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IFP Minnesota Sets Slate For 15th Annual Midwest Filmmaker Conference

IFP Minnesota Sets Slate For 15th Annual Midwest Filmmaker Conference

Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota has set the slate for the 15th annual Midwest Filmmaker Conference in partnership with Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC), running May 3-4, 2014. Notably, Justin Simien, Writer/Director and Effie T. Brown, Producer of “Dear White People” will present a case study, Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper will speak in conversation with producer Mary Jane Skalski, and James Belfer, Founder and Executive Producer of Dogfish Pictures, CEO and Managing Director of Dogfish Accelerator, will be the keynote speaker. Conference sessions take place at MCTC and IFP Minnesota and are tied-in to the Next Look screening series at the Walker Art Center.
“We are thrilled to partner with Minneapolis Community & Technical College on our 15th Midwest Filmmaker Conference,” said IFP Minnesota Executive Director Andrew Peterson. “As befitting an anniversary year, this year’s Conference is a landmark celebration of independent film, introducing new financing and distribution strategies, providing special access to industry innovators, and featuring Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper’s first-ever visit to Minnesota. The Conference and related screening series at the Walker Art Center are an amazing opportunity for the film and media community to come together, be inspired, and make important connections that can have a profound effect on all our work moving forward.”
Full schedule and details below.
Saturday, May 3
Minneapolis Community & Technical College
T Building, main floor, room T1400
1501 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis
Directions and parking info.
Keynote Speaker: James Belfer
Belfer launched the Dogfish Accelerator business development lab in 2013, providing indie content creators with seed capital and entrepreneurial mentorship to set up sustainable business ventures and more easily secure capital. He’ll demonstrate how a strong financial model and strategy for a film project allows for anything to be creatively built on top of it, enabling filmmakers to push the boundaries of what is creatively possible.
Case Study: Dear White People
Dear White People, “a satire about being a black face in a white place,” had its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. First-time Writer/Director Justin Simien and veteran Producer Effie T. Brown discuss what it took to make the feature-length comedy, including financing, casting, shooting in Minneapolis, their Sundance experience, and distribution plans. Exciting bonus: actors from the film Tessa Thompson and Tyler James Williams will also join the panel.
Writing in Minnesota
Talented and successful local screenwriters Michael Starrbury, Nicole Brending, and Ken Rance discuss carving out a career as a screenwriter without having to relocate to Los Angeles or New York City, as well as local and national opportunities to advance one’s career.  Moderated by Nantucket Screenwriting Colony Creative Director Ken Robbins.
Festival Talk with John Cooper
Veteran Producer Mary Jane Skalski will be in conversation with Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper for his first-ever visit to Minnesota. John has been a member of the Sundance Film Festival programming staff since 1989 and assumed the role of Festival Director in April of 2009 after serving as the Sundance Film Festival’s Director of Programming since 2003. Today, as Festival Director, he oversees creative direction of the Festival and has final decision on all films and events. Producer Mary Jane Skalski, whose award-winning films have shown at Sundance and numerous other festivals, will lead a conversation about John’s career, the changing nature and function of film festivals, recent innovations at Sundance, and tips for applying and attending festivals.
Distribution Panel
Panelists to be announced.
Sunday, May 4
Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota
2446 University Avenue West, Suite 100, Saint Paul
Directions and parking info.
One-on-One Sessions
An opportunity to consult with guest presenters James Belfer, Effie T. Brown, John Cooper, Ben Robbins, Mary Jane Skalski, and others to be announced. Participants pitch film projects or receive advice, regardless of what stage projects are at to help advance them toward completion. By holding these popular sessions on Sunday, no one needs to miss a portion of any Saturday panel. Open only to conference attendees by prearrangement.
More Sunday activities may be added.

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