Dear Indies Unchained readers…

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet on the blog. Rather than see any tumbleweed roll across your screens, we have decided to close Indies Unchained with this last post. Each of us are in different stages of our creative careers and unfortunately that means less and less time to contribute insightful conversations to the space we created two years ago.

Indies will continue to live on now as an archive of the great adventures we’ve had exploring the industry we love and hate. Thank you so much for every view, comment, like, retweet, reblog and kind word. We hope that you will share the Unchained Resources page as well as your favorite posts with your filmmaking friends.


Christina, Jalissa & Sean



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Kickstarters We Love: ‘Her Story’ follows young couple through a terminal illness

It’s pretty clear crowdfunding is here to stay as a platform for indies to both finance their films and rally an eager audience. Success for many begins with the pitch video. One such project, “Her Story” does it just right. Curious backers are introduced to the Austin-based production team as well as main characters Rae and Carter, a young couple braving a tragic diagnosis. Thanks again to writer/actress Haley Alea Erickson (“Rae”) for giving us a peek behind the campaign. And most importantly, holler if you got dollar, folks! The team has already reached more than half of their $5,000 by June 4th goal. — Christina B.



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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

…because all it takes is ONE festival screening to change everything.

2014 BlackStar Film Festival Screenplay Competition
July 31 – August 3
Deadline: May 15

This year’s short screenplay competition gives the winner the unique opportunity to have the script produced by BlackStar and directed by a renown director [Terence Nance, “An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty”]. To determine the winner, the finalists will be read by a prestigious jury of film industry professionals. The winning script will receive the BlackStar festival “greenlight” and will be read live at the festival by professional actors.

Short film screenplays must be written by a person of African descent.

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10 Films I Can’t Wait To See at SXSW 2014

I’m super pumped to kickstart my third SXSW and while some things are the same (scored free taco not even five minutes after picking up my badge), I’m still getting used to one big change. I am not volunteering at all, which makes this my first festival attendance as a *regular person*. Woot woot! Here’s my plan of attack for the next week.

As usual, I’m going for feature debuts, music docs and films made by and/or about people of color. I’ll be posting highlights on Facebook and Twitter so stay tuned.

“Evolution of a Criminal” (Dir. Darius Clark Monroe)
Category: Visions


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APPLY: IFP Labs Support Feature Debuts In Post-Production

01_IFPThe Independent Filmmaker Labs (from IFP)

Deadline: Documentary – March 7; Narrative – April 4

“IFP’s unique year-long mentorship program supports first-time feature directors when they need it most:  through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films.  Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers.

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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

…because all it takes is ONE festival screening to change everything.

Sidewalk Film Festival

August 22 – 24

Late Deadline: March 15

“The 16th annual Sidewalk Film Festival, a celebration of new independent cinema in downtown Birmingham, is set to take place August 22-24, 2014. Since its debut in 1999, filmmakers from across the country and around the world have come to Birmingham to screen their work at Sidewalk and have been thrilled to discover fresh, enthusiastic crowds eager to devour new independent cinema.”

Accepts narrative & doc features, narrative & doc shorts, animations and short screenplays

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“And The Oscar Goes To…” (Live Updates of 86th Academy Awards)



Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club


Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom

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APPLY: Awards in Moving Image & Visual Arts from Creative Capital


Creative Capital is currently accepting online Letters of Inquiry for awards in Moving Image (formerly Film/Video) and Visual Arts. 

Deadline: February 28

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APPLY: Pitch Your Project to Film Financiers with Film Independent’s Fast Track


(Photo: Malta Film Commission)

Fast Track (a Film Independent artist development program)

Deadline: February 24

Fast Track is a film financing market that takes place during the Los Angeles Film Festival designed to help narrative and documentary filmmakers move their current projects forward.

During three days of intensive meetings, Fast Track connects filmmakers with financiers, production companies, and other industry professionals. This highly selective program is open to established as well as up-and-coming filmmakers with exceptional projects still seeking funding.

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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

Fantastic Fest 
September 18 – 25

Early Deadline: February 20

“Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world.”

Accepts horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or related genre films (black comedy, crime, magic realism, action, suspense, etc) feature-length and short films.


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Say Hello to Screenwriting Competition Season!

Get ready to mark your calendars, folks. Many indies have gotten their big break from the following competitions, labs and fellowships (Benh Zeitlin & Lucy Alibar, Destin Cretton, Dawn Porter, Lucy Malloy and Edward Ricourt). What’s the worst that could happen? You spend $50 and turn that idea you’ve been working on FOREVER into an actual script you can shop around or even produce yourself? Sounds like a win-win to me.

If you have any others to add, leave a comment below and I’ll gladly update the list.

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SPIES OF MISSISSIPPI online encore & filmmaker live chat tonight at 9pm EST


PBS really is the best, guys. If you missed last night’s broadcast premiere of SPIES OF MISSISSIPPI by director Dawn Porter (GIDEON’S ARMY), today is your lucky day. Tune in to a laptop near you at 9pm EST for an online encore AND live chat with Dawn herself. Continue reading

So What’s The Deal With…Applying for Filmmaker Workshops?

BTS Erin Li_Kepler-X47_Photo by Randy Blohm_118

Writer/director Erin Li (Photo: Randy Blohm)

I first met Erin Li when both of our films screened at Urbanworld Film Festival in 2011. Her intriguing short “L.A. Coffin School” and vibrant passion for filmmaking convinced me she was definitely one to watch. I recently reached out to Erin because I wanted to pick her brain about her successful experience with filmmaker workshops. As a 2012 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow she directed and co-wrote  “To The Bone”, which played at LA Film Festival and Slamdance. “To The Bone” was chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick and recently featured on Upworthy. She’s now in post-production on “Kepler X-47” as part of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women. You can also catch her on Twitter at @MsErinLi. A big thank you again to Erin for sharing her insight! — Christina B.

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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

Sarasota Film Festival 
April 4 – 13

Late Deadline: January 10

“SFF celebrates the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers by hosting an international film festival and developing year-long programs for the economic, educational, and cultural benefit of the Sarasota community.”

Accepts feature-length and short films (both narrative & documentary).

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Frank’s 10 Favorite Films of 2013

***This week’s guest post is from Frank Cavillo, our go-to guy for all things film appreciation.***


10. Thanks For Sharing

How this tale of three recovering sex addicts passed by everyone’s radar is beyond me. From the writer of The Kids Are All Right, Thanks For Sharing takes a look at various individuals suffering from sex addiction and the effects theirrecovery has on the people in their lives. Admittedly a less probing look into the subject than 2011’s Shame, Thanks For Sharing’s lighter approach helps lay out the fundamentals of such a disease and the different faces of it. Loaded with both comedy and drama, Thanks For Sharing succeeds in ultimately showing how addiction is truly universal, regardless of whatever type one is saddled with.

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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

Seattle International Film Festival
May 15 – June 8

Final Deadline: January 3

SIFF is the largest and most highly attended film festival in the United States, with more than 250 feature/documentary films and 150 short films presented to an audience of over 155,000 annually. One of the top festivals in North America, SIFF has been cited as one of the best “audience festivals” in the world. SIFF is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a Qualifying Festival in all Short Film categories.

Accepts Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts & Animations

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4 Fests You Should Enter This Week

Atlanta Film Festival (March 28 – April 6)

Late Deadline: November 8 (must arrive at ATLFF offices or be uploaded by 11:59pm PST)

“Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) is an Academy Award qualifying, international film festival held in Atlanta, Georgia. Started in 1976 and occurring every April, the festival shows a diverse range of independent films, including genre films such as horror and sci-fi. Since 2008, the festival has presented the Pink Peach, which is awarded to the best LGBTQ film as chosen by the Pink Peach jury. “The Accountant” won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2002 after qualifying at the 2001 Atlanta Film Festival.”

Accepts narrative & documentary features, short films and music videos.

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Freelancer Diaries: Self-Doubt

Zoe here! Man, it’s been a LONG time since I last blogged – many, many apologies! I wrote a blog that never got posted because I wanted to revisit the idea before putting it up but it’s stumped me ever since. I finally had some time today and was determined to sit down and work through it – so here goes:

A few weeks ago, I was all down in the dumps because I had no gigs on the horizon; and in my mind, that means I’m useless.

This, of course, is an exaggeration of my abilities (of anyone’s, really) but I’m highly critical of myself and couldn’t avoid it in my mind.

As a freelancer, being gig-less has serious financial repercussions; but more importantly, I was stunned by how hard I was struck morale-wise.

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