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Feature Film Program Wraps Up Busy Summer

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Sundance Institute

The Feature Film Program is wrapping up quite a busy summer! It all started with the June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, held at the Sundance Resort from June 1 – 25. Eight Directors Lab Fellows (six of which were at the 2010 January Screenwriters Lab) joined us on the mountain to shoot 3-5 scenes from their developing screenplays, with the help of Creative Advisors, professional actors and professional film crew members. The Fellows this year were: Lance Edmands (BLUEBIRD), Sean Durkin (MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE), Myna Joseph (MY FAVORITE NIGHTMARE), Dash Shaw (THE RUINED CAST), Kasem Kharsa (SHELTER), Ondi Timoner (THE PERFECT MOMENT), Saodat Ismailova (40 DAYS OF SILENCE) and Sydney Freeland (DRUNKTOWN’S FINEST). Among the talented and generous Advisors this year were Ed Harris, Joan Tewkesbury, Michael Hoffman, Niki Caro, Caleb Deschanel, Christine Lahti and Ira Sachs. The process was challenging for all involved, but the work produced was inspired and thoughtful. Most impressively, Sean Durkin’s MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE is already in production! For an in-depth, first hand account of the directors’ experience, check out Sean Durkin’s blogSydney Freeland’s Screen Daily article, Myna Joseph’s Filmmaker Magazine blog and Saodat Ismailova’s Filmmaker Magazine blog . Also check out the audio slideshows from the Lab.


Fellow Sydney   Directors Lab


Immediately following the June Directors Lab was the June Screenwriters Lab, where seven additional writers joined the Directors Lab Fellows for a 5-day intensive writing workshop. The additional writers included: Bruce Goodrich (co-writer, THE PERFECT MOMENT), Ry Russo-Young and Lena Dunham (co-writers, NOBODY WALKS), Steph Green (RUN AND JUMP), Bogdan Mustata (WOLF), Antonio Mendez Esparza (AQUI Y ALLI) and Talya Lavie (ZERO MOTIVATION). Over the course of five days, the writers had six one-on-one meetings with Creative Advisors, which included Audrey Wells, D.V. Divencentis, Walter Mosley, Steve Gaghan, John August and Ronan Bennett. At the end of the month, everyone involved was exhausted, but also incredibly proud of the creative progress made at the Labs. And the weather this year was beautiful – lots of hiking, mountain biking and horseriding!


lunch meeting directors lab   Directors Lab


In August, the Directors Lab Fellows returned to the mountain for the Feature Film Composers Lab, where six emerging film composers scored original music to the scenes shot at the Directors Lab. The Composers Lab Fellows this year were Sherri Chung, John Hancock, Mark Orton, Arturo Rodriguez, Kareen Roustom, and Rani Sharom. The scenes were made even more powerful and effective with the addition of music from these talented composers.

Also in August, the FFP held the Creative Producers Lab and the Creative Producing Summit. The culmination of our year-round artist support programs, the Producers Lab brought together five emerging creative producers with producing mentors and filmmakers for a workshop covering all aspects of creative producing. This year’s CP Fellows were: Jennifer Cochis (THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE), Alicia Van Couvering (NOBODY WALKS), Kyle Martin (BLUEBIRD), Adele Romanski (ELLA WALKS THE BEACH) and Amy Lo (AMERICANO), who were advised by the esteemed and generous producers Mary Jane Skalski, Jay Van Hoy, Lynette Howell and Tim Perell. Immediately following was the Creative Producing Summit, which brought together leading independent producers, distribution experts and financiers to discuss the state of the independent film business. Highlighted by Netflix founder Reed Hasting’s key-note speech and attended by such panelists as John Sloss, Josh Braun and Marian Koltai-Levine, the weekend was thought-provoking and, ultimately, hopeful. For more complete coverage, check out Amy Lo’s Filmmaker Magazine blog and our own coverage of the Summit.

And now, it’s back to work! We’ve completed the first round of our January 2011 Screenwriters Lab applications, and now it’s time to read all those scripts we’ve invited to the second round. Decisions won’t be made until early December, but we’re off to get a jump start on reading! For those interested in applying to the Screenwriters lab, applications for January 2012 will be available February 15, 2011 – check back then!

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A man in a beige shirt and with medium-length dark hair kneels in the dirt and looks over his right shoulder at the camera

Who Was… Mark Silverman?

Mark Silverman allied himself with the Coen brothers early in his and their careers. Here, he works as co-producer on the set of “Raising Arizona.”

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