2012 SBIFF Women's Panel: Women in the Biz
Illustration by Esther Peal Watson

2012 SBIFF Women's Panel: Women in the Biz

with SBIFF

Video: Finding the path for your indie film

Madelyn Hammond: I want to talk about independent film. And so Leslie, question, because you worked--you did some other films. Now there are so many options, and for those in the audience that are want-to- be filmmakers or filmmakers that are trying to struggle and get that film seen theatrically, there are plenty of options now that didn't exist when you were doing it. So what do you think? Do you think this is a good thing or bad thing? Sometimes we are going straight to VOD, it is enticing, but there are drawbacks. So what about the nature of independent film today? Leslie R. Urdang: Well, I think it is in a huge transition, and obviously that gives people a lot of opportunity as well as obstacles.

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Watch the Online Video Course 2012 SBIFF Women's Panel: Women in the Biz
32m 50s Appropriate for all Feb 03, 2012

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As the presenting sponsor of the 27th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, lynda.com is once again pleased to open the door to four entertainment industry panels that feature some of Hollywood's top talent. Panelists are carefully chosen during the awards season and include many you'll see on the Golden Globes® and Oscars®.

Moderated by Madelyn Hammond from Madelyn Hammond & Associates, the Creative Forces: Women in the Business panel features five talented producers whose films have been nominated for multiple awards—from drama and comedy to animation and independent short film. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Picture Paris) talks about her short film written by husband/writer Brad Hall. A multi-award winning actress, Louis-Dreyfus describes her journey to the other side of the camera as producer. Dede Gardner (Tree of Life) tells us why Fox Searchlight Pictures chose not to include images of star Brad Pitt while promoting the film. Melissa Cobb (Kung Fu Panda 2) talks to the organic process of producing an animated feature that allows an ongoing evolution of the story during production. Denise Ream (Cars 2) also shares her journey in feature animation though the creative juggernaut that is Pixar Animation. And Leslie Urdang (Beginners) talks about the experiences of working with legendary actor Christopher Plummer, who was presented with the Modern Master Award at this year's festival.

These powerful forces in feature filmmaking offer an inside look at why women are no longer excluded from any role in production they choose. All it takes is desire and a lot of hard work.

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Finding the path for your indie film

Madelyn Hammond: I want to talk about independent film. And so Leslie, question, because you worked--you did some other films. Now there are so many options, and for those in the audience that are want-to- be filmmakers or filmmakers that are trying to struggle and get that film seen theatrically, there are plenty of options now that didn't exist when you were doing it. So what do you think? Do you think this is a good thing or bad thing? Sometimes we are going straight to VOD, it is enticing, but there are drawbacks. So what about the nature of independent film today? Leslie R. Urdang: Well, I think it is in a huge transition, and obviously that gives people a lot of opportunity as well as obstacles.

And I think the best thing is to focus on the opportunity. I think that film is evolving. There used to be--when I first started making movies you could finance a movie because you knew there were like nine windows that you would be getting money from over the course of its life, starting with theatrical, going to free television, paid television, premium cable, second window cable, and then on and on to the various DVD, all the ancillary rights, and now all of those windows of distribution and access to storytelling have been compressed.

And the cost of putting a movie out theatrically is enormous and not right for every film necessarily. But it becomes the place where your movie is promoted, in some way, for all the other ancillary rights to be exploited. So I guess as an independent filmmaker, I look at--everyone's dream, every filmmaker that I meet ideally wants their movie to be shown theatrically.

That's kind of what most movies are shot for. But there are some stories that don't need to be told on the giant screen, and how great is it that you can produce them and have an outlet for them that is not requiring that much financial support, just to get it out into the world, to distribute it? And it just means you have to, as an independent filmmaker, you balance the costs of your production with what you anticipate being a realistic life for the film.

It's really lovely when a studio picks up your movie internationally and you just deliver it to them and you are involved in the marketing of it to a certain extent and they put it out into the world. But that's a really rare experience for the number of films that are actually made year to year, so finding the pathways, all the other pathways, to getting your movie out, whether Leslie R. Urdang: it's Google or--well, DVD is even going away. Madelyn Hammond: Netflix? Leslie R. Urdang: Netflix or YouTube, Apple, it's YouTube. Exactly. Madelyn Hammond: iTunes, Apple.

I think it's great. I think it democratizes everything and still the quality things will come out. I mean what's happening right now that's complicated is there's so much noise out there that it's hard to break through in that world unless you have the support of a big marketing campaign behind you, still. But, I don't know where it's all going. I don't think anybody completely knows. If they do, I would love to meet that person.

Madelyn Hammond: Yeah! No, it is like the wild wild west now. It's like, who knows, and it's going to be good for you and anything that you decide to do as a consequence of the short too, because there are just plenty of avenues. It's about being seen. Julia Louis-Drefus: Yeah. Well, there is a market for shorts. There is certainly an international market for shorts. You know, it's really very much the culture outside the United States is to pair a shot with the feature in a way that isn't quite the case here. But Hulu and iTunes and so on and so forth are great opportunities for a launching--a launching point. Madelyn Hammond: And Melissa, you came from indie films, so it's very different than it was when you were doing it.

Melissa Cobb: Yeah, back then it was about things called--there were videotapes. But then you know, yeah, when I was working a lot in independent films, it was sort of the heyday of where there was a lot of video money, because the video market was a relatively new then, because I am super old. And there was a lot of financing available, and it really spurred this great rebirth in independent filmmaking that was fantastic. And I'm hoping that there will be sort of a second wave of that with all these new opportunities coming up. Madelyn Hammond: Yeah I think that it's the opportunities that are making such a difference now.

You know, they just didn't exist back then. It's all changed with technology.

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