This past weekend I attended the 2009 Filmmaker Forum, an examination of the ever changing face of independent film hosted by Film Independent. What follows is a fuzzy recounting of my weekend.
While Jeremy Thomas has had a successful and varied career, his speech was neither an in-depth examination of the indie film industry nor was it a forecast of the impending doom and the blue skies to follow. it wasn’t terrible but it won’t set the blogosphere afire. Saturday’s highlights were:
1) Linda Lichter. As a panelist, she was frank and honest and always cut through the bulls**t. She also always reminded the other panelist that while their version of indie was a $5 million film with Luke Wilson, most of us were making films for less than a million, often less than a $100k. Linda, if you’re reading this, I want to tell you that you’re a rock star (too bad I already have an awesome lawyer).
2) Peter Broderick. While every other panel should have been titled “why indie film sucks and it’ll only get harder for you” Peter actually brought us hope and inspiration. He told us that we can still make our films and find an audience. Is it harder than ever? Yes, of course, but the tools are there for us to shape out destiny. Thanks, Peter.
3) Lizzie Gillett. First, she crowd-funded a documentary. Second, she had a virtual world premiere where both Moby and Thom Yorke played. Third, she appeared via Skype from the UK. Fourth, I think she’s really cute and she might be single.
4) Richard Klubeck. If he quits the industry, NPR should pick him up. He has a great radio voice.
5) Ron Yerxa. Did a great job moderating a panel plus he was impeccably dressed. As the weekend progressed I realized he wears the same uniform but I still give him points for trying.
I was a bit more out of it this day. I’ll get into that in a bit but here were my highlights
1) “Distribution Case Studies”, “Day & Date: Three Years and Counting” and “New Uses for Film Festivals” panels. These were lively panels and I actually knew two of the panelists (Steak House & Jon Reiss). During each discussion, panelists started interrupting each other, correcting each other, throwing down. In short, it was the perfect kick in the ass to a sleepy Sunday.
2) The following quote constitutes a highlight: “international pre-sales for indies aren’t dead. You bring me an action thriller with Jason Statham and I’ll get you a ton of money out of Germany.” BTW, that was said sincerely and with a straight face.
3) Finally using hash tags in Twitter. I still don’t really understand them (Marsha Collier explained them enough to me so that I’m no longer in the dark) but I started using them and suddenly I saw some of the power and scope of Twitter.
4) Seeing my friend Abby and getting to wish her a happy birthday in person.
The big difference for me this year versus previous years are the meetings I’d set up. If you read my earlier post, you know I had meetings with a distributor, a CE, an agent and a consultant. So active/charming/fearless was I that I also met with three managers and one more agent. Almost every meeting went well. Sure, not all meetings ended with “send me your stuff”, how could they when, say for example, you only rep directors with Canadian passports, but four of them ended with “send me your stuff.”
Let me repeat: I impressed 4 people enough for them to ask me to send my stuff their way. Will they read/watch my stuff? Probably not; that’ll get farmed out to an assistant or intern, but I got my toe jammed into four doors and I call that a major f**king accomplishment.
Time to rest.
(Ha! Yeah, right. I wish.)