By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 18, 2012 at 4:03PM
At Bingham Ray's LA Memorial at Busby's on Wilshire Friday, the Sundance Institute's Keri Putnam, Michele Satter, John Cooper, and Trevor Groth announced a new creative producing fellowship to honor Bingham Ray, worth $10,000. The Sundance fellow they seek--an honest and crazy maverick who loves indie cinema--will be announced in June. The fellow will attend the Sundance Producing Lab and Summit, which brings long-term advisor relationships with two industry mentors as well as Sundance Institute Feature Film Program staff.
Among the other speakers at Ray's LA Memorial, who were introduced at the open mic by host Sam Kitt, were Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, who told an hilarious story about a Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival car race with Ray back to their hotel. Excessive speed was involved. Ray won. One-time William Morris agent Cassian Elwes recounted the play-by-play on Ray vs. Weinstein during October's Toronto acquisition of Robert Duvall's "The Apostle," during which several players tustled in a hotel hallway.
Other speakers were Ray's long-time attorney Linda Lichter, Paul Schwartzman, screenwriter Howard Rodman, Fisher Stevens, October Films staffer Susan Glatzer, poker chum Mark Rabinowitz, one-time exhibitor Tom Brueggemann, ex-acquisitions exec Josh Deighton and producers Rob Carliner, Jeff Dowd, Bobby Rock and Rebecca Yeldham. Ray's widow Nancy King and two daughters flew West for the event; King told the indie film community in attendance that they were Ray's other family, and thanked them for sharing her husband. In the room were Sundance's Sarah Eaton, IMDb's Christian Gaines, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, LAFF and Newsweek's David Ansen, attorney Michael Donaldson, Ray Price and Meg Madison, Sidney Kimmel's Jim Tauber, Indiewire's Dana Harris and James Israel, Deadline's Brian Brooks, Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, writer John McCormick, one-time UA execs Chris McGurk, Danny Rossett and Sara Rose, producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, David Linde, Dan Lupovitz, Jonathan Dana and Chris Sievernich, press agents Mark Pogachefsky and Nancy Willen and the NYT's Manohla Dargis.
Two funds have been established in Ray's name. One is at the San Francisco Film Society, where Ray had just started as Executive Director at the time of his death on January 23 in Provo, Utah.
Proceeds from the fund will be used to showcase the true spirit of the independent films and filmmakers that he championed. Donations in memory of Bingham can made made to SFFS here or mailed to: SFFS, 39 Mesa Street Suite 110, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.
The other was established by his family at the Jacobs Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York, which is run by Ray family friend Stephen Apkon, who led the group effort to mount the memorable New York Memorial on February 10.
The Bingham Ray scholarship fund will support students interested in deepening their exploration into the world of film. Donations in memory of Bingham can be made through the JBFC website or mailed to Jacob Burns Film Center, 403 Manville Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570.
Film Independent also plans to tribute Ray at their annual Spirit Awards on February 25, the day before the Oscars. At the New York Memorial, the IFP announced the creation of the Bingham Ray Award, a $25000 prize given to an emerging filmmaker. And in Berlin, there was a gathering on February 13 to honor the popular indie executive.
Here's more on the Sundance Fellowship:
“Bingham embodied so much of what makes a great independent film producer – passion, unwavering commitment, tenacity and a deep love of cinema,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “We hope that his clarity of purpose around films that he championed lives on in the spirit of a new generation of producers.”
This is one of five annual Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellowships. Producers selected to participate receive a $5,000 living stipend, $5,000 pre-production grant, year-round mentorship from two industry Advisors, year-round support from Institute staff, and attendance at the Feature Film Creative Producing Lab, Creative Producing Summit and Sundance Film Festival.
For more than 30 years, Sundance Institute and its Feature Film Program have offered in-depth, year-round programs for feature film screenwriters and directors. Producers and projects previously supported through the Creative Producing Fellowship include Dan Janvey & Josh Penn (2012 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner Beasts of the Southern Wild), Alicia Van Couvering (Nobody Walks), Julien Favre (Arcadia), Nekisa Cooper (Pariah) and Cara Marcous (On the Ice).