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by Basil Tsiokos
March 30, 2010 5:06 AM
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New Distribution Lab Taking Root for Indies

An image from "The Imperialists Are Still Alive!," a film from a recent IFP lab.

IFP today announced the expansion of one of its core programs, the Independent Filmmaker Labs, with the introduction of a Distribution Lab in collaboration with noted indie producer Ted Hope ("Adventureland") and filmmaker/author Jon Reiss ("Think Outside the Box Office") as part of a year-round fellowship program.

Focused on first-time feature filmmakers, the IFP Labs have for five years supported low budget, independently produced filmmakers through an immersive, intensive week-long program aiming to connect them with mentors before their projects are completed, giving them access to advice, resources, and strategy to launch their films and their careers.

The changes announced today expand the IFP's Labs into a year-long fellowship program. Twenty projects (evenly split between narratives and documentaries) will be selected from a national candidate pool to gain marketing and distribution guidance from IFP's network of industry and filmmakers. Organizers plan for at least half of the selected projects to reflect an inclusive range of diversity and to come from directors working outside the filmmaking centers of New York and Los Angeles.

Among the expanded offerings are year-round access to IFP programming staff and Lab leaders, including Reiss; ongoing one-on-one mentorships with established producers, including Hope; a week-long summer Completion Lab, covering a wide-range of workshops, case-studies, and individual meetings; IFP's fall Independent Film Week, including an intensive Strategy & Networking Lab; and a winter Distribution Lab headed by Reiss, specifically focused on the development and analysis of festival, distribution, and marketing strategy for each film.

"Educating filmmakers about the new distribution and marketing realities is of critical importance for our community," said Jon Reiss, in a prepared statement. “Media content creators of all types need to realize that the days in which you could merely 'create' and let someone else distribute and market are nearly over. A new paradigm exists in which making films and finding a way for that film to reach an audience are not merely equally important, but need to be organically integrated into a seamless whole."

Since their inception in 2005, the IFP Independent Filmmaker Labs have included the participation of 87 documentary and narrative features, 65% of which have gone on to premiere at major US and international festivals. Recent successes include "The Imperialists Are Still Alive!" (Sundance 2010, US Narrative Competition), "Zero Bridge" (Venice International Film Festival 2008), "Beijing Taxi" (SXSW 2010, Documentary Competition), and "War Don Don" (SXSW 2010, Documentary Competition Special Jury Award).

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