September 2019 Digest

You know those days when you feel like you just can’t keep up? When you know you’ll never answer all the emails that need answering or return all the phone calls that need returning? I’ve been having those days for the last six weeks, which is why this September Digest is coming out so late.

Educating the next crop of emerging producers has become a big part of my side hustle and has helped me stay focused on my career goals as I help others define theirs. I just spent three weeks teaching the graduate producing students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (my alma mater) and this week I wrapped up my work as the lead Creative Advisor for the Film Independent Producing Lab. It has been an incredible six weeks downloading all I know about the business to the students and Fellows, but inevitably, I fell behind in my own work, including writing this digest and some sort of commentary or story to go along with it.

However, rather than beat myself up about not being able to stay on top of it all while teaching, which was an unreasonable expectation to begin with, I’m going to cut myself some slack and I’d suggest you do the same. Whatever it is that you haven’t gotten done that has been causing you stress, remember that as producers, we are always taking on more than is humanly possible. Keep perspective when it comes to your expectations of yourself. No, I didn’t get through my to-do list every day or get this digest out on time, but I made a lasting impact on the lives of the producers I was advising and the time I spent away from my own projects will help propel their projects forward. Giving back to the community and supporting my fellow producers is just as important to me as my producing work. The to-do list will still be there tomorrow, but the chance to connect with these very talented and creative individuals who I had not previously known, was a rare opportunity that enriched my life.

Keep Going,


2019 Toronto Market: Plenty Of Films & Packages Available But Wary Buyers Will Need Convincing
This Toronto Film Festival shapes up largely as an international platform for studios to launch their awards-season entries for the next Oscar race.

Toronto Buyers Face Tighter Market
From “Late Night” to “Blinded by the Light,” many of the big sales at this year’s Sundance ended in financial failure. As the movie business gears up for the Toronto Film Festival, studios may be more wary of cutting big checks. 

Toronto: Indies Struggle in a Movie Market Looking for Sure Things
There’s a chill in the air, and it’s not just the Lake Ontario breeze. As the Toronto market kicks off, buyers and sellers are feeling the aftereffects of a summer that wasn’t particularly kind to independently financed festival fare.

HBO’s $20 Million ‘Bad Education’ Buy Shows Success Metrics in Streaming Era Are Growing Murkier
The highest-profile acquisition out of the Toronto International Film Festival won’t be shown in theaters despite it’s record-breaking price tag, won’t be eligible for Oscars despite its acclaimed cast, and it’s performance definitely can’t be judged using the old measurements of success.

‘The Farewell’ Producer Gou Values Toronto Festival Spot for ‘Honey Boy’
When Anita Gou launched her production company Kindred Spirit in 2018 the mission was to produce “purpose-driven, cross-cultural, and boundary-pushing content aimed at a global audience.” A year later Gou did just that when Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Apple TV+ Will Debut At A Bargain Price, Putting Pressure on Netflix, Disney, and All Other Streamers
Hoping to elbow its way into a crowded and increasingly pricey streaming video marketplace, Apple TV+ will launch on November 1, for the relatively low price of $4.99 per month per family.

Apple Just Proved It’s Learned From One of Netflix’s Biggest Mistakes
The tech giant faces an uphill battle in trying to catch up with Netflix in Hollywood—but decisions like these can make its path to get there a little easier.

Netflix’s first CEO: Why Netflix Will Win the Streaming Wars
Marc Randolph talks Netflix’s roots, its improbable success, and why he thinks Netflix’s history has prepared it to conquer the future of streaming.

Walmart’s Vudu Launches Family-Viewing Features, Premieres ‘Mr. Mom’
Vudu, Walmart’s video-streaming unit, is promising parents new tools to evaluate and control what their kids watch — including a way to skip scenes with sex, nudity or violence.

Art House Distributor Kino Lorber Launches Film & TV VOD Platform Kino Now
U.S. art house distributor Kino Lorber is launching film and TV VOD streaming platform Kino Now, we can reveal. The service, which includes options to rent and buy, currently hosts 600 titles from the company’s catalog and includes early access to new releases. The number of titles is set to double by the end of the year.

Marketing and Distribution: Experts Explain the Basics
At last month’s Film Independent Forum, industry experts offered their insights at the event’s annual Marketing and Distribution Clinic. This year’s panelists included Submarine Entertainment cofounder Josh Braun, Array Director of Marketing Mercedes Cooper, Film Independent’s own Alia Quart Khan and indie film marketing-and-distribution strategist Missy Laney. Filmmaker, author and film consultant Jon Reiss served as moderator.

Producers Survival Guide: Where Does The Legal Battle Between the ATA and the WGA Leave Producers?
The conflict between the WGA and talent agencies, which began in April, is still unresolved. Here is an update on resources available to producers to help navigate the new landscape.

Writers Guild Tells Members About New Ways To Connect With Managers, Agents
Earlier this month, the WGA reached out to personal managers to connect them with writers who are looking for new representation. The move came nearly five months after the guild ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its new Agency Code of Conduct.

The Business Cycle: Anthony Kaufman On the Legacy of Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen’s Production Company Parts & Labor
While Parts & Labor no longer exists as it once did as a partnership between Van Hoy and producer Lars Knudsen (the two split in 2016, with Van Hoy retaining the brand), its legacy lives on, as one of the most prolific independent film companies of its time, and as a breeding ground for a new generation of producers who are carrying on the company’s mission.

Locarno Curator Calls Out the Politics of Film Festival Programming
Greg de Cuir Jr. talks to Hyperallergic about curating a retrospective of Black film for the 2019 Locarno Film Festival.

Show Them the Money: Who’s Funding Female Filmmakers?
As there is more and more campaigning about gender equality in film, Screen looks at who is moving beyond words and offering real money for women to make features.

Who Is Telling Whose Story, To Whom, and Why?
Filmmaker Lisa Valencia-Svensson was invited to deliver a keynote address at Hot Docs this past spring. What follows is an abbreviated version of that keynote.

Kickstarter’s Year of Turmoil
How a Nazi-punching satire led to the first union drive at a well-known tech company—and, workers say, the firing of two organizers in eight days.

Can Hollywood Change Georgia? Or Has It Already?
The Georgia Film Tax Credit brings hundreds of productions—and billions of dollars—to the state each year. But this past spring, a new anti-abortion law inspired a number of protests, and major Hollywood studios threatened to move their filming elsewhere. Will a boycott happen? Would it have any political effect? And what would it mean for the people who live and work in Georgia?


Why Nobody in Hollywood Has Any Friends
According to interviews with 1,254 adult Americans, 30 percent of millennials have no best friends, 27 percent have no close friends and 22 percent have no friends at all. Not surprisingly, the report named them “the loneliest generation.” But loneliness is all around and perhaps nowhere more profoundly than in Hollywood.

Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore
Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.

Exactly How to Build Your Tribe When You’re Working Solo
Natalie Ellis of BossBabe explains the five ways to beat the lonely trap of building a business and career all by yourself.

Actually, It *Can* Hurt to Ask Someone to Grab Coffee and Pick Their Brain
“It can’t hurt to ask” is extremely common advice, but when we’re all so accessible online, just being able to reach someone and ask for their help doesn’t mean what it used to.

Why 2020 Campaign Workers Are Suddenly Unionizing
Democratic presidential candidates are virtually required to court the labor vote. But their own staffers haven’t historically been part of a union—until this year.