“Lizzie” director launches Indiefest film market

“Lizzie” director Lee Alan is launching Indiefest, the Midwest’s first film market.

Lee Alan is out to help what he believes is an underserved constituency: independent filmmakers.

Alan has first-hand experience. His Chicago-made digital feature “Lizzie” garnered best film awards at the 2001 New York Independent Film and Video Festival and the 2002 Hollywood Film Underground Film Festival, but he’s still struggling to find a distributor.

Alan, president of Cyclone Entertainment, is launching Indiefest Chicago, a film festival and market running this August.

“Having spent the last two years traveling with my film, and having worked at the Newport Beach Film Festival years ago, I saw a lot of what festivals are doing wrong,” Alan said. “They’re not really promoting the independent filmmaker.”

Indiefest, which Alan touts as the first film market in the Midwest, is geared toward providing filmmakers and screenwriters access to distributors, producers reps, agents and other entities that can help them break into the industry.

The Screenwriter’s Project, which Cyclone has run for nine years, is being folded into Indiefest. Alan said they’ve received as many as 1,500 applicants in previous years from screenwriters competing for 25 semi-finalist and ten finalist spots.

Alan plans to include 15-20 features and 80 shorts, both narrative and documentary, in the festival. Featured filmmakers and semi-finalist screenplays will be offered booth space in the market. A limited number of additional booth spaces will be available for a fee.

“Indiefest can be a springboard for independent filmmakers and writers to advance their careers, and for Chicago it can be an enriching experience that will capture the attention of the world,” said Jennifer Alan, Indiefest marketing director and “Lizzie” producer.

“Indiefest” runs August 1-10, with the market occurring August 8-10. Entry deadline is June 1, or July 1 for late entries. Venues for screenings, market and parties will be announced soon.

Lee Alan said that Cyclone is considering self-distributing “Lizzie,” which incorporates elements of a fictional reality TV show and a teenage girl’s video journal to tell the story of that girl’s trial for murder and the events leading up to the trail.

The biggest hurdle for “Lizzie” is that the picture has not been transferred to film, and still only a limited number of theaters offer digital projection. Beyond the festival circuit, “Lizzie” has enjoyed successful showings at the Siskel Film Center, and Alan is exploring a booking at the Roxy in San Francisco, but without a distributor to cover blowup costs, theatrical exhibition opportunities are limited.

“Lizzie” was shot entirely in Chicago in late 2000 with an all-local cast and crew. Alan self-financed along with three friends for a production budget of $250,000, a figure that Alan estimates has doubled with promotional and travel expenses of the festival circuit.

Undaunted, Cyclone plans to go into production on another feature just months after Indiefest. The Alans are considering several scripts, by Lee and other writers, and are talking to potential investors from the Board of Trade as well as foreign sources. They plan to start shooting in October.

Cyclone Entertainment is also a full-service music publishing company. “We do all the clearances for our films and videos, and retain the publishing rights to music in our films.” Their current publishing focus is on local composer Felix Milik, whose band TransNova is featured on the “Lizzie” soundtrack.

See indiefestchicago.com. ? by Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com