In Advisor Studio sessions, Sundance Collab Advisors share field experiences and insights into their specific areas of craft, including writing, directing and producing for TV and film.

This intimate conversation with independent film producer Alix Madigan explores how a film gets made through examining her role as the producer of the Academy Award nominated film, WINTER'S BONE. Learn about the overall responsibilities of a film producer, the skills needed to be successful in the business, and the creative and tactical decisions she made as the film's producer from pre-production to distribution. Through the lens of WINTER'S BONE, we delve into how to find and develop the right project for you, identify your key collaborators, source financing, approach challenges during production, how the producing team built the film's marketing plan and its ultimate road to the Sundance Film Festival and the Oscar stage.

Chosen Interview:

Creative Resources:

  • I source case studies of films in order to find out exactly how they were put together and got out there in the world. Film Independent’s website always has great examples of this such as this article highlighting one of my favorite filmmakers, Azazel Jacobs, making MOMMA’S MAN. There are many others to check out on that site and you can always learn something from the people who have gone boldly before you.
  • I also love this case study about the distribution of COLUMBUS, as it reveals, in such a simple and thorough way, how to successfully self-distribute your film.
  • No Film School has a wealth of informative articles and I have utilized that site countless times over the years. The variety of articles ranges from the artistic to the highly technical: right now, you can see articles on such different topics as intimacy coordinators to Zhiyun cranes to why the Roger Ebert review of FARGO is so brilliant.
  • Years ago, someone very kindly gave this boxed set to my husband and me for Christmas and it is truly a treasure trove of masterpieces, some forgotten and some still widely praised. In addition, I always recommend seeing A Personal Journey with Martin Scorcese Through American Movies, as it gives you an overview of seminal American directors and, if one of them is intriguing, you can take a deeper dive into their work. He also made one which covered Italian film, which is equally enthralling. (Goddard made one about French cinema but be warned that he really only highlighted his own work!) The film executives I have admired over the years have always had a great appreciation and deep knowledge of the history of cinema and I think it’s a vital tool to have.
  • In 2014, I realized, when watching yet another episode of RHOBH, that I was only reading about three books a year at most. Aside from feeling my brain atrophy, I wondered what message I was sending to my twin daughters. As a producer, we are in the business of telling stories, so I believe we should always be sourcing and examining them. So I made the resolution to read a book a week and I have stuck to that ever since. Here is a picture of my nightstand and, yes, I know it looks like it belongs to an insane person. For ideas as to what to read, I’ll look at several sources, including the NY Times Book review and these two terrific book blogs: Book Marks and Neglected Books. I still watch bad reality TV though.
  • For me, Watts Towers has always been such an example of inventiveness, creativity and determination. My husband, daughters and I used to go there every January 1 to celebrate our hopes for the year that would lie ahead. Here are two pictures of my daughters on successive years. When the builder, Sabato Rodia, was asked why he built the towers, his response was “I wanted to do something big”, and his persistence and doggedness, in the face of tremendous obstacles, really speaks to me. In making movies, I clearly don’t think we face the hurdles that Rodia did, but admiring someone’s creation made under extreme circumstances, is always meaningful. The story behind how the Towers were preserved is also a wonderful example of art preservation and dedication: Taking the Art to the Streets: How the Citizens of Los Angeles Saved Watts Towers
  • The last inspiration I will cite is Patti Smith. Reading M Train was a profound experience for me as it is such a tender exploration of solitude and loss while reckoning with mortality. I first watched her video singing A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall during the Nobel Prize Ceremony right after the 2016 election, which gave it particular resonance, and I turn to it sometimes during times of uncertainty. I also love the moment in the video when Patti Smith, the coolest person in the world, stops, admits she is nervous and starts over. That honesty and humility is inspirational to anyone of us who works in the film business! 
Alix produced WINTER’S BONE, directed by Debra Granik and starring Jennifer Lawrence, which was the winner of The Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic feature at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. The film also received four Academy Award nominations, including best picture, and won The Gotham Award for Best Picture and two Independent Spirit Awards. Alix was a staff producer for Anonymous Content and has worked at various companies including Propaganda Films and Avenue Entertainment. She serves on the board of Film Independent and is a member of AMPAS. more...

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