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Dear Gentle Reader,

Tommy Minnix here again, after our first day of meetings at the No Borders section of Independent Film Week. Firstly, a big thanks to John Sylva, Susan Wrubel, and the IFP team and volunteers for their amazing coordination of dozens (hundreds even?) of industry and filmmakers, all shuttling from one table to the next to spend a brief but critical 25 minutes getting to know each other. From inside the elevator before the doors opened, it sounded like a beehive. And when you walked into the room, it could have been with all the activity.

Writer/director Dean Kapsalis and I had a number of meetings today. We began at around 1PM and had meetings interspersed throughout the day until 5:30. We met people from an array of different professions in the industry — casting directors, sales agents, distributors, other independent producers, and reps from industry groups and not-for-profits. It was illuminating to hear how each person in their role in the industry approaches the business, and by extension, our meetings.

One of our most interesting meetings was with a person who we didn’t particularly find a common goal with regarding The Swerve. But there was a lively discussion between us about the state of the industry, what budget levels and casting choices seem to work and are saleable, and a particular challenge the rep issued to us to very specifically identify who is the audience for The Swerve and what about the story is relatable and will attract them to the theater to pay to see it.

That meeting has really stuck with me throughout the rest of the day, because Dean and I were both really happy that we were able to crystallize and communicate the answers to those questions with him, even if it didn’t result in a “love connection.” In our orientation on Sunday, Amy Dotson, Deputy Director of the IFP, talked about the importance of knowing who your audience is and how you plan to reach them.

It’s something that’s so easy to take for granted, because as a writer or director or producer, you want to tell the story that you want to tell, and that’s the driving force behind your project. And I think it’s also partly something I read in a post from last year’s IFW by Marc Maurino — as an artist, you do sometimes have the feeling that people should just love your work and actively pursue you or your project because it’s so amazing. Marc wondered if he was the only one who felt like that, but I would say to Marc, you are not alone, because I think that any creative person would agree — who hasn’t felt like that?

But the point is that regardless of how much you love your project, if you can’t identify who you can tell your story to, and how you will get it in front of them, then you are just telling your story to the wall. And really, why spend $500k or $5mm to do that?

Because our film is at the early funding and attachment stage, the conversations with sales and distribution companies were certainly more of the “get to know me” type. With a significant attachment or two, I feel confident that we’ll be able to get back in touch with the people we’ve met to touch base and gauge interest, and once again, we’ve expanded our community (that key word again).

Later on, we were happy to unwind at the No Borders reception, and we had a nice opportunity to chat with some of our fellow filmmakers. I really enjoy meeting someone and then finding out that you have mutual colleagues or friends. It really drives home how small the industry is, even if it seems so big and impenetrable at times. When they say it’s about who (whom, for the purists) you know, it is true. But guess what? You know a lot of people, and they know a lot of people (look at your suggested friends on Facebook if you don’t believe me), and somewhere in there are future colleagues, business partners, and downright trusted and true collaborators and friends waiting to be discovered.

So on that note, I am looking forward to another full day of discovering new members of my community tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and all the best until next time.

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