Sundance, Black List Partner to Aid Aspiring Filmmakers

The Black List and the Sundance Institute have partnered to offer a bevy of services to aspiring filmmakers, formalizing a relationship between two organizations dedicated to developing new talent.

Aspiring screenwriters who upload their scripts to the website of the Black List by April 15 can ask to receive a Black List referral and apply to the Sundance Institute’s 2014 January Screenwriters Lab for free.

Lab fellows will be able to upload their scripts for free and producers and directors who have been lab fellows since 2010 are eligible for a free membership to the Black List.

“In the last three years alone, more than a dozen scripts sourced from the annual Black List have been made into films that premiered at Sundance Film Festival,” Black List founder Franklin Leonard said in a statement. “Put simply, no single organization in the United States has done more to promote American filmmaking voices in the early stages of their development than the Sundance Institute. It’s a tremendous honor to formalize a relationship and share in their work.”

Though initially launched as a survey of industry executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays, the Black List has expanded into the service business. Screenwriters can pay to upload their screenplays for members to review and can pay an additional fee to have the scripts evaluated by industry professionals.

Leonard aims to turn the service into an industry mainstay, facilitating connections between aspiring screenwriters and the people who can help turn script into film.

Both Sundance’s Feature Film Program and the Black List have endorsed successful works. Three of the last five best pictures winners and seven of the last 12 screenwriting Oscars have gone to scripts that appeared on the Black List while the Sundance program supported Oscar nominee “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and 2013 Sundance favorite “Fruitvale.”

“We are very excited to collaborate with Franklin Leonard and The Black List to identify new writers to be considered for support by the Feature Film Program Labs,” Michelle Satter, Founding Director of Sundance's Feature Film Program, said in a statement. “Additionally, we want to expand the audience for our Lab fellows and see The Black List website as a great avenue for industry discovery, promotion and potential support.”

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Indie Movies Aren’t Hiring Women Directors Either, Study Finds

When it comes to the minuscule percentage of women directing films, the numbers are less depressing within the independent film scene.

But a new study shows that little progress was made in 2015, and that a disturbing disparity between men and women directors in the space has continued in the past year.

Women accounted for 28 percent of directors whose films screened at top U.S. film festivals last year, according to the annual study “Women in Independent Film” released on Thursday. While still far from reflecting 50-50 parity, the number is markedly better than the 9 percent of women directors who helmed major-studio films in 2015.

Also Read: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Have No Female Directors Through 2018

Led by Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the study focuses on women’s representation at 23 U.S. festivals, including AFI Fest, SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival.

“The findings indicate that while women fare better in independent films, particularly documentaries, than in studio features, they are not close to achieving parity in the independent realm,” Lauzen said in a statement.

Indeed, 35 percent of documentary directors working the festival circuit last year were women. Compare that with the mere 19 percent of women directors who worked on narrative features.

Also Read: DGA's List of 80 Best-Directed Films Includes One Female Filmmaker

When crunching the numbers on directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers as a group, women made up 25 percent of those working on U.S. festival circuit films — a figure that has not changed significantly since 2008-09, when Lauzen’s team began its study.

“Women’s representation on independent films is stagnant,” Lauzen said. “In spite of the increasing dialogue about this issue, the numbers have yet to move. We are not seeing year-to-year growth.”

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Finalists Announced for 2018 ShortList Film Festival

TheWrap is pleased to announce the 12 finalists in the seventh annual ShortList Film Festival, launching today online.

The finalists, hand-picked from the world’s top film festivals over the last year, will stream on the site starting today through August 22, 2018 — allowing visitors to vote on their favorites.

The Audience Prize and The Industry Prize winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize during a ceremony to take place at the AMC Century City in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 23.

The films in the main competition are a mix of foreign language, drama, comedy and animation created by filmmakers from around the globe.

Also Read: MEET: The 2018 ShortList Film Festival Jurors!

In addition, eight student films from top colleges and universities included in TheWrap’s ranking of film schools have been named finalists in a sidebar competition.

The contenders come from filmmakers who studied at USC, UCLA, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the American Film Institute, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Texas, Northwestern University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

You can watch, vote and share your favorite festival short film using #Shortlist2018 for your chance to win two tickets to the ShortList Film Festival award ceremony. The ShortList Film Festival is supported by Topic and AMC Theatres.

Also Read: ShortList 2017: How Making a Short Can Kickstart a Young Filmmaker's Career Video)

Here are the official finalists in the 2018 ShortList Film Festival:

“Agua Viva”
Directed by: Alexa Lim Haas
USA, 7 minutes
A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn’t have the words for.

“Debris”
Directed by: Julio O. Ramos
Peru/USA, 14 minutes
After a disastrous event on his construction site, Armando acts quickly to save his crew, but instead stumbles upon an unspeakable truth.

“Devi (Goddess)”
Directed by: Karishma Dev Dube
India, 13 minutes
Set in New Delhi, a closeted lesbian risks family and social boundaries as she pursues her household maid, Devi.

“The Driver Is Red”
Directed by: Randall Christopher
USA, 14 minutes
Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest ranking Nazi war criminals on the run.

Also Read: 'The Silence,' 'American Paradise' Take Top Prizes at TheWrap's Shortlist Film Festival 2017

“Fish Story”
Directed by: Charlie Lyne
UK, 13 minutes
Sometime in the 1980s, Caspar Salmon’s grandmother was invited to a gathering on the Welsh island of Anglesey, attended exclusively by people with fish surnames. Or so he says. Thirty years later, filmmaker Charlie Lyne attempts to sort myth from reality as he searches for the truth behind this fishy tale.

“Little Potato”
Directed by: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. MIller
USA, 14 minutes
An autobiographical documentary short about a gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order-bride mom and their adventurous escape to America.

“Magic Alps”
Directed by: Andrea Brusa and Marco Scotuzzi
Italy, 14 minutes
An Afghan refugee arriving in Italy to seek asylum brings the immigration system to a grinding halt when he includes his beloved goat in the application. Based on a true story.

“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”
Directed by: Charlie Tyrell
Canada, 13 minutes
In My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes director Charlie Tyrell attempts to uncover a deeper understanding of his deceased father by examining his posthumous possessions.

Narrated by David Wain (director of “Wet Hot American Summer”), Tyrell presents a unique lens on family relationships and their challenges.

“Nevada”
Directed by: Emily Ann Hoffman
USA, 12 minutes
A young couple’s romantic weekend getaway is interrupted by a birth control mishap in this stop-motion animated comedy.

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“Night Shift”
Directed by: Marshall Tyler
USA, 16 minutes
A day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub.

“Wave”
Directed by: Benjamin Cleary and TJ O’Grady Peyton
Ireland, 10 minutes
Gaspar Rubicon wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognizable language, baffling linguistic experts from around the globe. Cleary won an Oscar two years ago for his last short, “Stutterer.”

“Weekends”
Directed by: Trevor Jimenez
USA, 15 minutes
“Weekends” is the story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. Surreal, dream-like moments mix with the domestic realities of a broken up family in this hand-animated film set in 1980’s Toronto.

Also Read: The Scene at ShortList 2017: TheWrap's 6th Annual Short Film Festival (Photos)

The finalists in the Student category:

“A Place to Stay” (American Film Institute)
Directed by: Charlie Polinger
USA, 17 minutes
Kansas City, 1959. When Andy’s boyfriend leaves him, he drives across the state to confront him and discovers his lover’s double life.

“The Goodnight Show” (University of Texas)
Directed by: Charlie Schwan
USA, 16 minutes
The year is 1978 and an unstoppable asteroid is soaring directly for earth. As a family eats their last meal, a news program playing in the background confirms their inevitable and impending doom. For most, there isn’t much to do except sit and wait for the end. In paltry hero Samuel’s case, however, this is his last chance to prove to himself — and everyone else — that he’s not a loser.

“Labor” (University of California, Los Angeles)
Directed by: Cecilia Albertini
USA/Italy, 12 minutes
Two mothers. One baby. A harrowing decision.

“Oglesby Park” (Northwestern University)
Directed by: Troy Lewis
USA, 9 minutes
After a confusing encounter at the park, a young boy struggles to reconcile the ache of empathy with the desire to push the pain away, leading to devastating results.

“One Small Step” (University of Southern California)
Directed by:  Aqsa Altaf
USA, 13 minutes
Dasani is a motivated 9-year-old student who dreams of becoming an astronaut. After finding out that her class is going on a field trip to the Science Museum to see the Endeavor Space Shuttle, Dasani starts counting down days to that trip. After her mother doesn’t return from a rally one day, Dasani is forced to choose between going on that field trip or being with her siblings.

“The Peak” (Savannah College of Art and Design)
Directed by: Mark Alex Vogt
USA & Hong Kong, 14 minutes
In this love story, set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s Hungry Ghost Festival, a young man leads his girlfriend on an elaborate scavenger hunt as they prepare to say goodbye to the city where they first met.

“Supernova” (University of North Carolina School of the Arts)
Directed by: Gavin Lankford and Alexsandre C. Kosinski
USA, 9 minutes
When a little boy’s late-night viewing of his favorite space adventure is cut short by a scolding from his mom, he channels the heroism of his sci-fi fantasy hero and makes it his mission to get it back.

“Z-MAN” (Loyola Marymount University)
Directed by: David Fortune
USA, 12 minutes
Z -MAN follows the journey of a 7-year-old boy pretending to be a superhero in South Central LA. After witnessing a crime in his neighborhood, he goes on a mission to find the man responsible and ensure the safety of his community.

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Sundance Channel Picks Wolf Films Vet Nena Rodrigue to Head Programming

Nena Rodrigue has been chosen as head of programming for Sundance Channel, Sarah Barnett,  the network's new president and general manager, said Tuesday.

In her new capacity, Rodrigue will develop and oversee Sundance's original productions, a slate that currently includes the network's first wholly-owned original scripted series "Rectify," which premieres April 22, and the miniseries "Top of the Lake," which kicks off March 28.

Rodrigue — whose official title will be senior vice president of original production and development — will report to Barnett, and will be based in New York.

Also read: Sarah Barnett Named Sundance Channel President

In her most recent position as executive vice president and executive producer at Wolf Films, Rodrigue was responsible for growing the "Law and Order" franchise, and oversaw development for "Conviction," "Trial by Jury," "Lost and Found" and "Law and Order: Los Angeles." Her career also includes a stint as the executive vice president of Imagine Television, supervising development and productions on series such as "Felicity" and Sports Night."

“Nena is a huge talent and I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome her to Sundance Channel,” Barnett said. “Her deep experience, especially in dramatic television, will serve us well as we continue our strategy of bringing audiences scripted series of the highest quality as well as fresh, unscripted worlds.”

 

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‘Amour,’ ‘Argo’ Win at Cesar Awards

Michael Haneke's drama "Amour" cleaned up at the Cesar Awards in Paris on Friday, taking home numerous top honors including Best Movie, while Ben Affleck's "Argo" took home Best Foreign Language Film.

In all, "Amour" took five awards — Best Movie; Best Director and Best Original Screenplay honors for Haneke, and Best Actress and Best Actor awards for Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, respectively.

Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" also racked up a number of awards, including Best Male Newcomer for Matthias Schoenaerts, Best Adapted Screenplay for Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, Best Original Soundtrack for Alexandre Desplat, and Best Editing for Juliette Welfling.

"Waterworld" star Kevin Costner took home the Honorary Cesar award.

 

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Indie Filmmakers Debate Post-Sundance: ‘Where Is Harvey?’ (Video)

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Sundance Expands Film Festival to Hollywood This Summer

Sundance is coming to Los Angeles. The Sundance Institute will launch a four-day film festival in Hollywood this summer, an extension of the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT section.

That section of the Park City, Utah-based festival features films that take risks with visual and narrative style, defined by little more than their audacious filmmakers. It launched in 2010, and has been home to such projects as Craig Zobel's divisive thriller "Compliance," Mike Birbiglia's "Sleepwalk With Me" and Alexandre Moors' unreleased "Blue Caprice."

The new festival will feature unreleased films, panels, a shorts program and the annual ShortsLab: Los Angeles, a short filmmaking workshop. There is no lineup yet for this summer.

Also Read: Beltway Sniper Film ‘Blue Caprice’ at Sundance: ‘Killers Aren’t Born, They’re Made’

Running from Aug. 8 to 11, NEXT Weekend will be headquartered at Sundance’s own Sundance Sunset Cinemas in West Hollywood and will have additional screenings around the city at venues like the Museum of Contemporary Art and Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Sundance has already expanded to London.

“The best part of independent filmmaking is the freedom to tell your stories your own way, to take risks and not be beholden to convention of any kind. At the core of NEXT Weekend are artists that are taking risks and pushing boundaries,” Robert Redford, president & founder of Sundance Institute, said in a statement. “As such, it’s fitting that Sundance Cinemas will be the home for this festival and these films.”

The festivities will begin with an outdoor screening Aug. 8 at the cemetery and end with screenings at venues across the city.

The Los Angeles summer festival lineup grows more and more crowded, as this new event follows June’s Los Angeles Film Festival and July’s Outfest. 

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Shane Acker to Direct Animated Version of ‘Beasts of Burden’ Comic Series

Shane Acker, Oscar nominee for his 2005 short '9,' will direct an adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series "Beasts of Burden" for Reel FX, the company announced on Wednesday.

Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson created the comics series, which chronicles a group of animals, mostly dogs, that function as the protectors of a town stricken by paranormal events. Darren Lemke, who wrote "Shrek Forever After," will adapt the comics while Reel FX's Aron Warner will produce alongside Dark Horse Entertainment's Mike Richardson and Strange Weather's Andrew Adamson.

Acker made his first feature in 2009 with "9," which was based on his award-winning short and produced by Tim Burton.

“It’s a pleasure to be working with such accomplished producers and filmmakers on this incredible project," Acker said in a statement. "There is a real independent spirit at Reel FX — the studio is full of energy and fresh ideas — which is necessary to bring this unique story to life.”

Reel FX, a Dallas-based design, visual-effects and animation studio, has been ramping up its feature film division over the past few years. It is already at work on the Guillermo Del Toro-produced "The Book of Life," which Fox will release in 2014, and "Turkeys," which Relativity will release before Thanksgiving in 2014.

It recently hired Warner, who produced the "Shrek" franchise, to lead the company's charge into feature animation. Reel FX aims to make mid-budget animated movies for whichever studio offers the best fit, though in the case of "Beasts" no studio has come aboard yet.

“Reel FX is continuing to partner with some of the leading filmmakers in animation," Warner said in a statement. "Shane is an immense talent and will bring his fresh vision and approach to this adaptation of 'Beasts of Burden.'"

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Independent Filmmaker Project Names Producer Jeffrey Sharp as New Executive Director

The Independent Filmmaker Project announced on Wednesday that it has tapped film producer Jeffrey Sharp as the institution’s new executive director.

Sharp, an award-winning producer for “You Can Count on Me,” will bring decades of experience to IFP, including his other work producing films such as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Evening and The Yellow Birds” and digitally publishing authors such as William Styron, Pat Conroy and Pearl Buck as co-founder and president of Open Road Integrated Media.

“We are delighted to have Jeff join IFP as its leader.  His credentials and background are a perfect fit with our organization,” IFP co-chairs Anthony Bregman and Jim Janowitz said in a statement. “He has developed and produced prestigious independent films. He has extensive non-profit experience as a co-founder and Chair of the Hamptons International Film Festival Advisory Board. He has broad contacts across foundations, arts organizations, and government.”

“I am tremendously honored to be joining the IFP as its new executive director,” Sharp added. “IFP has had an enormous impact on the independent film industry in New York and around the world for the past forty years.  I am excited to begin working with the talented IFP team, IFP members and alumni as we continue to explore new opportunities and expand on Joana Vicente’s remarkable legacy.”

Also Read: Inside Indie Film's Year of Upheaval: Weinstein and Open Road Are Out, Netflix and Searchlight Soar

The IFP connects artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Independent Film Week, Filmmaker Magazine, the IFP Gotham Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a tech and media incubator space developed with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

The IFP represents a growing network of storytellers around the world and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 40-year history, the IFP has supported over 10,000+ projects and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, including Barry Jenkins, Laura Poitras, Debra Granik, Miranda July, Michael Moore, Dee Rees, and Benh Zeitlin.

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Sharp will succeed Joana Vicente who previously served as the executive director of IFP for eight years. The IFP Board of Directors selected Sharp after conducting a nation-wide search.

In 2009, Sharp co-founded the digital publishing and marketing company Open Road Integrated Media with former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman and served as the company’s president. In 2013, he co-founded Story Mining and Supply Co. with Jim Kohlberg serving as president and CEO. The company produced the TV show Outlander for Starz, as well as feature films “The Yellow Birds,” “UFO” and Fox Searchlights’s upcoming production of “The Fence.”

He also formed Sharp Independent Pictures in partnership with GEM Pictures in 2016 to develop, finance and produce feature films and TV shows for the U.S. and China co-production market. Sharp Independent productions include: “My Other Home,” the hit TV show “Wonderful Life” and the current $300 million Chinese box office hit “Crazy Alien.” Upcoming projects include “The Great Banquet” and “The Baccarat Queen.”

Also Read: Mark Urman, Veteran Indie Film Distributor, Dies at 66

Sharp is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Producers Guild of America. He won an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature for “You Can Count on Me,” was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Nicholas Nickleby,” and was honored with the Andrew Sarris award in 2005 from the Columbia University School of the Arts for his contribution to independent cinema in 2005.

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