A screening of the Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane biopic Trumbo opened the 11th annual Film Independent Forum, an information packed three-day event for today’s independent filmmakers and content creators (Oct. 23-25). The film explored the effects of that era’s communist witch-hunt on the life of Dalton Trumbo, Hollywood’s top screenwriter, after he and other writers were blacklisted for their political beliefs.
Following the film, a Q&A with director Jay Roach (Game Change, Recount, Meet the Folkers) covered the filmmaker’s experiences making the film as well as the story’s uncanny relevance to current day political situations.
Saturday morning’s inspiring filmmaker keynote was given by director Jon Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 2: The Streets), whose work has been influenced by his his humble beginnings in Palo Alto as the youngest of five children in a close-knit Chinese family. Chu shared that his parents did not want their children to work in the family business, but rather encouraged them to be artistic and do things that they themselves had been unable to do. Chu guided the audience along his road from Film Independent Project Involve Fellow to blockbuster director. Currently, having made six films in as many years, Chu has developed a reputation for working on diverse projects across genres. The speech is embedded below.
Sunday’s event began with an executive conversation featuring producer Jason Blum and members of his creative team: casting director, Terri Taylor, and president of feature production, Couper Samuelson. Known for its horror franchise, Paranormal Activity, Blumhouse Productions has developed a highly successful and sustainable, contained-budget production model that maximizes returns for both investors and talent who work for lower salaries with guaranteed backend on profitable ventures. To view the executive conversation video please visit:
Taking place at the DGA, panels covered subjects of interest to narrative, documentary and new media creators. With the panels manned by industry professionals, topics included Your Budget vs. The Market, Five F#@*Ups and How to Fix Them, Television: The Writers’ Room, Your Film + Audience: Marketing & Distribution Clinic, Conquering the Web: One Episode at a Time and Social Media Tools: The Nitty Gritty Details.
Documentary and narrative case studies were also covered, giving attendees insights into the practical production, post and distribution issues faced by independent artists.
The final insightful conversation featured Illeana Douglas, actress and host of TCM‘s new Trailblazing Women series, talking to Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Laggies) about her prolific career as an indie film and television director.
Networking lunches and Indielink @ The Forum provided networking and one-on-one meeting opportunities to connect and possibly start business relationships with industry professionals from all areas of the industry.
During the forum, Film Independent announced the producers selected for its 15th annual Producing Lab. Designed to help filmmakers develop skills as creative independent producers, the four-week intensive program assists Fellows in developing a strategy and action plan to bring their current projects to fruition.
Tackling science, superstition and sexuality against the backdrop of the 1930s’ dustbowl, the feature film project The Dust, written and to be directed by Amanda Brennan and produced by Sarah Dorman, garnered the 9th annual Sloan Producers Grant, which included a $30,000 production grant that was presented at the Forum.