Last year, Sundance Film Festival programmers were flooded with a record number of submissions, which got Edward Panos thinking: “I wondered how many films didn’t get submitted or finished because they lacked funding.” Panos is a Utah native who worked around the world as a start-up entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Last year he landed in Park City and launched IndieFilmFunding.com, a crowdfunding site that not only helps undiscovered artists get their work seen, but also allows established filmmakers and actors to procure the money they need to dabble outside the mainstream in independent cinema. IFF has already helped a few of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Tim Conway, Mary Tyler Moore, and Jerry Lewis, who star in the forthcoming comedy about a show business retirement facility titled Big Finish.
The concept behind IndieFilmFunding.com is similar to other crowdfunding sites: set up a funding campaign platform for your creative project and get donations. But unlike Indiegogo and Kickstarter, IndieFilmFunding.com is independent film–specific. “Those sites accept film but don’t promote the indie filmmaker’s project or support it in any way. Plus they accept everyone and anything—so the filmmaker’s campaign can get lost in the mix,” Panos explains. “IndieFilmFunding.com focuses only on film. Here, you are going to get seen.” In exchange for their cash, donors are given perks like screen credits, a walk down the red carpet, or even a shot at being an extra—it all depends on the specifics of each project.
In addition to helping filmmakers, screenwriters, or musicians launch their creative platform, IndieFilmFunding.com supports each project with a full-scale social media blitz. “We have 194,000 filmmakers, scriptwriters, directors, and actors following us on Facebook and 47,000 Twitter fans,” says Panos. “We launched Big Finish, and its artists got international distribution offers overnight. Launching on IndieFilmFunding.com means you have the right eyeballs looking at you.” IFF’s current docket includes Haunted by Heroes, a documentary about a teenage rock band together since preschool that focuses on an antibullying message.
IndieFilmFunding.com was recently acquired by Thunder Studios in Long Beach, California, making it part of ThunderTV, a global digital distribution platform that broadcasts via the Internet around the world. “We’re opening the door to the indie film industry like it’s never been opened in the past,” says Panos. “And it’s happening in Park City.”