How do you teach someone to be a politician? How do you instill that sense of back-slapping rapport required to cut backroom deals or that intangible ability to build relationships, compromise, and shamelessly raise funds?
The short answer? You don't. Most of the training for that sort of thing is on-the-job and the experience accumulates over time.
We'd venture to argue that both the glamorous and not-so-glamorous skills of a movie producer eerily resemble those of a politician. After all, producers need money to bring their visions to the screen. They need investors, negotiating skills, and financial savvy.
The process is never smooth. Expectations change, investors revolt, costs escalate, and producers find themselves in perpetual crisis management mode. None of this bodes well for producers looking to establish sustainable careers in the industry. Some successful producers with experience can rely on their intuition, but that's not always enough. Fortunately, some of the needed skills can also be taught.
This brings us to the Sundance Institute's Creative Producing Initiative, which encompasses a year-round series of labs, fellowships, grants, and events focused "not only on nurturing the next generation of independent producers, but renewing the community of veteran producers dedicated to sustaining the vibrancy and vitality of independent film." Sundance rolls out three different producing Labs throughout the year, depending on the producer's area of focus: Documentary, Feature Film, and "Native."
The institute is currently accepting applications for the Feature Film Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship until February 10, 2015.
The program, which is designed to "hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project," lasts a year and provides fellows with $10,000 grant support, year-round mentorship from two industry mentors, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute Staff.
Here are some important eligibility criteria:
- Applicants must have produced at least one short or feature-length narrative or documentary film, but no more than two narrative features total as lead creative producer.
- They must have a completed, legally-optioned, scripted, narrative project in hand with a director attached to the project. The applying producer must live in the United States, although the project may be filmed internationally.
- Candidates may not be the writer or director of submitted project.Candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally.
Also, Sundance asks that fellows give back. According to the institute, "Projects supported by the Creative Producing Fellowship are asked to contribute 0.25% of their production budget calculated after the first $1 million (e.g. if your film is produced for $1.2 million, the fee due to the Institute would be $500)."
Seems reasonable to us.
Click here for more IP analysis on Sundance's work in the field of philanthropy, grant-making, and fellowships. More info on the labs and fellowships can be found HERE.