Miami has achieved international acclaim as a location for Hollywood film and television production and as a center for Spanish-language media. However, South Florida has never had the kind of home-grown independent filmmaking scene that thrives, not just in New York and Los Angeles, but in smaller cities such as San Francisco and Austin, Texas. As Miami has increased in stature as an arts and culture center in recent years, the lack of development in the filmmaking field, particularly for quality narrative features. has become more striking. The new Miami Filmmaker Project, an initiative of the ten-year old South Florida-based non-profit Entertainment Industry Incubator, is being launched to address this, with a deadline of February 27 for its first Screenwriters Lab.
The Miami Filmmaker Project concentrates on intensive, integrated hands-on programs for independent filmmakers and media artists based in South Florida. These include professional Labs with nationally recognized, visiting filmmakers as mentors-in-residence, focusing on the creative and practical development of specific feature film projects; structured production assistance and financing partnerships for fiction features, shorts and documentaries; and periodic public forums. An Advisory Board consisting of international award-winning film industry leaders will help to guide the Miami Film Project in its work.
The Advisory Board includes Patricia Boero, Executive Director of Latino Public Broadcasting and former Director of the Sundance Institute’s International Program; Howard Cohen, Co-President of of the film distribution and production company Roadside Attractions; Robin Cowie, Florida-based producer of The Blair Witch Project and other films; Julie Davis, writer and director of feature films including Amy?s Orgasm; David Frankel, the award-winning Miami-based film and television director whose most recent films were The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me; John Hadity, an independent producer and financial expert who has served as Miramax Films Executive Vice President of Motion Picture and Television Production Finance; Roy Meyeringh, Director of Multiplatform Content for Venevision International, a major purveyor of film and television to the Spanish-language market; Steve Rothenberg, President of Domestic Distribution for Lionsgate Films; Susan Seidelman, an independent filmmaker for over two decades and director of the cultural milestone Desperately Seeking Susan; and Sean Wolfington, Miami-based co-owner of One Media Group and Metanoia Films and producer of the feature film Bella.
The goal is simple and challenging at the same time. We want to develop a robust, regionally-based filmmaking community, one that is built on artistic integrity, talent, creativity, technical proficiency and locally-inspired storytelling, says Entertainment Industry Incubator?s Founding Director, Susan Schein. The Project’s programs are designed to bring to completion, and to a global audience, dramatic feature films, as well as shorts and documentaries, that are made by Miami-based artists or tell Miami stories, in a unique Miami voice. The Miami Filmmaker Project’s core programs are free and open to all levels of working media professionals who are in the process of moving a specific film project forward.
Labs will run sequentially over the year first for screenwriters, then directors and producers, with the idea that some projects will carry through all three stages towards actual production. Each Lab culminates in a full-time week long intensive with an award-winning feature filmmaker brought to Miami as a mentor-in-residence. There will be both group sessions and one-on-one consultations. The first Screenwriters Lab is scheduled for April and May of 2009, and will accept a maximum of ten participants.
To be considered an applicant must already have a draft of his or her own original narrative feature screenplay that shows the potential for development and eventual filming. Submission guidelines for the February 27 deadline are available online at http://www.eincubator.org or by calling (305) 672-9297. This year’s Screenwriters Lab mentor will be announced shortly.
Subsequent Directors and Producers Labs will require that each applicant be attached to a specific script and project that is ready for production, whether they are the writers or not. It is expected that some, but not all, of these projects will come out of the Screenwriters Lab. The focus will be hands-on work, through practical exercises, including selected scene taping, staged readings, and development of individual financing plans, as well as case studies, for qualified participants. Feature film financing mechanisms will be developed to leverage funding for regional production, particularly for projects that grow out of the Filmmaker Labs. Over time a Short Film Production Program will also be launched as well as a special track for documentaries.
While national programs similar to the Miami Filmmaker Project exist, no local program has effectively addressed the regional needs of South Florida filmmakers. This is all a natural outgrowth of the periodic forums, panels and networking events that the Entertainment Industry Incubator has sponsored over the past decade, says Schein.
We will continue existing programming in coordination with our Miami Filmmaker Project, allowing a wide group of filmmakers and students to be exposed to the world-class artistic talent we will be bringing here as mentors.
For more information and to participate in upcoming programs, visit the Miami Filmmaker Project on the web at http://www.eincubator.org or contact them by email at email@example.com and by phone at (305) 672-9297. The Entertainment Industry Incubator, sponsor of the Miami Filmmaker Project, is supported, in part, by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.