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How Ava DuVernay Raised $38 Million For ‘Origin’

By: Dana Feldman
Publication: Forbes
December 20, 2023
December 20, 2023
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Isabel Wilkerson in Ava DuVernay's brilliant film, 'Origin.'Photo by Atsushi Nishijima.

When Ava DuVernay initially tried to get financing through traditional means for her film Origin, she hit a few roadblocks. She worked alongside her producing partner, Paul Garnes, and her head of development, Regina Miller, to find another way.

Instead of a studio backing the movie, they turned to philanthropists, including the Ford Foundation and non-profits funded by Melinda French Gates, Laurene Powell Jobs, and 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki. Many of her backers had never invested in feature films before, but they believed in her vision.

In the early stages, they had the film set up with Netflix, but DuVernay said there was a timing issue. She wanted to make the movie before the 2024 presidential election, and the streamer wanted to wait due to its already full slate. The two sides agreed that she should go the indie route.

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