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Film Independent Thu 4.16.2020

What Film Independent’s Doing for Filmmakers (and How You Can Help)

Believe us, we’re with you: it’s getting a little tiresome addressing the coronavirus pandemic at the start of these blog articles. The muscle memory in our typing fingers knows the dance steps C-O-V-I-D by heart. But there’s really no getting around it. These are extraordinary—and extraordinarily challenging—times for us all, individuals and communities alike. Add to that the fact that being an independent filmmaker is hardly a stroll through the dollar bill garden even in the best of times, and you have what cricketers call a sticky wicket.

Regardless, Film Independent’s commitment to supporting independent visual storytellers remains unwavering—even in the face of quarantine orders and way, way too many binge-watched Office reruns. But the fact is that we’re struggling, just as filmmakers do, to keep our virtual doors open. So, if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in a position to help, perhaps we might point you in the direction of our current Matching Gift campaign—through the month of April, all (tax-deductible) donations made to Film Independent are matched, up to $80,000.

Here now is a compilation of testimonials from a few select veterans of our Artist Development programs describing just what, exactly, Film Independent has done—and continues to do:

“There’s the family we’re born into, there are the families we build, and then there are the families we’re lovingly welcomed into. The Artist Development team was the Film Independent adoptive family who welcomed us into their happy home with open arms. I’ll be blunt: they’re badasses, hustling day in and day out to create an environment where we felt incredibly supported. They nurtured our crazy dreams. They pushed us to embrace the family of writers they’d handpicked for us and pushed us out the door like encouraging mamas, telling us to make friends, find common ground, and do what we came here to do: write. They sheltered us from the world just enough to keep our little artist hearts pumping.”

“Even before I got in, I always looked at the Directing Lab as a playground—or workshop—to gain hours honing my craft as a director, and (this is very important!) to have the freedom to fail. Since the opportunity to direct can be so infrequent, it can be hard for me to explore my creative process on set. Most often, I instinctively just fall back on old-patterns of behavior I know work. But, I really wanted to be a better director. I went into the Directing Lab specifically to do that: to build up my hours getting my hands dirty with actors in an environment that would help support and nurture. Others in the Lab came in feeling super-confident in their ability to work with actors, but wanting to get better at working with DPs—and they got that. The Lab is a place for you to focus on whatever it is that you think you need to get better at to become the director you want to be, to be able to tell the stories you want to tell.”

“Above all, it was the other participants who really made the lab for us. Writing together, it’s all too easy to get lost in self-congratulatory agreement about what works and doesn’t in your work, and—outside of LA—screenwriters are hard to find in the wild. We learnt so much from our fellow participants, who all brought different talents and perspectives to the table. Building a group of writers around you, who you can trust to be honest about your writing is the best way to keep growing artistically and we’ve all continued to stay in touch and share scripts, even across the Atlantic. Turns out screenwriting needn’t be such a lonely craft.”

“Since the Film Independent Documentary Lab, Bing [Liu] and I have been so grateful for the success of Minding the Gap. The response from audiences and the industry has blown us away. We premiered at Sundance in 2018, where we won the jury award for Breakthrough Filmmaking. We opened in theaters through Magnolia, and premiered on Hulu in August last year. You will not find a more supportive (and fun!) group of professionals who are always in your corner. They led us week after week and offered us additional opportunities beyond the Lab: Fast Track, an appearance at the Film Independent Forum and one-on-one pitching opportunities. I continue to be reminded of the importance of finding and belonging to a community. Getting a documentary out into the world can be lonely, thankless and frustrating. How lucky we are to also be a part of the Film Independent community.

  • Diane Quon, Doc Lab 2017, Fast Track 2017, Fast Track 2018

“I’d never really done a lot of pitching, so I was definitely nervous for what was to come [at Fast Track], but it ended up being really fun. We prepared, we practiced, we had our pitch. When you’re there, you just have to be present and engage with the people across from you. When you’re there, it’s a chance to connect with 60 different people who are all really interested in what you’re interested in. Everyone there is genuinely interested in being there and are looking for projects, so we connected with a lot of people who were really crucial in making the film exist—we connected with our producer, our financier and the agent who eventually brought us our cast. Every piece came together at Fast Track.”

“I crossed paths with you, Film Independent, in 2016 when I was a Project Involve Producing Fellow. At the time, I was at a crossroads—I was new to Los Angeles and a bit lost in the pursuit of my goals. Receiving the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship was one of the most emotional and joyful moments of my life. With the help of the unrestricted grant, I have been able to sustain myself financially and transition to living in Los Angeles with ease. All these experiences you’ve afforded me are invaluable, and the experience doesn’t stop here, it keeps going. Whenever I have had a challenge I can always trace my solution back to Film Independent.”


Film Independent promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. If you want to help support us and all that we do to help support visual storytellers worldwide, now’s the time.

Film Independent promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. If you want to help support us and all that we do to help support visual storytellers worldwide, now’s the time.

For a limited time through April 30, all donations received will be doubled, up to $80,000, thanks to a generous Film Independent Board Members and Friends Matching Gift. Become a Member of Film Independent here.

Coming up at Film Independent…

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