I have had the pleasure of being one of the lab leaders at the IFP Filmmaker Lab for the past 5 or so years (as you can imagine I help run the distribution and marketing component of the labs). Each year the four times I travel to New York for the labs are some of the highlights of my calendar. Yet I am continually amazed by the number of first time filmmakers that I talk to that didn’t apply to the lab (and many had not heard of it!). So as the deadline for the Documentary Lab looms (March 7th! Narrative App due April 4), I thought I would take a little time to encourage filmmakers to apply – you never know what might happen!
1. It’s the first of its kind post production, distribution and marketing lab that helps shepherd first time filmmakers through the difficult aspects of not only creating the best film possible but also the often arcane post production and delivery process.
2. It is not a one-time lab – it takes place over -6-7 months and meets three times– each session building on your progress and what you learned the last time. The first session is focused on editing and postproduction, the second on marketing and the third on distribution. Your film is assigned a mentor who is with you during these months. You also get continued support from the amazing team at IFP: Amy, Milton, Rose, Dan, Chantel and more.
3. You get new eyes on your film: During the post production session, you get feedback on your edit not only from a super experienced editor but also from the aforementioned folks at IFP and your peers in the lab.
4. Speaking of peers – each lab creates a close knit group of friends who then proceed to help each other out not only through the post process but through the arduous and at times elating and at times discouraging process of distribution and marketing.
5. It is the only lab that helps you develop a distribution and marketing strategy for your film. Many of the films in the lab receive some form of traditional distribution deal – but many – like most films – create some form of hybrid release – combining unique theatrical, broadcast, merch and digital opportunities. We bring in industry experts to discuss the latest trends and workshop what might be the best distribution strategy for your film.
6. We help you identify the audience for your film, figure out ways to connect to that audience and bring in a panel of industry experts to review and hone your marketing strategy and materials.
7. Your project is elevated within the independent film community. Of the 50,000 films made every year – yours are one of 20 selected by one of the premiere film organizations in the world. People pay attention.
8. You are automatically included in IFP’s Independent Film Week either in the Spotlight on Docs or Emerging Narrative. This is an amazing program designed for films that are just about to hit the marketplace – you are teamed up with top notch film festivals, distributors, aggregators, broadcasters, service providers who are all interested in your film. The marketing lab is timed to help you hone your materials and pitch right before you go out and present your film to the industry.
9. IFP will be your partner in crime after the labs are finished. They make calls on your behalf, they help you give birth to your film through festivals, screenings etc. Nearly every film that has come through the lab in the last few years has received some form of distribution from the incredible DIY approach of John Henry Summerour’s Sahkanaga to Dee Rees’ Pariah.
10. All of the above for the low low price of 0! Its Free – you just have to get yourself to NYC three times a year. And really – how bad is that?
Bonus Reason: Best of all, you become a part of the IFP family. (This has actually been one of the most gratifying parts of the lab for me as well – that even though I live in LA – I consider the people at IFP my second family). They want to help you with your next films, cheerlead you, and push you in new directions. It is truly a magical group that any filmmaker would be lucky to be a part of.
Unlike many other labs – this is a one time opportunity – only open to first time filmmakers – so if that’s not you – sorry, share it with a friend. If it is you – why not take the plunge?