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Rotterdam Panel: Creative Co-Funding of Indie Films, from Tribeca to Kickstarter (UPDATED)

Thompson on Hollywood By Torene Svitil | Thompson on Hollywood January 31, 2014 at 4:38PM

Funding and financing an independent film takes almost as much creativity as making the film, according to a panel of representatives from The Tribeca Film Fund, Kickstarter and Cinereach. Filmmakers from outside the U.S. -- especially those in Europe -- benefit from government support and co-production treaties, but Americans are on their own.
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Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy in 'Obvious Child'
Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy in 'Obvious Child'

Funding and financing an independent film takes almost as much creativity as making the film, according to a panel of representatives from The Tribeca Film Institute, Kickstarter and Cinereach, moderated by producer Madeleine Molyneaux.

'The Square'
'The Square'

Filmmakers from outside the U.S. -- especially those in Europe -- benefit from government support and co-production treaties, but Americans are essentially on their own and it's a complicated world to navigate.  Every funding organization has specific requirements and offers a range of funding and support services.  

According to Tamir Muhammad, Director of Feature Programming, the Tribeca Film Institute gives out $2 million a year in grants of between $15,000 and $100,000 for fiction and non-fiction films and new media through its various funds, among them the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, for projects that deal creatively with scientific, mathematical or technological subjects; the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund; and Tribeca All Access, for filmmakers based in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, who come from communities that are underrepresented in the film industry. Recent TFF-supported projects include "Computer Chess," "The Case Against 8" and the upcoming "2030." 

Elisabeth Holm, Film Program Director at Kickstarter, noted that over 55,000 creative projects, including films, have been funded to some degree through Kickstarter, including Oscar-nominated "The Square;" last year's Academy Award-winning short documentary "Inocente;" and "Obvious Child" (above) which Holm also produced. 

Andrew Goldman, Cinereach's Head of Production, said that the non-profit foundation and production company looks to fund and produce two to three projects a year through its Productions program. The Grants program aims to support 20-30 projects a year and gives up to $50,000 for each stage of a production; grantees must have a non-profit fiscal sponsor. Cinereach's  Fellowships program is an incubator for indie features by young filmmakers, with support from the Ford Foundation. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and non-fiction "Teenage" are two of its most recent productions.  

In considering which projects to fund, Cinereach looks for "emotional engagement and for films that are vital and artful and that push cultural and creative boundaries," Goldman said. "I want to offer filmmakers an opportunity not to participate in the world of Hollywood film."

This article is related to: Kickstarter , Tribeca Film Institute, Tribeca Film, International Film Festival Rotterdam


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.