How It Worked For…
Dinosaur 13, Director Todd Miller (Spotlight on Documentaries)
When Todd Miller applied to Spotlight on Documentaries in May 2013, he had been working on Dinosaur 13 for two years, having begun shooting concurrent with his optioning of Peter Larson’s book Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law and My Life in 2011. Miller’s self-financed documentary on the 1990 discovery of the most complete T-rex specimen ever found (and the legal fight over its ownership) had been in production largely off the radar, with director/producer/editor Miller and DP Thomas Petersen as the only production crew. Having been cutting the over 300 hours of footage himself since the beginning, Miller submitted the first 50 minutes of the in-progress rough cut to IFP as his sample reel with the application.
Selected as one of 50 documentaries for the Spotlight on Documentaries Project Forum, Dinosaur 13 entered the week having approximately 30 meetings booked based on interest from a range of top sales companies, distributors, broadcasters, and funders. As for Miller: “I had two primary goals – to find sales representation and to connect with a major festival.” On that front, Miller made two connections during the week which were to prove instrumental for the film’s future. One of his industry meetings was with Submarine Entertainment’s Josh Braun, who was impressed with Miller and the clip that he saw. Within weeks after Independent Film Week they agreed to work together. At the “Meet the Programmers” meetings, Miller met with David Courier, Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival, who, after getting a look at the Dinosaur 13 sample, strongly encouraged him to submit a full cut as soon as he was able. Courier was to become a strong champion of the film within the Sundance programming team.
Accepted to Sundance – and programmed as one of the Opening Night films – Miller and team arrived in Park City with significant interest from several companies. Shortly following the first Eccles screening, negotiations began and ultimately resulted in the joint acquisition by Lionsgate (for U.S. theatrical) and CNN Films (for U.S. broadcast) as the first “on the ground” deal of the festival. By the end of the week London-based Dogwoof had signed on for international sales representation. As of Spring 2014, the theatrical release is targeted for a late summer/early fall theatrical release.
Todd Miller says “Independent Film Week really enabled me to make invaluable connections that led directly to placing Dinosaur 13 with the best partners I could have for the film. And the experience was so organized! I felt well taken care of. I actually plan to construct my future doc projects’ production timetables to be ready for IFW’s deadlines!”
Appropriate Behavior, Writer/Director Desiree Akhavan (RBC’s Emerging Storytellers)
“RBC’s Emerging Storytellers Program was where my producer and I first articulated the story we were interested in telling and determined a plan for how to make it. At Film Week, we connected to a world of industry professionals we’d never been exposed to, as well as mentors that we came back to again and again throughout the process of getting the film made. IFP was the first to believe in Appropriate Behavior, and without their early support we would have had a much harder time persevering through the next year it took to get it made.”
Memphis, Director Tim Sutton (No Borders)
“No Borders was an integral first step in the process of my second feature, Memphis, getting made – and getting made the right way. At the event, producer John Baker and I honed our pitch in a number of networking sessions and met with a cross-section of the top influencers of the independent film industry – from distributors A24 and agency WME to Sundance where Memphis eventually had its North American Premiere. Our final meeting was with the Venice Biennale Cinema College – the organization that ended up providing the funding and creative development necessary to green light the film and, under their wing, Memphis premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival. IFP supported my first project, Pavilion, in its Independent Filmmaker Labs, and have been true to their promise that they would be there every step of the way to support both my creative, strategic and career goals.”