Film Scouts Diaries

1995 Independent Feature Film Market Diaries
Market Report 1

by Kathleen Carroll

Sept. 22, 1995

Kevin Smith successfully peddled his attention-grabbing debut film, CLERKS, at the Independent Feature Film Market. Canadian director Mina Shum also doubled her chances for being singled out as one of the bright young hopes of the business when her film, DOUBLE HAPPINESS, captivated the notoriously restless audience at last year's Market.

In short the IFFM, which is being held this week in New York's Greenwich Village, has proven to be an important showcase for first time filmmakers. It's no doubt easier to win a multi-million dollar lottery than to break into the movie business. Even so every September hundreds of touchingly eager filmmakers hover around the Market headquarters - the lobby espresso bar of the Angelika Film Center. What they hope, of course, is that some major industry player, preferably Harvey Weinstein, the volatile risk-taking head of Miramax, will discover their little gems and instantly offer to finance all their future projects.

But such Hollywood-inspired happy endings are rare. The Market works best as a prime spot for networking and adding the right names to the Rolodex. Here a Steven Spielberg wanna be can actually mingle with film buyers who, frankly, have already passed on most of the films being screened in the Market and who are now mainly sizing up the many so-called works-in-progress. At least the filmmakers arrive like stars. They're almost always surrounded by a small entourage of volunteer workers, devoted relatives and supportive friends whose nervousness may be explained by the fact that they are the main investors in these first-born films. Given their interest in the films these Market groupies are instantly transformed into raving publicists.

In fact I had barely entered the Angelika when I was exposed to a sample of the Market's guerrilla style of marketing. A pleasant-faced man handed me a one-sheet promoting "A Jeremy Carver film" called LIVE LONG, DRINK JUICE. "It was directed by my cousin," he proudly informed me.

In the two days I attended IFFM I experienced a number of similar encounters. Someone, wearing a sandwich board touting a dark comedy called IVAN THE VERY TERRIBLE, nearly knocked me off my feet, an act of aggression which seemed in keeping with the film's title. Another more innocent looking man offered me a squishy rat made out of licorice. This was his way of telling me to be sure and see "a dysfunctional romantic comedy called RAT GIRL.

Downstairs Adam Marcus, the executive producer of GEORGE: A TRUE STORY, handed me a press kit for this "true story about a man who falls in love with a tattoo." "We started out with $25,000, then found $5,000 which got us out of the shoot," he said, explaining the financing. "I wouldn't get a tattoo myself for religious and personal reasons," Marcus sheepishly admitted.

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