June 3, 2013

Want to Get Your Production Company or Film off the Ground? Dogfish Accelerator Wants to Help

Ever heard of an accelerator program? You know -- the programs that outfit entrepreneurs and startups with the tools and know-how to make their business ventures successful? Well, if you thought, "Wow, that sounds like a great idea for the indie film industry," you're not the only one. Using the very same business model, Dogfish Accelerator wants to hook you up with the resources, training, and seed funding to help build your production company from the ground up.

Dogfish Accelerator founders James Belfer and Michelle Soffen have created the first ever accelerator program for film producers. They basically took the seed startup accelerator model and applied it to the film industry, creating a business development lab for aspiring film producers -- and they are taking applications now!

As the story goes, Belfer approached Soffen about creating an accelerator for indie film. Wary of the vast differences between the tech startups and films, the team had to find a way to redefine, even for themselves, what films actually are -- not just single artistic products, but as brands and individual companies.

Belfer explains:

Film needs to develop a model as part of their development process -- as part of this stage before the film is made where you could a minimum viable product for films. That's a landing page that sets the mood, or maybe it's some extra footage that has nothing to do with the film, or maybe it's a trailer. But, taking the model and creating a new stage of the process that happens before the film is finalized -- that's imitating a lot of what the tech community actually does. Filmmakers can be doing the same thing.

Dogfish is looking for creative and savvy people who are "fearless and ready to shake things up." Ideally, applicants would be people who have made creative content, published a book, made a short film, or ran a startup business.

So, if you're interested, here's how the whole thing works. Dogfish is taking on 6 - 8 producer teams, which will create a company and "work towards raising capital for an initial launch project". The company they create can be virtually anything: a film, slate, fund for talent, a "well-defined filmmaking mission." The sky's the limit, really.

Then these production teams will receive seed funding, mentorship, perks and resources, training and events over a period of 3 months in exchange for 8% of the team's venture gross. How much funding do they get? Who are the mentors? What are the perks and resources?

Funding

  • Each team gets $18,000 in seed financing.
  • Dogfish Pictures has allocated $1,000,000 per year towards a Follow-On Fund for Dogfish Accelerator projects. So, once you finish your accelerator program, you will be eligible for this.

(No, $18,000 isn't a whole lot of money if we're talking about filmmaking.) Soffen reminds us, though, that the money is just seed money. However, she did surprise me when she mentioned what that money could be used for: 

If they need to use that to pay their rent so they can live and work in New York for 3 months and focus only on this, then that's what they have to do. If they want to use it to develop their marketing campaign or for legal fees...

Mentors

Mentors range from publicists, distributors, and tons of producers. Here are a few you might know.

For a complete list of all the mentors, click here.

Perks

Aside from having access to tons of startup funds and great mentors, you'd also have access to many service providers for all phases of and aspects of filmmaking, such as:

  • Crowdsourcing
  • Digital distribution
  • Legal
  • Production
  • Post-production
  • PR

Check out the list here.

Thankfully for all of you who want to get involved the application deadline has been extended to 11:59pm June 7, 2013.

As much as this venture is going to be an experiment in creativity for the production teams, so it will be for the founders of Dogfish. Soffen says:

Honestly, we don't know what we're going to see. This is an experiment. We expect to learn as we go. We're hoping that we're going to see these people just fly with their ideas -- do the most creative thing in their life, because they have this support behind them.

This sounds like a great opportunity for filmmakers who want to be put in a film industry pressure cooker. I've found that situations like this are so worth it. Also, you do not need to apply with an idea for a project in mind. Just, take a deep breath, think of the possibilities, and apply.

What do you think? Does Dogfish Accelerator sound like something you'd want to participate in? Did you stop reading way at the top of this article because you were busy applying?

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Your Comment

6 Comments

Good Article NFS.
I found his comments about size of budget creating size of expectations to resound very true. Also about branding your movie. Many of the bigger studios are doing this already, but I think this is something that the indie world has not fully embraced and I am glad Dogfish is stepping up and trying to help change that. This is a great idea and I think this model is a window into the future of cinema. Producers will never disappear, just as the studio system has not disappeared, but it will, I think, help facilitate wider distribution on independent content with greater financial return which in the long run will make more indie films look promising to backers.

June 3, 2013 at 8:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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tbonemain

Password to my linkedin or facebook account??? N.F.W. If that's the only way to "apply" for the program, count me out.

June 3, 2013 at 6:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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You're just logging in using a third-party service -- they are not taking your password.

June 26, 2013 at 1:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Article doesn't mention that Dogfish would take 8% of your company's future profits. Compared to $18K in seed money, this is a ridiculously high amount. (I know this is typical for tech startup accelerators but it doesn't make sense for a film company based on how your movie will inevitably be financed and how the film's recoupment structure will be developed.) Serious producers will stay away from this program.

June 4, 2013 at 4:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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brooklynite

Not quite the first ever film accelerator for film producers. Sounds very similar to the CineCoup film accelerator that just finished its first cycle in Canada, and awarded $1M and a major theatrical release to a Canadian film.

June 27, 2013 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ET

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September 30, 2013 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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