Last year, we launched an Emerging Filmmakers guest blog series to introduce you to the exciting, new voices in film. There is an overwhelming amount of content available to audiences in theaters and across multiple digital platforms and highlighting some of these emerging voices and stories is our way of helping you navigate the landscape. Behind every one of these talented emerging filmmakers is a producer working tirelessly to bring these stories from script to screen. The best producers not only take the power of the story into consideration - they also consider the audience so it's equally important to highlight these intrepid leaders and their mission to produce amazing material. Today's guest blogger, Andrew Corkin, is one of these producers. In the past few years, this Independent Spirit and Gotham award winning producer has premiered his films at Sundance, SXSW and Cannes. Today he blogs for us about his work and experiences traveling around the world to discover new talent.
Here, There and Everywhere
by Andrew D Corkin
I got home from Ukraine on Sunday night. Yes, that Ukraine... Against the wishes of my family and many friends, my business partner, Bryan, and I traveled to Odessa for the 5th Odessa International Film Festival for the international premiere of our film, Big Significant Things. We arrived in Odessa a few hours before the Malaysian Airlines tragedy - needless to say, in addition to the current political climate in the country, this terrible act created an even more heightened sense of tension throughout our stay. Nevertheless, the festival went on. Iconic Ukrainian director Kira Muratova summed up the decision to continue the festival in spite of the tragic circumstances (through a translator): "It's like having a feast during the plague. We might not have the medicine to fight it, but we can show people we're still alive." And, this is truly the Ukraine we experienced - vibrant, welcoming, and alive. I now consider Odessa (and the festival) as one of my favorite destinations I have travelled to as part of my work as a producer.
I have been very fortunate to travel across the globe for my job. Currently on my film slate, I have projects located in Colombia, Mexico, Finland, United Kingdom, South Africa, and all over the USA. Next month, we'll travel to Haiti and the UK for our new soccer documentary, Academy, which is rounding out its crowd-funding campaign this Sunday. The international collaboration that defines filmmaking is one of the most exciting elements of what I do - even when shooting in Mississippi last year, our crew and cast were comprised of people from Finland, UK, Guatemala, Italy, and Uzbekistan.
Now, more than ever, international viability is an essential part of the business-side of filmmaking. While it was not taught when I attended film school, the need for international co-production and collaboration is what allows many independent films to exist. I created my Finnish co-production platform, Start to Finnish (who doesn't love puns) last year with my Helsinki-based producing partner, Jesse Fryckman. The genesis of this platform was wanting to introduce the world, outside of Finland, to the amazingly refreshing creative talent that stems from this part of the world as well as acquainting American productions with the resources, locations, and talent available in Finland. Why Finland? While I don't have any ancestral tie to the country and can't speak the language (aside from the names of some "colorful" expletives), I simply fell in love with the cinema coming out of the country - from auteurs like Kaurismaki to the ground-breaking contemporaries I now have the pleasure of working with like Dome Karukoski, Aku Louhimies, and AJ Annila. Although the US does not provide any formal co-production treaties with other nations, that does not mean collaboration is not possible and encouraged. With Start to Finnish, we hope to serve as a bridge between the US and Finland allowing for films and filmmakers to discover new content, voices, and stories outside the worlds they are used to.
As a born-and-raised Bostonian, my bucket list includes being able to make a film back home in Beantown. I was 13 when I first saw Good Will Hunting. If I weren't to admit that it's my favorite Miramax title would probably result in my not being allowed back to Boston. This film lovingly displayed the city that I know so well and at that early age, I experienced how informative filmmaking can be, even in the fictional space, in introducing or reconnecting an audience with the places they know or desire to visit.
When I lived in Johannesburg for 8 months in college, it was watching Tsotsi at the beginning of the semester that helped inform me about the some of the surrounding areas I normally wouldn't have sought out. Of all the places I've traveled, I feel that list expands when thinking about the experiential transportation that cinema lends. A fresh voice can introduce you to somewhere you never knew existed.
Tomorrow, I leave for Montreal followed by trips to Helsinki and Mexico in the early fall. I am hoping that I'll find an opportunity to visit and work in Asia and Australia in the near future - wink wink, in case anyone from their countries' film commissions are reading this. While I do miss sleeping in my own bed for many days and weeks on end, being able to see the world, and choosing projects based on where they might bring you is one of the greatest perks of working in film.
Andrew D Corkin, of Uncorked Productions, is a Gotham Award winning New York-based Producer. Within the past 6 years, Andrew has had 5 films at Sundance, 4 at SxSW, and 4 at Cannes. Andrew's recent credits include: MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (Sundance 2011, Cannes 2011, 4 Independent Spirit Award nominations), AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY (Sundance 2012, Gotham Award winner), KING KELLY (SxSW 2012), ALL THAT I AM (SxSW 2013, Special Jury Prize winner), WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Sundance 2013, Cannes 2013), WILD CANARIES (SxSW 2014), and BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS (SxSW 2014). Andrew recently executive produced Andrew Renzi's feature debut, FRANNY, starring Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning.