IFP’s unique year-long mentorship program supports first-time feature directors when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films. Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers.
Through the Labs, IFP works to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to reach audiences. Open to all first time feature documentary and narrative directors with films in post-production.
Supporting filmmakers when they need it most – through the completion, marketing & distribution of their first feature films – IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs is the only FREE program in the U.S. for first-time feature directors navigating how to build audience and stand out in a crowded marketplace. In the last three years, we’ve shepherded projects that have gone on to distribution deals at Focus Features, Radius / The Weinstein Company, Oscilloscope, BBC, PBS, and HBO, as well as prestigious premieres at Venice, Toronto, IDFA, Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin, and SXSW.
Recent notable alumni include ‘Concussion‘ (Radius/TWC), ‘Pariah‘ (Focus Features), ‘Una Noche‘ (Sundance Selects), and documentaries ‘Give Up Tomorrow‘, ‘The Light In Her Eyes‘ (both PBS’ “P.O.V.”) and ‘War Don Don‘ (HBO).
Since the program’s inception in 2005, the Labs have nurtured over 125 filmmakers’ inaugural films. 70% of alumni projects are complete and have premiered at major U.S. and International film festivals. 60% have had distribution outside of festival play, including theatrical release, television broadcast and DVD, VOD or digital platforms release.
– “IFP was one of the first organizations to believe in Pariah, and us as filmmakers. Throughout the four years since we first began working together, IFP has been a constant champion, opening doors and giving council as we labored to get this film made… The Labs were incredibly helpful because it connected us with creative mentors and helped us to make the best film possible and plan for the marketing and distribution of our first feature film. The year of mentorship, case studies, workshops, and strategy that we studied proved invaluable.” – Dee Rees, writer/director, ‘Pariah’
– “For the entire production team, unanimously, the IFP Narrative Lab in June was a truly transformative five days. In that week and the few months since, the film has grown more than it did in the 10 months that preceded it. It was simply invaluable for the film and for us as filmmakers.”- ‘Hide Your Smiling Faces‘ producing team (Berlin 2013)
Finishing Lab: Documentary: May 13-17, 2013; Narrative: June 10-14, 2013
These initial Lab workshops provide skills for polishing your film with expert-led workshops on:
Editing – strengthening your structure and story
Music – collaborating with a composer, song selection, rights and clearances
Post-Production – tools and budgeting for visual and audio finishing
Legal Issues – navigating contracts and deliverables
Audience Building – How to identify and activate your core fans
Transmedia Tie-Ins – conceiving and implementing story extensions
Film Festivals – evaluating your festival screening opportunities, assessing your representation options, and building your team
Publicity and Marketing – building social networks and creating the assets necessary to promote your film at festivals and beyond
Distribution Models – evaluating models to understand the best option (alternative, DIY or traditional distribution) for your film
Documentary-Specific Topics – reviewing archival footage and fair use
Independent Film Week & Marketing Lab: September, 2013
Filmmakers present their film promotion and marketing strategies in small group sessions and receive feedback from their Lab peers and experts in the field. These sessions mingle Documentary and Narrative Lab Fellows to further cross-pollinate ideas. Fellows also receive pitch strategy for scheduled meetings at Independent Film Week’s Project Forum.
During the Independent Film WeekProject Forum, fellows take strategic meetings with relevant potential buyers, sales agents, funders, and festival programmers interested in supporting the film.
Independent Film Week hosts a special Labs “Sneak Preview” Showcase, featuring clips from all current year Narrative and Documentary Lab films. This showcase is presented with Rooftop Films to an audience of hundreds of festival programmers, talent reps, filmmakers, and cinephiles.
Distribution Lab: December, 2013
Concentrate on individualized plans for the film’s release, including festival strategy and distribution preparation. Filmmakers pitch distribution strategies and receive feedback from peers and distribution experts. Additional in-depth seminars on distribution topics are presented.