In Features, Issues

IN THE RAW

By Bergen Swanson

David Maquiling
MANY INDEPENDENT filmmakers have neither the financial resources to test-screen their films nor industry connections that could provide useful feedback for their projects in the editing stage. The Rough Cut workshop is the Independent Feature Project’s (IFP) attempt to address these needs as well as one step in its efforts to reposition itself as a service organization for filmmakers in the early-to-middle stages of developing or producing their projects.

The idea for the new program came out of a meeting between IFP executive director Michelle Byrd and producer Paul Mezey, who most recently won the 2001 IFP/West Motorola Producer Award. Filmmaker David Maquiling (Too Much Sleep), currently nominated for the 2002 IFP/West Independent Spirit Award, was brought on to coordinate the program, which offers independents a free screening of their rough cut or work-in-progress. Maquiling and the IFP staff select an invitation-only audience intended to help the filmmaker realize his or her goals, which might include raising additional funds, eliciting editorial feedback from seasoned producers, directors or editors, or simply attracting a distributor.

The monthly screenings are held in Manhattan at Plantain Films’ post-production facility. Filmmaker Rodney Evans screened footage from his Brother to Brother in the program’s kickoff on February 27. Having shot about a quarter of his script in late October, Evans is now trying to complete this film. While Evans invited a few people personally, most of those attending the screening came via the IFP and its outreach to a larger pool of industry types. After the screening, an informal Q&A session broached issues ranging from Evans’s narrative structure to his potential financing options. While it is too soon to tell if the contacts he made will directly benefit his film, Evans was happy with the experience: "It was a comfortable environment with an eclectic mix of people. David [Maquiling] was a great facilitator. He asked questions that kept the conversation going."

Of course, all but the most paranoid of independent filmmakers set up their own rough-cut screenings to elicit feedback during the editing process. What advantages do the Rough Cut program offer?

First, it’s free. There are no submission fees and those filmmakers selected pay no costs for the screening. Second, for filmmakers without industry contacts, the program provides the IFP stamp of approval. Explains Maquiling, "The fact that this is an IFP-sponsored event lends a degree of importance to the film. We believe that the films we select have a real potential in the market."

For an application and further details about the Rough Cut program or to learn how to become a member of IFP, please visit www.ifp.org, or contact David Maquiling at (212) 465-8200, ext. 226 or dmaquiling@ifp.org

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