Sean McManus is stepping down as Co-President of Film Independent, the organization’s Board Chair Mary Sweeney announced today. Josh Welsh, who has served as Co-President with McManus since January 2012, will become President, effective immediately. “Upon the close of our terrific 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, it felt like a natural time to look ahead and I’ve realized that this is the perfect time to make a change in my own life. As a result, I have decided to step down as Co-President. My immediate plans are to take the next few months off and explore some options”, McManus said in a statement. The Film Independent announcement:
LOS ANGELES (July 24, 2013) — Film Independent’s Board Chair Mary Sweeney today announced that Sean Mc Manus has decided to step down as Co-President of the organization. Mc Manus has been with Film Independent for 15 years and has served as Co-President with Josh Welsh since January 2012. Effective immediately, Welsh will become President of the Organization.
“Sean Mc Manus has been an important and highly valued member of the team at Film Independent for 15 years, first as a transformative Director of Development, and for the past 18 months as Co-President with Josh Welsh,” Sweeney said. “His skills, determination and signature enthusiasm have been instrumental in the tremendous growth of Film Independent during those years. We are deeply grateful to him for all his contributions, and he shall be missed. We know that he will move on to even greater accomplishments, and he has the continued full support of the Film Independent Staff and Board of Directors.”
“Josh Welsh is an integral part of Film Independent,” added Sweeney. “Eighteen months ago, Welsh stepped into the leadership position of Co-President and he has demonstrated to the Board his outstanding vision and passion for the organization. He is largely responsible for the creation of Film Independent’s Artist Development Program and has a deep understanding of the dreams and needs of independent artists. We have complete confidence in his ability to lead Film Independent to new and greater things.”
In announcing his departure, Mc Manus said, “It’s been a privilege to be a part of Film Independent for the past 15 years. Over that time, I’ve seen the organization grow from a small group of filmmakers to the nation’s leading champion for the independent film community, expanding the breadth of its programs and impact on culture. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented individuals nurturing independent voices, including my Co-President for the last 18 months, Josh Welsh, and FIND’s prior chief, Dawn Hudson. The collective work of FIND’s extraordinary Board and committed staff has been a true joy—one that I’ll cherish for a lifetime. Upon the close of our terrific 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, it felt like a natural time to look ahead and I’ve realized that this is the perfect time to make a change in my own life. As a result, I have decided to step down as Co-President. My immediate plans are to take the next few months off and explore some options. In the meantime, I want to express my deep gratitude to all my friends and colleagues throughout the independent film community for their artistry, inspiration and support.”
Welsh contributed, “It has been a true pleasure to work with Sean over the last 15 years, and especially to serve with him as the organization’s Co-President these last 18 months. I will greatly miss his intelligence, warmth, enthusiasm and incredible dedication. Along with the entire staff here, I wish him all the best in his new endeavours.”
Mc Manus joined Film Independent in 1998 as Development Director and was promoted to Senior Director in 2006 and Interim Director in 2010. He played a key role in fostering an inclusive culture that values teamwork and innovation, galvanizing stakeholders and resulting in the expansion of the organization’s annual budget from approximately $1.6 million to more than $8.5 million. In addition, he has led the organization’s diversity initiatives as well as its marketing, operations and administrative functions, strengthening Film Independent’s services to filmmakers. He began his career in the non-profit sector as a development professional, advancing over five years in positions of increasing responsibility at USC and serving for one year as the Director of Major Gifts at AFI before transitioning to Film Independent.
In 2012, Josh Welsh became Co-President of Film Independent alongside Sean Mc Manus. Prior to that, Welsh spent 10 years responsible for the overall design, strategic planning and implementation of all of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs. They include Filmmaker Labs for Directors, Screenwriters, Producers and Documentarians, Project Involve and the Grants Program. Welsh designed the curriculum for all the Filmmaker Labs and oversaw the selection of all Fellows from 2001 until becoming Co-President in 2012. Welsh also ran the Fast Track film financing market that takes place during the Los Angeles Film Festival. This highly selective market is open to established, as well as up-and-coming, filmmakers with exceptional projects still seeking funding. Projects that have gone through the program include Amreeka, Burn, Call Me Kuchu, C.O.G., Frozen River, Miss Navajo, Natural Selection and On the Ice.