April 1, 2014

IFP's Film Week Application Now Open, & It Features a New Web Category

A documentary rough cut, a narrative in pre-production, or a finished screenplay -- whatever you've got up your sleeve, IFP is here to help you get your work made and seen during their annual Independent Film Week! And for 2014, IFP is throwing a Web Series component into the ring -- music to the ears of the internet innovators out there. Below, hear IFP's Dan Schoenbrun breakdown this new category just for No Film School readers, and find out the details on applying for all of the categories before the deadline.

Every year, from September 14 - 18, IFP hosts Independent Film Week, which consists of the Project Forum and the Filmmaker Conference where projects are showcased, meetings are had, and the overall vibe of mixing the business of independent film with the art of it is a rewarding time for all. (Yes, I'm speaking from experience, and would recommend it to anyone.) Here's a breakdown of the different components of Film Week, and their respective deadlines:

The Web Series component is included under the "Emerging Storytellers" program. Five promising projects anywhere from development to post-production will be chosen for this first ever sidebar that includes IFP mentorship, full access to Film Week, and last but not least, at least a dozen personally curated meetings with the likes of distributors, production companies, agents, and financiers.

How do you get in on this? We asked the Program Manager at IFP, Dan Schoenbrun, to explain a little more about the new program and what IFP is looking for to give No Film School readers their best shot at applying!

NFS: What prompted the decision to add web series to the Emerging Storytellers component of Film Week?

Dan Schoenbrun: It’s something we’ve all been chatting about here at IFP HQ for a long time. More and more, we’ve been seeing creative storytellers moving fluidly across various mediums to tell their stories. The web space is one that’s wide open for innovation, and we think that it’s going to be daring, forward-thinking storytellers who are going to define and expand its potential. IFP has a long track record of supporting boundary-pushing filmmakers looking to create a sustainable business model for their feature films, and we’re excited to play a similar role in the web space.

I can go on forever about what I find so artistically compelling about web series (in fact, I did, in a blog I wrote for IFP’s website called Why Web Series Matter). The format democratizes serialized storytelling – it allows anyone the opportunity to develop a series and reach an audience, in whatever form, with whatever business model suits them best.

NFS: Ideally, what stage are you looking for web series applicants to be in with their projects?

DS: We’re casting a fairly wide net, since obviously the development and production process is a lot more fluid for web series than it is for features. The application is open to any new web series in development, production, or post-production, as long as it won’t be premiering publicly until after Film Week (September, 2014). Or, if you’re a web series creator currently in development on a new season of an existing series, you can apply with that as well.

NFS: If a project is submitted in earlier stages, what are you looking for?

DS: We want to see a pilot script and a show bible. We want to get a sense of the world of the series – the characters, the concept, how you would like the show to develop over time. And in the application, like with all IFP programs, we want to get a sense of why you’re making this series. What drew you to this story? Why are you and your team the right people to tell it? What do you hope to achieve artistically, and where does the series fall both within the modern marketplace, and within your own personal career trajectory?

NFS: What do you want to see from a project in more advanced stages of production or post?

DS: I’d say it’s pretty similar no matter your stage. Our programs at IFP are really focused on helping smart storytellers understand the business of storytelling, no matter what stage they’re at or what medium they’re working within. You’ve made – or are making -- a piece of art. Now we want to help empower you to find the best possible life for it out in the world.

NFS: Will IFP have a web series component to Film Week again in the future?

Definitely! This is meant to be an ongoing program, and we’re excited to see it grow and develop over the next few years as the web series medium does the same.

NFS: Any good web series we should check out for inspiration?

The Sixth Year, which had episodes directed by filmmakers like Rick Alverson, Alex Ross Perry, and Cory McAbee, was something different, exciting, and well-worth checking out. There’s not a ton of really high-quality drama on the web right now, and I hope that changes soon.

On the comedy side, my favorite last year was probably Catherine, which is from Jenny Slate and Dean Fleisher-Camp, and is just completely strange, original stuff -- the kind of thing that would never work in any other medium. Each episode is like two minutes long, max, and it looks like it was filmed for about fifty bucks. But it’s so ambitious and original in tone and style that it really stays with you.

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Thanks for the inside scoop, Dan! If you have a project that you're thinking of applying to attend IFP's Film Week with, good luck!

Anyone thinking of applying with a web series? As filmmakers, what do you think of the changing landscape for content in web space?

Link: Independent Film Week -- IFP

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