Steve James topline speaker at IFP weekend conference

Producer/director Steve James

One of Chicago’s famous four star directors will highlight this weekend’s welcome revival of the Independent Feature Project’s 20th annual Filmmakers Conference when it returns to its former long-time meeting space at Columbia College’s Film Row Theatre, Oct. 10-11.

Steve James, acclaimed producer/director of Roger Ebert’s memoire “Life Itself,” “The Interrupters,” “Hoop Dreams,” and many more award-winners, be the subject of “75 Minutes With …” interviewed by Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune, on Saturday,  Oct. 11 at  3:30-5 p.m.

Organizing the Conference’s 40 speakers and 13 programs (to date) began last summer. It was initiated by a dedicated, new 16-member board, headed by feature producer Carrie Holt de Lama and effectuated by Julie Mynatt, the newly-appointed executive director.

IFP executive director Julie MynattRegistration both days is 9-10 a.m. Full Conference passes are $75 for IFP members (a good reason to sign up for IFP membership); $150 for non-members, $25 for students, $50 for student non-members. 

Here’s the current event rundown, scheduled speakers and moderators. Additional guests and a preview feature film screening to be announced:


CASE STUDY: “THE NEW BLACK,” 10-11:15 a.m. Speaker: producer and outreach director Yvonne Welborn.

PANEL: FAIR USE & COPYRIGHT FOR FILMMAKERS, Panelists, Gordon Quinn & Justine Nagan, Kartemquin Films; Robert Labate, Holland & Knight.

PANEL: “BREAKING IN AND MAKING IT: STARTING UP AND GETTING AHEAD IN THE ILLINOIS PRODUCTION INDUSTRY,” 11:30-1 p.m. Panelists, Raul Esparza, Illinois Film Office; Brenda Webb, Chicago Filmmakers; Christina Varotsis, independent producer; Jonah Zeiger, DePaul University. Moderator, filmmaker Craig Harris.

PANEL: TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING, 2:15-3:30 p.m.  Panelists, Joe Steiff, Jim Rohn, Michael Niederman, Columbia College; Anuradha Rana, Doris Rusch, DePaul University.

DISCUSSION: “THE BEST TOOL FOR THE JOB: CINEMATOGRAPHERS TALK CAMERAS,” 2:15-3:30 p.m. Cinematographers Pete Biagi and  Lawrence Daufenbach and Jonah Rubash, Magnanimous Media Rentals.

PANEL: “MORE THAN ONE: PRODUCING THE DOCUMENTARY SERIES,” 3:34-5:15 p.m. Mike Schmiedeler, The Michael Group; Maggie Bowman, Kartemquin Films for Al Jazeera America; Bob Hercules, Media Process; Justine Nagan, Kartemquin; Greg Jacobs, Siskel/Jacobs.

CASE STUDY: “FINDING HOPE,” – 3:45-5:15 p.m. Writer/Director Julian Grant, Producers & Stars Shannon & Suzette Brown; David Adler, Adler Law Group.


PANEL: “MEET THE PROGRAMMERS,” 10-11:15 A.M. Cara Cusumano, Tribeca Film Festival; Alexandra Ensign, Reeling; Jonathan Jackson, Milwaukee Film Festival; Bryan Wendorf, Chicago Underground Film Festival.

DISCUSSION: “SHOW ME THE MONEY: FILMMAKERS TALK FINANCING,” 10-11:15 a.m. Bob Hercules, Yvonne Welbon, Tim Evans, Angie Gaffney.

PANEL: “FROM THE INTERNET TO THE NETWORK: WEB SERIES PRODUCTION,” 11:30-12:45 p.m. PJ Fishwick, Kenneth Yoder, Wendy Jo Carlton.  Moderator, Troy Pryor.

PANEL: “IMPACT, OUTREACH, AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT,” 2-3:15 p.m. Danny Alpert, Kindling Group; L. Anton Seals, Jr., Seals360group; Naomi Walker, ITVS; Andy Spyrison, Populous

PANEL: “WOMEN AT THE HELM,” 2-3:15 p.m. Xan Aranda, Natasha Parker, Kimberly Conner. Moderator, Ruth L Ratny

“75 MINUTES WITH STEVE JAMES,” 3:30-5 p.m., interviewed by Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune.

See a detailed description of Filmmaker Conference topics and speakers here.