6 indie film producers have been selected for Film Independent’s 17th annual Producing Lab. This intensive program helps filmmakers develop skills as creative, independent producers. In the Lab, selected Fellows develop strategies and action plans for bringing their feature projects to fruition. The Lab also helps to further the careers of the Producing Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of independent producing.
“Creative Producers play such an integral role in the independent film landscape today but often remain the unsung heroes in an exceedingly challenging industry,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent. “Film Independent makes it a priority to champion and support independent producers and we are thrilled to welcome this exceptional group of visionary storytellers into the Lab. We are also very excited to welcome back past Producing Lab Fellows Rebecca Green, Jim Young and Steven Berger now as mentors to the next generation of creative producers. Thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation we are able to award $110,000 annually to writers, directors and producers making compelling films and television series grounded in science.”
This year’s Producing Lab lead mentor is Rebecca Green (It Follows, I’ll See You in My Dreams). Additional Creative Advisors and Guest Speakers include: Steven J. Berger (The Feels, Inheritance), Amanda Marshall (Swiss Army Man, The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures, Jordana Mollick (Hello, My Name is Doris) and Jim Young (The Man Who Knew Infinity).
On October 20, 2017 at the annual Film Independent Forum, Film Independent awarded a total of $90,000 in grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A $10,000 development grant was awarded as part of Film Independent’s inaugural Episodic Lab to Michael Kogge, for his project Age of Reptiles. The 11th annual Sloan Producers Grant, a $30,000 production grant, was awarded to producer Lena Vurma for her feature film project Adventures of a Mathematician. Finally, the 3rd annual Sloan Distribution Grant, a $50,000 grant to help maximize the distribution for a film, was awarded to The House of Tomorrow written and directed by Peter Livolsi and produced by Tarik Karam and Danielle Renfew Behrens. The film stars Ellen Burstyn, Nick Offerman, Asa Butterfield, Alex Wolff and Maude Apatow and will be released in early 2018. Film Independent also awards an annual $20,000 Sloan Grant through the Fast Track Finance Market during the LA Film Festival.
For the past 11 years Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have worked hand in hand to increase public understanding of science and technology and challenge stereotypes of scientists, engineers and mathematicians through compelling artist-driven films made by new, independent voices. Past recipients of Film Independent’s Alfred P. Sloan Grants include the Spirit Award-nominated Valley of Saints; The Man Who Knew Infinity starring Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; and Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder, which received Film Independent’s inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Distribution Grant.
Recent projects developed through the Producing Lab include Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award Nominated Songs My Brothers Taught Me produced by Angela C. Lee and Mollye Asher; Clay Liford’s Slash produced by Brock Williams which premiered at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival; Joseph Wladyka’s Spirit Award nominated Manos Sucias produced by Elena Greenlee and Márcia Mayer and Sian Heder’s Tallulah produced by David Newsom, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
2017 Producing Lab Filmmakers and Projects
Title: Adventures of a Mathematician
Producer: Lena Vurma
Logline: After immigrating to the US in the 1930s, gregarious Jewish mathematician Stan Ulam experiences the joy of love and discovery along with the pain of loss and homesickness, while playing a fundamental role in creating both the hydrogen bomb and the first computer.
Title: College Girl
Producer: Julie Hook
Logline: While attending a living skills program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a young woman with Down syndrome questions her place in the world in the face of impending motherhood.
Title: Death of Nintendo
Producer/Writer: Valerie Martinez
Logline: Set in 90’s suburban Manila, when video games were still a novelty, four 13-year-old friends take us on a journey through their colorful world where they face the horrors of pop-culture obsession, first loves and circumcision.
Title: Mickey and the Bear
Producer: Lizzie Shapiro
Logline: In rural Montana, teenager Mickey Peck must break out of her oppressive relationship with her unstable, veteran father in order to forge her own independent identity as a woman.
Producer: Avril Z. Speaks
Logline: Caught in the throes of grief following her brother’s unsolved murder outside of a Brooklyn bodega, a black woman develops an unexpected physical connection to the Arab man who works there, causing their worlds to collide and forcing them to choose between passion and loyalty.
Title: The Strays
Producer: Liz Cardenas Franke
Logline: After being kicked out of her home and forced to survive on her own, a 15-year-old girl finds beauty in her harsh reality when she experiences her first love with her brother’s girlfriend.