Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Help for LGBT Film Makers - the 101 Guide

Hello Kittens,

Every day my inboxes are full of letters from up and coming young LGBT film makers asking for help with their projects, and as much as I'd like to volunteer, it's physically impossible. But you know how much I want all gay film makers to succeed - it's key to having more positive and diverse representations of lgbt in television and film, as well as putting our stories out there (too much of our history is still in the closet).

So, in the spirit of this, I've pulled together a list of resources here for the up and coming film maker that I endorse.

If you are a writer, there is nothing better for you to break-in if you have no contacts than to place or win a major screenwriting competition. The biggest one is The Nicholls Fellowship. There's also the Sundance Lab and Scriptapalooza (more info on that below). Winning or placing in the top ten won't do it for you, you have to research the agents and managers in Hollywood that are representing the screenwriters you most aspire to be like (check out Next, send a letter to these agents and mention your placement in any high end competition. The combination of these tactics has yielded fantastic results for friends of mine! If you want a tip, start your letter like this: "I recently placed 2nd in the Scriptapalooza and now producers are contacting me with interest, yet I am currently unrepresented." Mention them personally and why you feel they are the right fit, and it also never hurts to say you are new to the business (if you are old to it, why haven't you signed yet?).

If you are a director the world is your oyster these days. With online distribution and low cost video gear, you can start making films immediately and posting them online. The best training for directors - tried and true - is just doing it. You can read a million books, go to schools, but you are never going to get good at this until you start, and continue. You'll get better with each short and project you do, guaranteed. A great resource for info on lgbt film makers and film festivals is award winning director Jenni Olsen's blog:

Once you have a fabulous short and an online following, the best move is to get into the biggest film festival possible. You want to hit Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and Montreal. These are premier film festivals. You can hit after that The LA Film Festival and the AFI Film Festival locally, but these aren't as prestigious. For LGBT Film Festivals, have your films ready by March each year and hit the top three: Outfest, Frameline and Philly. Once you get into one of these, every other LGBT film festival will be contacting you.


New Sundance head John Cooper (out-gay and pictured right) just announced that The Sundance Film Festival has created a new section for screenings of no and low budget films.  Read all about it at IndieWire, by clicking here.

John Cooper takes over the top spot at Sundance after Geofrey Gilmore departed for a gig at Tribeca.  Before taking the helm, Cooper was previously the long time Director of Programming for Sundance, and prior was the head of programming at our very own OUTFEST:  The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.


Veteran Sundance shorts programmer Roberta Munroe has written a fabulous guide for filmmakers, and has a web site full of tips and resources for film makers. 

Want your film at Sundance? Check out these tips and insider info at

I can't recommend this site highly enough.  Fantastic site for screenwriters to post their pitches for producers to read, as well as a a go-to site for producers looking for undiscovered talent.  Their search options make this an A+ resource, as you can specify searches by genre, name attachments and/or awards won.  Check them out at

Power Up is an lgbt non profit for education, resources, grants and production of features and shorts. They have a very reasonably priced upcoming two day television seminar:

Find out more at


Variety and The Producers Guild of America present: On September 23rd, representatives from California, New York and Connecticut will give an overview on what type of production incentives they have to offer, as well as commentary on their locations and infrastructure which will help producers meet their budgets and create the best looking film possible from a location stand-point.

Register today for this FREE webinar designed to educate and inform the production community.

Moderated by:
Joseph Chianese, VP of Business Development, Entertainment Partners

Speakers:  Amy Lemisch, Executive Director, California Film Commission
Pat Spinney Kaufman, Executive Director, New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
11AM (PDT) / 2PM (EDT)
To register for free, please click here.

Didn't make it into the Sundance Lab? No worries, you can be part of the action online.

There are fantastic interviews with the advisors, and you can follow the Lab film makers through every step of the process. It's just like being there, only without going to Utah. Click here.

Is endorsed by the Writers Guild Of America and is currently accepting scripts for their Television Writing Competition.

For info, check out their web site.

Entry fee is $40 and the deadline is October 15th.


A great organization with unending resources.
Check them out on Facebook or at their website.

Pasadena, Sept 22 and 24th
A huge expo where you can get your hands on all the latest production equipment, sit in on free demonstrations, and land killer expo-only deals on gear, including post production software and equipment.  Find out more and register for a free floor pass here:

Part of the entertainment software company Showbiz Data, there are weekly classes in all areas of production paperwork, laws and contracts. There's an upcoming free class on Feature Payroll on September 15th. To check out all their upcoming free seminars, visit them at

Let your minority status work for you!  These are highly competitive, but a great leg up.  You can gain knowledge, killer networking leads and impressive beginning job experience.

1. The Disney-ABC Writing Fellowship

2. NBC Diversity Initiative for Writers

3. Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship

4. The Guy A. Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program (Cosby Writing Program)

Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby established the Cosby Writing Program in 1993, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It was named in honor of Camille's father, Guy Alexander Hanks and Bill's producer, Marvin Miller. The fifteen-week intensive workshop was designed with a two-fold purpose: To assist writers in the completion of a film or television script and to deepen the participants' appreciation for and comprehension of African American history and culture.

5. Fox Writers Initiative

6. The CBS Diversity Institute/Writers Mentoring Program


Denise said...

Thank you sooo much!! Ive always wanted to ask you about this but figured you get hundreds of emails on it. if you ever need a P.A.! let me know i am awesome!

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