Miami's film community is on fire. From big festivals to international screenings, local filmmakers are making waves, and indie heavyweight Sundance is taking notice.
The Sundance Institute announced this week that they will use $1 million in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to bring artist development day labs to eight cities across the U.S. over the next three years, including Miami. Programming will target a wide range of filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and composers with workshops building on the experience of Sundance Institute's renowned residency labs.
The new funding follows a successful pilot project in Miami and Philadelphia during the past year, where hundreds of filmmakers took part. The first lab of the series in Miami begins Saturday, October 25 at O Cinema Wynwood. The pilot labs in Miami, which ran from last October to January of this year, included workshops on new technology in filmmaking and short filmmaking.
"Miami is a hotbed of independent filmmaking right now," said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for the Knight Foundation. "The Borscht crew has gone on to do amazing things in international film festivals; they've been in literally hundreds of festivals, culminating with the Bernardo Britto win at Sundance earlier this year for Yearbook. But in addition to that, there are lots of other filmmakers in town that are doing really great work..."
Scholl references Monica Peña, whose film Ectotherms received rave reviews after its premiere at the Miami International Film Festival this year.
"We are a very vibrant independent filmmaking community in Miami, and when I began to look at that, I got excited about it," Scholl said. "As I began to look at the other Knight resident cities, I found in every single one of them a really interesting and burgeoning film culture."
In addition to the labs programming, Sundance will select 12 filmmakers from these cities who will be named Sundance | Knight Fellows and participate in special screenings, panels, and professional development opportunities at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Scholl says Miami film in particular has a long reach with the outside community.
"The other thing we saw is that so many of the films being made are Miami films, by Miami filmmakers, for Miami audiences, but that can resonate and play internationally," Scholl says. "That was a really important discovery for us, about how well Miami stories by Miami filmmakers were traveling and playing in film festivals everywhere."
The overall goal of the programming is to bring filmmaking tools to audiences outside of New York and Los Angeles, where so much of the film industry is clustered. The laboratories, 24 in total, give people the opportunity to hear about what it takes to make a short film, what it takes to be a screenwriter, and how to make a documentary, among other topics. A Miami lab will teach composers how to score a film, Scholl says.
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The first annual #ArtistServices Miami Workshop on Saturday at O Cinemais already full. The workshop features conversations with industry experts as they discuss the latest technology, tools, and tactics in creative financing, digital distribution, guerilla marketing, and independent theatrical distribution.
Participation for future labs is free and requires RSVP. Workshops will take place in the other communities beginning in 2015.