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Development to Distribution for Films Under $250K

May 9, 2020 @ 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm

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May 9th at 3:30pm (duration: 3 hours)

In this class, you will learn proven, cost-effective filmmaking and business techniques for producing a microbudget (under $250K) film project. With a special emphasis on regional filmmaking, your instructors will take you through the filmmaking process from Development through Distribution to discover tips and tricks for developing, planning, and producing a film. While the lessons from this class will emphasize very low budget films, these concepts can be applied to a film of any budget level.

– Top tips for writing low budget screenplays.
– How to navigate funding approaches, including raising money from investors, fans, friends, and family (and the legal issues involved).
– How to prepare for an efficient and well-scheduled shoot with special attention given to locations, permits, and insurance.
– How to responsibly manage all the stages of production (including how to cater a microbudget shoot!).
– How to stay on (or under!) budget while keeping true to the spirit of the project.
– Low-budget tips for post-production (including music rights!).
– A brief overview of the film festival and digital distribution landscape, and how to build these strategies into your production before you begin filming.

Your instructors will bring over four combined decades of knowledge in an effort to answer all these and many more mysterious filmmaking questions!

JAMES M. JOHNSTON is a member of the Sailor Bear collective of award-winning filmmakers from Fort Worth, TX. As a producer his films include A Ghost Story (A24), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (IFC Films), Listen Up Philip (Tribeca Film), Person to Person (Magnolia Pictures), Never Goin’ Back (A24), Light From Light (Grasshopper), and Miss Juneteenth (forthcoming), all of which premiered at Sundance. With producing partner Toby Halbrooks, James was a Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and won the Independent Spirt Award for his work as a producer. His latest production is A24’s upcoming The Green Knight starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton.

KELLY WILLIAMS has produced numerous acclaimed films such as the 2019 Independent Spirit Award-winner Sorry To Bother You, Light From Light starring Jim Gaffigan, Hellion starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis and The Long Dumb Road, directed by Hannah Fidell. His latest credits include the feature comedy I Used to Go Here, starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement, which was to premiere at SXSW 2020, and No Future, starring Catherine Keener and Carlie Heaton, which was set to premiere at Tribeca 2020. Based in Austin, TX, Williams is a 2012 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and a 2015 Sundance Institute Catalyst Fellow.

PAUL HARRILL’s latest film is Light From Light (Sundance 2019), which stars Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan and was “Certified Fresh” on RottenTomatoes. His debut feature, Something, Anything, was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and picked up by Netflix. Paul has also served as a consultant on several microbudget films, and recently produced Thomas Southerland & S. Cagney Gentry’s award-winning Fort Maria. In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Paul teaches film at the University of Tennessee and has taught microbudget workshops for IFP, the Nashville Film Festival, and Oolite Arts (Miami).

This workshop will take place via Zoom and participants will be emailed the Zoom link ahead of time. Sidewalk’s Educational Programs are presented by Wind Creek Hospitality.


May 9, 2020
3:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema
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August 21-27, 2023

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