The Big Lebowski, at Sundance, on how filmmakers can abide in this economy

While it may seem like a frivolous time to ask anyone for money to make a film, Jeff Dowd, the real life inspiration for the
beloved chronically laid-back character "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski, assures aspiring Coen Brothers that even in a plummeting economy independent filmmakers can secure funding.

I caught up with Dowd by phone while he was just settling into Park City, Utah for the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival, which started last night. A film producer, Dowd's been going to Sundance since the beginning and helped festival founder Robert Redford open the Sundance Institute, an organization that helps good filmmakers become great by work-shopping their scripts with esteemed filmmakers and Oscar winners like Christopher McQuarrie who wrote The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie.

Dowd advises, if you want to win over actors, agents, producers, and investors in this economy, you have to be serving up something inspirational.