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The next 'Slacker'?
NYC film market gives hope to indie auteurs
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Christopher Lynn, filmmaker with a dream, is not alone here.
He stands at the entrance of the Angelika Film Center in the heart of Soho in Manhattan, handing to anyone and everyone invitations to his new independent movie, "All Saints Day."
"It seems to be the place to be," says Lynn, 26.
In fact, the Angelika entrance and cafe inside are packed with cigarette-smoking, cell-phone-carrying indie filmmakers and those interested in indie films. The theater is the headquarters for the 22nd annual Independent Feature Film Market, which has attracted an estimated 2,500 filmmakers, film festival programmers and industry professionals, along with dozens of reporters.
Organized by the Independent Feature Project, the market offers a place for distributors and festival representatives to find the next independent sensation. For example, "Brothers McMullen" and "Slacker" started here, before reaching widespread success in movie theaters across the country.
Lynn hopes "All Saints Day," about a Brooklyn guy who organizes a robbery of his abusive boss, is the next Cinderella story to be told here.
One distribution company has already made an offer, Lynn says, and he's meeting later in the day with another inquiring party. "We've got several people interested," he says.
Making films, pitches
But again, he is not alone.Standing nearby is John Hansen, a physician-turned-indie auteur who will proudly tell you that his short film sprang from a midlife crisis. The flick dares to take on, in 17 minutes, "Faust," the classic tale penned by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It's an updated version of the devil-buys-a-soul tale, filmed in South Dakoka.
"The 'Faust' story seemed to sum up not only what had gone on in my life, but it had also explained a lot of nutty things in the outside world," he says. "That's what drew me to it."
Hansen, 49, shrugs off a question about his intentions here, but it's apparent by his marketing approach -- "The film received a nice review by (author and former New Yorker film critic) Pauline Kael" -- that he's hoping to score. In other words, he wants to be a filmmaker after he takes off the physician's scrubs.
"What I like about filmmaking is, you can roll every aspect of yourself into it," he says. "There's not only technical challenges, but deep aesthetic challenges."
The market is not limited to film screenings and sales pitches, though. Daily panels include subjects like "Desktop Filmmaking," "The International Marketplace for Documentaries" and "Why Put Your Movie on the 'Net?"
Web snares films
Michele LaMura has an answer to that last question. She's here promoting her Boston-based company BuyIndies.com, a Web community that gives filmmakers a place to sell their products online.
Filmmakers are "trying to get their films picked up for distribution," LaMura says. "In the majority of instances, that's not going to happen, so what we're offering is the alternative: When you don't get picked up for distribution, you can still sell films and videos online."
Filmmakers here aren't just looking for distribution, though. Many entries -- features, documentaries, shorts -- are unfinished, and their creators need more money before they can call it a wrap. In other words, they're offering a glimpse of what might be if someone with vision will hand them some investment cash.
John Cocca knows this first-hand. A fireman in Rochester, New York, who also produces independent films, he first attended the market in 1994. He came with one scene of an action film already in the can, the script to the rest of the movie in his hands and a request for cash on his lips. Within 45 minutes of showing that one scene, he says he found financing.
Now he's back, but doesn't need help this year. Cocca's promoting "After Image," his latest movie, and it already has a distributor. It stars John Mellencamp (yes, the singer) as a crime-scene photographer who is on the hunt for a serial killer, getting help from a deaf woman who's having premonitions about the murders.
Cocca wants his success to inspire others.
"I want to be able to tell the filmmakers, 'Yes, I came to the IFFM and I got financing and now I've moved on to bigger things,'" Cocca says. "And I want to keep coming back because this is my roots here."
The IFFM lasts through Friday. Several awards, including two targeting African-American filmmakers and one spotlighting students, will provide cash prizes up to $15,000.
For some, this year's market is the culmination of years of sacrifice, the stepping stone they've been seeking.
Lynn is typical. A music-education major in college, Lynn says he was drawn to the silver screen.
"Since I was a kid, I just loved it" he says.
And he is not alone
The Independant Feature Film Market
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