NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 02: A view of IFP's 29th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for IFP)

Gotham fires longtime awards staff and cancels project market

The Gotham Film and Media Institute fired two key staff members this week after canceling Project Market, where seminal indie breakouts from “Clerks” to “Moonlight” raised their first financial resources, for the first time in its 45-year run. history. Project Market, formerly known as the Independent Feature Film Market, was canceled after Gotham was notified by the WGA that writers would be in breach of their contract with the union if they attended the event.

Senior Director of Programming Milton Tabbot, who has worked at the organization since 1996, was fired along with director of narrative programming Zach Mandinach. Tabbot and Mandinach were the primary staff responsible for managing Project Market, while Tabbot most recently oversaw the nominees’ panels for the organization’s signature event, the Gotham Awards.

In a statement scheduled to be released to Gotham members on Friday, the organization said Tabbot and Mandinach “have built an enduring legacy as ardent advocates for independent creators in the film and media industries, which they will continue to do in the future.” “. Throughout his nearly 30-year history with Gotham, Tabbot has been one of the organization’s most prominent figures, spearheading initiatives such as the Documentary Feature Labs and Gotham Fiscal Sponsorship in addition to his oversight of the Gotham Awards.

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Gotham Executive Director Jeff Sharp did not comment further, but sources tell IndieWire that the schedule for the Gotham Awards has been distributed to other members of his 14-person staff, as the organization plans contingency plans for the show. in light of the WGA strike. (Tabbot is in talks to stay involved in part-time award planning.)

The 2023 ceremony is currently scheduled for Monday, November 27, taking its usual place as the first awards show of the Oscar season. While the critics and journalists involved in the nomination process sometimes select low-budget or otherwise marginalized work that may have a harder time resonating at other award shows, the ceremony can also provide an initial boost for out-of-the-box award season hopefuls. schemes, as he did last year for Best Picture winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” (Disclosure: I’ve sat on many of these committees over the years, but not since 2019.)

While the WGA strike will impact many award shows if it continues throughout the season, as the first on the calendar Gotham are more vulnerable to repercussions if the strike continues into the fall. This scenario gets even more complicated if SAG-AFTRA strikes. In 2021, the Gotham Awards delayed the ceremony until January due to the pandemic, and sources tell IndieWire such a scenario is being discussed if the strike continues.

Regardless of what happens in awards season, however, filmmakers are still attempting to raise funding for new projects of various sizes. IndieWire has learned that Gotham received a record 1,000 submissions to the market this year and provided a refund on submission fees exceeding half a million dollars after the Institute canceled the event.

The Gotham will again host a series of panel discussions and screenings with IndieWire’s sister brand Variety for Variety Gotham Week October 2-6. Corporate sponsors such as Amazon and Netflix who have previously supported the market are now involved in the new event (the organization receives 90% of its support from corporate sponsorship).

This result raises questions about the state of other US market events, including AFM, which will run from October 31 to November 5, and Film Independent’s Fast Track Film Finance event, which will take place in November.

Meanwhile, Gotham’s layoffs coincided with news this week that the Sundance Institute was laying off six percent of its staff. While international markets such as Berlin’s EFM and Cannes’ Marché du Film receive government subsidies, US market events have no such government support, and unlike during the pandemic, there will soon be no PPE loans.