Indie Filmmakers Meet Your New BFF: Emily Best Founder + CEO of Seed&Spark

PART 1: Emily Best, Seed&Spark

Once upon a time, in a pre-technology capitalist world, independent filmmakers all hoped that a fairy god-mother would wave a wand and help them get their movie made and screened for all the world to see. Emily Best the founder/CEO of Seed&Spark a crowd source funding and distribution platform for filmmakers is rolling into film festivals, film schools, and where ever filmmakers are with the #stayindietour to tell filmmakers that they live in a post-technology capitalism, and they can now wave their own wands. Emily rejects the model where filmmakers toil away, while waiting for a studio exec to call them. This CEO wants every independent filmmaker to know: "don't wait to be picked, " use Seed&Spark to fund and distribute your film.

Thanks to Twitter I got to hear this innovator's message straight from her mouth. Emily brought the #stayindietour to the Seattle International Film Festival, sharing her message and business savvy in her workshops to empower filmmakers with tools to make movies and get them screened. Within minutes of getting into Seattle, Emily had tweeted, "I am in Seattle this week. Who are the momentum builders here I should meet with?"

Ilona Rossman-Ho of Canine Productions, a Seattle based indie filmmaker responded to Emily's tweet, and invited her to our meeting.

And within a few hours, Emily joined Ilona and me for coffee! Boom! The power of Twitter.

We talked about Seattle's film scene, women in film, Reel Grrls, and a fundraiser in LA organized by Etheria Film Night for Reel Grrls that I learned about via Twitter.

I was super impressed with Emily's vision, drive, and energy for leveling the playing field for indie filmmakers. But wait - she also works on the gender side of filmmaking, and convenes a group of 500 plus women in LA that are in media production. Also she loves dogs, and is pro-helping people to be creative as a career, and she beams with positivity. What's not to like about Emily?


PART 2: The interview: Emily Best, Words From a Boss
Emily had to zip off to another meeting, but I managed to bribe her to meet me over a stack of new stickers I just recently made for Reel Grrls. The new sticker design is based on Woody Guthrie's "This Machine Kills Fascists," but on a "tiny futuristic flat iphone," with a Reel Grrls logo for a button.

Being the CEO of a pioneering tech film company means bossing it up to the max. Emily travels year round, and listening to her talk I thought to myself, she must have many gold nuggets of wisdom to questions like: how do you stay charged, how do you manage people, what is the future, and what's up with the #stayindietour?

Me: How do you stay charged when you are going city to city empowering filmmakers?

Emily: I am a true extrovert. I draw on the energy of people and their excitement. When I go home my friends are my go-to, to help me to recharge.

Me: As you travel and teach, how do you stay fresh with your message?

Emily: The fun thing about the festival circuit is that you meet people that you see again in a different city. You get to catch-up with friends that you wouldn't get to see on a regular basis. In terms of staying fresh, authenticity is key. I try to learn about where I am, and who my audience is. It helps me tailor my workshops, because I understand better what the unique challenges there are for filmmakers in their cities.

Tell me about the secret of managing people.

Emily: I came up through the restaurant business, and learned about a lot of different working styles. As a leader you need to find out how people like to be managed, not have people bend to your management style.

The future is now, tell me more! What's different about the landscape that makes funding and distributing films more accessible?

Emily: In a pre-technology capitalism, the independent film business was a culture of scarcity. Filmmakers had to go through so many middle men to get their products to funders and audiences. In a post-technology capitalism we can cultivate a true culture of plenty. There has been a true democratization of authoring tools. Everyone has the capacity to shoot, edit and distribute from a device they carry every day. Even moreso, I have instagram, so does Beyonce. The bottom line is you don't have to wait around to be picked. The tools are available to you right now to build your independent, sustainable career.

What's up with the #StayIndieTour? Where can filmmakers go to learn about making their films happen?

Emily: The #stayindietour is making the rounds at film festivals and there is a calendar of the stops. The curriculum that we have is designed to help film makers leverage the tools for successful crowdfunding to build a lasting, sustainable relationship with the audiences that support them. Think of it like Entrepreneurship 101 and Growth Hacking for filmmakers.

Thanks Emily Best, for getting me re-energized! Looking forward to seeing all the new indie movies made with the power of Seed&Spark.