Sundance blog 6: The producers' advice
Abandoned Goods producers, Fly Film's Kate Ogborn and Lisa Marie Russo
Edward Lawrenson and Pia Borg are at the Sundance Film Festival this week to present their short film Abandoned Goods. Ed is also sharing his Sundance diary, and in this sixth instalment he talks to his film's producers, Kate Ogborn and Lisa Marie Russo, about their Sundance advice and favourite films.
Ed talks to his producers about how they have spent their time at Sundance 2015 - it's not all meetings, it's also about watching some great movies.
Fly Film's Kate Ogborn first came to Sundance in 1998 as producer of Carine Adler's Under The Skin, and later came back with Adler for a mentoring programme. Lisa Marie Russo came "as a spectator" in 2002 but she adds, "It has been my dream since the mid '80s, like many American producers, to have a film in Sundance. So it’s really great to have that dream come true."
Kate says, "Coming to a festival like Sundance immerses you in the American independent scene. We always try to take the approach when we go to a festival to see as many films as possible, in addition to meeting people. There can be a tendency with producers to think it’s all about the networking and it's all about the meetings, but actually, really the reason we’re all here is because of the films."
She continues: "For us it’s really important at a festival to survey what a festival is programming, and what films are we all going to be talking about over the coming year? So we’ve done a mixture of that. It’s also about fact-finding, what are people looking for, how do they work? Being based in the UK, we’re obviously much closer to Europe, and further away away from the American scene so it's an opportunity to gather intelligence."
Lisa Marie adds, "As Kate said, we’re always doing like three things at a festival – networking, formal meetings and watching films. When we go to a place like Cannes, which has a formal market, we would set up a lot of meetings ahead of time. We didn’t approach Sundance that way for a variety of reasons. One thing that Sundance does is they provide a lot of networking opportunities throughout the day. So even before we stepped foot on the airplane, we had networking opportunities from breakfast, brunch to evening, along with films we wanted to see."
She adds, "They arranged for us, with the filmmaking team, to do meetings – that was a great way to do these meet and greets and get involved with a lot of people in the American scene over a concentrated period of time. They did a lot of that work for us. There is no formal market here, so it's about how you put that together."
When asked about their film standouts of Sundance 2015, the producers had many good films to gush about.
Kate says, "I’m a one woman publicity machine for Cartel Land - it is a brilliant brilliant documentary about two vigilante groups, one based in Arizona and one based in Mexico. And the Mexican one took on the cartel in the Michoacán district. It’s a jaw-dropping film. I also loved Kim Longinotto’s Dreamcatcher, which broke my heart and inspired me. And Dope, which is a brilliant comedy and a really significant film."
Lisa Marie adds, "I loved Cartel Land as well, and Dope, which feels like a really Sundance film because it harks back to early Spike Lee, and Richard Linklater, but it also feels very contemporary because it deals with American race issues in a comic way. I think it will reach a lot of young people not just in the US, but all over the world.
And I just saw (T)ERROR, which is about an FBI Informant in the US, that was really really fascinating; and it’s part funded by Storyville. I look forward to hearing what happens to that on the international scene."
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Ed and Pia are attending Sundance thanks in part to a Short Film Travel Grant from British Council and BFI. More information about the grants can be found here.