Get pumped for the Academy Awards 2017!
Every year I head to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s my favorite festival in the world and this is my 16th year.
I always feel anxious beforehand. Maybe because it’s such a cool crowd and there are movies that take your breath away? Maybe because every year without fail something magical happens? I don’t know? There’s just no reason for it.
My first time at Sundance was as a filmmaker with our award-winning film, Bit Players and a year later we were back in Park City with, Outpatient which won Best Picture at Slamdance. Now that I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of our streaming service, IndieFlix, I’ve sponsored the Film Festival Summit with the Ford Foundation, hosted parties with IndieGoGo, had celebrity encounters funny enough for a book and participated on numerous panels too many to count. So why do I get such anxiety? And no its not excitement. I know the difference.
I’ve thought about this for a long time and now I’m making a movie about it and this trip is going to be different for me.
We’re starting production on our new film Angst, a peer-to-peer documentary with stories and experts we believe will help us break the stigma around anxiety. We start filming Monday here in Utah and It comes out in May. My very clever and talented friend, Matt Skerritt is directing. This is going to be a global conversation about anxiety because we believe everyone on the planet has had some kind of touch point with anxiety.
Well, the flight attendant has signaled for me to close my laptop and put my tray table up. It’s time to land. I need to shake off the anxiety because its going to be a great festival just like every other year! #sundance17
Celebs, indie films… what could be better??!
Gold – An offbeat comedy about an estranged father who returns to his hometown after an absence of ten years in order to reconnect with his daughter and ex-wife but unwittingly finds himself responsible for almost destroying all their lives. http://bit.ly/22ripoq
Bargain! – A hilarious short starring Rebel Wilson as shy, dorky Linda who finds herself alone with her sister’s hunky boyfriend Matt. She decides to make the most of the situation. http://bit.ly/1TZ594i
Boats – Hot off the success of Cars and Planes, a room full of executives dreams up the next big franchise… Boats! But is it the story they care about or is it something else…? Starring Jim O’Heir (Parks & Recreation), Kevin Wu, Taylor Miller, and more. http://bit.ly/2aWhKXm
The Fifteen Minute Hamlet – Based on Tom Stoppard’s play, this parody on the classic takes you through the whole play in 13 minutes and then in an astonishing 2 minutes. Starring Austin Pendleton, Ernest Perry Jr., and Philip Seymour Hoffman. http://bit.ly/2bguYlK
I want to help. I think we all do, we just need a clear path to follow. But how do we raise awareness to formulate a plan of action without spreading fear?
How do we respond to homelessness, global warming, mass shootings etc.? I feel completely out of my wheelhouse. I’m at a loss of how to approach the situation. It’s just so big. Thank goodness there are amazing organizations working tirelessly to address so many of these issues but I don’t even know how to begin the vetting process to identify which organizations to support.
The steady stream of negative images and overwhelming numbers bombarding us at lightening speed is paralyzing. We live in survival mode. My silver-lining syndrome is greatly challenged.
I think we can start by paying more attention to our immediate community. Let’s figure out how to really be there for each other. Let’s put our phones down and look up into each other’s eyes. We need a closer look and a long term fix. Technology has got to play key a role. Let’s celebrate the positive and acknowledge, even pay tribute to the incredible and often invisible people who shape our lives. Let’s get to know each other; perhaps we might notice when someone is going off the deep-end. We need to talk to each other and share our stories, the good stuff, the mundane and the tough stuff. We need to listen. Ideas will percolate and maybe, just maybe an actionable plan will emerge.
I think about the work we do at the IndieFlix Foundation. We support stories mostly in the film and VR medium to start conversations that turn into movements. The Foundation works closely with the IndieFlix Corporation to access the globe and as a result the response has been incredible. Students, families and educators share how our work has helped to save lives, transform communities and empower women all over the world. I am proud of this work, our team, our partners and the incredibly talented women and men we work with every day but there’s got to be more we can do? Whatever it is I know for sure we have to do it together.
My mother used to say, “after me you come first” I used to think she was so selfish but now that I’m the adult, I understand. It’s the same premise as, put your oxygen mask on first and then your child. If we don’t take care of ourselves how can we take care of each other? And if we can’t take care of each other how will we be able to spot when someone is in distress? How can we make the world safer? Perhaps by being the best living, breathing, role models every day; maybe that will create a halo effect. It’s a start.
Sharing thoughts from 38k feet
Scilla Andreen, mother, filmmaker, CEO & Co-Founder IndieFlix, Founder IndieFlix Foundation, Executive Producer Empowerment Project, Screenagers, Angst, Speaker SIC16
I’ve never been more excited… suddenly we’re overflowing with ideas. We’ve tapped into a river of creative energy and it’s raging! I wish I’d done this sooner.
When I think about all the marketing campaigns we’re doing now I look back on the past year and while I know we were building our new platform; marketing was on hold. We should’ve been doing more. Seth Godin, who I think writes the world’s most read blog and whom I admire greatly has a motto, ‘ship it”. I have always embraced that philosophy. You learn fast, fix and grow. It doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t need a ton of money. It needs to work. We as entrepreneur’s live in a state of learning. We’re going to make changes no matter what and the most efficient way to do that is to get user feedback. For some reason I started listening to other people and I shut myself down. I wanted to launch IndieFlix as an annual subscription a long time ago but there was no data to support that model. Netflix, HBO and Spotify just to name a few are all monthly subscriptions. They’ve surely done their homework right? I didn’t fight for it even though my gut told me to. So, last month I decided to take the the reins and create my own data around this offering. I’m done being the good girl and following the rules. I want IndieFlix to figure out quickly how to solve the two biggest pain points in our industry; how to easily find what to watch and helping filmmakers make real revenue.
So, now by using our very cool new discovery tool, QuickPick you can sort through thousands of movies for only $40 a year instead of a pesky $5 charge every month. And since we stream shorts, features, documentaries, web-series and now TV from 85 countries, 2500 film festivals and some of the top film schools in the world; we are complementary to Netflix, HBO and Amazon. Butchering the famous line from Jerry McGuire, “we complete you…well, at least your media library”. Now IndieFlix and the audience have time to get to know each other. I’m so looking forward it.
I always find myself using food or shoe analogies to relate to life. For instance, I equate Hollywood to eating at the same slightly pricey restaurant day in and day out. Giving them my money over and over. The food is pretty good, everything kind of tastes the same, service is A-Okay, same people serving, preparing and setting the menu. Great lighting! Kind of like Cheese Cake Factory.
Then on the flip side you can’t forget or maybe sometimes you want to forget the experience at that family place down the street or that little hole in the wall where you had no idea what you were eating. There’s your favorite sushi restaurant or Korean BBQ and let’s not forget dim sum, those are all independent movies for sure. What about the food truck? Lol
I think of a feature film as a main course and short films, especially good ones as heavy appetizers. In today’s world we’re supposed to eat smaller meals more often right? I guess that would be TV.
And I suppose dessert would be… Hmm 🙂
Thoughts on the plane headed to Palm Springs Shortfest #SF16 #PalmSpringsShortFest #indieflix #indieflixinthehouse
I hadn’t really thought about it much since being Asian my skin is light enough that I am almost white. I forget that I am viewed as different. I remember when I first moved to LA I did some extra work for TV shows to earn a little money and the only roles I would get called in for were the me-so-horny, girl hookers or a nurse. I didn’t really care, I needed the job. I found my niche as a costume designer on such hit shows as The Wonder Years, Party of Five, Jack & Jill and What I Like About You. I worked with some of the most talented people in Hollywood and they seemed to really appreciate me and my diversity. They treated me like gold. Regardless, I noticed that for the most part, the writers, producers and directors were mostly men and all white. There were always a few women which was good but never an asian, black or hispanic. I remember we had to cast the one black friend for the group of kids in a scene from The Wonder Years, but only one because two or three black kids would mean Kevin Arnold was going to get into trouble.
My first Sundance panel I found myself on a stage with the heads of YouTube, Netflix and iTunes. I thought they must have made a mistake, my company was so young and I’m a total nobody. I asked how they chose me. The panel organizer said, “We needed a woman and some color and you filled both requirements check, check!” Well, okay I thought. I’ll take it.
Cut to 2016. I am always treated with such politeness and in my role as co-founder and CEO of IndieFlix I am often in board rooms with all white men pitching my business model to raise money and the response is, “This is a great model. Who helped you with it?” Or even better… “You must travel a lot, who watches your kids?” I know these guys are just being nice and making conversation or just plain curious how I do it all. It’s not them, its societal programming. I am sure that if you asked any one of them they would say they view women as complete equals. I think we all wrestle with unconscious bias. I used to think stay-at-home dads couldn’t find a job. Now I know better. So how do we make change? Diversity and inclusion, gender and ethnic equity and equality are a good start. I am not even remotely knowledgeable in this arena. So, I feel a little out of place talking about it but its really important that we address it. We need to see more women, more color and more ethnicity in writing, directing, leading actor and producing roles. We also need a lot more women investors. Thankfully technology today allows us to tell our stories and bypass the Hollywood gatekeepers. The audience supports us through crowd-funding and we can now prove that the return on investment for content, written, directed or starring diverse talents is real and meaningful.
In fashion they say the street influences the runway. I see the independent film space as the street and Hollywood as the runway and I think the street can most definitely influence the runway. We have the technology. We must make the films we want to see. We don’t need to ask for permission any more.
Sometimes things fly out of my mouth and I’m hearing it for the first time… thoughts I didn’t even know I had… The other night when I was on a Women in Film panel about diversity, I made a statement and as I said/heard it for the first time I could feel a change in me, “I now feel an even greater responsibility to make IndieFlix a huge success because as a woman of color and a CEO in a white, male, dominated industry I’m not just doing this for the filmmakers, the movie lovers, my team, my investors and my family but for other women who aspire to lead disrupt and change the world. I am a role model and I want to be a great one.”
I was privileged to be on this WIF panel with the talented, Brian McDonald, Eli Kimaro, Kathy Hsieh, Tracy Rector and Roger Tang. Thank you Virginia Berta Bogert for putting it together and Isabella Price for your incomparable moderation.
I learned a lot. Some of the comments and ideas were tweeted. Here are a few standouts.
“Being the subject of our own stories not the object in someone else’s” @elikimaro #TSTdiversity
“It’s about #diversity, but it’s also about #representation. We need good role models.” @IndieFlixCEO #TSTdiversity
“We’ve built an infrastructure in America to make $ from black bodies, but not from black minds.” @BeeMacDee1950 #tstdiversity #mediaequity
“A black writer won’t get hired to write for white characters, but who knows the other better?” @BeeMacDee1950 #tstdiversity
#tstdiversity I will find a way or make one! Thank you @elikimaro
Now that you’ve graduated what’s the rush to get a job all about?
I couldn’t help but listen to the conversations surrounding me as I sat in my seat waiting for my son to receive his degree and flip that tassel from one side of the mortar board to the other.
The number one question was what is he going to do now?
I didn’t have an answer. What I want for my son is to take a few days or weeks or even months to decompress, to feel his feelings, to think his thoughts and to let the dust of a lifetime of academics settle.
Why is it so important to jump into the work world the minute we graduate? Is there only a short window of time a graduate can land a good job? Are they going to forget everything they’ve learned? Will they suddenly lose all motivation? Is there a benefit? I actually think there could be a downside. We rush through life focused on the next thing. I think we need to slow down and savor those hard earned moments of achievement before diving into the next chapter. If one doesn’t know what to do surely a simple job to make ends meet while they decide what’s important to them won’t hurt; in fact I think it is key to future decision making. Clarity. Focus. Calm. I think I did an okay job raising my son. I trust his ability to make good decisions.
Love your #1 Fan (Mom)
I was cleaning my office the Sunday before Sundance. The kind of cleaning where you throw out files, mementos, festival passes and things you’ll never need. I came across some old photos, journals, letters and a file of ideas I had jotted down called brain drains. These are rapid fire, often times poor grammar pure unaltered brain dumps. I read it and got goosebumps. We had not launched IndieFlix and yet the vision was crystal clear. I was then reminded about how we came up with the name IndieFlix (which I’ll save for another post) and how I envisioned Netflix acquiring us. Coincidentally my second day in Park City I was standing in line for the film Gleason and the man next to me was none other than Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. We shook hands and chatted. We’d met 10 years earlier when we were both on a panel at Sundance. I am now reliving the birth of a whole new IndieFlix which launches next month. I’m excited to write my next brain drain on what I believe the next 3-5 years will look like for our industry and I can’t wait for everyone to incorporate the new IndieFlix user experience into their lives. I think it’s game changing.
Below is the copy from the brain drain I wrote in June 2005 before we launched IndieFlix.
This was just a little more brain drain I had over the weekend. It may mean nothing but it feels a little different in its approach to explain who we are (especially to filmmakers).
Rx for DISTRIBUTION THE EQUITABLE REAL DEAL
June 20, 2005
Once a filmmaker always a filmmaker, even when it comes to distribution.
Where did the idea come from that filmmakers know only how to make films but not how to sell them, or that if a filmmaker couldn’t secure distribution that their film wasn’t good enough? That’s like saying a parent only knows how to give birth but not know how to raise the child or that if your kid doesn’t get into the best school, that has limited openings, he or she isn’t good enough?
Today’s filmmakers are more than just storytellers who artfully and skillfully put their vision on tape or film. They are also digital technicians, effective publicists & distributors who already know their audience. They know how to network and they persevere with a passion nothing less than that of a mother protecting her young.
When Plan A’s lottery method of securing (pie in the sky) distribution fails. Plan B can oftentimes be more successful providing access and exposure and some return. Plan B is usually more attainable & realistic while reclaiming the control, power and rights we as filmmakers give up when we dream of a theatrical opening.
We all know the landscape of our business has changed dramatically. Filmmakers are now armed with an arsenal of technology that allows us the opportunity to reap what we sow.
Remember when you had to book a plane reservation through a travel agent? It was fine we really didn’t know any differently. Now we book our trips on line and have more options and control. It’s so easy and anyone can do it. No one is excluded. IndieFlix will have that same effect on the film world.
After waiting around for decades for a company like IndieFlix; we decided to build it ourselves. IndieFlix was found by filmmakers, for filmmakers and their audiences. We have created a company that clearly allows the filmmaker to get back what they put in – no gimmicks, no punch lines, no hidden agendas, costs or surprises. It’s the means & the way to finish what you’ve started with the same passion, enthusiasm & support you may have experienced when you shot your film.
If you have a finished film then you know the industry, how it works and how it should work. We can’t change what’s wrong in the world of standard distribution but this is a good start.
We made the NY Times! It’s validation and here’s why… The average child in America spends more time consuming electronic media than going to school…yet 7 in 10 children worry that their parents are the ones who are plugged in and tuned out.
Director Delany Ruston and my fellow producers, Karin Gornick and Lisa Tabb have worked tirelessly on this film (68 mins). We are releasing it only through community screenings with the help of our incredible team at IndieFlix because we want parents, kids and educators to have a conversation about the role screens play in our lives and how much screen time is healthy. The film offers solutions and addresses one of the greatest parenting challenges of our time. We update our website, ScreenagersMovie.com regularly. You can find screenings to attend as well as book your own screening and please take advantage of all of the free resources we provide to make healthy changes that make sense for you and your family.