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The Influence

As many independent filmmakers can tell you, Cinereach has been an invaluable resource since its inception in 2006, making films via its own production company (including "The Forgiveness of Blood" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild," ) in addition to scores of grants, awards and fellowships it awards. (Last year, the company said it provided over half a million dollars in grants to 22 feature length films.)

And in 2012 there was no indie more discussed than four-time Oscar nominated Sundance sensation “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” That film wouldn’t have existed were it not for Cinereach's ongoing support. The not-for-profit film production company and foundation is led by a trio who count among their titles therapist, electrician, lighting designer, caterer, chauffeur and barista.

Biggest Success

Screening “Beasts” for the Sundance volunteers. “Because it was such a grassroots effort, it felt right for the volunteers to be its first audience,” Engelhorn said. “It was the start of a whole new journey.”

Biggest Disappointment

Trying and failing to establish a presence early on via a slew of meetings in Los Angeles. “We had a sort of cavalier attitude about the whole thing,” Raisler said. “It was a total disaster. When we retreated back to New York, someone called to inform us that our names were ‘toxic in LA right now.’”

Biggest Challenge

The ever-shifting landscape. “We constantly need to adapt what we’re doing, while we’re doing it,” Mezey said.

What's Next

Cinereach is piloting a new fellowships program designed to work with filmmakers at critical junctures in their careers.

The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
Saying "Yes" when Philipp asked me if I'd help him out with some kind of "not‑for‑profit thing."
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
I try to avoid absolutes and I think there's too much complexity involved to say, "this is the singular best filmmaker who will have the greatest impact on the art and culture of film." There are a lot of filmmakers I have tremendous respect for. Having said that, Guillermo del Toro embodies a lot of what I look for in filmmakers. There's a purity of imagination and compassion he brings to his work and I think he approaches life and filmmaking with unapologetic joy and love of his audience. I've always found his lack of cynicism and defense of sincerity inspiring and it's something I try to bring to my approach to our work.
A Guilty Pleasure Movie...
I don't believe in guilty pleasures. If you connect with a film and you take something away from it, big or small, I think it's important to honor that experience. There's a tendency in the independent space to 'other' the mainstream, to maintain this aversion to it. But if you don't engage with the work audiences are watching 8 out of 10 times they go to the movies or turn on the TV, if you don't understand that language, how are you going to reach those people? How will you recognize a new idea when you see one? I'm a vicious opponent of insularity.
My First Job...
Aside from odd jobs in high school, I was an Art Department PA on "The Squid and the Whale." The budget wasn't huge and it's period, so it got a little intense on the art side at times but it was a great learning experience and I have a ton of fond memories from that shoot.
18 YEARS OLD
The age that Michael got his first job
5 FESTIVALS
Attended this year by Michael
6 WEEKS
The average amount that Michael travels for work each year
4 TIMES
Michael has been to the Sundance Film Festival
The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
My sister seeing "Beasts of the Southern Wild" for the first time at Cannes and getting a nose bleed.
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
The one that has a crystal clear vision yet invites fellow artists in to allow for a collective effort.
A Guilty Pleasure Movie...
I keep on coming back to "The Birdcage." What an incredible film that in so many ways was ahead of its time. And it's ridiculously fun. "Tannins?!"
My First Job...
My first real job was right here at Cinereach. Before that I PA'd on a bunch of productions and did brief internships at Scorsese's Sikelia Productions and Still Waters Run Deep, a London design firm.
20 YEARS OLD
The age that Phil got his first job
5 FESTIVALS
Attended this year by Phil
12 WEEKS
The average amount that Phil travels for work each year
5 TIMES
Phil has been to the Sundance Film Festival
The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
My biggest career break was when Maud Nadler and Colin Callender at HBO decided to back a Spanish language film set in Colombia with no known actors and a first time director and trusted that we could pull it off ("Maria Full of Grace").
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
For me the beauty of film is how it can bring people together, not only in a viewing experience, but in the proces