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Aug 6

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Indie Narrative Producing Spotlight


Matthew Keene Smith is an independent film producer who has worked on several acclaimed films in the past decade. Join us for a special conversation between him and three of his directors: Heidi Saman (Namour), Matthew Cherry (9 Rides), and Neil Drumming (Big Words), as they discuss the intricacies of each of their productions, maximizing resources, and share best practices for working with independent producers.








About the Panel

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Matthew Keene Smith


Matthew Keene Smith has produced a number of independent films like Big Words, Namour, and 9 Rides. He worked as Director of Production and Acquisitions at Myriad Pictures from 2004 to 2007 before taking on a full-time producer role.

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Heidi Saman


Born in California to immigrant parents, Heidi began as a journalist, striving to deliver complexity and dimension to people and issues that were stymied by ideology, hegemonic practice, and historical racism.  While writing on women’s issues in the Middle East for a human rights magazine in Cairo, she found the medium of print to be limiting and from there, transitioned to film, believing that she could access a broader audience. She has written and directed several successful short films including Pears (2006) and The Maid (Il Shaghala) (2008); the latter premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to screen at the Dubai International Film Festival, Slamdance, and other festivals worldwide. Her latest film, Namour, tells the story of an Arab-American valet at a slick L.A. restaurant, trapped between his dreams of the player lifestyle and the demands of his immigrant family.

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Matthew Cherry


Matthew has directed music videos for Michelle Williams, Tweet, Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, and Kindred The Family Soul, among many others. In addition to directing music videos, Matthew directed the short film entitled This Time, and recently released a new short film entitled Forward which premiered on Ebony.com. Matthew also writes & directs web series like the award winning series “Almost 30” and “Almost Home”. Matthew is also a feature filmmaker and first feature film The Last Fall which made its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival and received awards at the African American Film Festival (ABFF) for Best Screenplay and Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAFF) for the HBO Best Feature Film Award. Matthew’s latest feature film 9 Rides premiered at SXSW 2016 in the Narrative Spotlight category and is about a Uber driver who gets life changing news on New Years Eve. Matthew recently signed with ICM Partners as a writer/director and is represented in all areas and was recently named to Paste Magazines list of Director’s To Watch in 2016.

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Neil Drumming


Neil Drumming is producer of This American Life, and writer and director of Big Words, now available on Netflix and iTunes. He is a former staff writer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, and his work has appeared in WiredThe Washington PostVibeRolling StoneEssence, and Vanity Fair. He’s also known for directing, writing, and producing Hi Res (2011).