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In Features, Issues

Scott Macaulay on Next Wave Film's Finishing Funds

Next Wave Films, a new film finishing fund aimed exclusively at no-budget independent production, has just been announced. Funded by the Independent Film Channel, the program will supply up to $100,000 each to as many as four films a year. The films must have budgets of $200,000 or less, principal photography must have been completed, and the program is open to English-language films produced anywhere in the world.

Next Wave's President is Peter Broderick, well known to Filmmaker readers for his oft-cited series on no-budget filmmaking, a series that included the working budgets of films like Clerks, Laws of Gravity and El Mariachi. As filmmaker Tony Vitale notes in this issue, those articles continue to show filmmakers how to shoot a film for next to nothing.

"Doing the articles for Filmmaker and seeing the impact they had in catalyzing a no-budget movement made me realize that these filmmakers and this movement really needed more support," Broderick says.

Broderick says his own inspiration for those articles was seeing El Mariachi, Laws of Gravity, and The Living End all in one year at the Toronto Film Festival. "It seemed to me," he says, "that this was a new model. In the '80s, with Larry Estes around, you could get $1-$3 million for a first feature. But that's not true anymore. Video money has gone away."

Broderick says that the fund will finance films of "exceptional" quality by filmmakers Next Wave believes will develop into major talents. "In many cases". Broderick continues, an exceptional no-budget film "grows out of the personal experience of a filmmaker. Whether its Clerks, Go Fish or Brothers McMullen, these films are grounded in a reality that is fresh and different to people."

Although cash for no-budget films lacking major stars or high profile exec producers may be Next Wave's initial grabber, Broderick says that the program will do much more: "In some ways, the cash may be less significant than the other support. Between our friends and advisors, we'll be able to help folks get better deals with post houses and labs so that a limited amount of money may go further. In other cases, we'll be able to offer support, if it's desired, from more experienced producers and filmmakers. We will help filmmakers develop and implement a festival strategy as well as find distribution. And we'll be there during the release to help with press." Next Wave advisors include Terrence Malick, Victor Nunez, Atom Egoyan, Andrea Sperling, Amy Taubin, and Kevin Smith, among others. Broderick also notes that he hopes some filmmakers go on to do future films with IFC's sister program, IFC Productions. That program has been created to finance films in the $2 to $5 million range.

When I ask Broderick how he's faring wading through the slush pile of no-budget production, he offers an upbeat reply: "In my experience, the percentage of no-budget films that are good is much higher than the percentage of all indie films that are good. If an indie filmmaker kills himself, maxes his credit cards, mortgages his house over three years and the film is bad, he won't have the opportunity to make more films. A filmmaker working on a higher budget, drawing a salary--the stakes are different.

Contact Next Wave Films at (310) 392-1720.


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