Deadlines: May 2, 2014 (early); May 23, 2014 (final) (through 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time)
How It Worked For Director Todd Miller on Dinosaur 13
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!”
Who Can Apply
Filmmakers in production or post-production seeking financing partners, broadcast/distribution, and festival invitations.
Criteria & Selection Process
Spotlight on Documentaries is for feature-length (>50 minutes) U.S. projects in any stage of production, as long as some footage has been shot, and the film is not complete. The program accepts approximately 50 projects. Projects must submit compelling assembled material to be considered for this competitive program.
What to Expect Prior to Independent Film Week:
Upon acceptance in mid-July, filmmakers receive guidelines for preparing for the week. IFP staff will schedule individual check-in calls with all selected projects during August to answer specific questions regarding preparations and goals for the week’s activities and meetings.
During Independent Film Week
* Pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with potential financing and distribution partners. All meetings are at attending buyers’ requests based on information provided in Spotlight on Documentaries Online Project Dossier.
* Inclusion of up to two video samples from your documentary in the Online Project Dossier: a short teaser up to 3 minutes, and a longer sample up to 20 minutes.
* speed-dating meetings with festival programmers.
* Invitation to private doc social events with buyers and programmers.
* Access to Independent Filmmaker Conference programming, including workshops, case studies and conversations with cutting-edge leaders in independent film and media
Lofty Nathan’s 12 O’Clock Boys; Tracy Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo’s Rich Hill, Todd Miller’s Dinosaur 13, Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s After Tiller; Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer; Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s Call Me Kuchu; Dawn Porter’s Gideon’s Army; Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq’s These Birds Walk; Jason Osder’s Let the Fire Burn; Penny Lane’s Our Nixon; Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles; Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman’s If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front; Ashley Sabin and David Redmon’s Girl Model; Katie Dellamaggiore’s Brooklyn Castle; Bess Kargman’s First Position; Jay Bulger’s Beware of Mr. Baker; Marie Losier’s The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye; Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix’ The Light in Her Eyes; Michael Collins’ Give Up Tomorrow; Laura Poitras’ The Oath, Jennifer Arnold’s A Small Act, Rebecca Richman Cohen’s War Don Don, Julia Bacha’s Budrus, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine’s Inocente; Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrlich’s The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Aron Gaudet’s The Way We Get By
Select Industry Attendees
Agents & Sales Agents: CAA, Cat&Docs, Cinetic Media, Celluloid Dreams, Cinetic Media, The Film Sales Company, Films Transit, Fortissimo, The Gersh Agency, ICM, Louise Rosen, Ltd., Match Factory GmbH, MK2, Paradigm, Rezo, Ro*Co Films International, Submarine Entertainment, UTA, WME, Untitled Entertainment, Visit Films, Wild Bunch
Distributors/Sales Companies: Cinema Guild, D Squared Films, eOne Entertainment; EPIX, Focus Features, IFC Films/Sundance Selects, Indiepix Films, Magnolia Pictures, Paladin, Passion River Films, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Seventh Art Releasing Showtime, Sony Pictures Classics, Strand Releasing, Variance Films, The Weinstein Company
Broadcasters: A&E IndieFilms, Al Jazeera American, American Documentary/POV, ARTE, BBC Storyville, CBC News Network, Channel 4, DR TV, ESPN Original Entertainment, HBO Documentary Films, Independent Lens, Investigation Discovery, ITVS, Meredith Viera Productions, MSNBC, New Video/Docurama, Ovation, PBS Distribution, YLE
Financiers & Funders: Chicken & Egg Pictures, Cinereach, The Fledgling Fund, IM Global, Impact Partners, Naked Edge Films, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Tribeca Film Institute, United States Artists
Film Festivals: American Black Film Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes, Florida Film Festival, Frameline, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, IDFA, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Nantucket Film Festival, NewFest, Rooftop Films, Sarasota Film Festival, Silverdocs, Slamdance Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Sydney Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival
Production Companies: 4th Row Films, AK Worldwide, Andrew Lauren Productions, ATO Pictures, Belladonna, Big Beach Films, Cine Mosaic, Crossroads Films, Curious Pictures, Duly Noted, Elixir Films, Gigantic Pictures. Goldcrest Films, Greyshack Films, The Group Entertainment, Hunting Lane, Indian Paintbrush, Insurgent Media, Journeyman Films, Killer Films, Likely Story, Motto Pictures, Original Media, Participant Productions, Passion Pictures, Pretty Pictures, Protozoa, Reason Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Sidetrack Films, The 7th Floor, Tribeca Productions, Entertainment, Washington Square Films, Werc Werk Works; Worldview Entertainment