By Ray Pride

Sun Valley Film Fest Goes Deep On Film Funding And Mentorship

[PR] With a mission to serve as “a filmmakers’ festival,” Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF) is awarding more than $50,000 in cash and prizes to independent filmmakers and screenwriters across six categories.  Submissions of original screenplays, features and short films are now being accepted for the 6th annual festival, to be held in Sun Valley, Idaho from March 15-19, 2017.

The Festival offers significant funding and mentorship opportunities, with category winners and finalists paired with established talents who have helped many filmmakers gain representation and national distribution. Films competing for $10,000 in finishing funds from The Film Lab, presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, will also receive feedback and guidance from Sundance’s Director of Programming, Trevor Groth.  In addition, filmmaker Michael Tully (Ping Pong Summer, Cocaine Angel) will host the inaugural Short Film Lab with Jim Burke of Focus Features judging. Producer Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea, Project Greenlight) will be next year’s judge of The High Scribe screenplay competition.

SVFF category highlights include:

In an effort to help filmmakers complete their films’ vision, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and SVFF are teaming up to help two work-in-progress films with $10,000 in finishing funds. Trevor Groth (Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival) returns as host to provide guidance and feedback as filmmakers prepare to lock their projects and send it into the film festival fray.

Producer Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea, Project Greenlight) returns to SVFF as the host of this high-profile event.  The High Scribe screenplay competition helps generate buzz around finalists and has directly led to employment and representation opportunities for each winner since its inception four years ago. Past winners have received invaluable career mentorship from award-winning writers Mark Duplass (Togetherness), Nat Faxon (The Descendants), David Seidler (The King’s Speech), Melissa Wallack and Craig Borten (Dallas Buyer’s Club).

Filmmaker Michael Tully (Ping Pong Summer, Cocaine Angel) will champion the winner’s short film from screenplay to screen for a world premiere at the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival. Judging the Short Film Lab competition is Focus Features President of Production, Jim Burke. The winner of this short screenplay competition will also receive $10,000 from Tito’s Handmade Vodka in order to produce their film.

This nationwide short film contest in partnership with Nat Geo WILD provides the ultimate adventure in film: an apprenticeship in Africa with a legendary National Geographic wildlife cinematographer.  Wild to Inspire has meant life-changing opportunities for past finalists, including 2015’s winner, who is currently developing a TV series with National Geographic.

A $5,000 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of this short screenplay competition, along with mentorship and support from SVFF to produce their film in Idaho.

A celebrity presenter will award over $1,500 in cash prizes for student filmmakers grades 7-12. FFF is an introduction for young filmmakers into the festival world that provides them with a leg up, networking opportunities and industry guidance.

Complete information, deadlines and eligibility requirements for the 2017 festival can be found at

About the Sun Valley Film Festival
With a proven knack for drawing industry heavyweights and independent talents, The Sun Valley Film Festival has quickly become a filmmaker’s festival in an intimate locale far from the Hollywood scene. The combination of cutting-edge programming and bona-fide insider access in a richly cinematic atmosphere is putting SVFF on the map as a rising star in the world of destination festivals. For more information, please visit


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon