Filmmakers Collaborative, a national media industry leader and fiscal sponsor, is hosting its acclaimed MAKING MEDIA NOW (MMN) conference on Friday, May 3 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. MAKING MEDIA NOW’s challenge-the-assumptions approach has made it a must-attend event for filmmakers, new media producers, distributors, funders and journalists. It is cited as a creative forum that interactively “tackle(s) the big questions” (IndieWire) with presenters who are “knowledgeable, articulate and generous with their time” (MMN 2012 filmmaker attendee).
This year’s theme, Living the Connection Economy, explores how tapping both creative and business connections presents new models for storytelling, distribution, financing and engagement. In addition to five panels and two workshops, MMN will feature one-on-one consultations, an exhibition hall filled with industry businesses, a networking lunch, open mic opportunities, and a cocktail reception to end the day.
“Independent filmmaking is one of the most creative – and decentralized – industries in America,” observes Filmmakers Collaborative’s executive director, Kathryn Dietz. “Producers tend to work either alone or with the same groups of people again and again. One of the greatest needs is for people to connect with each other – for inspiration, encouragement and practical help. MMN 2013’s goal is to be the forum for these connections.”
The opening plenary, NEW FORMS – NEW OPPORTUNITIES, will examine short and interactive documentaries, two key trends that are transforming the industry and connecting subjects, filmmakers and audiences in new ways. Filmmaker and blogger David Tamés will moderate the conversation with Natasha Deganello Giraudie, the CEO and founder of Micro-Documentaries in San Francisco, and Sarah Wolozin, Director of the MIT Open Documentary Lab. “We can never predict what’s going to happen next,” says Tamés, “but by facing the future with fascination rather than fear, we become receptive to opportunities and find the positive side of change.”
Anne Zeiser, transmedia and impact producer, journalist and founder of Azure Media, will lead a panel on THE DOUBLE BOTTOM LINE with Sheila Leddy, executive director of mission-driven funder, The Fledgling Fund, along with a broadcaster and corporate panelist. “Today, successful enterprises are pursuing the twin objectives of making money and promoting social good – and film is no exception,” notes Zeiser. “In this session, foundation and corporate funders and distributors will show filmmakers how to think like a CEO to achieve both financial and social impact success.”
A panel on MEDIA COMMUNITIES will explore some old and new models of connection and collaboration among filmmakers. Moderator Bestor Cram, founder of Northern Light Productions, is a member of the International Quorum community and notes, “It’s the physical meetings we have that make the virtual connections work.” Panelists will include a longtime member of the New Day Films distribution collective, plus leaders from the online collaborative filmmaking communities.
Because of the increasing challenges of funding historical documentaries, this year’s MMN will include a panel on WORKING WITH SCHOLARS, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Mass Humanities Foundation. “We want to see filmmakers include scholars from the earliest planning stages through production, making films that are true collaborations,” notes NEH program officer David Weinstein. Kathryn Dietz will moderate this panel, which will examine best practices in integrating great storytelling with great scholarship. Panelists will include Pleun Bouricious, director of grant programs at Mass Humanities, veteran filmmaker Nancy Porter, and a scholar.
One of the liveliest and most popular panels at MMN is ART OF THE PITCH, moderated again this year by WGBH executive producer Judith Vecchione. “Pitching your project effectively is one of the most important skills you can develop if you want to be successful at fundraising and audience building,” notes Vecchione. In this session, five filmmakers will pitch their projects to a panel of industry experts, including Ty Burr, Boston Globe film critic, Nicole Gregg, executive director of the New Hampshire Film Festival, and Sheila Leddy of The Fledgling Fund. Judges will critique the pitches and the vote on a winner, who will go home with a cash prize.
Rounding out MMN’s sessions is a reprieve of last year’s standing-room-only KICKSTARTER CASE STUDY workshop, encouraging film and media makers to ask questions and learn some new tips on the crowd-sourced fundraising platform. The workshop will be led again by Filmmakers Collaborative’s associate director, Laura Azevedo, who will be joined by seasoned filmmakers Richard Beyer and Jordan Salvatoriello. And another new offering: ELEVATOR PITCHING, with Elise Simard, President of SpeechComm Communication Consultants, who will teach filmmakers how to pitch their ideas in one minute or less.
“Whether it’s asking questions during panels, sharing experiences at workshops or networking over lunch and cocktails, everyone gets to speak at MMN,” says Azevedo. “That’s what I love about this conference.”
Photos top to bottom: Tom Phillips, composer at OBT Music, demonstrates how his film library works.
Panelists like Paola Freccero, co-founder of CrowdStarter, make time to chat with attendees. Photos by Allana Taranto.
Filmmakers Collaborative was founded in 1986 to provide fiscal sponsorship to independent filmmakers, enabling them to stay independent. Its mission is to foster opportunities for learning and collaboration among a wide range of media makers, and to educate the public about media skills and literacy. Connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter!
This article appeared previously in IMAGINE April 13 and is reposted here with their permission.