually) Crazy Rich Asians.

Why it’s great. Jon M. Chu was scheduled to deliver his 2015 Fi Forum keynote a mere two days after the premiere of his then-latest project: the live-action reboot of ‘80s cartoon favorites Jem and the Holograms. Jem was *supposed* to be a big hit. But instead of riding high on the back of a pop music mega-hit, Jem infamously underperformed on its opening weekend, leading Chu—who would rebound (and then some!) with Crazy Rich Asians two years later—into a frank and honest discussion of failure, expectations and perspective.



Who: Werner Herzog, famed filmmaker, actor and Teutonic-tongued eccentric, director of films including Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man, and countless others.

Why it’s great. “This is a tweet-friendly event,” chuckled 2013 Forum keynote speaker Ava DuVernay during her opening remarks, adding that she herself had attended “many, many of these events on my journey to making films, and they really made a difference.” We’ll say: just a year later, DuVernay’s stirring drama Selma would be released to overwhelming critical acclaim (and four 2015 Film Independent Sprit Award nominations) and a newfound career as one of Hollywood’s buzziest behind-the-camera forces, with projects including activist doc 13th, cable drama Queen Sugar and the Disney sci-fi adaptation A Wrinkle in Time.



Who: Werner Herzog, famed filmmaker, actor and Teutonic-tongued eccentric, director of films including Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man, and countless others.

Why it’s great. No one embodies the “independent spirit” quite like Werner Herzog—the German auteur whose 40+-year filmmaking career stretches all the way from the German New Wave of the 1970s to modern America, ranging from obscure art house favorites to cult Nicolas Cage action vehicles. Here, having recently founded his “Rogue Film School,” Herzog advises aspiring moviemakers to do whatever it takes to get enough life experience to actually have a point of view as an artist… even if that means working in a sex club.


The 2019 Film Independent Forum takes place April 26-28 in the heart of Silicon Beach, at the new LMU Playa Vista campus. Click here to learn more. Forum passes are on sale now to Film Independent Members.

Not yet a Member of Film Independent? Click here to join—you’ll get access to Forum passes one week before the general public as well as 25% off.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for exclusive interview clips, full panels and other exclusive material from the 2019 Film Independent Forum. Also: be sure to follow Film Independent on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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