Welcome back IFP: new leaders, board and programs

A board member of the Independent Feature Project/Midwest (IFP) doesn’t like the word “resurrect” to describe – shall we say – the reappearance of the 27-year old organization that had been AWOL for the past three years. 

But what a welcome revival it is. “A much needed central hub of our independent film world, a place for indie brethren to help each other accomplish their goals,” is what board member John Mossman calls it.

The once flourishing organization began to fade a couple of years after after the departure of Elizabeth Donius, IFPs managing director 2004-2008. During her tenure, the IFP went non-stop with screenings, seminars and workshops – usually with prominent speakers, meet-ups, Producers Series the Production Fund.

The two managing directors succeeding Donius and an indifferent board were unable to maintain the momentum and local indie cinema lost its base around 2010.

Carrie Holt de Lama is board president

Last summer, the IFP began showing signs of rejuvenation. Producer/production manager Carrie Holt de Lama was asked to serve as board president, when she and the existing board members were on the planning committee to produce what turned out to be an immensely successful Chicago Film & Media Summit last October. 

IPA president Carrie Holt de LamaDuring their meetings, “It became obvious to the board that the IFP was needed as the voice for the independent film community,” Holt de Lama says.

The existing board, consisting of the DGA’s Dan Moore, producers Lisa Swanson, Nicole Bernardi-Rice, Laurel Ward (who had worked for Harold Ramis) and Fletcher/VER’s Stan Glupa, was ready to expand.

After the October Summit, they invited filmmakers with expertise in wider areas to join the board. 

Elected last November were Kathy Byrne of SAG AFTRA; Kit Woods of Team; Amy Rising and John Otterbacher who teach at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy; filmmaker/cinematographer Ines Sommer; indie director John Mossman, a former IPA board member; attorney Katherine Imp; Second City’s Nate Dufort; Midwest Independent Film Festival director Mike McNamara; producer/director Kamelia Alexan and Columbia screenwriting instructor Julie Mynatt.

Dawn Dewald, new managing director

IPA’s new managing director is Dawn Dewald, an advertising and marketing specialist, who approached Holt de Lama after listening to a panel discussion on film distribution at the Film & Media Summit 

Dawn Dewald, IPA managing director“I introduced myself to her and said I was committed to supporting independent film and wanted to do it with film a marketing outreach. Carrie said, ‘I have just the job for you,’” says Dewald. “I met with the board in November and officially came aboard in January.”

To address various issues and to formulate new goals ad programs, the board will hold a retreat March 22. 

“Our goals for the year are to present a total of three ‘Conversations with …” directors and technical people, like the one we’re holding Sunday with Dylan Baker, and two more in the spring,” Holt DeLama says.

“We also want to bring back our Summer Mentorship program with high school kids and our Producers Series in the fall,” find ways to ramp membership up from its current 100 and obtain grants to refill the treasury.

“If we can accomplish all that – we’re golden.”