We Need a New Space for IndieWorks

We're devastated to announce that the People Lounge, the space where we've hosted IndieWorks for the past 2.5 years, is shutting down at the start of 2016. The People Lounge has been our home, not just for IndieWorks, but for us as a team. We shot episodes of 'Kelsey' there, and like the characters on the show, it became our regular bar. We'd host wrap parties, premieres and team get-togethers there. We're so sad to see it go. Please join us in saying goodbye and celebrating the good times at the People Lounge on January 6th at 7:30pm. 

When we started IndieWorks, our very first month was at a hole in the wall bar where the owner was insincere and exploitative (exactly the kind of attitude & environment we were trying to counter with the creation of IndieWorks). Meeting Heinz, the owner of the People Lounge, a couple weeks later was a gift. He was supportive and generous. He believed in what we were about and, though impressed with our ability to bring in a crowd, it was never about money or quotas with him (or his staff). Like us, he believes in building and supporting a community. From our second month (July 2013), until our last screening this week, IndieWorks and the People Lounge were united. The warm and welcoming atmosphere we've always been complimented on at our screenings were not just from us, but an extension of the vibe set by Heinz and his team. It breaks our hearts to have to move on to another space, but IndieWorks must continue because we've only just begun! So we're reaching out to our community in hopes that we'll find a new home that has the same warm and welcoming vibe, understands our not-for-profit ideology and has all our tech needs. It's not going to be easy, which is why we need your help. But before we get to that, we'd just like to say a final thank you to the people behind the People Lounge: Heinz Liu & Allen Leung, and Danny, Bradley, Mario, Jeremy & Vidal. They'll always be part of the IndieWorks team. We do hope you'll join us for our farewell party to them on January 6th. 

We hope to be back with our final 2 screenings of our 3rd year (before April's Best of Fest) in February. In order for that to happen, here's what we need in a space:

  • Location: ideally, we'd stick with the Lower East Side since it's convenient for us and most boroughs. However, we're open to anything in Manhattan below Harlem or Long Island City.

  • Tech: we prefer a space with a projector and screen rather than just a TV. Right now we have a 6 foot projected image in the front with our films splitting to 2 flat screens in the back and upstairs. We assume we won't find this wonderful setup again (the People Lounge added the second flat screen for us), but we hope to match this as much as possible. We also need to have a good sound system and be able to hook up to a laptop. (We must be able to screen via digital files, NOT discs.) (*2019 search update: our current setup is a 20-foot screen, which has spoiled us a bit, but as long as the screen is at least what we used to have and, more importantly, can accommodate large crowds where everyone can see - then we’ll be good!)

  • Space: our average month has 50 people in attendance, but we've had as big as 130 people in our audience. So we need a big space with decent seating. We assume we're only going to get bigger! We don't want a theater. We like the lounge feel because it feels less formal and promotes engagement and conversation; plus we love supporting a local business through drink sales. This leads to the next point.

  • Accommodations: everyone on the CongestedCat team volunteers for IndieWorks. Since we've started charging a small fee for submissions with year 3, we've been able to cover still only a small percentage of our overhead (web hosting & storage, making of awards & step & repeat(s), promotional expenses). So, we literally have no funds to pay for a space. The People Lounge appreciated the business we brought in on a Wednesday night, but never put drink minimum demands on us or anything of that nature. As struggling filmmakers ourselves, we'd hate to have to start doing that to our guests, so we'd ideally find a place that will appreciate the business on a weeknight but also allow us to suggest to the audience that they buy drinks rather than enforce the sentiment.

  • Atmosphere: similar to the previous point, we don't mind if a space has their regulars; we in no way want to take away business. However, we want a venue that doesn't attract rowdy types. At IndieWorks, we're all about respect and support. We'd hate to have random patrons in the place talking during the films and disrespecting the filmmakers. We were never a private event at the People Lounge, but Heinz and his team set a certain standard. When regulars would come in, they'd always respect the event going on, and usually participate in the mingling and Q&A!

Those are the key things. Of course we could make a crazy long list because, at the end of the day, we'd just be listing everything the People Lounge has been for us. But we know we won't find another People Lounge. We can only hope to find something that comes close, with a new set of wonderful people to add to the team. 

Please email indieworks@congestedcat.com with any suggestions. Thank you!