FIND/ECA networking event unites emerging filmmakers. By Pauline Rogers.
FIND (Film Independent), the non-profit arts organization producers of the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, also helms a Directing Lab dedicated to the development of independent talent, much the same as Local 600’s Emerging Cinematographers Awards. FIND Lab fellows workshop and shoot key scenes from their feature film projects. This year, thanks to the efforts of Local 600 President Steven Poster and ECA Chairman Jim Matlosz, a group of Lab directors in search of cinematographers came together to explore possible partnerships with ECA winners.
According to Jennifer Kushner, FIND’s Filmmaker Labs Manager, “the Lab fellows were thrilled to meet and see the work of the ECA cinematographers. It is our hope that this event will spur productive and lasting collaborations between emerging independent filmmakers and DPs.”
ECA winners screened a two-minute presentation of their work. Afterward, they mingled with Lab directors to discuss merging their talents in a casual meet-and-greet atmosphere. Director Jonathan Goldman, who is looking for a cinematographer to help him bring his story Foreign Relations, about an American family hosting a South Korean exchange student, to fruition described the event as a “low-key way to mix with some talented emerging DPs and start some conversations.”
Other attendees, like 2009 ECA honoree David Speck, were not quite as enthusiastic, observing the first-time event suffered from disorganization.
“FIND didn’t seem exactly sure how to run the event so there was a lack of any real introduction process,” Speck noted. Another 2009 ECA winner, Paolo Cascio, added that, “it would be nice for future gatherings to have a networking table where we could all leave our bios and exchange information. One thing this event made me realize was the importance of having a 90-second sizzle reel with a montage compilation, as opposed to separate projects.”
Also in the 2009 ECA class was Julie Kirkwood, who shot the 2012 Sundance Dramatic Competition feature, Hello I Must Be Going. She traded information with four directors and two of them followed up the next morning. “I think this event was great idea,” Kirkwood enthused. “The only thing I would change was the screening quality – watching a standard def projection of your work on a white wall was brutal.”
Despite some shortcomings, most ECA shooters welcomed the chance to, as 2011 honoree David Mahlmann observed, “meet directors who are in the stages of pre-production on long format projects. You never know when that one chance meeting can turn into a long term working relationship.”
“An event that affords our members the opportunity to meet new filmmakers and expand our network is absolutely beneficial,” insisted 2011 ECA winner Michael Nie. “These directors were inspired and driven. It would be a pleasure to collaborate with any number of them.” “It definitely should be done again,” agreed director Nicole Jefferson, who attended seeking possible collaboration for her story of singer/songwriter Betty Mabry, who was briefly married to jazz icon Miles Davis.
Film Independent director Casey Cooper Johnson described the chance to meet so many extremely talented DPs in one evening as extraordinary.
“It reminds me of how many benefits there are to being a part of the FIND Directing Lab,” Cooper Johnson said. “The presentations were all impressive, and the DP’s were down to earth and very story oriented. I am continuing to communicate with several of them. I think that ICG and Film Independent found one of those perfect ‘chocolate and peanut butter’ partnerships with this.”
Matlosz, who has mirrored Poster’s long-held stance on paying back to each successive generation throughout the industry, concluded with the sentiment that, “we would love to continue to grow a strong relationship with FIND. We have such a wonderful pool of talent after 15 years of the ECAs; every time we reach out we not only extend the brand, but it also allows us to promote and mentor so many who might not have the time or access to enhance their burgeoning careers.”