American Teen Sells at Sundance–Backstory at Camera Planet

Nanette Burstein’s doc. American Teen sold at Sundance, finally, to Paramount Vantage for $1 million.

This project started in 2003, and there’s been quite a bit of wrangling along the way, if the Camera Planet files are to be believed. Burstein wrote:

American Teen is an idea I created and have developed for years, long before I met anyone from Camera Planet. Two years ago, Steve Carlis was asking what kind of projects I was developing to see if he could help me get the financing. I submitted American Teen as one of my ideas/films I was trying to make, and he told me that Camera Planet could help me find financing. There was never any oral or written agreement between us. It was more like if you can help me, great. However, an entire year went by and nothing got done. There was never even a single meeting set up with any kind of financing entity. The only thing that Camera Planet did do was offer to help me write a treatment, which someone there did but it was very poorly written. I ended up throwing out the treatment and writing an entirely different treatment on my own. I then told Steve Carlis that I was going to raise the money myself and produce it entirely myself since Camera Planet never did anything to help me after a year going by. I then singlehandely produced the movie, raising all of the money on my own. The one company that did help me raise the money was Cinetic Media. We had a written contractual agreement.

At one point, Burstein was in business with ever controversial Steve Carlis and Camera Planet. Carlis described her as:

Nanette Burstein-major documentary reputation (Kid Stays in Picture etc) Currently does about 5 mil/year. Smart, creative, reasonable, would be a great creative name on door

But he wasn’t as kind about Barbara Kopple:

very talented but difficult-approx 3 mil per year


(photo from Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE)