Industry Days Schedule 2020

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The 2020 edition of Industry Days at the 56th Chicago International Film Festival will take place October 14-18.

Industry Days is the Chicago International Film Festival’s hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas, and inspire each other. This year’s Industry Days will offer panels and workshops, as well as intimate Decision-Maker Roundtable meetings, networking events, and a competitive pitch session.

Since its inception in 2015, Industry Days has hosted an impressive lineup of film executives, creatives, and entertainment professionals, including Oscar®-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics) and Charles D. King (Macro), Hollywood producers Gigi Pritzker, James D. Stern, and Albert Berger, and award-winning and celebrated independent filmmakers, including Stephen Cone, Sam Pollard, and Joe Swanberg.

All events will take place virtually on Zoom.  All events are open to registered Industry Days passholders only unless otherwise noted.

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Industry Days Schedule

Wednesday, October 14

5:00 – 6:15pm (CST): State of the Industry: The Catastrophic Effects and Potential Opportunities of Making Media in a Pandemic

The global pandemic has disrupted the entertainment industry in unprecedented ways. Can independent films survive, and if so, how? Are streaming companies the only ones who can save them, and if not, who? What is our future and how can we make it better? Join this group of seasoned experts as they sift through the current wreckage and reveal much-needed answers and insights.

Panelists: Anthony Kaufman (moderator), Mynette Louie (producer, The Tale), Elsa Ramo (entertainment attorney), Eugene Hernandez (New York Film Festival; co-founder, Dori Begley (Magnolia Pictures)

Thursday, October 15

12:00 – 1:00pm (CST): How to Make a Good Movie and a Little Profit on a Low-Budget: Case Study on Saint Frances

Director Alex Thompson and writer-star Kelly O’Sullivan made last year’s Chicago hit film Saint Frances; the movie won multiple festival awards, was released by Oscilloscope, received great reviews, but earned just $200,000 at the box office. Get the nitty-gritty details on development, financing, and distribution from the Saint Frances team, and what success really means for a low-budget film.

Panelists: Scott Macaulay (moderator), Kelly O’Sullivan, Alex Thompson, Nate Hurtsellers, Ian Keiser

3:00 – 4:15pm (CST): Screenwriting Master Class: John Logan

Open to the public!

Three-time Oscar nominee and winner of Golden Globe, BAFTA, and WGA awards, John Logan has written such films as Skyfall, Spectre, Hugo, The Aviator, and Gladiator, as well as created and produced the television series Penny Dreadful and written dozens of award-winning plays. Learn how to write scripts from a master, indeed.

Moderated by: Tim Grierson (Screen International)
Tickets: $10 (for non-Industry Days pass holders)

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5:00 – 6:15pm (CST): Keynote Conversation: At the Vanguard with Dede Gardner, Producer of Moonlight and The Big Short

Open to the public!

Two-time Academy Award-winning producer and Co-President of Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B Entertainment, Dede Gardner has produced such award-winning films as Moonlight, Vice, The Big Short, Selma, 12 Years a Slave, and The Tree of Life. For TV, she recently produced Barry Jenkins’ Underground Railroad and Dennis Kelly’s Third Day. Gardner will discuss her process for cultivating new talents and developing and producing great works of topical and artistic cinema and television.

Moderated by: Gil Robertson (African American Film Critics Association)
Tickets: $10 (for non-Industry Days pass holders)

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6:00 – 7:00pm (CST): Networking Hour with Kartemquin Films, IFA Chicago, and SAGIndie

Frday, October 16

11:00am – 12:00pm (CST): Film is Global: Accessing International Sales in Uncertain Times

How can U.S.-based filmmakers connect with international sales agents, and what do they need in place before they can make those deals and harness distribution in foreign territories? Find out from these experienced sales agents about how they seek out films and how the pandemic is affecting foreign sales.

Panelists: Betsy Steinberg (moderator), Naima Abed (Memento International), Edward Parodi (Film Constellation), Joe Yanick (Yellow Veil Pictures)

2:00 – 3:00pm (CST): Making the Leap: From Web Series to Studio Projects

More and more filmmakers are transitioning successfully from independent web series to episodic deals at major entertainment companies. Join Sam Bailey, co-creator of Brown Girls; Deniese Davis, producer of Issa Rae’s “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” and HBO’s Insecure, and Makiah Green, Manager of Original Series at Netflix, for this candid and informative discussion on getting networks’ attention and navigating the studio world.

Panelists: Aymar Jean Christian (moderator), Sam Bailey (Brown Girls), Deniese Davis (Insecure), Makiah Green (Netflix)

5:00 – 6:15pm (CST): Game Changer: A Conversation with Effie Brown

CEO of Gamechanger Films, which is the first film financing fund by and for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities, Brown is also an award-winning film, television, and digital producer as well as a champion for inclusion and diversity in Hollywood. Producer of such award-winning projects as Real Women Have Curves and Dear White People, Brown will discuss her work as a creative executive, advocate, and celebrating our differences while bringing us closer together.

Moderated by: Leonardo Nam (Westworld)

6:00 – 7:30pm (CST): Networking Hour with Full Spectrum Features, Chicago Film Office, Panavision, and Light Iron

Saturday, October 17

12:00 – 1:00pm (CST): Don’t Panic I: How to Make Films in the Pandemic

What are the protocols, precautions, and costs, and technical, practical and ethical issues involved in making media now. Filmmakers on the frontlines break down the details.

Panelists: Erica Duffy (moderator), Garrett Bates (producer), Nausheen Dadabhoy (cinematographer), Roxanne Taylor (producer)

2:00 – 3:00pm (CST): Don’t Panic II: How to Fund Films in the Pandemic

With economic uncertainty and insurance issues unresolved, what are the ways that filmmakers can fund movies now? From grants to private equity to branded content, these experts offer some options that may still be available.

Panelists: Nicole Bernardi-Reis (moderator), Yvonne Welbon (Chicken & Egg Pictures, Sisters in Cinema), Brenda Robinson (GameChanger), Brian Newman (Sub-Genre), Josh Foster (Cinetic Media)

5:00 – 6:00pm (CST): Don’t Panic III: How to Release Films in the Pandemic, from Festivals to Platforms to Theaters

The coronavirus has completely upended the standard pipeline for releasing movies. With the future of theatrical moviegoing still uncertain and U.S. film festivals pivoting to streaming, how can filmmakers be strategic and effective in getting their films out to their audiences.

Panelists: Dan Rybicky (moderator), Tilane Jones (Array Now), Aijah Keith (IFC Films), Liesl Copland (Endeavor Content), Darcy Heusel (Neon)

6:00 – 7:30pm (CST): Networking Hour with Illinois Film Office, Camera Ambassador, and Telescope Film

Sunday, October 18

1:00 – 2:15pm (CST): Master Class with Terence Blanchard

Open to the public!

Oscar nominated and six-time Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force for three decades. From his expansive work composing the scores for Spike Lee’s films, ranging from Jungle Fever and Malcolm X to BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods, along with his memorable music for such films as Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet and Regina King’s upcoming One Night in Miami, Blanchard creates and amplifies stories with sound in mesmerizing and powerfully emotionally ways. Blanchard will offer inspiration and insight into his work.

Moderated by: Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)
Tickets: $10 (for non-Industry Days pass holders)

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3:00 – 5:00pm (CST): The Pitch

A curated selection of filmmakers with new narrative projects in active development will take part in a competitive pitch session. The winning project will receive an awards package of in-kind services from Chicago-area production facilities and organizations—to include consultation, production, and post-production services.

Pitch Host: Angie Gaffney (IFA Chicago)
Pitch Judges: Ilyse McKimmie (Sundance Institute), Bronwyn Cornelius (producer, Clemency), Yvonne Huff Lee (Co-CEO, Lagralane Group)
Pitch Sponsors: Logo: Chicago Media Angels 189x125Logo: IFA Independent Film Alliance 263x100 Logo: Keslow Camera 229x100Logo: Light Iron 275x75Logo: Ramo Law PC 320x60

5:00 – 7:00pm (CST): Post-Pitch Networking Hour with Mezcla Media Collective, OTV, and Keslow Camera

Note: Speakers are subject to change.

All Networking Hours will be held virtually on Remo, a virtual event space. Passholders will be able to move freely from virtual table to virtual table to interact with other guests, just like they would in a real event space. Remo works best on a desktop computer rather than mobile or tablet.

How do I sign up for Remo?

Signing up is free and easy. Go to, set up a profile with your name, job title, picture, and email. We highly recommend you also fill in the links to your LinkedIn, Facebook, and personal website. While at the event, other attendees will be able to click on your profile and use these links to connect with you online. You can also use this function to schedule meetings with people you want to stay in contact with!

How do I use Remo?

Before the event, you will receive a link in your email inbox with the date and time. You can either sign up ahead of time to reserve a seat, or you can simply wait until the event starts to join in.

We recommend you attend Remo events on a laptop or desktop computer with an integrated or external webcam, and a strong internet connection. You can also use your phone, but tablets are not compatible.  Make sure you’re in a well lit area, and using headphones and/or a microphone if possible.

View the Remo Event Guide for Guests, a great document with an overview of Remo, or the Remo 101 Introduction.

When you arrive, you will be sat at a random table. You will have to turn on your camera and mic by clicking the icons on the bottom toolbar. Need troubleshooting help?

You can double click on an open seat at any table of your choosing. Chat with the other people at your table, draw with the ‘whiteboard’ function, and connect with other filmmakers and industry professionals.

2020 Industry Days Supporters

Industry Days are made possible by the help of our sponsors and supporters:

Logo: Camera Ambassador 172x150Logo: DCASE logoLogo: DCASE/Chicago Film Office (202) - 450x75Logo: Illinois Arts Council - 133x100logo: Illinois Film OfficeLogo: Cinespace Chicago 318x100Logo: French Consulate 268x50Logo: Gamechanger FilmsLogo: IFA Independent Film Alliance 263x100Logo: Keslow Camera 229x100Logo: Light Iron 275x75Logo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 142x200Logo: NEA 293x100Logo: Ramo Law PC 320x60Logo: SAG Indie 163x100Logo: Panavision 185x85Logo: Telescope 100x100Logo: The Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute (Spain) 404x100Logo: Dutch Culture USA 150x150Logo: Eye Film 160x85