Change continues to buffet the independent film industry, and about 100 writers, directors and producers got together on Thursday to talk about it, courtesy of Rick Rosenthal’s Whitewater Films.
Over Mexican food and under Rosenthal’s white umbrellas, a distinguished panel of experts talked about their experiences. Josh Leonard, an actor-writer-director who has been in “Humpday” and more than 30 other films, noted the frustration of making good films that don’t hit the coveted jackpot.
“We’re all going for that bulls-eye — the ‘Like Crazy,’ the ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’” he said. “But quality — I don’t think — mitigates potential failure.”
Jill Soloway, director of the acclaimed “Afternoon Delight,” which is considering offers after screening at Sundance, spoke of the hard rush of reality after making her film. “In the morning [after the Sundance premiere] I planned on being in Harvey’s [Weinstein] hotel room,” she joked. “It didn’t quite go that way. It was my expectation that I would make the film and …I would watch it carried into the world on the wings of some special bird. Instead I’m getting to learn about distribution now.”
Jonathan Schwartz, a prolific producer of movies from “Like Crazy” to “Smashed” and “Breathe In,” argued that quality does matter. But, he said, “the problem with independent film is you will never see your money back.”
Ondi Timoner, director of “We Live in Public” and “Dig” urged filmmakers to engage their audience during the filming. For example, ask their fans what to call the movie, she suggested. “Bring them into the process,” she said.
John Nein, a senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, and Laura Kim, a veteran publicist and founder of her company Inside Job, also offered insights.
Watch the video and share your thoughts.
Video by Rebecca Rosenberg