By Heidi Philpsen
The producer’s life is oftentimes a very diverse one, as producer Lauren Avinoam’s professional journey can attest. Prior to producing such indie outbreak successes as Fourth Man Out, Avinoam started her career in film festival acquisitions and strategy at Ouat Media.
Freelance Journalist/Filmmaker/NYWIFT Member Heidi Philipsen had the following questions for her:
How has your background affected your current work as a producer?
I’ve had probably a few lives before producing. From the festival and publicity standpoint, the projects I choose to take on are always a result of answers to the following questions:
For whom are we making this film? Why is this story important? How do we reach our audience? What are the steps to get there? How do we utilize festivals for our advantage? I think that having my background assists in how I view making a film, which for me, in the steps after production ends, are truly some of the most important—since we don’t want what we produce sitting on a shelf.
I grew up acting in Toronto and went to a very competitive program called Claude Watson at Earl Haig High School. There, I was instilled with motivation and determination. Auditioning at a young age has definitely influenced my interest in casting and direction.
What do you love most about producing?
I love being able to see a project go from early stages of development all the way to the edit room and theatrical premiere—to see the journey that we take with the writer and director, working with great crew—all for a singular process. It’s magical when it all comes together after the 16-18 hour work days, no sleep, dreams of production meetings (yes, this happens) and fears. But when the crew is happy and the filming goes smoothly, we know we’ve done our job right—and I’m inspired to do it all over, again.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ideally working in the TV and film space, simultaneously: I want to keep making projects that feature stories that I think are important to tell and can connect with a wide audience, while staying true to artistic sensibility.
What sort of stories do you like to tell?
I like stories that are timely, relevant and relatable. I want audience members to connect with material and be talking about it after they leave the cinema or turn off their Netflix account. I hope to inspire audiences through stories that represent who they are or the change how they’d like to see in themselves or the world.
What advice could you give to indie films for distribution today?
The majority of films lucky enough to be accepted in and circling the festival world do not get sold. In every project I take on, a major consideration is figuring out the audience—this shouldn’t be a tertiary thought, but rather a major consideration when looking at projects.
There are many ways to do that. The festival circuit may help a number of filmmakers in the independent space, but it isn’t necessary for every project.
For instance, my documentary feature, From Fat to Finish Line, was released globally this past August. We didn’t emphasize the festival circuit, but rather focused on finding the doc its audience through the marathon circuit and the global running community.
Our online community on Facebook alone has active and engaged members—not just discussing the film and the concept, which is about runners who have had great weight-loss victories via running, but paying their experience forward, and bringing in new members seeking motivation and community.