Dear Producer and the Documentary Producers Alliance joined forces to have a conversation about what lies ahead for independent filmmakers in 2021. Now 9 months into the pandemic, productions are still without COVID insurance, the film festival circuit is taking place in the virtual realm for the foreseeable future, and theaters remain closed or operating at limited capacity.
Four fiction producers and four documentary producers will discussed how they are preparing for 2021 including their outlook on the ability to raise funding, what new strategies they are taking to sell their films, how they feel distribution has been forever changed, and whether or not they think we will be going back to “normal” anytime soon.
JAMEKA AUTRY is a producer, director, and 2020 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellow. Past fellowships and honors include the 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellowship, 2017 Impact Partners Creative Producing Fellowship, and 2018 Double Exposure Investigative Film Fellowship. In 2018 she was selected as part of the inaugural DOC NYC 40 Under 40 List. She was recently awarded the Sundance/A&E Brave Storyteller Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Post Graduate Fellowship at the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. Currently she balances her film projects with her new role as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Most recently she completed work on THROUGH THE NIGHT, which premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Other producing works include Emmy award winning ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, which won the jury grand prize at SXSW and Boston International Film Festival, and premiered on HBO in Fall 2019. Jameka has also produced MARATHON: The Patriots Day Bombing (HBO), IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE (Showtime), MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. (Sundance ’18) and served as a Consulting Producer on WE THE ANIMALS (Netflix) and LOVE GILDA (CNN).
DIANE BECKER is an award-winning documentary and feature film producer and a graduate of the American Film Institute. Credits include Greg Barker’s films SERGIO (2009 Oscar shortlist), MANHUNT (2013 Emmy), and THE FINAL YEAR. In addition, she has worked with Stephen Kijak on his dynamic music docs including JACO, WE ARE X (Best Editing, World Cinema Documentary, 2016 Sundance Film Festival), IF I LEAVE HERE TOMORROW, and SID & JUDY. Recent credits: FIVE CAME BACK and TRIAL BY MEDIA (Netflix), the new HBOMax series EQUAL, two episodes of MARVEL 616 for Disney+, and Showtime’s BELUSHI. Diane and producer Melanie Miller co-founded Fishbowl Films in 2009. Their films include William Dickerson’s DETOUR, Shaz Bennett’s directorial debut ALASKA IS A DRAG and 2018 Sundance alum & 2019 Peabody Award Winner INVENTING TOMORROW (POV) by Laura Nix. WHIRLYBIRD premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where Diane and Melanie were awarded the Sundance Institute/Amazon Producer’s Award for Non-Fiction. She was a 2017 Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Fellow. Diane is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), the Television Academy, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
MEGAN GILBRIDE is a two-time-Emmy-winning and Independent Spirit Award nominated producer of narrative and documentary films. She produced the Emmy-award-winning and PBS-broadcast documentary TOWER, which shortlisted for the Best Documentary Academy Award and was nominated for a Peabody Award. She produced LOVERS OF HATE, a Sundance Dramatic Competition premiere, released by IFC and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. She produced the PBS-broadcast documentary SUNSHINE and co-produced WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM which won an Independent Spirit Award, aired on POV and won a News and Documentary Emmy. A former FIND Fellow, Megan most recently produced DEAR MR. BRODY with Impact Partners and Topic. She is a Committee Co-Chair of the Documentary Producers Alliance and a member of the Producers Guild of America.
REBECCA GREEN produced two of the top-grossing and critically acclaimed independent films of 2015, IT FOLLOWS and I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, which generated a combined box office total of $30 million worldwide. Prior to producing, Green was the Manager of Producing Initiatives for the Sundance Institute, Vice President of Lynda Obst Productions at Paramount Pictures, and Creative Executive at Lionsgate. A 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow, Green was named one of Variety’s ’10 Producers to Watch’ and was nominated for the Producer’s Award at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards. She serves as the Lead Creative Advisor for the Film Independent Producing Lab and is a member of the Academy of of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Green is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dear Producer, an educational platform where producers share their experiences and provide mentorship for the next generation of filmmakers.
SU KIM is a documentary producer in New York. She is entrepreneurial, creative and committed to crafting compelling stories and supporting independent filmmakers. Her films in release include the OSCAR® and Primetime Emmy®-nominated HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING (director RaMell Ross) and Emmy award winner MIDNIGHT TRAVELER (director Hassan Fazili). As a producer, she was awarded the 2015 Women at Sundance fellowship, CPB/PBS Producers Workshop Fellowship as well as funding from ITVS, the Sundance Documentary fund, NYSCA, the Tribeca Film Institute and California Humanities. She is currently producing ONE BULLET AFGHANISTAN (director Carol Dysinger), SANSÓN, ME (director Rodrigo Reyes), AN AMERICAN PRISONER ( directors Eugene Yi and Julie Ha), SARAH (director Tracy Droz Tragos) and BITTERBRUSH (director Emelie Mahdavian). In 2020, Su Kim was the New York producer for LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WAR ZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL) which won the OSCAR® and BAFTA. She won two Peabody Awards in 2020 (for Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Midnight Traveler).
KISHORI RAJAN is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker based in New York. She’s the Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed HBO series RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS, which the NY Times described as “like nothing you’ve seen on TV before…a striking dream vision”. In 2019 she also received the Cinereach Producer’s Award for her “remarkable commitment to complex and authentic films”. She recently creatively developed and produced on the upcoming Hulu series EATER’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD and is in development on a new documentary she sold to Participant Media. She’s currently producing, writing and co-directing on an upcoming Disney+ series created by Brie Larson, and also produced the just released BEST WALK series for Topic Studies. Feature film work includes the THE SHORT HISTORY OF THE LONG ROAD (Tribeca Film Festival 2019), THE PRICE (Samuel Goldwyn Films), and AMERICAN FABLE (IFC Films); credits also include the Spirit-nominated films FOUR and GIMME THE LOOT (IFC Films). She’s a 2017 Cannes Producers Fellow, a 2017 Tribeca All Access grantee, and the first ever American producer to be selected for the EAVE European Producers Network. Kishori contributes as a writer to Filmmaker Magazine and has guest lectured at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Made in NY Media Center. She’s served as an industry panelist at SXSW and IFP’s Screen Forward Conference and received a BA in Film Studies from Columbia University.
MONIQUE WALTON is an independent producer of fiction and non fiction films. She produced Bull, directed by Annie Silverstein, which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival – Un Certain Regard, and went on to receive three top awards at the 2019 Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Jury prize. Bull screened at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and is being released by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. She is currently producing Kira Akerman’s feature documentary Hollow Tree. Other credits include Jesse Klein’s We’re Still Together and Pahokee, directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan. Walton has produced numerous short films, including Silverstein’s Skunk, which won the jury award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival- Cinéfondation. Her films have been supported by Cinereach, The Sundance Institute, San Francisco Film Society, Austin Film Society, The Harnisch Foundation, NEA, and Film Independent. Walton is a 2016 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow where she was the Mark Silverman Honoree, and a 2020 Rotterdam Lab Fellow.
RYAN ZACARIAS’ films include Michael Tully’s SEPTIAN and PING PONG SUMMER, Matt Porterfield’s I USED TO BE DARKER and SOLLERS POINT, Rick Alverson’s ENTERTAINMENT and Jonas Carpignano’s MEDITERRANEA and A CIAMBRA (Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese). Zacarias recently produced Alverson’s THE MOUNTAIN (with Jeff Goldblum and Tye Sheridan), which premiered in competition at the 2018 Venice Film Festival and 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and Kirill Mikhanovsky’s GIVE ME LIBERTY, which premiered at Sundance in 2019 and had its international premiere at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Zacarias’ films have been supported by Film Independent, Cinereach, the Sundance Institute, Cannes Next Step and Cinefondation, San Francisco Film Society, Doha Film Institute, Cinemart and the Berlinale Co-Production Market. His film have been distributed by IFC Films, Kino Lorber, Magnolia, Haut et Court (France), Paramount UK, Strand Releasing, Oscilloscope, and Gravitas Ventures. In 2015, he was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for Carpignano’s MEDITERRANEA. Zacarias also produced Harmony Korine’s short films, UMSHINI WAM and SNOWBALLS. He recently produced Annie Silverstein’s debut feature BULL, which was an official selection in Un Certain Regard at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. He’s currently shooting Riley Keough/Gina Gammell’s feature debut, BEAST.