In March, MPI participated in the annual Writers Guild Festival, a weekend-long event run by the nonprofit Writers Guild Foundation in partnership with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowship Programs. The festival invites acclaimed television and film writers to share their advice and experiences.
2019 marked MPI’s second year participating in the festival. Last year, MPI’s vice president of talent development Lana Link moderated an MPI masterclass panel with Craig Borten, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Dallas Buyers Club, about writing films for social impact.
This year, MPI’s panel took a practical approach to the screenwriting business with a panel titled Indie-IY: Finding Financing for Your Film.
Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, the filmmaking duo behind the hit film Searching, shared the compelling story of how they took that film from a short concept to a $75 million+ box-office success. Alex Saks, the principal at Page Fifty-Four Pictures who is known for her work on prestigious indies such as The Florida Project, talked about what she looks for as a producer and outlined numerous avenues to financing a film. Lana moderated as the panel addressed common questions from MPI filmmakers.
Here’s what some MPI screenwriters, whom MPI sponsored to attend, had to say:
“Loved this weekend. So grateful to MPI for making it possible. I am inspired to push forward as a writer in a new way due to this weekend.
“Thank you, MPI, both for affording me this unique opportunity, and also for your panel on film financing — easily the most daunting aspect of filmmaking from a writer’s perspective, and an irreplaceable session for WGFest!
“Where else will you hear an industry veteran respond to a young filmmaker’s problem with, ‘Oh, that’s an easy solve! Here is exactly what you should do …’ That is what happened in a Q&A session at WGFest this past weekend. WGFest is an invaluable experience both personally and professionally.