Ingrid Jungermann was nominated for the Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award for her debut feature ‘Women Who Kill,’ which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay. She recently attended Sundance Institute’s two-day intensive as part of the FilmTwo Initiative, which provides support to a diverse group of independent filmmakers in response to the specific challenges they face in developing and completing their second feature film. Below, Jungermann shares her thoughts on the experience.
Making your first feature film shouldn’t happen. It’s an impossible thing, especially if you’re not a straight white dude in their 20s. But somehow, this queer lady in her late 30s got the opportunity. I wouldn’t have been able to if I didn’t build up a healthy tolerance for rejection (some people call this egomania and/or masochism) and surround myself with a community of people who inspire me to keep moving, who believe in what I have to say, who talk me off the ledge when I just want to go back to school for something utilitarian and important – like sustainable agriculture.
It’s this community that will stick by you as you venture into your next impossible task – your second feature. Part of the reason a second feature is so hard to get off the ground is because you’re still trying to get your first one finished, sold, delivered, and seen. If you’re lucky, your first feature gets you “meetings” where everyone tells you they love you, you’re amazing, and then finally get to the meat of it: “So, like, what are you working on next?”
Enter Sundance FilmTwo. The people behind FilmTwo have been listening. They understand the struggle; they recognize that while supporting first features is necessary to introduce new talent to the world, it’s supporting the second feature that builds the foundation for something called a filmmaking career.
Ingrid Jungermann (left) at the Sundance Institute LA offices for the FilmTwo intensive. © 2017 Sundance Institute | Tiffany Roohani
The lab itself is a two-day intensive that introduced us to all parts of the process. A writing workshop, one-on-one meetings with mentors, group meetings with industry, feedback sessions with the other fellows. This wasn’t networking brunch speed dating where you pitch until you’re sort of good at it and cross your fingers that the assistant standing across from you, the one with the vodka cran, will remember you and your idea when they become a top exec at a place that makes movies you don’t want to see. No, this thing was curated to each individual filmmaker. They knew who you were and what you stood for; the mentors and industry folks were in the room with you because they wanted to be. This means the connection you felt is that genuine, mutual stuff you’re always hoping for but rarely find.
The other fellows are also part of the package. Even in as little as two days, I felt less alone because here were 11 strangers from all over the world grappling with the same questions and concerns, feeling just as uncertain and confused and overly sure of themselves and inspired and scared and passionate and vulnerable as me. Not that I’m scared and vulnerable, because I’m not (some people call this overly sure of themselves and/or lying).
FilmTwo is based around the idea that relationships make films happen. Your advisors introduce you to the right people at the right time, whether you’re looking for feedback on your script or partners to get your project off the ground. And while I’m sober to the fact that we’ve all chosen to do the impossible, it reassures me to know there’s a lot of people out there who can bring you a little closer to possible.
The Sundance Institute FilmTwo Initiative is made possible by founding support from Universal Pictures.