If you’re lacking funds to finish your movie – US in Progress may be just for you! Interview with Ula Sniegowska..
If you’re an independent American filmmaker looking for opportunity to finance and handle post-production, promotion and distribution in Europe, US in Progress may be just perfect for you! US in Progress, a part of American Film Festival in Wrocław, is the first event in Europe dedicated entirely to American independent filmmakers. I had a chance lately to talk to Ula Sniegowska – AFF Director of Programming – about US in Progress program. Here are some things you might be interested in…
AS. US in Progress has an interesting formula – offers post-production, distribution and promotional services in Europe as awards. It helps American filmmakers finish their films outside of US. Where has this idea come from?
USn. US in Progress was first developed by Adeline Monzier, the manager at Europa Distribution. While she stayed in US, Adeline discovered that the connection between European distributors or agents and American filmmakers is slight and there is a huge gap to be filled. The global distribution industry is highly competitive and works on “the faster agents and distributors see the film the better” basis. Normally, both agents and producers wait until the most important festivals (most likely Sundance) come to end, then the film rights race starts. We want to overtake that race, introduce films before they’re committed to a festival. And also very importantly, to make film rights shopping easy for European distributors without having them to go to unlimited number of festivals in US. We make their work easier and help them get in touch with independent talent in USA.
AS. Who is your ideal target for US in Progress. What are the terms of competition participation?
USn. Our ideal participant (on USA part) is an independent producer with almost finished film project, regardless if it’s a company or filmmaker-director or simply author who handles the film project himself or herself. We are interested in medium range $200- 500 k budgets, no matter what the financial source is. Ideally, film project offering co-production possibilities to Polish post-production companies.
AS. How many films from previous editions entered global or local distribution (Cinema, HE, digital, VOD)? In one of the interviews I’ve read that films from US in Progress circle around the world. Does it apply only to festival selection or distribution as well?
USn. We have achievements in both, although we pay special interest to distribution. First edition film “Now, Forager” was distributed in European cinemas, from this year’s Wroclav edition up to 3 out of 6 films will be distributed! (“Bluebird”, “Hide Your Smiling Faces”, “I Used to Be Darker”). From Paris edition “Teacher” and “Now Waving but Drowning” have agents already and waiting for their turn in cinemas. We do not keep exact statistics on television, but we do know that most of our films are making to VOD and digital distribution afterwards.
US. How do you evaluate the development of US in Progress over the years?
USn. First edition (called then Gotham in Progress – more NYC style name) was too big, so we limited it a bit from 11 to 6 films presentation. We are quickly becoming a significant player on distribution and sales agent market in Europe. Distributors and agents visit us more often and help our filmmakers increase their chances of being distributed across cinemas in Europe.
We are also very happy to have increased the number of experienced and creative post-production partners (red: Platige Image, Soundflower Studio, DCinex, Alvenia studios, new addition DI Factory). The awards sponsored by those parners raise the stakes up every year and enable independent American filmmakers finish their projects in professional filmmaking environment in Warsaw, Cracow or Wroclaw.
AS. What differentiates US in Progress and American Film Festival from other festivals?
USn. We focus on a part of world cinematography, that is often being misunderstood as mainstream, high budget film productions from Hollywood, so called “American movie”. We believe that there is much more to American Film market, then it is shown by major studios distributors. In other words we are looking to work with films, that are hardly noticed by American public and usually not considered very entertaining or in best case scenario are treated as a worse kind of film project then European independent cinema. We see independent filmmaking market in US as a barrel full of highly talented filmmakers with plenty to offer to be discovered. American Film Festival and US in Progress is just a great way to become discovered and broadly acknowledged. We are the only festival in Europe to appreciate American independent filmmaking and help filmmakers to make their way to acknowledgement and distribution success.
AS. Any thoughts on US in Progress future?
USn. Just another festival edition and further promotion. Our mission is to help American independent filmmakers to exist and succeed in Europe. We are looking into bringing commercial sponsors to our festival and public film institutions support as well. Of course some difficulties occur during the process of festival budget management. For example it is hard to convince Polish institutions that we are here to support American independent filmmakers and not American film industry itself. And most importantly – to create connection between European film industry and American filmmakers and that way bring more business to Europe/Poland.
AS. What PR support American Film Festival and US in Progress provide for Filmmakers and festival itself?
USn. We are in very good relationship with European and American film journalists who provide before and after festival media coverage. We are a frequent guest of independent film magazines and sites (like Indiwire, Screen magazine, Filmmaker Magazine etc.). Number of our newsletters sent out increases with every edition. Our PR and promotion strategy pays off with increasing number of bigger budget entries and decreasing number of amateur film projects. This is a best proof that AFF and US in Progress quickly become significant festival partner in Europe.
AS. One last sentence to encourage American filmmakers to participate in US in Progress and AFF?
USn. Well, how about this: We invite American stars before they become stars :) In our festival club, filmmakers are available for dancing without personal security :)
AS. Well then, I better get on with that dance :) Thans a lot..
More info about US in Progress and American Film Festival at www.americanfilmfestival.pl. Final call for entries: August 15’th 2013 (no fee needed)