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Hidden Gems: Where To Shoot Your Next Film

By Ryan Broussard Production tax incentives may sound intimidating, but they can be a powerful resource for independent filmmakers. Our partners at Cast & Crew and Media Services have put together a list of five states to consider shooting in and what you need to know about their tax incentives. The world of production tax incentives can be very exciting and even more profitable, given you choose the right jurisdiction for your project’s creative and budgetary needs. Believe it or not, there are currently more than 40 different production incentive programs in place across the United States. While we commonly hear about the most popular or longest-running ones (like those in Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, and now the very busy New Jersey), let’s not overlook the programs in lesser-known areas that may, in fact, be more profitable options for any given project. Here’s a look at five of the U.S.’ hidden gem states for production incentives: Alabama Tax Credit Type: Fully Refundable Credit (file a tax return, get a check back). Percentage: 25—35% Minimum Criteria: $500K Notable Projects: Get Out, Gerald’s Game, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things Alabama’s $20 million-funded program is often overlooked, as it runs between two popular southern states in Louisiana and Georgia. But Bama is no slouch! It has one...

How CreativeFuture Innovation Award-Winner Hannah Saidiner Animates Her Memories

The Slamdance Film Festival has long partnered with CreativeFuture to offer the CreativeFuture Innovation Award, a recognition of filmmakers whose work and innovative use of technology exemplify the spirit of filmmaking. The 2022 CreativeFuture Innovation Award winner is Hannah Saidiner, whose heartfelt animated documentary "My Parent, Neal" documented her parent's gender transition. CreativeFuture's JC Taylor sat down with Hannah for a discussion on her career and the animation process. Although another Slamdance Film Festival has come and gone, we are always awestruck by all the astonishing talent on display. This year’s short film candidates for the CreativeFuture Innovation Award featured mesmerizing imagery, heartfelt stories, and innovative styles. But what ultimately won our hearts this year was Hannah Saidiner’s My Parent, Neal – an emotional documentation of a parent’s transition to become who they really are. A look at the complex and loving relationship between a parent and their child, My Parent, Neal evokes the innocence of youth with its distinct visual style. For its creativity and incredible heart, it deserved the CreativeFuture Innovation Award. After Slamdance 2022, Saidiner spoke with CreativeFuture about her artistic roots, her creative process, and her plans for the future. JC TAYLOR: What have you been up to since Slamdance? HANNAH SAIDINER: I graduated last year, and right after that, I...

An Open Dialogue on Captioning

How To Make Your Film Accessible to Audiences With Disabilities Courtesy of the Unstoppable Programming Team Since 2020, Slamdance’s Unstoppable program has showcased cutting-edge films made by and about individuals with disabilities. Slamdance currently requires captions for all Unstoppable submissions and encourages captions for submissions to other categories, which has prompted some questions about why, exactly, captioning is essential. With festival submissions now open for Slamdance 2023, our team decided to answer your questions about captions and how to create the most inclusive screener.    First things first: What is captioning? Captioning is a text display of the spoken dialogue and other crucial audio information in the film. It is generally used for audiences who are hearing-impaired. It can also be helpful for viewers who speak a different language from the audio track on the production or who simply want to read what is being said while they watch. Why does Slamdance require captioning for Unstoppable submissions? Slamdance requires captioning for all Unstoppable submissions because some of our programmers are deaf or hard of hearing. We want every person with a disability to feel welcomed, included, and represented. Our program's motto is "For disabled filmmakers by disabled filmmakers.” We believe that inclusion of the disability community matters, and this starts with ensuring screeners are fully accessible...

How Making a Doc About a Punk Band Taught Me To Be an Indie Filmmaker

Slamdance alum and programmer Chelsea Christer wrote this article about her experience with her film Bleeding Audio, which played as part of our 2021 festival. Originally written for No Film School, they have both been kind enough to allow us to host the article here. The idea for Bleeding Audio had been percolating for me since early 2014, when The Matches informed me of their intention to reunite for a single live performance for the first time in years. I offered to film promotional videos since I was a close friend and filmmaker, and I wanted to support them in any way I could. This band inspired me to pursue a creative living, which I was leading happily, and in my view, this was the least I could do in return. The Matches’ fans are extremely loyal. They had been long deprived of their beloved band and community, and there was no doubt that the vacuum The Matches left behind would be instantly filled. Sure enough, their “one show” sold out in seconds, and that single show turned into a sold-out North American and Australian tour, and I had the basis of what would be a really compelling feature-length music documentary. I pitched a feature-length film to the guys and was met with the same humility that...

When I Was You I Wish I Knew: Stepping Up Your Next Production

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICZXICI1S1k   David Benavente (VP of Independent Sales & Production Incentives at Cast & Crew) and Ryan Broussard (VP of Sales & Production Incentives at Media Services) sat down with Slamdance alumni Chelsea Christer and Jessica Farrell to share their experience and advice for emerging filmmakers, covering an array of production topics including financing, tax incentives and more to help prepare you for your next project. Watch the full panel or check out some highlights below. On who to have on board when you start budgeting JF: I would say always think about how you want to collaborate. The first thing before you even jump to a line producer, production assistant, anything smaller in that realm, think about your above-the-line producer. This person is really going to be your mom. Producers help with budget, help pitch, get distribution. All the way from A to Z. It’s a big commitment so you need to collaborate with the right person and make sure they fit your project. RB: Accept that you don’t know everything and team up with people that know more than you and be OK with that. Our big philosophy is — with independents — small fish become big fish. On the paperwork to have in place as you build your team JF: Start with your...

Slamdance ’22 Presents: Blockchain Fairy Tales

Slamdance '22 Presents: Blockchain Fairy Tales: What if  Happily Ever After Is Not Guaranteed? Made by many and in collaboration with Columbia University's School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab Those formerly known as the audience will become architects of the future in this collective storytelling event. We will explore a playful world, contend with magical threats, and face the question: What if Happily Ever After is Not Guaranteed? Together, we will create new myths that come to life on our screens. This experience is made by many co-creators, leveraging Blockchain technology for creative purposes beyond commerce. Blockchain Fairy Tales examines the core of crypto through a speculative lens, subverts the current value system of cryptocurrency and uplifts shared community values. What if our voices could be part of a social system that uses decentralization to challenge the most hierarchical systems we have? Event Information Blockchain Fairy Tales (BFT) will take place over Zoom and Miro (a collaborative whiteboard platform). A Zoom link will be sent to the email you registered with. Feel free to share the event page, but please do not share the Zoom link on social media. 1st Performance Saturday, January 29th 1 p.m. EST 2nd Performance Thursday, February 3rd 1 p.m. EST...

Announcing The Slamdance Channel, Slamdance’s New Anti-Algorithm Streaming Service

Slamdance will debut a new streaming platform for independent films, The Slamdance Channel, which will launch in conjunction with the annual indie-focused Slamdance Film Festival on January 27 and feature new programming on February 7, the day after the fest wraps. The Slamdance Channel expands the organization’s mission of providing creators with maximum opportunities to reach movie audiences. The streaming platform will have a curated selection of content that allows artists to gain more visibility and recognition for their work, as well as monetary compensation for their creative endeavors. Slamdance will actively support filmmakers on the platform by sharing any profits fairly among its contributing artist community. “Slamdance has always looked at ways to overcome industry gatekeepers that block independently made films from being accessible and the Slamdance Channel represents our biggest effort yet,” said Slamdance president and co-founder Peter Baxter. “We are an anti-algorithm, artist-led collective, continually hellbent on sharing original film work with a wider audience. We’re looking forward to seeing how our Channel develops and fits into the bigger picture of a decentralized media future.” Baxter continued, “The future of film, like any art form, depends on truly unique voices that defy simple classification and transcend analytics. We are celebrating these voices on the Channel who push the boundaries of what’s possible...

Introducing Slamdance 2022 Artwork by Jamie Wolfe

Jamie Wolfe is the key artist for the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival. About her new work, she says "the central figure came from making something that embodies the raw, eclectic energy of the festival." Jamie Wolfe is an animator and artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about Jamie and her work on Vimeo, Instagram, or on her website. The 2022 Slamdance Film Festival will stream 100+ independent films from January 27 to February 6 in an accessible, on-demand format. Preorder your $10 virtual pass now.  ...

In Conversation With the Slamdance Screenplay Competition Winners | Joyce Sherrí and Tyler Tice

https://youtu.be/htGviVo6ZoE Joyce Sherrí and Tyler Tice — the 2020 and 2017 winners of the Slamdance Screenplay Competition — came together virtually to discuss their journeys as writers and preparing their scripts for production. Tyler Tice's Day Shift is now in production at Netflix, while Joyce Sherrí plans to direct Sweet Sixteen as her first feature film. You can find more information about this year's Screenplay Competition here. Watch the full panel or check out some highlights below.   Joyce Sherri on her 2020 Slamdance-winning feature screenplay SWEET SIXTEEN. JS: is a coming-of-age story but it has some magical realism elements thrown into it. It's about a 15-year-old girl who discovers that right before her 16th birthday the electricity in her home is cut off. So she sort of goes on a small adventure to try to get the money together, to get the lights on so that she could just have a perfect sweet sixteen. I wanted to tell a story that was about somebody who wanted something very simple, especially coming from the black perspective, because I feel that a lot of times our stories are usually rooted in racism and all these other things. I'm like, yes. That happens. But we also want very simple things like your first kiss, or...

2020 Award-winning Screenwriters

Grand Prize & 1st Place Feature Sweet Sixteen by Joyce Sherrí Sweet, a 15 year old girl, tries to convince her parents to throw her a big sweet sixteen birthday party, but money and family problems lead Sweet down a destructive path. Virginia native writer-director, Joyce Sherrí, received an MFA in Filmmaking from New York University in 2016 and is a recipient of the Spike Lee Production Fund for her short film “Forever.”  She’s also a fellow of the inaugural WGA Made In New York Writer’s Room. Her most recent works “Beauty” and “Through The Ages” are of the southern gothic-fantasy-horror variety and paved the way for a staff writing position on two upcoming Netflix series.  “Black people are not a monolith. We have experiences in life that don’t always revolve around the fact that we are Black and how difficult that can be...There is more to us than racial trauma. Sometimes we just want something as simple as a first kiss or a sweet sixteenth birthday party.”  “In the South, you don’t talk about grown folks' business with a child which meant that when we were evicted from our home for the umpteenth time and forced to live in a homeless shelter or a motel or my grandparent's garage, no one ever talked to...

Screenwriters Roundtable: Craft to Career

Screenwriters Roundtable: Craft to Career Friday, May 8th 11AM PDT Slamdance alumni Todd Berger (It’s a Disaster) and Sarah Sherman (Thunderbolt in Mine Eye), and screenwriter Leah Rachel (Netflix’s Chambers) joined moderator Phil Galasso, host of Final Draft’s Write On podcast for a webinar on screenwriting. The writers will share their insights into honing your craft, shaping your career, as well as tips for staying focused while self-isolating. If you missed the live event, you can still watch the video above! Todd Berger Todd Berger is a filmmaker hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana who has been making movies since age 11 (Dick Tracy vs. Dr. Bubbles.)  In addition to scripts in development at Dreamworks Animation, Millennium Films, and Netflix, he’s also written and directed several shorts and independent feature films including It’s A Disaster, The Scenesters, and Cover Versions. His first novel Showdown City was recently published by Diversion Books.  He also spent several years as a feature film programmer for the Slamdance Film Festival.  He prefers waffles over pancakes.       Leah Rachel Leah Rachel is a writer/director born and raised in Akron, Ohio.  While she was working as a pizza waitress to make ends meet, Leah sold her first script to HBO with Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson producing. She hasn’t looked...

Life As a Screenwriter: A Survival Guide

“The worst thing you can do as a writer is to die with a project. Always write something new.”  This is one of the pieces of advice shared by screenwriter and Slamdance alum Daniel Casey (Kin, Fast & Furious 9) during our Polytechnic panel, “Life As a Screenwriter: A Survival Guide.” As we get into the depths of our 2020 Screenplay Competition, it seems like a great time to revisit the insights we gleaned from that discussion in Park City with Slamdance alumni screenwriters at different stages of their careers. Slamdance festival producer and screenwriter Michael Morin moderated the panel with: Daniel Casey, who premiered his debut written and directed feature, The Death of Michael Smith at Slamdance 2006 and has since written on various projects in Hollywood, including 10 Cloverfield Lane, Kin, and the up and coming Fast and Furious entry, F9. Jess Zeidman, a young screenwriter who just wrote and produced her feature debut, Tahara, a Slamdance 2020 world premiere. Here are some of the key points of wisdom from their discussion: Rewrites are a fact of life. Daniel Casey emphasized the inevitability of doing rewrites as a screenwriter working within the Hollywood system. Notes and rewrite requests can come from producers trying to push for a broader, more marketable appeal or from directors...

Slamdance and Chill | Vol. 3

A list of Slamdance films you can stream at home! Support Slamdance filmmakers and learn, laugh, and be entertained at the same time. Feature films are available for rent, purchase or, in some cases, through streaming services you already subscribe to. All short films are free to watch online. We've created some suggested pairings to help guide you through but feel free to create your own viewing adventure. Enjoy! Beware of Dog (2020) Written & Directed by Nadia Bedzhanova Alienated in politically-ambiguous Moscow, a young woman deals with severe OCD, while her cousin in Berlin tries to build a romantic relationship ignoring her own condition. Meanwhile in New York City, a heartbroken boxer fights addiction and lack of self-worth in the aftermath of a break-up. Watch on Vimeo...

The Cinema That Refused to Close

By Noel Lawrence Last month, I flew to Rotterdam to premiere my new film Sammy-Gate​ ​at their storied and sprawling film festival. Much as I enjoyed my stay in the glorious lair of the IFFR Tiger, a filmmaker should never forget where he or she came from. And for the better part of 20 years, that place has been in the bowels of the underground: screening in squats, sleeping on couches, and struggling to achieve one’s cinematic visions in an economy of scarcity. As a filmworker in Hollywood, I forget my roots at times. I make no pretense of bohemian sainthood. But I am nonetheless delighted to see young people taking up the arms that I have laid down. And that brings me to the story of ​La Clef​, a small cinema in the Latin Quarter of Paris. During the festival, a small delegation of theatre volunteers blanketed Rotterdam with pamphlets about their cause. Without going into detail, the owners of the building that housed the cinema planned to sell it. And, more likely than not, the theatre would be replaced by a supermarket or a bank. If this happened somewhere in America, the closure probably would provoke a brief flurry of angry and sad emoji on Facebook. And, after that flurry, the cinema would...

sLGBTdance: A Programmer’s Trip Down Queer Indie Lane

By Paul Sbrizzi Let's take a stroll down the crooked old memory lane of SLGBTdance, shall we? And peek in on some of the randy rainbow fare served up over the years by many-gendered alt-queers in the Slamdance trattoria. Lady of the Lake (2003) 2003 was my first year traveling to Park City as a Slamdance programmer. The entire festival staff was shacked up at the sprawling Empire House, where the youngsters would stay up partying until 4AM as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. It was a great time, though. My friend Gianna was the festival director that year, and it's not like we had favorites, but we just adored Michael Lucid. He was the friendliest, most unassuming guy, and his short puppet movie Lady of the Lake was so gorgeous, heartfelt and funny—a wordless parable of a young gay dreamer who comes to the big city and discovers all its many pleasures and perils. At the Filmmaker Happy Hour, Michael mentioned he also had a web series called Pretty Thingsss, so we put it up on the monitor and it was something completely different: a surreal, ahead-of-its-time comedy with Michael and his friend Amanda playing all the characters. Lady of the Lake didn't win any awards, so the staff got together...

Do I need a website…?

By Sandra Bertalanffy Do I need a website for my feature, short, episodic and myself? As you are preparing to hit the festivals you may be considering whether to print new cards or flyers, invest in a designer, print stickers, t-shirts, come up with a costume or just really any other way to stand out, bring awareness to your film or do anything else slightly resembling marketing activity. That’s all yay. Go for it and go for it good. BUT do consider step 2!  What’s step 2? Well, imagine this scenario: Someone compliments your film (or outfit) and you successfully hand over your printed marketing material (which btw also likes to get lost). Next, your Potentially Interested New Audience Member (“PINAM”) says: “Cool, do you have a website?” URGH. Punch in the lower region. Your body freezes, you mumble something embarrassing somewhat related to “short film,” “budget” or “first project” and PINAM smiles, nods, maybe gives you a another “Cool.” and then walks away. FOREVER! Noooooo!!!! And it could have been such an amazing mutual relationship! That’s why you want to consider step 2.  Step 2, also known as “make its easy for PINAM to find out more about you and give the option to stay connected easily.” So back to “Cool, do you have...

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