October 2008

Getting it Covered: Video the Vote

Video the Vote sends independent and novice filmmakers out across the country to document the voting process this Election Day.


Angry citizens in Florida shut out on Election day in 2000.

With the power of YouTube and an army of over 2,000 videographer volunteers (you can join too), Video the Vote (see promo) hopes to ensure timely, complete, and accurate reporting of voter suppression and election irregularities come November 4 and beyond.

Between polls, pundits, and analysts, predictions of the upcoming presidential election seem endless, with many agreeing this could be yet another tight race where, in certain states, every vote will count. And if you think that's just a cliché, think of this: in 2004, George W. Bush won by taking Ohio with 118,601 votes, or about 9 votes per precinct.

Money Issues: Funding an Independent Film

Three filmmakers discuss their experiences in raising money to make their films.


A still from Dennis Dorch's "A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy," which screened at the Austin Film Festival this month.

There are many ways to fund a film, but how do you know what is right for you? The Independent looks at three films: the documentary, The Linguists (see the trailer), the short, student film, The Abattoir (see the trailer) and the feature, A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy (see the trailer) to see how they went from ideas on the page to festival successes.

Long before filmmakers begin production, they face the daunting task of scraping together enough money to get their film off the ground. Choosing the right method of funding relies on many factors, including the type and subject of the film, and the experience behind the cast and crew involved in the project.

Of Finance and Fantasy: The Aviatrix Takes on Funding in Texas

An interview with filmmaker Toddy Burton reveals the inner-workings of film funding in Texas.


A still from Toddy Burton's "The Aviatrix" a film shot in Texas.

The state of Texas doesn't exactly bring to mind a thriving artistic community, but The Independent sits down with filmmaker Toddy Burton, the Austin-based director of The Aviatrix, who gives us an inside look on what it's like to produce and fund a film in the Lone Star state.

“Making a movie is like moving a mountain,” says Toddy Burton, the Austin-based filmmaker behind The Aviatrix, a film about a girl struggling with cancer who finds an escape from her troubles by becoming The Aviatrix, a superhero who rockets through outerspace.

Let’s Make A Deal: SAG Strike Looking More Likely

A look at what the practically-looming SAG strike might mean for Independent filmmakers.


A SAG strike may not effect independent filmmakers.

Guaranteed Completion Contracts (GCCs), otherwise known as waivers, prove to be a lifesaver for indie filmmakers as the SAG and AMTFG negotiations remain at a standstill. Here is a rundown of the issues at hand and how they might affect independent filmmakers.

The continued standstill between the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to re-negotiate a new contract makes a strike look increasingly likely. The previous contract expired June 30, 2008.

The View From the Other Side

The Independent sits down with Matt Zoller Seitz, former film critic for the New York Press and the film-brain behind "The House Next Door" blog.


A still from film critic Matt Zoller Seitz's "Home" released in 2006.

Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz brings a unique perspective to independent filmmaking, sharing his views on the medium that he's picked up both as a critic and a director (see the trailer for his film Home). Seitz shares with The Independent what the end product looks like from the other side of the camera and offers advice to filmmakers from the perspective of the critic.

It takes guts for a critic to venture into the medium they analyze, but acclaimed film critic and blogger, Matt Zoller Seitz did just that, releasing his first feature-length film Home in 2006.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Soy Andina"

The Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Mitchell Teplitsky's "Soy Andina."


A still from Mitchell Teplinsky's "Soy Andina," which took him over six year to complete.

The Doc studies Mitchell Teplitsky's first film, Soy Andina (check out the trailer) and takes a behind-the-scenes look at how Teplitsky went from marketing director to successful filmmaker living in Peru. This October, the Doc will be presenting her signature workshops on story structure and fundraising trailers in Tucson, AZ and San Francisco, CA. For details check www.documentarydoctor.com. Also, check out the Doctor's previous Anatomy columns.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

Health Insurance for Artists

Health insurance options for artists, writers and filmmakers.


A doctor's office (Photo by striatic).

Filmmakers, writers and other freelancers are often ineligible for health insurance through a company. But there are still plenty of options out there, if you know how to find them. So The Independent put together this list, broken down by state with the aim of helping artists learn their insurance options.

As freelancers, many members of the creative community -- writers, artists, and filmmakers -- often struggle to find the best health insurance for themselves and their families. Since artists typically do not work as employees, they are not eligible for insurance through a company. And it's not always an option to tag onto a partner's or parent's policy. But there are still plenty of options out there, if you know how to find them. Emerging and veteran artists may not realize that, in fact, they are eligible as artists to join certain organizations, and thus obtain a variety of more affordable health insurance options. So The Independent put together this list, broken down by state with the aim of helping artists learn their insurance options.

Making a Film Is Only Half the Battle

Filmmaker Paul Devlin looks back on the film festival strategy he used for his documentary "BLAST!".


Lift Off: "BLAST!" follows a NASA team that seeks to launch a telescope into space.

Filmmaker Paul Devlin gives advice to filmmakers trying to find their niche in the festival circuit with anecdotes from his own experience in sending out his latest film BLAST! (watch the trailer here), which screened at RIFF, Hot Docs and Mountainfilm in Telluride and has upcoming screenings at the Corona Cork Film Festival in Ireland and the Bergen International Film Festival in Norway this month.

For decades, film festivals have partnered up with great independent films to give them a healthy life. Filmmakers have relied on the hard work of festival programmers and organizers to get our films out to audiences and to reach wider markets through press and distributor attention.

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