Insights from Film Independent Forum 2013

Photo by Josef Holm

Photo by Josef Holm

BY Josef Holm, The Film Independent Forum 2013 took place last weekend (October 25-27) at the Directors Guild of America HQ in Los Angeles. Titled “CONTENT REVOLUTION”, it promised attendees they’d learn the strategies and meet the collaborators to get their product made and seen.The keynote speech was delivered by Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer of Netflix, on how business models in TV and film are changing. He gave some great insights as to how Netflix chooses their investments in original series. Using “House of Cards” as an example, he explained how they use an extremely data driven approach, looking at how many Kevin Spacey movies are being watched and how viewers rated them.
“If we see that enough people on Netflix like Kevin Spacey, we go for it”. In essence, they are crowdsourcing their programming and investment decisions to a certain extent which is clearly the way of the future.

Crowdfunding for Independent Film
The panel I was looking forward to the most was titled “U-Finance: Crowdfunding Comes Of Age”, moderated by Lisa Callif of Donaldson & Califf, Marc Hofstatter of Indiegogo, Stephan Paternot, Cofounder of Slated as well as crowdfunded filmmakers John Herzfeld and Marina Zenovich.

Slated is a funding platform that provides filmmakers access to accredited investors and a network of people critical to the success of a feature film project. To get into Slated, one must be recommended by two current slated members – a stark contrast to Indiegogo’s uncurated model which has a significantly lower success rate and generally lower amounts raised per move than Slated. Their model is an example of how Title III crowdfunding could work further down the road.

Slated is not yet considering Title III crowdfunding or crowdfunding for web series, which I am happy to hear since this is where TubeStart is headed.

The most surprising moment of the panel was that about 70% of the roughly 100 people in the auditorium raised their hands when asked if they were already involved or considering getting involved in crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding has become an established idea and accepted part of filmmaking. It’s very exciting to imagine how this will continue to accelerate with Title III funding around the corner.

Lunch with Marc Hofstatter of Indiegogo
One of the awesome features of the conference was the “Off-The-Record Networking Lunch”. There were about 20 round tables set up in the DGA lobby, and each was “hosted” by one of the panelists. I had the opportunity to sit at Marc Hofstatter’s table and enjoyed listening to him answer the same questions about Indiegogo that I usually have to answer about TubeStart. “How are you guys different from Kickstarter?” was the first of many questions he patiently answered before touching his lunch.

All in all, this event was yet another example how crowdfunding is disrupting the film industry, and how this is just the beginning of something much bigger.


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