In a Time of Uncertainty, Dear Producer Awards $200K to Support Independent Producers

Dear Producer, founded by producer Rebecca Green, is excited to announce the four recipients of its 2023 Dear Producer Award, now in its second year. Diane Becker (NAVALNY, KING COAL), Kellen Quinn (A STILL SMALL VOICE, TIME, MIDNIGHT FAMILY), Sarah S. Kim (I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, AUGUST AT AKIKO’S, CROSSINGS) and Sarah Winshall (GIVE ME PITY!, WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR, STRAWBERRY MANSION) will each receive an unrestricted grant of $50,000, attend a retreat focused on rest and community building and commit to mentoring an emerging producer for one year. This award is part of Dear Producer’s ongoing commitment to amplify the role of the producer and provide the independent film community with resources to build a more sustainable future. 

The Dear Producer Award is generously sponsored by Facet, founded by Maida Lynn, which embraces creative non-fiction filmmaking by visionary artists, works that push the cinematic form and explore universal and timeless themes, and a robust US-based independent non-fiction ecosystem.

Green noted the timeliness of this Award, “With the WGA strike underway, producers are confronted with the harsh reminder that unlike their collaborators, producers do not have minimum salary protections, healthcare or pension contributions, or residuals.” 

A Producers Sustainability Survey, commissioned by Dear Producer that surveyed over 550 producers, revealed that in 2019, 41% of producers earned $25K or less from producing with more than 80% of producers having had to defer their producing fee on at least one project, with nearly 50% deferring their fee on multiple projects.

“I am in awe of the producers being honored with this award who, despite the financial hurdles and personal sacrifices that are asked of them, continue to create thought-provoking, original films that push the boundaries of storytelling,” said Lynn.

The work of the award recipients—as well as their commitment to nurturing and advancing the careers of independent filmmakers—made them stand out among a very strong group of nominees. 

Award Recipients

  • Diane Becker (NAVALNY, KING COAL, TINA)

“Producers have always played a crucial role in discovering and developing the visionary artists who have gone on to create some of the most beloved films and television shows of our time. It is vital that the industry invest in producers in order to have a diverse and thriving business with artistic integrity.” 

Lynn added, “I want to challenge nonprofit organizations to create more granting opportunities for filmmakers and not just projects. The money given directly to these producers allows them to have greater control and autonomy over their careers, which in turn, gives them the ability to pursue bold projects that can have lasting impact on our culture and communities.”

Green concluded, “The business is in a moment of uncertainty where every day we read about layoffs, shows being dropped from platforms, and productions suspended due to the strike. It feels like an impossible time to make anything, let alone an indie film, yet the producers chosen for this award remain resolute in their missions. My hope is that this award can be a glimmer of light for them as we all look toward a future of possibilities.”     

Full Bios of Award Recipients

DIANE BECKER is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated producer and the co-founder of Fishbowl Films. NAVALNY won both the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded a BAFTA, PGA, DuPont, and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Her films have screened in the most prestigious festivals across the globe and she has worked with companies like HBO, CNN, Showtime, Netflix, Disney, and PBS. Her credits include: MANHUNT, THE FINAL YEAR, IF I LEAVE HERE TOMORROW, BELUSHI, STUTZ, and the Emmy-nominated TINA. She has produced docu-series such as FIVE CAME BACK and EQUAL. Fishbowl Films’ slate has aimed to bring urgent and timely issues into the spotlight. They were awarded a Peabody Award for INVENTING TOMORROW (POV) and received the 2020 Sundance Institute/Amazon Producer’s Award for Non-Fiction for WHIRLYBIRD. ON THE DIVIDE was broadcast on POV in Spring 2022, just prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Her latest film, KING COAL, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Diane was a Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Fellow and is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), the Television Academy, and the Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). She once bowled a nearly perfect game (297).

KELLEN QUINN is an Oscar-nominated producer whose credits include Garrett Bradley’s TIME (Oscar nominated; Sundance 2020 winner of the Directing Award, US Documentary Competition), Luke Lorentzen’s A STILL SMALL VOICE (Sundance 2023 winner of the Directing Award, US Documentary Competition) and MIDNIGHT FAMILY (shortlisted for Documentary Feature Oscar; Sundance 2019 winner of Special Jury Award for Cinematography, US Documentary Competition), Noah Hutton’s In SILICO (DOC NYC 2020), Daniel Hymanson’s SO LATE SO SOON (True/False 2020) and Viktor Jakovleski’s BRIMSTONE & GLORY (True/False 2017; aired on POV). Kellen was selected for DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 class in 2020. In 2017 and 2018, he participated in the Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship. In 2016, he was among six producers selected for Impact Partners’ Documentary Producers Fellowship. With Luke Lorentzen, Kellen co-founded the independent production company Hedgehog Films. 

SARAH S. KIM’s producing credits include the critically acclaimed feature, AUGUST AT AKIKO’S, which premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam and hailed as one of the “Best Movies of 2019” in the New Yorker. Her next feature film I WAS A SIMPLE MAN premiered in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, was supported by the Sundance Labs and Catalyst, Cinereach, Gotham Week, Film Independent and the Jerome Foundation. It is distributed by Strand Releasing and is currently on the Criterion Channel. It was also listed as one of the top five movies of 2021 in The New Yorker. Other credits include the latest documentary by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Deanne Borshay Liem, CROSSINGS. Her films have screened at Sundance, Tribeca, IFFR, Indie Memphis, Indie Lisboa, Sarasota, Maryland, MoMA, Lincoln Center, Metrograph and more. Sarah has a background in film festival programming, co-founded the distribution initiative Sentient Art Film and is a fellow of the Film Independent Producers Lab, Cannes Producers Network, and Sundance Producers Summit.

SARAH WINSHALL is a creative producer and the founder of the independent production company Smudge Films. Her latest release is GIVE ME PITY!, a dazzling musical extravaganza from director Amanda Kramer. The film made its World Premiere at IFFR in 2022 and was released by Utopia in 2023. Before that, she produced Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley’s STRAWBERRY MANSION, and Jane Schoenbrun’s WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR. Both premiered at Sundance, and were released to critical acclaim in the spring of 2022. In 2018 she produced Bridey Elliott’s Sundance comedy CLARA’S GHOST and Jenny Murray’s award-winning documentary, ¡LAS SANDINISTAS!. Previous work has played at Sundance, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, CPH:DOX, Outfest, Rotterdam, at MoMA, as part of The Future of Film is Female, and on the Criterion Channel. In 2022, she was a Gotham/Cannes Producers Network Fellow. Most recently, Sarah and Smudge Films partnered with Fruit Tree and A24 for Jane Schoenbrun’s next feature, I SAW THE TV GLOW. She is currently in post production on the feature documentary, JOYBUBBLES.

About Dear Producer
Dear Producer is a digital platform established to amplify the voices of independent producers and provide resources to build a more sustainable future for the independent film community. Founded by producer Rebecca Green in 2018, Dear Producer has quickly become the go-to place for both established and emerging producers to learn about their craft, mentor new voices, and build community. In 2021, Dear Producer commissioned and published a survey focused on the question: Is film producing a sustainable career? which has informed and framed the conversation related to the future of film producing in a tangible way. 

About Facet
Facet, founded by Maida Lynn, embraces creative non-fiction filmmaking by visionary artists, works that push the cinematic form and explore universal and timeless themes, and a robust US-based independent non-fiction ecosystem. Lynn produced the short documentary SKIP DAY, which premiered at Directors’ Fortnight and was released by The Guardian. The feature documentary she produced, PAHOKEE, premiered at Sundance 2019. Her credits as Executive Producer include THE TUBA THIEVES (Sundance ‘23), JOONAM (Sundance ‘23) THE HOTTEST AUGUST (True/False ’19), and Sam Green’s live documentary, A THOUSAND THOUGHTS (Sundance ’17).