Finder Screenings helps get the word out on indies

“The real problem with independent films isn’t so much making them — although that can still be challenging — it’s finding distribution,” says Stephen Gyllenhaal, director of “Paris Trout” and “Waterland” and chairman of the DGA’s West Coast Independent Directors Committee.

That’s where the guild’s Directors Finder Screening Series comes in. From its 1998 inception through last month, the series screened 77 films, 33 of which (a rate of roughly 43%) have found distribution, says Elizabeth Stanley, the org’s assistant exec director. Eight films went theatrical and 15 to prepay or basic cable television, and 19 to DVD/video. The program’s success prompted the IDC East to replicate the program in New York.

“The DGA isn’t in the business of film distribution. However, this series allows our members to show their films the way they were meant to be seen in professional screenings for distributors and other invited guests,” Stanley says.

“The DGA isn’t in the business of film distribution. However, this series allows our members to show their films the way they were

meant to be seen in professional screenings for distributors and other invited guests,” Stanley says.

Generally, there are two screenings held each month, usually on Friday afternoons in the 155-seat theater at the guild’s Sunset Boulevard HQ. The films are chosen through a lottery system and the series is available to Directors Guild of America members who have made features and have not received any form of domestic distribution (outside of festivals) in the U.S.

“The Directors Finder series is a valuable tool for our members but it also provides another outlet for filmmakers’ voices and that’s good for the filmmakers and film audiences,” says Gyllenhaal.

Another film series focuses on the influential voices of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Under the Influence debuted in May 1998 with a screening of Independent Directors Committee member George Hickenlooper’s “Monte Hellman: American Auteur,” followed by Hellman’s cult classic “Two-Lane Blacktop” and a discussion between Hellman and Allison Anders. Since then there have been 14 screenings, including “Drive, He Said” with director Jack Nicholson and Alexander Payne.

The DGA East kicked off its series in March with a screening of “Network” and a discussion with Sidney Lumet and filmmaker Raymond De Felitta, co-chairman with Steven Soderbergh of the IDC East.

“There’s a certain kind of discussion that happens when you have a director talking to another director,” says Stanley. “The UTI screenings are inspirational and instructive on the art and craft of filmmaking and a great way for filmmakers to interact with each other.”

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