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“Find a Small, Possibly Unsexy Job You Can Do Well”: At IFP Week, Directors and Producers on Getting Started in Indie Film

Left to right, Ingrid Jungermann, Chanelle Aponte Pearson, Kishori Rajan, Gillian Robespierre and Joshua Z. Weinstein talk about how to make independent filmmaking a career at IFP Week 2017.

So you’ve made a film. Congrats. But you’re not out of the woodwork yet. You may never be. The four filmmakers and one producer who appeared on the IFP Week panel called “On Working (and Staying) in Indie Film Today” had vastly different stories to tell about how they turned movie-making into an actual job. The biggest name on the panel was Gillian Robespierre. Having directed and co-written the indie hits Obvious Child and this summer’s Landline, she has more stability than most in her field, having parlayed those successes into TV work on top of a future making her own movies. But it was hard getting there. Once out of film school, Robespierre initially took the work-on-sets route. She…  Read more

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Who Gets to Tell Whose Story?: IFP Week Filmmakers and Funders Talk the Politics of Representation in 2017

David France, director of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, talks at IFP Week 2017.

When Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit came out this summer, some charged that it shouldn’t have been made by Kathryn Bigelow. Critics, including rogerebert.com’s Angelica Jade Bastien, felt that the story — about ten Black civilians (and two Caucasians) tortured and, in some cases, killed by racist white cops during the 1967 Detroit riots — should have been told by Black filmmakers. These commentators argued that Bigelow and her screenwriter Mark Boal, both white, not only lacked the perspective to get the events right; they also ran the risk of aestheticizing suffering and the destruction of Black bodies. This is not a new concern; in the early 1990s, Spike Lee was able to wrestle Malcolm X away from its original director, Norman Jewison.…  Read more

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Directors Josh and Benny Safdie and Cinematographer Sean Price Williams Talk Shooting Good Time in NYC on 35mm at IFP Week

Sean Price Williams, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie at IFP Week

Directors Josh and Benny Safdie and cinematographer Sean Price Williams go way back. Their latest collaboration, the crime thriller Good Time, is the trio’s fourth joint effort. They’re not only used to each other; they’ve also been through some real shit. The Safdies love to work rough and tumble, filming most of their movies — including Daddy Longlegs and Heaven Knows What, both shot by Williams – on the streets and apartments of New York, feeding off and bottling up the city’s uniquely chaotic energy. For Good Time, they even dragged a big name, Robert Pattinson, along for the ride. To get one small scene, they all had to cram onto a subway train together. “It’s so fun to take a 35mm…  Read more

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“Create Something That Is Undeniable”: Director Dee Rees Talks Mudbound And Life After Pariah at IFP Week

Dee Rees (Pariah, Mudbound) talks to Buzzfeed's Alison Willmore at IFP Week on September 17, 2017.

The highpoint of Dee Rees’ IFP Week appearance was a complete surprise. There to discuss her latest feature, the Sundance fave Mudbound (hitting theaters and Netflix on Nov. 17) with Buzzfeed film critic Alison Willmore, the Pariah filmmaker waxed nostalgic over one of the films that most inspired her to take up the craft: Sugar Cane Alley, Euzhan Palcy’s 1983 César-winner about life in a small village in Martinique during the 1930s. Rees’ mother had it on VHS when she was a kid, and she would watch it over and over again. “That was before I understood what a director did,” she said. Minutes later, Rees fielded a question from one of the audience members. It turned out to be Euzhan…  Read more

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“Find Your Tribe”: Moonlight Director Barry Jenkins and Producer Adele Romanski Give Advice at IFP Week

Adele Romanski and Barry Jenkins at IFP Week.

Barry Jenkins and Adele Romanski know what IFP Week is like. They know what it’s like to pitch a passion project. They even know what it’s like when time — in Jenkin’s case, several years — elapses between features. When the writer/director and producer, respectively, of Moonlight swung by this year’s Filmmaker Talks day at IFP Week, it was a kind of victory lap. After all, their last film together took home three Oscars, including Best Picture, on top of a towering pile of other accolades. But they used their talk with moderator Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker‘s Editor-in-Chief, to remember when life was still a struggle. “We did not have financing for Moonlight when we came to IFP Week,” Jenkins said. “I didn’t…  Read more

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Angelina Jolie, Aaron Sorkin, Gael Garcia Bernal and Mary Harron Talk at TIFF

Angelina Jolie on the set of First They Killed My Father. (Photo, Roland Neveu/Netflix).

The Toronto Film Festival closed out its 42nd year with another impressive round of masterclasses and “TIFF talks.” On the industry side, while not as heavily programmed as other festivals, there was an engaging round of panels that tackled on-topic discussions such as diversity and alternative distribution. Typical to other years, a robust line-up of filmmakers and writers made up the festival’s one-to-one talks, their “In Conversation With…” series. Aaron Sorkin’s candid conversation was one of my highlights. He openly discussed his ten year-dependence on drugs, of which Carrie Fisher sent him a letter assuring him he could write even better once sober, his love of writing stories that are “set inside four walls,” his passion for listening to music…  Read more

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“How Are You Going to Make a Video that’s 9,000 Pixels Long?” The Mixed Media Art of Anne Spalter

Wonder Why

Anne Spalter’s work not only reflects the world around her but also the world of the future she hopes to see. Wonder Why — the digital mixed media project currently taking over the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Brooklyn, NY — is her most narrative work to date, mashing up everything from Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane, Google Earth, campy star graphics, and well-lit tunnels that she equates with hope. The result of putting these kaleidoscopic and powerful images into her unique visual blender creates an effect for the viewer akin to finding hidden letters of the alphabet in your soup. The more you watch and explore, the more that themes of freedom, escape and female empowerment begin…  Read more

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Columns

Sony’s Two New Cameras: VENICE and RX0

Sony has announced two new cameras that will be of interest to filmmakers, though because they are so different it’s entirely possible that you might have heard of one and not the other. Sony VENICE At the high-end, Sony has announced its new flagship camera,…  Read more

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on Sep 11, 2017

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Interviews

Josh and Benny Safdie (Photo by Richard Koek)

All Day and a Night: Josh and Benny Safdie on Good Time

I’m in the Safdie brothers’ office in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, looking at a giant Japanese King of New York poster, and we’re talking about fired FBI director James Comey, whose awkward dinner with Donald Trump has just hit the news. “The guy is 6…  Read more

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on Jun 16, 2017

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