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Attention, Filmmakers: 6 Must-Read Takeaways from IFP Independent Film Week

Attention, Filmmakers: 6 Must-Read Takeaways from IFP Independent Film Week

1. Independent Film Week isn’t just for filmmakers anymore.

From our interview in advance of Film Week with Joana Vicente, Executive Director IFP/ Made in NY Media Center by IFP, it was clear that the IFP’s mission has changed over the years and the organization now embraces all forms of storytelling. 

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“It’s so interesting even the way that filmmakers are identifying themselves. They’re not just filmmakers. Everyone is multi-hyphenated artists and doing work across various disciplines which is echoing the themes of the media center. So we try to address that by having the spotlight on web series and also while still very much addressing our base of filmmakers, the conference is not just about traditionally how to get your film made and how to get it financed, produced and packaged and distributed. It’s really looking at different models, how people are creating content and distributing content, how people need to be entrepreneurial to create their own brand so they’re not just building audiences for one film,” said Vicente. Read her full interview here.

2. In addition to exploring new formats for storytelling, filmmakers are open to creating content of various lengths.

In the case study session of “Obvious Child,” first-time director Gillian Robespierre and “Obvious Child” producer Elisabeth Holm spoke about the process of adapting Robespierre’s short into a feature. “It was an introduction to a whole new world of ‘Obvious Child’ because it is so different than the short; the heart is still there, the beginning, middle, and end are still there, but everything around it that makes it the feature is nothing like the short, and it was really exciting to participate in and manipulate that brilliant transformation,” said Robespierre. Read the full story here.

3. Filmmakers are interested in working with brands — without selling out.

On a panel devoted to the topic, creators and producers talked about how filmmakers should pursue their own artistic vision and tell original stories — and brands will find them. “If you tell the best stories, brands will find you. It’s really that simple,” said Content Strategy Director Shane Malach. Read the full story here.

READ MORE: How to Make a Career in Indie Film in the Age of Piracy

4. Crowdfunding continues to be an important tool for fundraising — but getting it right is more important than ever.

There is so much competition out there for funds on various crowdfunding platforms, that filmmakers must create a campaign strategy, identify their target audience and set realistic goals before they begin. On the panel devoted to crowdfunding, “Blood Brother” producer Danny Yourd cautioned: “It’s very rare that projects are, like, in a vacuum, raising money for an entire budget.” As a result, Yourd said filmmakers need to “be specific. Say, this campaign is for color correction, or distribution…that is the much more effective, better way to think about it.” Read the full story here.

It’s also important to start building your audience online before launching a campaign. “If you don’t think that engaging an audience is your job as a filmmaker, you run the risk of getting left in the dust. The tools that are being used by big distribution companies are also available to you. Where you decide to spend your online time should be a product of real evidence that that’s where your audience is hanging out. It’s not ‘spray and pray.’ It’s about spending time as a researcher,” said Emily Best, the founder and CEO of Seed&Spark. Read the full story here.

5. Documentary filmmakers and other creators are increasingly focused on measuring social impact.

Ryan Harrington, vice president of artist programs at the Tribeca Film Institute, moderated a panel with experts of the documentary film industry to talk about the basics and strategies behind gaining and measuring the impact.

“Quantitative and qualitative analysis is at a place where you can really start to dive in that even us at the research center couldn’t do a couple of years ago,” said Debika Shome, deputy director of the Harmony Institute. Shome said the Harmony Institute now has a data science team who specifically studies figures to look for patterns of impact across the social issue landscape The Harmony Institute will launch Story Pilot, a new web application dedicated to measuring the impact of documentaries through case studies of a database comprised of 430+ films, in 2015. Read the full story here.

6. Ultimately, it all comes down to storytelling.

As Beau Willimon, creator and show runner of Netflix’s “House of Cards” said during his keynote: “A great story hinges on a great character. A great character hinges on truth, and truth hinges on all the contradictions that make us human.” Read highlights from his keynote here.

READ MORE: The 2014 Indiewire IFP Independent Film Week Bible

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