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Addressing Barriers Head On: Strategic Advice & Financing Know-How

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Sundance Institute

I thought this was one of the most well-structured, choreographed, and executed events of its kind I’ve attended. Very little fat, lots of practical advice, and a real earnest sense of wanting to establish mentorships.”

Our groundbreaking Women at Sundance research revealed that the most frequent barrier facing independent women filmmakers was lack of access to film financing due to male dominated networks. We launched the Financing and Strategy Intensive to address these needs head-on and this year’s Intensive, held April 25 at Morgan Stanley’s Headquarters in New York, was more interactive than ever. We invited the producer-director teams behind 40 carefully selected projects—each directed by a woman—to participate. Our goal was to help them formulate stronger pitch presentations and actionable, strategic steps to advance their front-burner projects.

The Financing and Strategy Intensive began with a keynote talk by Sherrese Clarke, managing director in the Entertainment Group at Morgan Stanley, who spoke candidly about her journey navigating self-doubt. Next was master coach Ellen Rievman, whose experiential workshop showed fellows how to physically harness their confidence. The meat of the day centered on two intimate roundtable sessions including a pitch workshop and a strategy brainstorm. The goal was for filmmakers to walk away with stronger pitches and strategic next steps for raising financing.

Finally we presented “The Light Has Turned Green,” a panel moderated by Pat Mitchell featuring six companies currently financing and greenlighting women-helmed projects. As is our Sundance tradition, we capped the day with wine and cheese as everyone shared takeaways.

See below for reflections from the participants.

“This has been the most beneficial day I could have had to hash out new ideas and hear amazing feedback.” — Katy Scoggin, Filmmaker

“I’m taking away how brave everyone here is. It is not easy to get up there and share your stories.” — Keri Putnam, Sundance Institute executive director

“Silence is so powerful, and the way people listened to and supported each other stayed with me all day.” — Cynthia Wade, filmmaker

“I found great inspiration in the collaboration that went on in the room today. The generosity and the spirit with which everyone in this room brought their ideas took my breath away.” — Susan Margolin, advisor

“I really appreciated how the morning session gave us fundamental tips on how to present ourselves. That usually gets tossed to the wayside, and it’s so nice to come back to that.” — Ja’Tovia Gary, filmmaker

“I’m going home on a wave of passion inspired by everyone’s projects.” — Julia Reichert, filmmaker

“I have to say that, more than any other workshop or experience, I got the most out of this one, and what we received was of tangible value. From the first table to the second, in a short period of time, we completely reworked our pitch based on feedback from the first and had a very different experience second time around. We ended up having three mentors at the table ask us to follow up so that they can help. Thank you for including us. That was very special.” — Jodi Redmond, filmmaker


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