IFP: Looking Back

A few indie veterans reflect on market highlights

Ted Hope, producer

“‘The Brothers McMullen’ was just another no-budget indie that everyone passed on until Michelle Byrd and the IFP agreed to screen it at their Independents’ Night at Lincoln Center. This was November and pre-Sundance, though, so (Ed Burns and the rest of the team) had quite a dilemma: We couldn’t miss such a great opportunity, but we needed to premiere it at Sundance. Eddie had been recutting (the film) furiously every night and … the film was now clearly a comedy, and one of the biggest jokes came at around the 12-minute mark. Miraculously, when we screened to a packed house right after that joke, with the crowd roaring in laughter, the (projector broke). We had to leave when laughter was the loudest. That wave of support carried us all the way to Park City — where the anticipation was fantastic — and right to the table that night with Tom Rothman signing aboard to make ‘The Brothers McMullen’ Fox Searchlight’s first acquisition and release. The IFP had stepped in at the exact critical moment and gave us the opportunity to reposition the film on the top of buyers’ acquisition list, and to define it to the world as what it really was: a remarkably fresh and honest comedy about romance, its pitfalls and pleasures.”

Cynthia Wade, director of ‘Freeheld’

“In 2006, I came back to the IFP Market with my work-in-progress doc. A Sundance Film Festival rep saw my trailer and asked me to submit the film. We were accepted, won the Special Jury Prize and went on to win the Academy Award for best short documentary this past February.”

Courtney Hunt, director of “Frozen River”

“IFP put me at the table with production companies face-to-face and allowed me to learn how the business works. Bob Berney was the first person who saw the short of ‘Frozen River,’ and we met and discussed making it into a feature. Those little bits here and there really bumped up my confidence to make the movie I wanted to make.”

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