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The Influence

Emily Best describes herself as an anthropology graduate and former music student who spent a half-dozen years managing restaurants. And then she decided to produce and co-star in a 2012 feature, "Like the Water." Said Best, "This was before Kickstarter was the Kleenex of crowdfunding." Her solution was to treat the movie like a wedding registry and the results were overwhelming. "It created a community at every festival," she said. "Hundreds of thousands. They felt like the movie belonged to them."

However, Best quickly realized that raising money was only a tiny victory. "The problem you're always trying to solve is distribution, and distribution is really about audience. That's the larger problem to solve in film."

That was the seed of Seed&Spark, a crowdfunding platform designed to support the full lifecycle of a film. Films must apply, but those who are accepted have guaranteed distribution through the site. They also work with filmmakers to help hone their pitch.

"Sometimes they tell us to go fuck ourselves; sometimes they take our feedback and go on to have great success," said Best. "We're for filmmakers by filmmakers; we have a unique understanding of the pain points of making a films in an ecosystem that's sustainable for the creators."

Seed&Spark is not even a year old, but its business model recent won the second season of New York Observer blog BetaBeat's The Pitch, a competition in which Best bested 20 other startups and took a $10,000 cash prize. While Seed&Spark is sometimes cited as a Kickstarter alternative that's "a real filmmaker's site," Best finds the comment baffling. "I fundamentally misunderstand the crowdfunding backlash," she said. "If someone can raise $3 million, they're making content that really matters to people. Let the haters hate. If you have to spend all your social capital to make a film, you're an independent."

Biggest Success

Since Seed&Spark launched in December 2012, they've raised $300,000 in feature financing for 17 films.

Biggest Disappointment

That they weren't the ones to fundraise on Ondi Timoner's "A Total Disruption." Said Best, "We tried, but we were too late."

Biggest Challenge

Adding value in an industry that's changing faster than anyone can really keep up with. "Providing a streaming platform that helps audiences discover really great independent content," she said. "If you can't provide the context of, say, a Brad Pitt, how do you convince audiences to see your film?"

What's Next

A total redesign of the streaming cinema platform. "We're going to be curating collections of films so that we're not trying to sell individual films but entire groups of content that they might be interested in."

The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
Making "Like the Water." The challenges and triumphs of that film are what started Seed&Spark.
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
I have no business answering this question. There are so many ways to define "best" and so many filmmakers pushing the very edges of the medium. The best film I've seen recently is "Short Term 12" because it's everything I love about a film -‐ emotionally raw, funny and tragic, small and also magnificent, kind of like life is.
A Guilty Pleasure Movie...
"Howard the Duck" and all things Molly Ringwald. And "Revenge of the Nerds."