IFW: “THE SWERVE”
Dear Gentle Reader,
My name is Tommy Minnix, and I am really delighted to be guest blogging for Independent Film Week this year. Thanks to Scott and the folks at IFP for having me.
I am participating in No Borders this year with a narrative feature called The Swerve. The script was written and will be directed by Dean Kapsalis, and I’m producing along with veteran indie producer Derrick Tseng. It’s a psychological thriller about a woman whose life spirals out of control when she’s bitten by a mouse.
When we got the e-mail in mid-July that we had been selected, it was the funniest thing, because that day, Dean turned to me at one point and said, “What’s going on with IFP — did you hear anything about No Borders yet?” and I literally clicked over to my e-mail as the message appeared in the box. That was quite a shock, albeit a thrilling one, and we both took it as a wonderful sign for what’s to come this week at No Borders.
The Swerve is a project that Dean and I have been developing for a couple of years. In 2008, we had the great fortune to be selected for the Emerging Narrative section of Independent Film Week with an earlier draft of the script. It was a crazy time, because we had also just learned we were invited to live in Amsterdam (the one in Europe, not the one upstate in the Adirondacks) for six months to attend the Binger Filmlab (www.binger.nl) and develop the script there.
The Binger is probably one of the better-kept secrets among the American film industry, although it’s certainly known to the Sundance Institute, with whom they have a relationship, as well as Cinemart and the Rotterdam Film Festival, among other outstanding organizations. It is literally a six-month intensive for screenwriters and creative producers, where you go through a full rewrite of your project if you’re a writer, or you work with your screenwriter by learning the art of script editing if you’re a creative producer. And before you ask, you barely have time to do much of anything besides work, let alone consider blazing your days away in a coffee shop, sampling the local goods.
Anyway, we had literally packed up our entire lives to move to Amsterdam and had only been there for a week when it was time to fly back to New York for Independent Film Week (lucky I had been saving my frequent flyer miles). Our meetings then were very productive, but our timing was off since we were just beginning a new rewrite of the script at Binger.
So it wasn’t until the following year that we finished incorporating all the feedback from our time in Amsterdam. At that point, I called a friend who has worked with Derrick, and she read the script and kindly passed it to him, and thus, a wonderful connection was made. Community at work (I will come back to this).
So now the timing seems just perfect for us to be here — a wonderful script, an eager and talented creative team, and the industry is cheering about how things seem to be turning a corner. I hope that energy is being felt across the board! We are looking to forge relationships that will lead to financing, representation, and some key attachments for the project, with an eye to beginning production in late spring.
Dean and I are also really looking forward to catching up with a couple of our friends from the Binger who also have projects in No Borders — Leon Ford and Nic O’Donohue (The Mechanicals) and Barney Elliott (Oliver’s Deal) will all (hopefully?) be around. And of course all our other friends and colleagues whom we so rarely get to see outside the context of a conference like this.
I hope we’ll have some time to take in a couple of the panels — I always find them inspirational and get a charge from being around the positive energy of people committed to what they do. And hopefully we’ll be able to see a film or two!
And I’ll finish this post with this: for me it’s about community (like I mentioned before). It is one of the things that’s so valuable about the IFP, and that’s why we really appreciate and thank them for the work they do and that they’ve included us in this Forum.
I was reading this year’s Sundance Producers Lunch keynote from Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen recently, and in the speech, they stressed how important a community among independent producers is. I think their advice extends to all of us as independent filmmakers, because it seems that every time the models of creating, producing, distributing and monetizing our work start changing, the independent filmmakers are always at the vanguard of innovation, trial and error and just plain new ideas. So, to borrow a quote from someone a great deal more famous than me, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
So look for me and I’ll look for you too, and let’s make some movies!