Independent Filmmaker Day Recap

September 15, 2021
David Rubenstein (top) and Kevin Bright at the online Independent Filmmaker Day event on Zoom, September 11, 2021.

This weekend I attended via Zoom the wonderful and informative Independent Filmmaker Day event, and was delighted to do so.  It was jam packed with tips, advice, training, and general good sense about the magic and craft of filmmaking, including shorts, television shows, and everything in between.  From conception to writing to funding to finding cast and crew to distribution and selling your project, this is one of the best resources for filmmakers I’ve come across.

David Rubenstein, a formidable entertainment lawyer and producer (1917), and his associate Eric Vollweiler, of the Vollweiler Agency, have been putting on the event since 2019.  For the pandemic, they pivoted to a completely on-line Zoom experience, which worked quite well.  They even have a virtual After Party later on today!  It was not too crowded, so you didn’t get lost in the shuffle.  Everyone had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and network with the experts and each other, which is so important, especially in today’s environment.

One of the highlights was Kevin Bright, producer and director (Friends TV series).  He talked about how he got started in the industry, his projects before and after Friends, and his current and upcoming projects.  One of my favorite things he said was “creative relationships are very tender, and have to evolve naturally.”  His formed a close long-term friendship and partnership with Marta Kauffman and David Crane to form Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions to produce Friends.  Ten years and 236 shows later, Friends remains one of the most popular and successful series of all time.

The next day, David Rubenstein headed a seminar called “Master Your Pitch!”  This was packed with tons of tips and advice on how to perfect your three minute pitch to get potential investors, cast and crew, and others interested in your dream project.  Some things to remember — three things that must be included in a successful pitch:  1) the type of film/genre/plot, 2) your personal connection to the material and 3) the business side, what are your goals and budget for the project.  These all must be smoothly combined into a compelling, outstanding, memorable brief speech.  Hopefully it will make potential investors, cast, directors, etc. sit up and take notice, and support you and your project.

There were many other panels, workshops and talks throughout the weekend. It culminated in a pitch fest where filmmakers each had a chance to practice their pitches.  The winner was awarded $40,000 of in-kind services to help produce their project.

All in all, a fascinating, most informative weekend that was tremendously helpful to anyone in the independent filmmaking industry.   For more information about the event and future programs, visit ifilmday.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

With today’s opportunities to make films even on your iPhone, and lots of streaming outlets desperate for quality material, there has never been a better time to pursue your filmmaking dreams.  They also emphasized the importance of your on-line presence, especially LinkedIn and IMDB for networking, finding opportunities, and team building.

Thank you to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to join in, I enjoyed it very much.

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