Filmmaker

Some of my most recent work

A quick visual update to what I have been doing.

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The Noir Collective


The Noir Collective is up, running and is XOOL!

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The Pictures We Take Don’t Resolve, They Only Reflect

James Stent looks at Film Noir, German Expressionism, and how Wolwedans in die Skemer has taken inspiration from these movements.

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Wolwedans Location Recce

This week James has joined me on our location/technical recce to Hazyview where we hope to shoot most, if not all, of the film. We where told that there is a heat wave on it’s way but so far so good! We spent the day yesterday at Casa do Sol, the hotel where the story actually takes place. Although James wrote this post yesterday there isn’t much of the internet here in Hazyview, apparently someone is still posting the web here and it hasn’t arrived! ;)

Read well, and do Write back!

From me ~ Cheers.

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Wolwedans in die Skemer


Welcome back. Its been too long and so much has happened! I’m actually directing a film! BOOM! Its a noir-thriller but my D.O.P. Tom came to me with a suggestion of genre: Boere-Noir. Brilliant!

Considering I launched Read/Write to become a place of reference and hopefully some insight I am really excited at documenting this process of making a full length feature for cinema. I am four weeks away from shooting and many of the elements are now in place. I have all my lead cast; we will chat more about this in a later post, crew for shooting and post and most of my locations. We are shooting on the Sony F3 (hopefully at 4.4.4) for 5 weeks.

The team is very passionate and my actors are all incredible. This is truly going to be a crazy/magnificent journey.

To help me document this journey I have a genius with me. I have known James for many a year and couldn’t be more chuffed when he agreed to come up from Cape Town to be my research assistant on this picture. I have no doubt he will entertain and inform ya’ll as we go along. You will quickly see that here is a writer in the making…. so, without further ado:

An introduction: I am James Stent, boy wonder and Jozua Malherbe’s research assistant on the shoot of Wolwedans in die Skemer, the Boere-Noir feature film that he is directing. My brief is simple; I do whatever Jozua tells me to do. In this case, he has tasked me with writing the first blog posts about the Wolwedans in die Skemer process.

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Psycho


I will be following up this post with some more Hitchcock later on so consider this a tease. Here are two great videos talking about techniques and themes that make up a film with a 99% rating in rotten tomatoes… OMG..99% just saying.

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Fractured Media


As well as offering the audience a chance to participate with as little friction as possible we need to fracture our content and intercept audiences.

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Superhelde Movie


This post is about Superhelde, a film that I had the pleasure of working on. I wrote a little blurb about it while shooting but thought it is worth a lot more when yesterday I went through my Flikr collections and found on-set pictures amongst them. A brilliantly funny film in the vein of Mallrats, Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre and Bakgat.

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Why Film?!


If your lost regarding what is digital and how it works you really should go and read Richard Lackeys blog dcinema.

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Branded Content

Branded Content - remember those BMW ads that came out a couple of years ago. Suddenly the idea of films made by brands became real. The explosive nature of the internet and so the death of many newspapers and magazines further drove brands to seek new ways for their audiences to know and think about them. We have seen AD banners on Youtube videos, overt branding in films and also television series and the holy grail, the artful product made with the mounds of money from a corporate - the branded content.

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Social Sound Design


Andrew Spitz recently launched a new project called Social Sound Design which is developed for sound designers and non-sound designers to find answers to tricky sound questions. Ranging from programming in Max/MSP to gear problems and for me what is the best advice to record sound on set.

Go check it out and post an answer or a question! I got great answers to my questions which you can see here:

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The Dude Abides

Trying to write comedy is hard - I know not because I’m writing a comedy (actually writing it) but because I’ve worked on various comedies and read comedy scripts. Its hard. Now Im developing an idea which is largely comedy so my research takes me into the comedy world. Although there is alot out there, there are not many comedies that become social comment and finally cult symbols for societies. The Big Labowski however is one of those films. More than being a flippin cool movie it has transcended to become a religious reference and even in some cases a religion onto itself. Now that is comedy!

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Mark Kermode writes…

Mark Kermode: It’s only a movie | extract

from Latest film news and reviews | guardian.co.uk by Mark Kermode

The great iconoclastic film-maker Werner Herzog is used to shooting films – but being shot at? In this extract from his cinematic memoir Mark Kermode tells the remarkable story of how, in the middle of interviewing the German director on a hilltop in Los Angeles, he gets shot. And refuses to go to hospital. And there’s the day he meets Angelina Jolie… and other stories from a life obsessed with films…

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Avatar - its all about the third dimension

James Cameron’s Avatar has crossed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office in just 17 days, surpassing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight to become #4 of all time. By the end of the week, the film is expected to surpass Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to become the #2 worldwide release of all time. Of course, for now, Cameron’s Titanic remains seated at #1. James Cameron has become the first director to have two films earn $1 Billion. And by the end of the week, it should be up to $3 billion total between the two movies.

Cameron’s sci-fi epic made an estimated $68.3 million in the States during it’s third weekend out, destroying the previous record of $45 million set by Spider-Man 3. Looks like this baby has legs. If that wasn’t enough, Avatar is also setting records in Janaury: This weekend’s box office total of $68.3 million will be almost $30 million larger than the all-time record January opening weekend.

And what about yearly records? Transformers Revenge of the Fallen took 114 days to hit $402 million, becoming the highest grossing film of 2009 domestically. Avatar will surpass that figure in an estimated 20 days.

James Cameron, the film director who pushed technical effects to the limit with the blockbuster Titanic in 1997, and ushered in the dawn of action films with ‘80s classics such as Terminator and Aliens, has unleashed the film he has been hoping to make for nearly 20 years.

It’s not the first time cinema has flirted with 3D - Alfred Hitchcock even experimented with the technology when he filmed Dial M for Murder in the 1950s. But the results have often been derided, either for hokey effects or poor stories, with Spy Kids 3D and Journey to the Centre of the Earth both getting a lukewarm reception.

However the $237m budget of Avatar signals a leap in technology - indeed, Cameron waited 15 years before starting filming as technology had not advanced enough to portray his vision. Tired of waiting for technology to catch up, he co-developed a new generation of stereoscopic cameras. Simplified, this is the equivalent of two cameras strapped together, each providing a slightly different perspective on the scene, mimicking the way human eyes view the world in three dimensions.
This changes the ballpark of moving images.

If you’ve had previous experience of 3D, your impression will probably be one of a flattish image with the occasional object ‘flying’ at you’.

But these advances are different - the entire screen has depth, taking on the appearance of a window through which the viewer is watching a ‘world’ on the screen, with a distinct foreground and background, rather than a flat, moving painting
In effect, the cinema screen becomes a theatre stage.

There’s still at least one throw-back to the ‘early days’ of 3D - viewers will need to wear glasses to get the illusion.
However these are not the red and green cardboard cut-outs you used to get free with Sugar Puffs before Comic Relief.
These are polarising glasses, untinted, which do not cause the headaches experienced in the past, or more importantly rely on frequent ‘pans’ of the camera to make the image appear in 3D.
Each lens has a different filter , which removes different part of the image as it enters each eye. This gives the brain the illusion it is seeing the picture from two different angles, creating the 3D effect.

Continuing to develop new technology as he went along, Cameron also devised a ‘virtual camera’, a hand-held monitor that allowed him to move through a 3D terrain. This, Cameron said, allowed him to create ‘the ultimate immersive media’, which he anticipates will exceed any and all expectation. In essence, this allowed Cameron to direct the film as if it was computer game. If he wanted to change the viewpoint, he could click a few buttons on a mouse and a computer would redraw the virtual world from the new perspective.
Cameron tweaked his cameras through two 3-D documentaries he made for IMAX theaters, “Ghosts of the Abyss” (2003) and “Aliens of the Deep” (2005).

In some of the “Avatar” footage released at Comic-Con, humans filmed with his 3-D camera rig are mixed with the computer-generated images of the movie’s avatars — beings created with mixed human and alien DNA.

Cameron said he wanted to have the filmmaking techniques fade into the background as the story took over.

“The ideal movie technology is so advanced that it waves a magic wand and makes itself disappear,” he said.

Cameron himself was behind the lens in many scenes that were framed using a “virtual camera” — a handheld monitor that lets the director walk through the computer-enhanced 3-D scene and record it as if he were the cameraman. The effect on screen is a “shaky cam” effect that makes action sequences seem up close and sometimes focuses the audience’s gaze at something in particular.

“It allows Jim to approach this process with the same sensibilities that he would have approached live-action filming,” said producer Jon Landau. The ability to capture human emotions in computerized 3-D has also advanced. Unlike past methods that captured dots placed on human faces to trace movements that are reconstructed digitally, now each frame is analyzed for facial details such as pores and wrinkles that help re-create a moving computerized image.

“It’s all going to advance the whole concept of 3-D one leap higher,” said Marty Shindler, a filmmaking consultant with The Shindler Perspective Inc.

Yet even with four years of preparation and the attention surrounding “Avatar,” there will not be enough U.S. screens adapted to the technology for a full wide release only in 3-D.

Of the 38,800 movie screens in the U.S., about 2,500 are capable of showing digital 3-D movies. Theater chains have been adding about 90 to 100 per month this year, but they’re still short of the 4,000-plus screens that have been used for major event movies.

With the conversion costing $100,000 a pop, theater owners are wary of moving too quickly, said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners.

“The successes of ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ and ‘Ice Age (Dawn of the Dinosaurs) in 3-D’ aside, this is still really early days for this format,” he said.

Studios are pushing theater owners to convert more screens, partly because people pay about $2 more per ticket and cram theaters for 3-D releases. Revenue per screen is up to three times higher than for the same movie’s 2-D version.

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said this week that his studio has 17 3-D films in development, including “A Christmas Carol.” That movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, adopted many of the same performance-capture techniques used in “Avatar” but comes out a month earlier, in November.

DailyMail
Slashfilm
MSNBC

All in a weeks work

These last months have been something to write about - so thats where I’ll start this 2010. Last year I worked on some small projects, short films if you will.

The first was the 1minutetosavethesworld shorts. Done under the Sandbox Collective umbrella,we produced two projects and one of them did very well and ultimately went on to show at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference. The project was Justine’s idea and was directed by Louw.

The Sandbox Collective is a group initiated by Zaheer Goodman who is exec producer at Spier Films. This “collective” has a aim to collaborate and create interesting, creative and impact-full media. Coming together and choosing a project of the cuff was a very intuitive process and there wasn’t a moment when we sat down to determine what the pro’s and con’s would be and who would do what on these films. The outcome was thus both very exhilarating and excruciating. We created a project that went on to show in Copenhagen and also made a project that didn’t make its way out of the post facility. This is the bias of intuitive only production. It either felt right or not - but when it did it felt real good.

When the project was completed we had to have a little de-briefing with exec - Ultimately we should have just done one project and done it well. HAving this second project on our minds messed up the full potential of the group. alas.. Hopefully that will not be our last as the Sandbox Collective still has a lot of potential to make great stuff!

Moving on, I produced a short film with Daniel Wilner. He is predominantly a theatre director that wanted to make movies. What I liked about Dan was his attitude toward making this film. It was a “I will do anything to make it happened” attitude. After asking me to produce it he quickly produced the script, I liked it and it took us one week to organize (although the evening before we had to recast our major players thanks to some external issues) and it cost us in total R2000 (thats about $280). We shot with a tiny crew of 5 people (thats Director, AD, DOP, Sound & PM) and three actors. Our cost went into Camera hire (Take2 Films always supporting!), catering, petrol and a parks release. Right now the tapes are in Canada waiting to be transferred and edited.

This project was great because the roles where clear. Everyone bought into the execution strategy and was was part of the planning process. Dan was open to ideas and given the small, but very talented crew, the ideas where of high quality and all added to the making of the film. The shooting day was relaxed and although we had to drop an establishing shot (which we got the next day) we got all the footage and then some.

Finally I produced a 3minute montage about ideas. This project was financed by a consulting firm who deal with futures consulting and wanted something to show clients that would “open their minds to new ideas”. The brief was short and time was shorter so within literally 4 days this project had to be out. Richard Lackey became the editor/sfx guy and I was researcher, director, producer. With so little time there was not much time for concept approvals and cut approvals but we did manage to get out three versions and the clients where very accommodating regarding feedback. This was a tremendous help to both me and richard who become very wrapped up in what we where doing.

Because the project needed to be viewed globally I uploaded it Vimeo for future showing as well as dropping a version onto DropIO which is a free service and works like a bomb! This way the clients where able to download any of the versions, watch and then just mail me concerns or ideas. The workflow was a bit sketchy but if we do another project with this company I think it will be 100% smoother.

Virtual Consulting - a Video about Ideas from Jozua Malherbe on Vimeo.

Looking forward, working with small crews has its pro’s. Being malleable, sharing high quality ideas, and being able to pull of projects within a small amount of time. However the small team needs to be people you know, people who you (preferably) have worked with before and absolutely respect their ideas and execution. Without this prior knowledge I find it hard to communicate succinctly and ultimately either the relationship or the project suffers.

Keep in touch this year. READ/WRITE PLAY.

One Minute To Save The World

logo.jpg

Its stars Keanu Reeves and the whole movie is in slow motion. Its about how he saves in the world in one minute… not really.

One minute to save the world is a online competition where-by anyone can submit any kind of video that subscribes to the idea of how or what can save the world. There have been some very sweet videos so far from both professionals and amateurs alike. At Spier Films we’re also contributing. Next week we’ll be making two one minute films for entry both pretty high-concept. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so you’ll have to wait for the films to be done before we talk about them.

Until then, check out the site and make your own. Remember that while you make the movie to keep it green and actually make a difference in your own world.

1minutetosavetheworld

Rainbow Skellums

Last week Thursday I had the pleasure of going to the premier screening for Rainbow Skellums at Tygervalley Mall in Durbanville. Produced by Andre Scholtz from Panic Machanic, Running Riot and You Must be Joking days. Interestingly the movie was executive produced by Peter Scott (founder and executive chairman of Mr Video) and hits the nail on the head for its genre and target audience.

The film is a laugh-a-minute candid camera romp. Using a tried and tested formula that was the spring board for Leon Schuster (still the highest grossing film maker in South Africa) the film fulfills every expectation and is a glimmering example of where South Africa’s mental and social state is at the moment. Geared at a predominanlty Afikaans audience most of the “victims” are afrikaans, but not neccesarlity white which was refreshing. The film has respect for its viewers and partcipants not ever being demeaning but also never apologizing for what it is.

With some great adlib performance from Louw Venter, Alexa Stachan and Kevin Ehrenriech the actors make a meal of every moment. I am pleasantly surprised that brand of film still has a place for SA film goers and that it really is still funny! The audience went with the film 100%. and at every laughable moment there was belly movement, in a good way!

My only bad criticism at this stage is the marketing poster which was terrible. I don’t think it will attract an audience, especially if its a critical audience member. The days of getting away with bad design is over. We are to prolific and visually intelligent for producers to still think they can get away with something so basic.

I also have one question, at the end of the titles it said : This film is under the law of the United States of America, all copyright etc…” I was just wondering whether that too was a bad cut/paste job or whether that has to do with the actual film?

No poster was available when this article was published.. will find one to show!

Another D9 Post

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By Adam Wakefield

The spaceship hovers over Johannesburg as the restlessness that lies below grows to a point that will engulf the whole city. People are complaining that the uitlanders, the prawns, are a societal nuisance and that they should “go back to where they came from”.

The above is a very, very condensed and simplified version of the beginning of District 9, the South African-produced film directed by Neill Blomkamp and financially backed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. The film’s budget was $30 million, which by modern standards is pocket change. District 9 is doing well in the United States, the United Kingdom and in other countries around the world. Though many fine films have been produced in South Africa, District 9 is one of the first to have high-crossover appeal with other audiences in other countries without losing its distinct South African flavour.

When “the buzz” started doing the rounds before the film opened in this country, I was slightly sceptical about all the hype, since I’ve heard this talk before and then been disappointed. Having now seen the film, I can happily say that it was thoroughly enjoyable and I would need to see it again (and want to) so I make sure I haven’t missed anything, as one often does when seeing a film for the first time.

Facts about the film, such as lead actor Sharlto Copley never having acted before and many moments in the film being improvised, can be found elsewhere. One thing that should be said is that District 9 is an excellent example of what the South African film industry can produce when given the chance — $30 million isn’t much, but convert that into R240 million rand and, hayibo, that’s some serious grease money.

In the past, South African filmgoers have been treated to Leon Schuster comedies, dramas from Paljas to Tsotsi, off-beat comedies such as Bunny Chow and several foreign films about South Africa that often suffer from the loss of nuance that only a local eye can see or notice. There are many others that I have not mentioned, with numerous niches being covered by South African cinema.

A quick search on the internet shows that since 2000, 27 films have been produced within South Africa. I didn’t know that and many of the titles (available on Wikipedia) I hadn’t heard of either. From 1990 to 1999, 18 films were produced. The number of films produced from 1980 to 1989 numbers more than 50. Though I can only assume that the political turbulence of the 1980s provided a feeding ground for content, it only skates the surface. South African cinema is often complex and informative but with the most successful South African film before District 9’s release being Mr Bones 2, South African filmgoers have often gotten a raw deal.

Why we haven’t seen as much as we could, excluding Schuster comedies and the odd film to break through after belated success (Tsotsi) could be attributed to several reasons or assumptions: the fees charged by Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro to carry a movie are too exorbitant for most South African film-makers, South African films aren’t good enough or South Africans aren’t interested in watching intellectual South African cinema.

District 9 has proven that our films are good enough, and Schuster has proven over a long career that South Africans enjoy movies about South Africa … which leaves us with the movie houses. I am not sure, but there must be something about our audiences mainly being force fed only American or British titles, along with the odd foreign film which has proven to have transcended foreign markets, excluding Cinema Nouveau which isn’t targeted at the mainstream.

On South African radio, stations are obliged to play between 30 and 40 percent (if not more) local content. South African TV is home to many locally produced TV shows. Why hasn’t film crossed the Rubicon per se when clearly the quality and intellect is out there? Cape Town, as an example, is home to some of the best advertising agencies in the world, let alone Africa, if international rewards are anything to go by. The talent is there.

District 9 is a triumph for its filmmakers because, apart from making a rather festive profit, it has shown that popular South African film is more than slap-stick Schuster comedies (with all due respect to Leon Schuster, who spreads his influence through making others laugh in a country that often becomes down-cast at its own failings) or a Gavin Hood (also, with due respect) production.

Let’s hope we continue to see more intellectually engaging content such as District 9 emerge from our soil because South African film definitely has the capability. All those with the finance pay attention …

Greed is Good vers. 2.0

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Last Tuesday afternoon, a black Cadillac Escalade arrived at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Lower Manhattan, built in the 1920s to resemble the Renaissance-era palaces of Florence, Italy. From a rear seat stepped a man in a cashmere sweater and dark slacks.

“This is where the money is,” he said, borrowing the words of Willie Sutton, the Depression-era bank robber. “There is more gold here than anywhere in the world.”

Look out, Wall Street: Oliver Stone is back, The New York Times’s Tim Arango writes.

This is familiar terrain for Mr. Stone: his father was a broker, and his 1987 film, “Wall Street,” became emblematic of an era of excess the filmmaker thought was fading, but in fact was only beginning. Now he is here to make a sequel, to capture greed on celluloid all over again, set against the backdrop of the financial collapse that began with the fall of Bear Stearns.

In a meandering walk through the crooked streets of Manhattan’s financial district — it was a week before shooting of the sequel, titled “Wall Street 2,” was scheduled to begin — Mr. Stone told The Times he never expected high finance to serve again as a tableau for his storytelling.

“I thought it was a bubble that was over,” Mr. Stone said of the 1980s. “I thought those days were going to come to an end. The excess.”

Despite his own years of hard living and a peripatetic existence — he would be heading to Venice in a few days — Mr. Stone looked refreshed and, at 62, surprisingly young. His original film was a morality tale about greed and unvarnished ambition, and Mr. Stone’s own views on the excesses of capitalism were obvious. But the film and its famous lines — “Greed is good,” “Money never sleeps” — have had a cultural endurance that he never expected, and perhaps never desired.

“I can’t tell you how many young people have come up to me in these years and said, ‘I went to Wall Street because of that movie,’ ” Mr. Stone told The Times, standing on a street corner between Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange. A recognizable face himself, he was stopped only once during the stroll, not by a broker but by a Stock Exchange security officer who wanted to talk about his time in Vietnam. (Mr. Stone is a veteran himself, and directed the 1986 film “Platoon.”)

After exchanging words with the officer outside the exchange, Mr. Stone stood in front of the building and marveled at how the culture of finance changed after the original movie. “It became glamorous to cover Wall Street,” he told The Times. “It had not been so before.”

Another aspect of Wall Street that changed — the financial press — borrowed some of the glamour of the film’s subject. Jim Cramer, the hyperkinetic host of “Mad Money” on CNBC and a former hedge fund manager, who certainly did his part to alter the complexion of financial news, will make an appearance in the film.

“There’s a line in the old film that kissing her was like reading The Wall Street Journal,” Mr. Stone said. (It wasn’t a compliment back then.)

The stock exchange, whose hectic trading floor was a frequent image in the first film, will be less prominent in the sequel. Instead the Federal Reserve building, where several important financial meetings took place last fall during the early days of the crisis, will be a more important location.

“In the original ’87 movie there was no Federal Reserve, we didn’t get into that,” Mr. Stone told The Times. “But now the world has changed radically. This is part of the bulwark of the system.”

“Wall Street” earned a best actor Oscar for Michael Douglas, who portrayed Gordon Gekko, a ruthless corporate raider whose memorable statements are still quoted on trading floors. (Here’s one of many: “I’m talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player.”)

Mr. Douglas will reprise his role as Gekko, who when last seen by the movie-watching public was headed toward prison for insider trading.

“When Gekko comes out of prison in the beginning of this movie, he essentially has to redefine himself, redefine his character,” Mr. Stone told The Times. “He’s looking for that second chance.”

A few weeks ago Mr. Douglas and Mr. Stone ate dinner at Shun Lee, a Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with an unlikely companion: Samuel D. Waksal, the founder of the biopharmaceutical company ImClone Systems, who spent five years in federal prison for securities fraud.

“That was for Michael to meet a guy who had been in jail,” Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Douglas, in an interview, said actors are often hesitant to make sequels, “particularly one where I got an Oscar the first time around.” But he told The Times the magnitude of the financial crisis erased any reservations.

The continued resonance of Gekko, Mr. Douglas said, has “probably been the biggest surprise of my career, that people say that this seductive villain has motivated me to go into this business.”

To this day, Mr. Douglas said, it is a usual occurrence to finish dinner out and have “a well-lubricated Wall Street businessman come up to me and say, ‘You’re the man.’ ”

Mr. Douglas added, “There’s an absurdity to it.”

The rest of the cast includes Shia LaBeouf as Jake Moore, a young trader who is the fiancé of Gekko’s daughter, played by Carey Mulligan; Josh Brolin as the head of an investment bank; Frank Langella as Jake’s mentor; and Susan Sarandon as Jake’s mother. Charlie Sheen, who played the central role of Bud Fox, a young trader, in the original, will make a cameo in the sequel. Shooting for the film, which will be released by 20th Century Fox next April, begins this week in New York.

A script for a sequel had been circulating for years, but last year, amid the financial crisis, 20th Century Fox hired the writer Allan Loeb to rewrite the screenplay and tether the story to current events.

“We sort of started over with the story of a young man who is at the center of it, and how he needs Gordon Gekko’s help to navigate those waters,” Alex Young, co-president of production at 20th Century Fox, told The Times.

While Mr. Stone’s youth was steeped in the ways of finance, thanks to his father’s profession, he did not inherit a facility for such matters. He did poorly in economics at Yale, and turned to filmmaking. He has spent the last several months researching the financial collapse by reading and by meeting with executives and academics.

Earlier in the summer he brought Mr. LaBeouf to a cocktail party organized by Nouriel Roubini, a New York University economics professor and chairman of a consulting firm, and held in rented space at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea. There Mr. Stone and Mr. LaBeouf discussed the financial collapse with hedge fund managers who are clients of Mr. Roubini’s firm.

“In this financial crisis it was the traditional banks and the investment banks that had a larger role in doing stupid and silly things than the hedge funds,” Mr. Roubini, who earned acclaim for being early in predicting the financial crisis, told The Times. (Mr. Stone offered Mr. Roubini a small role in the film as a hedge fund manager.)

Mr. Stone also had conversations with Jim Chanos, a prominent hedge fund manager who urged him to focus less on hedge funds and more on the banking system. “There was a much more important story, a bigger story, in what happened with the system,” Mr. Chanos told The Times.

In his first run at Wall Street, Mr. Stone produced characters and a portrayal that lived longer than he ever expected and with unintended consequences. But he never would have made a second version if it didn’t appear that the system, and high finance, had finally been brought to its knees.

“We wouldn’t have done this movie in 2006,” he said. “Things were too loose. I didn’t want to glorify pigs.”

Dealbook

The Revolution has not started

This is something that has bugged me and a lot of the film industry in recent years… Some call it “transformation” others redistribution, I just think its more people making films. The question of recently underprivileged people making films, telling stories, having a media voice besides “The Voice”.
So instead of me ranting listen to Ted and Caitlin.

The Revolution WIthin The Revolution Is Still Needed
by noreply@blogger.com (Ted Hope)

I have always found the entrenchment of the bureaucracy a pretty normal occurence in any field or job I have had — film or otherwise. People generally promote people who are like them. The status quo grows more homogenous with every passing year. This is particularly true in high cost enterprises like the film industry.

It’s true that price at the point of entry in filmdom has been dropping steady as has the means of delivering a return (aka distribution) has become more accessible, but still it’s hard to go the normal route if you don’t have much bread. True though, I never had financial resources to fall back on and nor did many of the people I started out with. But I definitely had a lot of privilege: I am a white middle class male in America, armed with some decent schooling.

Sure, a film career can be had even if you come from modest means, but the ones who land here are the exception and not the rule. It is such a struggle to live a creative life in this country currently that most of the survivors got here by the easy route (privilege of one sort or another). And frankly that sucks. We need more exceptions; it is the key to a vibrant culture. We can’t allow only the best and the brightest to reach the light - it gives us an unrealistic picture, amongst many other things. We can never stop being vigilant that the new wave we promote doesn’t look just like us. I must admit that I still get behind work first and foremost because I love it - and I most often love stuff that I relate to, and there lies the rub…

Nonetheless, it was the quality of Caitlin McCarthy’s work that brought her to my attention — or rather first and foremost to my wife’s attention. But let’s face it, I also liked what Caitlin had to say. Beyond her scripts, I encouraged her to pull some of the ideas she had FB’d me into the blog post on how to save indie film that we posted two days ago. I am excited that it got some people talking, even if they don’t see it as dire as Caitlin does.

We got a lot of good comments here on the blog. Vadim Rizov over at IFC’s Indie-eye blog blogged about it : “…we don’t need the ‘working class youth’ to ‘seek out’ industry patrons; in this hard world, like everyone else, they’d do better to start their own infrastructures, then get enough clout to become their own patrons, then get the grants. It’ll be tough, but definitely more rewarding.”

That comment has Caitlin coming back to us with more; she knows firsthand that it takes more than hard work and a good attitude:

After working with at risk, no income/low income teenagers for over six years, I can tell you that “just do it” is a Nike ad — it doesn’t apply to real life when you come from a disadvantaged background.

I have breathtakingly talented students in my classes (I teach over 150 students each year), but they can’t create art at home. Many of them don’t have a home. They are bouncing between relatives, foster homes, homeless shelters, or friends’ couches. If they are at home, it’s usually one or two room living with their siblings. Many of my students complain that they can’t do homework at home because there isn’t a quiet space to do it. They can’t go to the library, because the nearby libraries have all been closed. The one downtown is surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes during the daytime — forget about night. They can’t participate in an after school program because they don’t exist (other than sports).

For my students, dreams don’t come true without guidance and support from someone outside their families and neighborhoods. They need someone to believe in them on a continuous basis. They’ve had to fend for themselves all their lives for the most part. They are desperate to belong to something. That’s why you see so many of them in gangs. If they’re not in gangs, they belong to a sports team or a church group — something with regular meetings that they can depend on.

The author of the IFC article means well, and I think this “do it
yourself” advice would work with the middle and upper classes, where there is already support at home and in their community. But it won’t work with the lower classes who have so many strikes against them already.

Perhaps this is why we don’t see more filmmakers from the lower classes. The film establishment wants to believe that if you’re good enough, like cream you’ll rise to the top. That is incredibly naïve (or maybe it’s deliberate so their friends and relatives can get all the jobs because “there’s no one else” to hire).

If anyone thinks class doesn’t exist in this society, come hang out with me in three weeks when school starts again. I feel the separation in the classes. Poverty and lack of opportunity are like pieces of sandpaper that wear you down, slowly but surely, every single day until you’re defeated. This is something that crosses ALL color lines. You can be white and poor.

Sorry to get on my soap box, but I am disturbed by how some people simply don’t how it is for some people out there. But many of these people can’t be blamed for their ignorance, as they haven’t spent time living and working with a disadvantaged population. Once you have “ground truth,” you’d know better than to say “do it yourself, kid.” That’s essentially telling the kid to figure it out for themselves, away from you, so you don’t have to get involved. If you want to make a difference, you MUST get involved for the long haul. It’s a marathon!
— Caitlin McCarthy

Kubrick old becomes new…maybe?

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How much would you pay to see a new film by Stanley Kubrick…? Well, the legendary film maker has left behind tons of research on various projects (including AI - remember?) and now the skeletons are coming back to haunt us.

Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan appears to have been acting as the executor of Kubrick’s cultural legacy. He was one of the producers responsible for Spielberg’s AI – and it was Spielberg’s AI, not at all Kubrick’s – and now it looks like Harlan seems keen on resurrecting The Aryan Papers too.

Warner Bros still owns the rights to the film, which is based on the 1991 novel Wartime Lies by Louis Begley, and Harlan said the studio should employ a leading director such as Ang Lee, who made the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, to bring Kubrick’s vision to the screen. He said he would happily become involved in the project again.

Kubrick, who died of a heart attack in 1999 days after completing his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, wrote the screenplay for Aryan Papers, which tells how the woman and her nephew had to pretend to be Catholics to escape the Nazis. “I regret it never got made but it was a decision made by Kubrick and Warner Bros, probably very wisely at the time,” said Harlan, the brother of Kubrick’s wife Christiane.

There you have it - Kubrick lives on…even if it just in his screenplay.

Cronenberg Filmmaker for today

Controversial visionary David Cronenberg sees technology, mankind, sexuality merging in ‘eXistenZ’

Todays film maker is another director and I chose him because I accidentally watched The Fly again a couple of nights ago (I think it was on SABC 2). I love his films, eXistnZ was one of the first I watched of his (this interview was done during the time of the film) and I remember feeling like I was watching something other worldly but awesome! Seeing how malleable he is as a film maker is also astounding. The madly erotic to the strangely deviant and even the Hollywood mainstream, Cronenberg can do it all and that’s why he is one of my bestests….
Instead of a straight up biography I chose to give you this interview, it gives a more personal feel to David and if your still keen, I added a link to a biography anyway.
Enjoy the madness!

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Interview form SPLICED WIRE by ROB BLACKWELDER

I don’t know what I was expecting exactly when I met David Cronenberg, arguably the most bizarre, eccentric and even grotesque auteur in North America.

A visionary and controversial director with a penchant for ingenious, violent and sexual metaphors, he’s been responsible for a half dozen of the most admired (by film aficionados) and abhorred (by many others) movies of the last 20 year, including “Videodrome” (a violent and sexualized allegory on thought control) “The Fly” and “Dead Ringers” (considered the height of the art house-horror hybrid), and hallucinogenic, autobiographical adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.” In 1997 his adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel “Crash,” about car-crash fetishists, was shelved for several months by New Line Cinema owner Ted Turner, who didn’t want anything to do with the twisted tale.

Was I meeting a human deviant? A demented genius with “straight jacket” written all over him? I didn’t know, but for the first time in years, I was feeling intimated about an interview.

Then I was lead into the conference room of San Francisco’s Prescott Hotel and shook hands with a congenial, bespectacled fellow with salt-and-pepper hair and a benevolent smile. It turns out, David Cronenberg - the envelopepushing circus freak of independent cinema - is a cheerful, deepthinking, mild-mannered college professor type. Go figure that.

Today he’s here to talk about “eXistenZ,” the first film since “Videodrome” that he both wrote and directed. A forward-looking, somewhat cautionary vision of the future of virtual reality, the film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as the inventor of a bio-engineered game, played by plugging a living game pod directly into the central nervous system through a fleshy umbilical cord inserted into an orifice carved in the player’s back.

In the near future created for “eXistenZ,” anyone who hasn’t been jacked with one of these bioports is considered a square in most circles. It takes place in a world where the game and reality are disturbingly intermingled. In Cronenberg’s vision, technology and the human organism have begun to merge — something the director considers inevitable.

I see technology as being an extension of the human body,” he says. “It’s inevitable that it should come home to roost.”

But before we discussed to his new movie, his fixation with sexuality and the organic form, we talked about Hollywood and why he’s fed up with being perceived as a horror director.

I never thought I was doing the same thing as directors like John Carpenter, George Romero, and sometimes even Hitchcock, even though I’ve been sometimes compared to those other guys. We’re after different game,” Cronenberg says. “The filmmaking process is a very personal one to me, I mean it really is a personal kind of communication. It’s not as though its a study of fear or any of that stuff.”

SPLICEDwire: Your films are more deeply psychological, where many of those directors are often just trying to make you jump out of your seat.

David Cronenberg: True. Even Hitchcock liked to think of himself as a puppeteer who was manipulating the strings of his audience and making them jump. He liked to think he had that kind of control. I don’t think that kind of control is possible beyond a very obvious kind of physical twitch when something jumps out of the corner of a frame. I also think the relationship I have with my audience is a lot more complex than what Hitchcock seemed to want his to be — although I think he had more going on under the surface as well.

But you can’t control all of that. Anybody who comes to the cinema is bringing they’re whole sexual history, their literary history, their movie literacy, their culture, their language, their religion, whatever they’ve got. I can’t possibly manipulate all of that, nor do I want to. I’m often surprised - I expect to be surprised - by my audience’s reactions to things.

SPLICED: Do you consider any of your movies horror movies?

Cronenberg: No. I don’t. “The Fly” was, technically, a horror sci-fi film, and this is technically a sci-fi film. But to me that’s not a creative category. That’s a marketing problem or possibly a critical problem, a journalistic preoccupation. But it doesn’t function on a creative level.

It doesn’t mean anything. Each movie generates its own little biosphere and has its only little ecology and its climate, and you’re attune to that more than anything else. So when people say “is there anything you wouldn’t show on film?” or “would you draw back?” I say, if I do it’s only because of that biosphere. What is appropriate? What works within the ecology of that movie? So in one movie sex and blood would be very up front, like in “Crash” because it’s sort of the subject of the movie. But in another movie, like “The Dead Zone,” it would not be appropriate. It would be disproportionate.

There’s no sex really in “eXistenZ,” except metaphorically. There was an opportunity to have sex scenes, and we were all willing to do that. But as the film evolved, we thought it would be wrong. It would take away from the metaphorical sex, which is all this plugging in and that sort of stuff. That’s more interesting. It has more resonance than if you suddenly saw a real, naked sex scene in the middle of all that. It would unbalance all that — almost invalidate it. So if you wait, the movie gradually tells you what it wants to be, and you have to sort of go on with it.

SPLICED: There seem to be connections between “Videodrome,” which you also wrote and directed, and “eXistenZ.” The way you’re plugging in a pre-programmed videotape or a game into your body. Was “Videodrome” on your mind?

Cronenberg: No. You have to remember I haven’t seen it in 15 years. You might well have seen it more recently than I have. It is true this is the first script I’ve written since “Videodrome,” so I’m sure that connects somewhere. But when you’re writing a script - for me anyway - you have to sort of create an enforced innocence. You have to divest yourself of worrying about a lot of stuff like what movies are hot, what movies are not hot, what the budget of this movie might be. You have to stop worrying about what people might expect from you because of the last thing you did…you have to stop worrying about your other movies. I mean, I just know they’re all going to be interconnected. People have asked me to do a sequel to “Scanners,” or they’ve asked, very recently, to do a remake of “Shivers.” And that would feel like a horrible place to put myself. I wouldn’t want to go back there.

SPLICED: Have you ever considered doing a big budget, schlocky studio film? Has anyone has pitched you anything like that?

Cronenberg: Oh, heavens yes! Recently? “The Truman Show” and “Aliens 4,” and in the early days things like “Witness” and “Top Gun.” Oh, and “Flashdance.” Dawn Steele, for some reason, kept bugging me to do “Flashdance”! And I kept saying “No.” and “You won’t thank me! I would destroy this!” So, yes, I do get offered stuff. And, like, “Alien 4” is tempting for a minute because they’re begging me to do it, and I think to work with Sigorney Weaver and Winona Ryder would be great fun, and so on.

SPLICED:…and it has some of the same kinds of themes, body themes, that you often work with…

Cronenberg: Yeah, because the original “Alien” took stuff from “Shivers.” It was obvious that happened. I know how it happened, too, but we won’t get into that.

The problem with doing a schlocky or big budget studio film is that it wouldn’t actually be fun for me. It wouldn’t be exciting. My rule of thumb is this: You’re six months into it, you’ve got six months to go. It’s February. It’s winter. It’s dark. Am I suicidal, or am I really excited and happy? And the answer with those projects would be, “I’m suicidal.”

SPLICED: You originally wrote “eXistenZ” three years ago. I imagine you had to make changes to update the technology, since such things change so rapidly.

Cronenberg: That didn’t change. The technology I sort of side-step in this movie. It’s the metaphor. It’s the drama and the meaning of it and all of that which is interesting to me.

We don’t have any computers in this movie. It’s a different technology. I’m certainly aware that the big chip makers have all done heavy, heavy research into using protein molecules as a basis of their chips, and protein molecules are the basis of organic life. I read an article recently about experiments done to try to use DNA strands as electrical wiring.

Since I see technology as being an extension of the human body, it’s inevitable that it should come home to roost. It just makes sense. I mean, I literally show that in the movie with the pod plugged into central nervous system.

Technology is us. There is no separation. It’s a pure expression of human creative will. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in the universe. I’m rather sure of that. But we’ll see if the spaceships come. And if it is at times dangerous and threatening, it is because we have within ourselves we have things within us that are dangerous, self-destructive and threatening, and this has expressed itself in various ways through out technology.

(Modern technology is) more than an interface. We ARE it. We’ve absorbed it into our bodies. Our bodies, I think, are bio-chemically so different from the bodies of people like 1,000 years ago that I don’t even think we could mate with them. I think we might even be, in other words, a different species, we’re so different.

(This) technology, we absorb it, it weaves in and out of us, so it’s not really an interface in the same way people think about a screen or a face. It’s a lot more intimate than that.

SPLICED: Is that why in many of your films there’s some type of orifice through which a person is connecting?

Cronenberg: Yeah. I mean, technology wants to be in our bodies, because it sort of came out of our bodies. In a crude way, that’s what I’m thinking. It wants to come home and that is its home. First of all, in the obvious ways - the eyes with binoculars, the ears with the telephone - technology had to be an advancement of powers we knew we had. Then it gets more elaborate and more distant from us. More abstract. But it still all emanates from us. It’s us.

SPLICED: And it’s a theme in almost all of your movies.

Cronenberg: It’s more than a theme. To me it’s kind of like a living presence, an understanding, that is behind all of the movies.

SPLICED: How does the idea of the technological meshing of man and machine, how does that connect to the reoccurring theme of sexuality?

Cronenberg: Well, I think, with “Crash” it was getting very focused on the idea that we are re-inventing sex. We are at a major epoch in human history, which is that we don’t need sex to recreate the race. You can have babies without sex. This is the first time in human history that has been true, and it means, for example, we could do some extraordinary things.

It’s becoming disconnected from what it was initially, just in the same way we’ve taken control of our evolution. We are no longer subject to the laws of survival of the fittest in the gross physical way that Darwin articulated. Even though we’re not quite aware of it, we don’t know how to deal with it, we are messing around with our evolution at the genetic level.

So, I think, in the same way, sex is up for grabs, for reinvention. There have always been elements of politics, fashion, pleasure, art, in sexuality. But now those things are, in a weird way, almost the primary part of sexuality. So why not say, OK, how about some new sexual organs? They don’t have to reproduce. They don’t have to do all that complex chromosome splitting and stuff that goes with real reproduction, so why not have direct access to your nervous system and create new orifices that do god knows what?

In a way, you’re seeing new sex, neo-sex, in this movie. Or do you even want to call it sex? It’s obviously inducing some kind of pleasure the way sex does, but what is it?

I think that is happening. You see a lot of body modification. In the same way, we’ve never accepted the environment as it was given to us, we’ve never accepted the human body, either. We’ve always been messing with it to the full extent of whatever the technology at the time would allow us to do. But then there’s also the other element of body modification that are not medical. It’s social, it’s political, it’s sexual, it’s cosmetic, it’s fashion. Just what people will do now - with scarring, tattooing, piercing and all that, and performance art as well - it would have been unthinkable, at least as mainstream as it is now, not very long ago.

SPLICED: To what do you credit your fascination with organic form and the mutation of the human body?

Cronenberg: I got bored. That was traumatic.

I think it really has more to do with the perception and an understanding than the whole idea that it’s something that happened to you in your childhood. I’m just observing the world. I was born into it, like you were, and then I found out there were some really disturbing aspects to being alive, like the fact that you weren’t going to be alive forever — that bothered me.

Do you remember when you found out you wouldn’t live forever? People don’t talk about this, but everybody had to go through it because you’re not born with that knowledge. That’s the basis of all existentialist thought, which, of course, is an underpinning of this movie. It’s not called “eXistenZ” for nothing.

For me, the first fact of human existence is the human body. But if you embrace the reality of the human body, you embrace mortality, and that is a very difficult thing for anything to do because the self-conscious mind cannot imagine non-existence. It’s impossible to do.

So not only can you not imagine dying, you can’t really imagine existence before you were born. So, I think, for example, that’s one of the reasons people believe so strongly in reincarnation. They kind of assume that somehow they were there. You can’t imagine things going on without you. That’s just the nature of our self-consciousness.

So I observed these kinds of things as a kid and then I’m gradually expressing this and talking to myself through my movies about all of this stuff. Then I’m really inviting the audience to have that conversation with me. You’re seeing me develop, not only as a filmmaker if you’ve seen my earlier films, but you’re seeing me kind of learn how to be a human, how my philosophy has evolved.

So that’s why I think, for example, this movie cannot be like “Videodrome.” All the other connections aside - that was what, 17 years ago? - I’m different now.

SPLICED: So all of your movies together are like a biography.

Cronenberg: Well, they should be. They’re almost like chapters in an ongoing book.

a nice biography here

D9 at The Comic-Con

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This week saw the Comic-con take place in San Diago and saw a host of movies being screened, promoted and talked about there. To name a few: Iron Man2, 9, Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Where the Wild Things Are, Zombieland and Sherlock Holmes. For a more comprehensive list go here and cry a little.

Anyways, I’ve done my crying a little and decided to try and find out more. I am really interested in D9 (as you may already know) and knew that Sharlto was going to be on a panel discuss with Peter and Neill all about D9. The bastardo’s had a full on screening of the movie - aargh - adn this panel was done right after the film. I have here for your enjoyment all four parts, download them from youtube at work and watch them at home later. That way you don’t use your bandwidth, your not skimping on your work and you have them to share them with your friends later…

1:

2:

3:

4:

Then, jsut for fun, here’s a little vlog from Slashfilm doing a review of the movie and some hints of what to expect on Assassins Creed. Go Here

More Friends and Fans

Last time I wrote about my favorite “creating fans” guru Scott Kirsner. NOw I found someone else who also has I wanted to share it with ya’ll..

Posted: Tue, June 09, 2009, 11:06 AM From Thompson on Hollywood

Cinematech blogger Scott Kirsner drank the digital Kool-aid some time back. So the author of 2007’s The Future of Web Video and 2008’s Inventing the Movies decided that he had to self-publish his newest book, Fans, Friends and Followers. “If I was writing that artists had to be their own entrepreneur,” he says, “then I had to do it too.”

For no up-front charge (and no advance), Kirsner selected his own fonts at Amazon’s CreateSpace. He sent a PDF of the cover and interior to upload. They sent him back galleys to correct and within 10 days of signing off, he had books on sale at Amazon, and collects a bigger percentage of royalties than a publisher would pay. “If I had waited for traditional publishing it would be out in the fall of 2010,” he says. “This stuff is timely, it’s not the history of MGM. It would have been stale.”

For the book, which has sold more than 10,000 copies, Kirsner interviewed three dozen do-it-yourself types in film and video, art and music, from internet pioneer and short video maker Ze Frank to animator M dot Strange. “Until the last three to four years,” says Kirsner, “you made a film and either you picked up a distributor at SXSW or Sundance, or not. There was no plan B. You never thought about what might happen, how to get the movie out there. I tried to talk to people about Plan B.”

In 2006, Strange persuaded the Sundance Film Festival to play his film We Are the Strange at a midnight screening at the Egyptian by using his YouTube following to prove that he had an audience. He then distributed the film through Film Baby and via YouTube (with a DVD click-through button) in April 2008. According to Kirsner, he made enough money to not only pay off the debt from the film, but to finance his next one.

Here’s the trailer:

The agricultural documentary King Corn debuted at SXSW in 2007, went on to other festivals, had a theatrical run, aired on PBS in April 2008, and was one of the biggest selling films on iTunes. Aaron Wolff, Ian Cheney, Curt Ellis and their team kept building a database of fans in FileMaker, then created an email list on Constant Contact. They barraged their fans with new info, updated their website constantly, and kept the promo stream going by guest-blogging at different sites that they knew would be receptive to the film’s green subject matter. Here’s the trailer:

A lot of online communities are interested in what you’re doing, whether it’s a sci-fi movie or a documentary about U.S. future policies,” says Kirsner. “With the internet there’s a direct link between that review or write-up and where you buy a book. People are closer to the transaction. There’s a lot of innovation in terms of business models. People are trying different things. With places like Home Star Runner, which avoids advertising and built their model on selling t-shirts, merchandise and DVDs, or Lulu and CreateSpace, you can see there’s a whole new infrastructure, a new pathway for getting books, DVDs, and CDs out there.”

But DIY takes work, Kirsner admits: “The promotional energy has to come from you, using blogs and Twitter and getting people to write about your project. It’s a whole new world. There are no more sugar daddies taking care of problems. With the old school Hollywood dynamic you had to shuck and jive to get observed by a talent agent, that was the only path to making it. Now you do what you want to get noticed and build up an audience. Then you have a choice to do a deal with a studio or record company, or do your own thing. Some will do it, some will not. But you don’t have to wait around and cross your fingers and hope.”

Kirsner has been working overtime to get out the word on his book. He’s created a Power Tool Wiki that lists tools for building an online fan base. Here are some reviews, including Wired editor Chris Anderson, who log-rolled thusly:

Making a living in the Long Tail means taking matters into your own hands, crafting a marketing strategy that’s just right for you and your work. This book compiles the stories of those who’ve done it best. You’ll get ideas from every one of them. Inspiring and incredibly useful—Kirsner’s assembled a playbook for the social media age.”

David Lynch VS IPhone

Antichrist at Cannes

Antichrist was accused of rampant misogyny; of being “an abomination”; “easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes film history”

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I remember I read about Lars von Trier’s Antichrist a couple of months ago and was wondering what the response was going to be. Laballed as a Horror movie, but its LArs von Trier so Horror could mean anything! It showed at Cannes recently and was slated, hated and discombobulated in so many ways that I wonder if it will even make the fair shores of Cape Town. Charlotte Gainsbourg has walked away with a Best Actress award but both TIMES and Variety labeled the film as “Director gone mad” and “too arty” respectively.

When U opened my Igoogle this morning I found a great article on the film that is made up of a host of smart people reviewing the film. If you where hesitant to see it already, this may not help. If you considered watching the film, this is what you could expect:

Linda Ruth Williams Professor of Film, Southampton University

I approached Antichrist with some trepidation. Lars von Trier first got my sexual-political back up with Breaking The Waves, a pernicious paean to female self-abnegation, which sees raped and murdered Emily Watson getting celestial postmortem applause as heavenly bells peal in the clouds above. This was a horror film in the true sense, I thought. Now I am not so sure. Von Trier’s tongue is often so firmly poked into his cheek, who knows where he’s coming from, or going to?

Antichrist is obsessed with bodies. Clearly, for all its in-your-face qualities, no one should approach it expecting a pornographic romp. There is a money-shot, but it’s bloody rather than ecstatic. Heavily referencing horror cinema, it’s marketed as the arthouse answer to The Blair Witch Project, 10 years on. Teen audiences marinaded in the conventions of “spam in a cabin” movies – monsters in the woods, out there where no one can here you scream – will feel at home with the creepy noises, buried bodies and innovative uses for a woodsman’s toolbox here. Yet Antichrist hardly offers the “dare you to watch it” thrills of popcorn horror.

For me, what is most shocking, and most interesting, is its frenzied meditation on sexual hysteria. Film academics have turned to horror cinema over the last 15 years because it reveals cultural sores, symptoms of our guiltiest pleasures and incomplete repressions. At best, horror shows that in our sex-saturated culture, the body, surrealism and the unconscious can still hold imaginative power. Yet the most familiar sub-genre right now is the production line of so-called “torture-porn” meat-fest movies. In the wash of multiple Saw and Hostel films, it’s hard to see the ideas-rich Antichrist as a serious danger to our moral wellbeing.

Last week, the Brazilian film Embodiment Of Evil opened in the UK, including scenes of somebody eating their own buttocks and a rat running up another character’s vagina. To my knowledge, no one has condemned this as the most obscene film ever made (in contrast with the Sun’s outrage over Antichrist). With films like that as a backdrop, I don’t find Antichrist’s intellectualised antics too worrying. If only tabloids campaigned against real clitorectomies, done on real baby girls, rather than fabricated ones done in fiction movies.

Of course, Von Trier probably doesn’t “mean” any of it. For all the ludicrous excesses of this story, it could all be seen as an extended grief nightmare. If Antichrist has a sexual political agenda, it’s probably just to stir things up. Von Trier throws us ideas, and we fight like dogs over them.

Joanna Bourke Professor of History, Birkbeck College

Lars von Trier’s new film opens with heart-breaking lyrics of loss and longing from Handel’s Rinaldo opera. The graceful yet ecstatic beauty of death – literal and symbolic (“la petite mort”) – sets the tone. Black and white scenes, in which the camera moves with a dreamlike slowness, are followed by dazzlingly dyed scenes of claustrophobic carnage. The effect is breathtaking and compulsive, like a drug; I would have watched the film a second time if it had been possible.

The theme of the film is an ancient one: what is to become of humanity once it discovers it has been expelled from Eden and that Satan is in us? Despite the erotic beginning, Von Trier has little interest in desire; his focus is on Sadeian extreme pain and enjoyment, the abject emptying of self and other (including the audience, who are made complicit in the sexual violence infusing the film).

Antichrist circles relentlessly around acts of transgression. The violence is defiantly excessive and beautiful. It is gendered, but more misanthropic than misogynistic. The man’s violence is the heartlessness of rationality. Patronisingly, he sneers at the woman’s research project on gynocide. He is a rationalist cognitive therapist, who bullies her into exposing her inner demons.

In contrast, the woman embraces the mysterious, uncanny energies of the unconscious and unknowable elemental forces. Her violence against the man and her own body is unbounded. The scenes of her crushing his penis and then snipping off her clitoris and labia are graphic. But it is not designer violence, intended to appall and titillate in the same breath. Neither does it inspire compassion. Von Trier simply presents cruelty as “there”, serving no liberating function for the audience. Pain – its infliction and its suffering – is integral to life.

Von Trier has admitted that, of all his films, Antichrist “comes closest to a scream”. It exposes us to an untamed erotic and aggressive aesthetic without redemption. It jolts us out of a passive voyeurism and, in despair, leaves us (in the words of Handel) crying over cruel fate.

Samantha Morton Actor

Watching film is always a very personal experience for me; I understand the dangers mentally, emotionally and physically. The euphoria when the team achieves the “scene” in question, when the light is perfect, the words happen at the right time, the sound is like crystal, and everybody is happy to move on … It is hard to describe what happens when you’re alone, the scene just performed and your skin and nerves are tingling as if you’re cold turkeying from a drug. For this reason, I congratulate from the bottom of my heart Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance. The grief portrayed was of profound honesty. She had, when needed, a vulnerability that was heartbreaking, and throughout her demise into madness she maintained integrity. Willem Dafoe amazed me with his tragic stillness and inner pain. The constant, intense battling of intelligent minds, mixed with the most horrific of circumstances, proved fascinating.

A director (if they’re worth their salt) will, and does, feel the pain of every moment of every character, be it behind closed doors or on set. A director pains over every shot, every inch of film, every breath of sound. Trying to communicate birth, fear, loss, death, religion, pain, love, desire, hate – the list goes on – is all-encompassing to the point of insanity. Deciding to make the film (or the film guiding you to make it) is an act of bravery and vulnerability, and sometimes of loneliness. The writer/director speaks through every character, so this film must have been incredibly painful to make.

The cinematography here is breathtaking, pushing the boundaries between emotion and technology, like the ancient vines that are photographed. Film is so important to me and for that reason I am glad I saw Antichrist. However, like I do with my life – and especially my mind – I take care. A bit like visiting a loved one who’s going through some terrible, dark pain in the face of which we seem powerless, it can be emotionally crippling to watch. So for that reason, I say: take care viewing this. But if you can take the journey, take it.

There are more where those came from. If you are still unsure or you have a need to know more go to Guardian.co.uk to read all.

In the end the over-riding question was whether von Trier hates women. Personally I think thats a bit lame. A filmmaker like von Trier with a track record like his surely has other things on his mind (perhaps insanity) other than to hate women. One of my favorite quotes in the article: “I don’t find Antichrist’s intellectualised antics too worrying. If only tabloids campaigned against real clitorectomies, done on real baby girls, rather than fabricated ones done in fiction movies.” That kind of sums it up for me. The hysteria around films is always fascinating, as if because the film is made it has opened doors that can never be closed again. Films as art are made with the intention to hold up a mirror, perhaps in this case it’s a mirror of von Triers deep and dark depressed phyche, but as a film it will only ever be that. The realities of life are much worse. A friend of mine posted on his Facebook status shortly after MJ death: “It seems that the Iraq war is over if mass media is anything to go by”. That is sad and dark, maybe even worse than a movie entitled Antichrist….

Go look at some High-Res frames of the film here

Focus Films Africa First Competition

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Again it dawns on me that there is some serious conversational problems with our little “independent” film industry.

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

I received an email from a friend in namibia yesterday regarding this incredible film competition opportunity. So only now am I able to share this knowledge. I was just wondering why the hell I haven’t heard of it before. Where is the mass email from one of my fellow film makers letting us all know? Where is the Facebook status with the link or the sms or send your pigeon for heavens sake!

My point is just that if we want to raise the bar, make better movies we have to challenge one another and then applaud those who do well. Secrecy was part of the Apartheid legacy, lets move on!!! Share information, any information. A new camera tool, a business idea, a link to a pretty colour or a a way to achieve a set construction. As long as we hope that no one notices us and we keep hiding what we are doing the longer we will take to draw attention to our little industry and get investors to believe that it is viable to make films in South Africa..

And thus, after my little rant here is another key to getting your films out there and making mark!
Do it, win the competition and draw attention, then do it again…

The Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program supports films that aspire to artistic excellence and accomplished storytelling, and substantially contribute to the development of local film industries. Award recipients of the 2009 Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program can use award money received from Africa First to complete initial production and to pay for post-production costs such as laboratory fees, sound mixing, and editing.

Applications must be fully completed and postmarked by the August 1, 2009 deadline and received no later than August 15, 2009 in order to be accepted. Individuals can only submit one film. Submissions that are made with an incomplete application or applications that are submitted without the supporting materials will be disqualified. Submissions that are obscene, pornographic, libelous, or otherwise objectionable will also be disqualified. Recipients will be notified on or about October 1, 2009 of their status and must be available to travel to New York City for the Summit Weekend of November 12 - November 16, 2009.

REQUIREMENTS
All projects entered into the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program must meet the requirements below:
Produced in continental Africa;
5-25 minutes in length with narratives taking place exclusively in Africa. Feature and/or documentary submissions will not be accepted;
In preproduction, production, or postproduction;
Project must be filmed in continental Africa and contribute to the development of the local film industry by using local key production staff and using local facilities;
All Program documents must be written in the English language; however, if the original language of the screenplay was not in the English language, an English-language translation of the screenplay is acceptable;
Project must be either (i) in the English language or (ii) if not, be delivered with English-language subtitles in 16mm, Super 16mm, 35mm, HDTV, DigiBeta, or Beta format.

Go here to get application form and visit the site!

The second most important question

Hey all. It’s been a week of working and I admit I lost touch with my posting habits. But, I am back and here we go. Straight into it. Read this great post on Cinetech site by Scott Kirsner. Following on the most important question a film maker will ask:” Will you give me money to make my film”, Scott is of the opinion that the second most important question should be…Well, read the excerpt.

I suggested that there are two important questions filmmakers need to ask during the process of making a film. Filmmakers already ask the first one, constantly: will you give me money to help make my movie?

But the second one, just as important, isn’t one that most filmmakers know about, or ask often enough.
Here it is: what groups, online communities, blogs, Web sites, or non-profits do you think would be interested in this film?

I think you should ask that of everyone you meet: your cinematographer … your investors … your screenwriter … your prop master … everyone you interview for a documentary. And keep a list of their answers.

You will discover that there are magazines, blogs, fan communities, and organizations with millions of members that you should build relationships with. Let them know what you are working on. Get them (and their audiences) involved in some way - as you are making the movie. Give them sneak peeks as you are in postproduction. Give them a trailer or early cut to show at their annual convention. Enlist their help in spreading the word once you’re on the festival circuit or in theatrical release. Do ticket and DVD give-aways to get their communities buzzing.

You ought to be asking this second question throughout the process of making your movie because that will help you discover who the most powerful taste-makers are, online and off. People you encounter who know these bloggers and publishers and non-profit presidents will make introductions to them for you. That’s something that no amount of Googling during the post-production phase can do, unfortunately.

Sci-Fi Squad

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The cats from AOL want more online traffic. The way they are going about it is to broaden their online user based through Niche sites. The latest: SciFi Squad and Horror Squad. The names are rather self explanatory and the sites themselves are very full with place to put a lot of information. Being a fan of the SciFi genre myself I chose to there instead of Horror and check it out.

In the side bar you will find all things Sci-Fi: Trailers (including the Moon trailer which is a MUST for EVERYONE!!), Tv shows, films in cinema, news and DVD releases. The blog is also well written with very pretty pictures!

What you can expect from this site is more of the same great content you’re used to reading on Cinematical and TV Squad from the same world famous writing staff (plus some new faces). Generally we’ll be geeking out over the latest sci-fi news in film, television, books, comics, wherever, if it’s science fiction related, you bet we’ll cover it. Each day you’ll see an assortment of posts on the site; from sci-fi stories that originated on Cinematical and TV Squad to original pieces, our main goal is to give you fans a place to rant, rave and relax 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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The second part of the site that caught my attention is the news on D-9. Peter Jackson along with director Neill will be going to the Comic con to further promote the film. There are pics of the outside marketing that D-9 has done and if you have been following the D-9 viral marketing you know these guys are hotttt.

D-9 ( Watch Trailer ) is apparently very South African (Neill Blomkamp is a local-yokal). The story may be supernatural but from the trailer one can tell he is staying close to important themes about SA society and involving characters that are true to this space. This can definitely work in his favor. The uniqueness that South Africa holds has mostly been unexplored but a film like this is a great vehicle to exploit it. Unlike other films set in SA (read Stander) this movie is not afraid to utilize what is different here, instead it makes it a strength… Well talk again when we all have seen the film.

Personally I am going to add SciFi Squad to my RSS and keep a close eye. It looks great.

Beam me up…dude.

Filmmaker: Guillermo del Toro

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I am starting a new “type” of post. One that will merely tell about a film maker I enjoy or has influenced my film maker thinking. The first one is Guillemero del Toro. His imaginative and dark stories have always kept my imagination alight. I dont disregard his Hellboy or 007 films but films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos are really where I find my respect for this film maker.

You will read in this post about his past as a make-up artists and also his investment as a film maker into his film making community. It more than his films that have drawn me to him, his substation saturation within his local film community and his artistic integrity is why he is the first film maker on my Film Makers Posts.

Producer, Screenwriter, Special makeup effects designer, Film director
Gender: Male
Born: October 9, 1964
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Nationality: Mexican

Full Biography
From All Movie Guide: A film prodigy dedicated to Latin American cinema even as his success gave him a ticket to Hollywood, Guillermo del Toro earned a place as one of Time magazine’s 50 Young Leaders for the New Millennium before he made his third film.

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised by his staunchly Catholic grandmother, del Toro was already involved in filmmaking by his teens. A fan of such horror masters as James Whale, Mario Bava, George A. Romero, Alfred Hitchcock, and the work of Britain’s Hammer Films, del Toro learned about makeup and effects from The Exorcist’s Dick Smith as well as studying screenwriting and making Super-8, 16 mm, and 35 mm short films. Though he executive-produced his first feature, Doña Herlinda and Her Son (1986), at age 21, del Toro initially spent almost a decade as a makeup supervisor, forming his own company, Necropia, in the early ‘80s. He still found time to produce and direct numerous programs for Mexican television, as well as teach film workshops. Doing his part to turn his hometown into Mexican cinema central, del Toro also co-founded the city’s Film Studies Center and the Guadalajara-based Mexican Film Festival.

Del Toro’s feature directorial debut, Cronos (1993), heightened his prominence as a rising star in Mexican film. A low-key, superbly acted horror movie, Cronos’ imagery of the vampire as parasite was at once a smart revision of the genre and a veiled allegory about Mexico and the United States. Winner of the critics’ prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Cronos put del Toro on the world-cinema and American-independent map. Along with serving on the selection committees for the Sundance Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards, del Toro followed Cronos with his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking, Mimic (1997). Starring Mira Sorvino (who took the role partly on the advice of then-boyfriend and del Toro fan Quentin Tarantino), Mimic mined some great scares out of mutant, shape-shifting bugs terrorizing New York City, but having to acquiesce to Hollywood studio demands left del Toro unhappy about the experience.

Returning to Mexico, del Toro formed his own production company, The Tequila Gang, and set out to make a more personal thriller. Produced by Pedro Almodóvar and his brother, Agustín Almodóvar, and shot in Spain, The Devil’s Backbone (2001) was a more ambitious ghost story set during the end of the Spanish Civil War. Using filters and a mobile camera, del Toro created ominous, sepia-toned visuals that evoked a spectral surveillance over the tragic, politically metaphorical events taking place in an isolated, haunted boys’ school for Republican Army orphans. Hailed for its chilling atmosphere, intelligent complexity, and excellent performances from Federico Luppi and Marisa Paredes as the school’s left-wing leaders, The Devil’s Backbone confirmed del Toro’s artistic promise and earned him more critical kudos.

Gratified by the experience making The Devil’s Backbone and clear-eyed about what Hollywood could offer, del Toro followed his personal movie with the big-budget, Wesley Snipes comic-book vampire thriller sequel Blade 2 (2002). Del Toro also began to develop several other American projects, including works with notable Hollywood mavericks James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola. Though the prospect of del Toro adapting H.P. Lovecraft’s chilling short story At the Mountains of Madness gave fans of the horror author hope that someone would finally get his work right on the big screen (no slight to Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon), del Toro’s next project would ultimately be an adaptation of a more contemporary supernatural tale. Adapted from and produced by comic-book artist/writer Mike Mignola, Hellboy told the tale of a demon summoned by Nazis in the waning days of World War II (Ron Perlman) who eventually joins the allies in battling the forces of evil.

Subsequently preferring to pull back a bit from Hollywood and craft another modestly budgeted dark fairy tale in the vein of The Devil’s Backbone, del Toro would next focus his attentions on the production of Pan’s Labyrinth. Though Pan’s Labyrinth wasn’t a direct sequel to The Devil’s Backbone in the traditional sense, this unsettling fantasy continued to explore the themes of childhood innocence and tyrannical oppression by following the quest of a young girl who becomes convinced by a mythical faun that she is a lost princess of legend. Once again set during the days of the Spanish Civil War, Pan’s Labyrinth merged real-world nightmares with otherworldly wonders with a fluidity seldom seen in contemporary fantasy, and critics were quick to praise the director for his assured handling of the thematically complex material. Pan’s Labyrinth became a rare art-house crossover hit, and curried the favor of Academy members, who showered it with Oscar nominations.

By this point, Hellboy fans were beginning to wonder whether or not the long-gestating rumors of a sequel to that modestly successful Mike Mignola adaptation would ever bear any tangible fruit. Then, in 2006 Universal announced that they had acquired the rights after Sony withdrew funding from Revolution Studios and were looking to move forward with the film, with director del Toro once again teaming with writer Mignola and stars Ron Perlman and Selma Blair to chronicle the further adventures of everyone’s favorite BPRD agent. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

From NYTIMES

Lynch.com Interview Project

DavidLynch.com endorses and showcases Austin Lynch and Jason S. Interviews. The interviews are created through Road tripping through the United States and finding (along the way) interesting characters. I have only watched the first episode and found the interview to be very touching albeit melancholy or sad. Broken characters have very little playtime in mainstream media; I guess due to the fact that (according to marketing research) people want to see happy TV and idealistic movies. You really don’t want to see a down and outer when you’ve just lost your house in a recession, or so they say. But why not?

Isn’t there a saying “worse than some and better than others”? Being able to someone who is worse off than you should make you feel better about your own reality. Come to think of it, if I had to loose it all and then be forced to watch Brad Pitt be all he can be I would hate that pretty faced SOAB! The somber tone of the interview has really made me some what introspective and appreciate what I have in my life and get excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

This all happened in 3minutes, give it a watch here!

$70 + 18months + internet = Colin

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Our hero Colin is bitten by a Zombie; he dies and returns from the dead. We follow him as he wanders through suburbia during the throes of a cadaverous apocalypse.

If you dont know yet, then here’s your chance. If you have heard about it believe it, becuase it’s true. I always love these “break through” narratives. Everytime we all agree that in order to make a movie you need money and blah blah you end up reading about some film maker with nothing to loose (literally) and a couple of friends making an obscure but original film. The film maker generally walks away from some prominent festival (this time it’s Cannes) as a hero! “….And we all cheered when the titles came up!!…..”

Colin was made with $70, that’s the official press number, and according to the director the film has about 100 people in all of whom worked for free. They (the extras)also got to bring their own weapons to “work”.

What thrilled me is the use of social networks director Marc Price put into action and how amazingly they helped him make a film. From getting make-up for free (the same make-up that was used in Wolverine) to extras and wardrobe.

Le-Super Cool.

Although I havnt seen anything on the film the story of making the film stays inspiring and keeps my mouth shut every time I want to mutter the word “impossible”. At the end of the day nothing is “impossible” we only make it so.

The cast was made up of Price’s friends and young actors who agreed to do the film for free. Makeup artists were “hired” via postings on the Internet, to which they replied quickly, hearing they would be given the permission to use the images for their portfolio in exchange of a salary. All “actors” were free to bring their own weapons on the set, the most expensive of which was, according to the 30-year-old director, a crowbar. In between takes, the entire crew would get treats such as “Tesco Value tea and coffee.”

“The main actor, Alastair Kirton, is a friend of mine. We’d made a short together before and then we worked on Colin. I then got friends to come along and play both zombies and humans. A lot of them doubled up and end up getting killed as both zombies and humans. We ended up with over 100 people in the film.” Price says for the Mail. Once production was over (after 18 months of shooting with a camcorder in Swansea and London), sales agent Helen Grace from Left Films approached Price and suggested he should send the film to Cannes.

“Colin” opened the other day at the film festival, and critics are already warmly singing its praise. As a matter of fact, the film fared so well that two Japanese distributors have already started a bid for distribution rights, a perspective that pleases Price to the extreme. Should everything go well, then perhaps the director’s next project would be much more expensive, somewhere in the range of a hundred pounds, as he jokes for the British publication.

“We seem to have sorted something out for Japan, which means we’ll get to do a Japanese dubbed version. I’d love to have a UK or US distribution deal. I just want people to see it. It’s not really about money. We didn’t set out to try and make our fortune with our first film. I don’t think that really happens too often. We just wanted to make a film that we hoped people would want to see, and we hope it will get into a position where we can make another film with more of a budget.” Price explains.

Excerpt from Softpedia

CNN Screening Room Competition

Cannes Film festival really created a buz this year and it’s around this buzz that CNN has launched their very own film competition. Having recently posted about SMS Sugarman (which I am sure you all watched by now) I thought this to be appropriate.

The Film competition is all cell phone based. The premise, simple: make a short film (no longert than 5min) on a cell phone and upload it to Youtube.com/cnn. The prize, get to be on CNN as the director. Now I know there is sometimes an unfortuante air of, how do I say this, distaste for the commercial aspect of film making. I also know however that my talented friends can pull off a 5min short in a day. So I challenge all my talented friends to make a film that wins the competition and when your actually are on CNN do what you will as long as you wear rubber gloves.

This is a fun way to make an expressive film with technology that is around us everyday and use the tools we are all to familiar with.

My dear friend Tristyn took part in the Cannes Young Lions competition of making a commercial in 48hrs. The prize here is greater (you get to go to the festival and represent You-Tube) but then again you only had 48hrs to make and upload the 45sec ad. You can watch and vote for his ad here by typing in “newandcolourfilm”.

So there is plenty of opportunity for us (film makers) to get a taste of our work out into the big wide world. It may actually be a good idea to build a reportoire of stuff that wins prizes because sooner or later someone will offer you a something (hopefully that something is a contract with a budget!!)

Check it out. If you do make something let me know and I’ll link it here.

Out.

Ted’s 38 Reasons

Producer Ted Hope came up with 38 reasons he feels the Indie-Film “scene” is under stress. The points he raises are very good and not wanting to become pessimsitic (it’s too early in my career) I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, coming from a realistic, positivist generation feel that we should listen to those offering advice and keep these things in mind when making our own films.

There are certainly problems we face as film makers today. Besides the over abundance and accessibility ANYONE has to call themselves film makers (I wonder if it was like this in the 80’s with stockbrokers?) there are also no working business models that satisfy “The Money” to invest in our new distribution methods. But, democracy takes time and living in a country with a fledgling democracy I can tell you that it’s more-difficult than it is easy, if you catch my drift. All we have to go on is the passion we had to start off and a sh*t-hot script. The stories we tell are indubitably part of historical record and mark social spaces in our history. Society will never be able to forget the films we have made because they are part of an era and an age. They are more true to history than textbooks if you believe in the anecdote that history is written by the conqueror. That makes what we do more than entertainment even though that is what we pitch in the present. Hoeraa! and all the other psych terms you use to get up in the morning to get behind (or in front) of that camera!

Here’s Ted:

*Distrib’s abandonment (and lack of development) of community-building marketing approaches for specialized releases (which reduces appeal for a group activity i.e. the theatrical experience).
*Distrib’s failure to embrace limited streaming of features for audience building.
*Reliance on large marketing spend release model restricts content to broad subjects (which decreases films’ distinction in marketplace) and reduces ability to focus on pre-aggregated niche audiences.
*Lack of media literacy/education programs that help audience to recognize they need to begin to chose what they see vs. just impulse buy.
*Threat of piracy makes library value of titles unstable, which in turn limits investment in content companies and reduces acquisition prices, which in turn reduces budgets, which in turn limits the options for content — so everybody loses.
*No new business model for internet exploitation at a level that can justify reasonable film budgets.
*Emphasis on single pictures for filmmakers vs. ongoing conversation with fans has lead to a neglect of content that helps audiences bridge gaps between films and that would prevent each new film to be a reinvention of the wheel for audience building.
*Lack of marketing/distribution knowledge by filmmakers limits DIY success.
*Filmmakers still believe that festivals are first and foremost markets and not media launches.
*The ego-driven approach to filmmaking vs. one of true collaboration generally yields lower quality of films and greater dissatisfaction amongst all participants.

To read all 38 reasons go here please…

Steal This Film Part2

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I feel like a bit of an idiot only finding out about “Steal This Film” now. The second installment has just been released on the net for (obviously) free download. The motto: Share the movie and copy it everywhere! The documentary made by the League of Noble Peers started as a group of friends wanting to make a documentary about file-sharing and the culture surrounding it. Part one deals with Bit-torrent and the attempt from the corporate world to close down this trend.

The film is notable for its critical analysis of an alleged regulatory capture attempt performed by the Hollywood film lobby to leverage economic sanctions by the United States government on Sweden through the WTO. Alleged aims included the application of pressure to Swedish police into conducting a search and seizure against Swedish law for the purpose of disrupting The Pirate Bay’s BitTorrent tracker.

Part 2 is about the technology and the culture of our download society. By peering into who is involved in the copyright wars it makes clear what the war is about. Trust me, its not about feeding the artists….

All of this is intended to destroy or delay inexorable changes in what it means to create and exchange our creations. If STEAL THIS FILM II proves at all useful in bringing new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think ‘after intellectual property’, think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity, we have achieved our main goal.

I watched “Who killed the electric car” last night and it seems many themes converge. Basically that the large corporate world will delay change for as long as present models are making profit. It makes sense and is the realty of being a corporate. However how can the whole corporate world/generation call a whole other generation criminals? It seems a little extreme…Surely there must be some give and take when it comes to creating culture. Alas.

So for your pleasure, here is the link to Steal This Film 2

If you are looking to find Steal this film part 1, I suggest using Bit-Torrents to find it. If you don’t know anything about Bit-Torrents its time you learn….

Also, I really liked the FAQ section of STF website so here it is

Q. Why is your film copyrighted?
A. So that you can steal it. Of course there’s more to say about this, but we’re sure you can figure it out.

Q. How many downloads have you had of STEAL THIS FILM?
A. Someone recently told us 5 million, which was nice to imagine, but we put the number closer to 2.7m. We’re not sure how many viewers there are for each download, or how many people redistribute STEAL THIS FILM using disks and local networks. But we estimate conservatively at 1.2 distributions for each download and 1.5 viewers for each copy, so…

Q. How many people have seen STEAL THIS FILM?
A. About 4.86m, which is about 48.6 times as many as we ever imagined.

Q. Where do you get these numbers from?
A. We obtain these figures from looking at torrent downloads from the major Bittorrent tracker at The Pirate Bay, and our own logs. (Although our own server is not, by far, the most popular place to obtain the torrents from.)

Q. Did you make a lot of money out of STEAL THIS FILM I?
A. No. To be honest we didn’t even make enough to make STEAL THIS FILM II, but here’s hoping for the future!

Q. I want to show STF (1 or 2) at my film festival: can you send me a DVD / Beta Tape / Laserdisc / VHS / 12” record….
A. We’d really, really, rather not. It’s not that we don’t respect your festival, and we WOULD love it if you show the film, and it’s not that we think we’re special, and and we really appreciate your attention. It’s just that we don’t have an office, and we don’t have a Beta deck, and you CAN just download the film from our site and it is IS HD quality and really, isn’t it TIME you learned how to use Bittorrent anyway?

Q. I want to buy (STF I or STF II) for something. Do you own it?
STF II is completely ‘cleared’ and you can buy it for any territory. STF I is a different kettle of fish, it’s not at all cleared and you probably don’t want to have anything to do with it.

Q. Do you have a sales agent?
A. We’re currently negotiating with a sales agent, more on that soon.

Q. What’s in the surprise gift-pack?
A. It’s a surprise.

SMS Sugarman

I heard of SMS Sugarman a couple of years ago when I started making shorts on my Cell Phone. It must have been 2005?… During that time cell phones where starting development with video and resolution was a problem. I know when I got my Ericsson that could shoot 640x480 I was super chuffed…much like that feeling I got when my PC upgraded to a 1gig hard-drive. Since then I have worked with the D.O.P. Eran a couple of times shooting TV and he is a great filmmaker.

The big problem was a exhibition for this film. Having been shot on tiny res, the film had to be captured by basically shooting it again off a high-res screen. The end gets convoluted and I am not sure if that really worked. Either way I didn’t see it in Cinema and until now I wasn’t sure what actually happened to it.

So, without further adue, here is the full feature for your watching pleasure absolutely free! I haven’t watched it yet but will in the next couple of days. Let me know what you think…

Also, some words from the SMS Sugar Man blog.

Q&A with Eran Tahor excerpt….I really liked his closing statement!

Q: Will you be making further films in this manner, and what would you do differently?

Sure I want to make more films in this manner, for me it’s not about the technology. Using cellphones to shoot a feature film proved that with the right people, story and creative spirit we can make it happen.

Whether I shoot on cellphones, HD or film it’s about being creative, innovative and realizing that here in SA we can and must create a new kind of cinema, we must find new ways to transcend our limited resources and create something new as opposed to making low budget copies of what’s already out there.

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“a fairy tale assumption in which an all but non-existent condition is assumed to be rampant” —Samuel R. Delany

South African film maker Aryan Kaganof shot his new film SMS Sugar Man entirely with a cell phone. That the media is the message is old news, so it’s hardly surprising that most readings of the film have focused on its presentation of the superficiality of our hyper-real late capitalist society. And indeed in Kaganof’s film is a relentless presentation of error, bad taste, artifice and a lack of truth or reasonableness, chronicling with zeal the hyper-violent banality of South Africa as a cell phone society where media image replaces reality and texting replaces language as a means of communication. What these readings fail to consider however is the films textuality and inter-textuality, and how Kaganof employs these strategies as a radical alternative to the banality of “sms society”. This paper investigates how Kaganof’s gleeful weave of fucked up fairy tales, nightmarish slapstick violence, literary references, mythology, personal narrative, b-grade trash and a wistful quest for spiritual unity encapsulates a cinema of multiple artistic personalities and irreconcilable differences. It is as if the film passes from the reality of our suppressed lives into the history we dream of making, and back again — left in ruins, our dreams haunt us like memories of an imaginary homeland that has disappeared from the map. In this context, Kaganof offers a reading of contemporary South Africa far more hopeful, far more complex than could ever be encapsulated in the 128×160 screen resolution of the cell phone.

In keeping with Kaganof’s refusal of the traditional dichotomies between art and popular culture, academic and b-grade strategies, this investigation presents itself as much as a fiction, an sms and a tabloid review, as a traditional academic analysis or paper.

Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger

Some advice from Mr Scorsese himself and this his video clip which includes collaboration with Mick…

John Cassavetes once told me to stop wasting my time and get down to making the films I wanted to make, as opposed to the ones I could make.

It was an excellent piece of advice, which led to Mean Streets. Film what you want to film, what you need to film, not what you can film.

Mick Jagger joked that Shine a Light was the first of my movies in a long time that didn’t include “Gimme Shelter.” Believe me, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Exclusive Clip

From MyFilm.com

Cut an effective Indy Trailer

Suprisingly I found Zak Forsman in the Workbook Project shortly after posting his film trailer I F*cking Hate You on my previous blog about Caachi. This article by him deals with Cutting an Effective Trailer. I now some film schools let the students design a trailer, in other words, they treat the trailer like a short film and that is a very good exercise. Being able to cut an effective trailer is of utmost importance when trying to convince your audience that they should watch your film.

Here is an excerpt out of the article.

Trailers can be a real challenge for filmmakers. The tendency is to withhold some of the more dynamic and compelling aspects of the film to preserve the experience of watching the film in a theater, streaming to one’s laptop or on a DVD. And that is admirable, but often lessens the potential impact of the trailer.

DO NOT ASK THE FEATURE EDITOR TO CUT IT
Feature editors have a natural inclination to want moments to breath. Trailers editors are skilled with the ability to compress moments down to a core idea. Asking a feature editor to cut a trailer would be like asking a novelist to write a song. It seems like a no-brainer to have the person who knows the footage best create the preview, but the result is often unbalanced. First, filmmakers often want to save the good stuff for the screening. That’s a problem from a marketing standpoint where you want to hook an audience with the most compelling details of your film — more on that later. Just know that the ability to re-conceptualize is very difficult for an editor who has been living and breathing your characters for weeks or months.

DRAW FROM THE FIRST ACT
The first act of most pictures have all the set-up, all the character introductions, and all the bites of dialogue that can be laid out to present a concise version of the story. This is not necessarily the actual story of the film, however. My trailer for HEART OF NOW takes some liberties in order to present something that is as compelling as it is easily understood. The film itself, goes into territory much deeper than that of a girl deciding whether or not to have an abortion. But you can’t show that in less than three minutes.

Read Full Article

Heart of Now Trailer


HEART OF NOW - a film by SABI - TRAILER from Zak Forsman on Vimeo.

Caachi your online distributor

The conversation of whether film makers should distribute via traditional outlets or use alternative methods is, to me, redundant. All methods are valid and offer the same something, a positive return on investment. The difference now is that you are not requires to “go traditional”, you may experiment with many different tools and networks to get your film sold.

The word Hybrid is being used in the car industry all the time and I think the word should be used more often in the independent film world. A hybrid of economies, cultures and traditions are being used today to create, finance and sustain film makers. Many of the fundamentals of film making have stayed the same, however, our approach and execution are changing dramatically.

Caachi is an online distributor that takes only 25% of sales for their distribution service. They have hundreds of films in their library already covering all genres including an African section. Some of the films can be downloaded and watched for free, others you (obviously) need to pay for. Prices range from $10 to $2. The site sports a nice blog and also allows film makers to create “vidgets” (Video Widgets) so that they can display trailers on social networks.

Some titles that stood out:

24 Hours on Craigslist

Witness a day on Craigslist.com in San Francisco: An Ethel Merman drag queen searches for the perfect backup band for her Led Zeppelin covers. A suburban professional woman assembles a diabetic cat support group. A couple seeks the perfect rabbi for their marriage. A would-be mother finds her ideal sperm donor. Doors for sale, one night stands, compulsive roommates, transsexual erotic services. The mundane and the sublime, the ridiculous and the profound, all come together to paint a portrait of a thriving, humanistic community in the midst of an ever-accelerating culture.

Last Exit

LAST EXIT delves into the alternate and dark side of Copenhagen. Nigel, a loser in every sense of the word, is escaping his criminal past in England and is wedged in a loveless relationship with his wife Maria in a run down Copenhagen apartment. Nigel is constantly under pressure from loansharks and needs work badly

A commitment to gritty reality and honesty that is missing from a great deal of film making these days, …those of you who still think of “Sundance” as the epitome of independent film making, this movie will be an eye opener” Richard Marcus, Blog Critics Magazine

Hard as nails and cool. Drama , black comedy, psychological thriller and splatter in the same movie! [I]t had my with eyes glued to the screen from beginning to end” MovieMix Magazine

I F*cking Hate You

A compelling glimpse into a young man’s ill-conceived scheme to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex- girlfriend. Ain’t It Cool News hailed it as “Brilliant”.

Shoot a Feature film on a DSLR

d5_mark2.jpg
More on the camera kit

The biggest issue with digital is that it’s not film. It smells differently. The noise is loud. The converters are (almost) infinite. It is cheap though and has allowed anyone to start making movies. The latter being the most important point to me.

As technology becomes cheaper to produce the quality get’s better so that manufacturers can keep bringing out updated hardware. The latest good news for film makers is the Canon 5D Mark2.

The 5D Mark2 has the ability to capture full HD video clips at 1920 x 1080 resolution, Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

Although it has no on board sound recorder the pictures beat anything I have seen digital produce. Perhaps the RED competes but that is a huge and expensive system if you compare it to the 5D. I have read a couple of blogs and news pieces on the 5D camera shooting video and the most prominent problem is focus.

Focus is murder; you don’t actively want a sensor this big, even if you think you do. It gets noisy, unpleasant vertical bands of noise, if you leave it on too long, which is mentioned in the manual.

The reason this piece of tech caught my attention was the indie film “Searching for Sonny”. The first full feature film to be shot on the 5D. I have not yet found information on their specific work-flow however I am to understand it was a pain in the ass to get it working all the way through.

Disney and his crew had to figure out how to workaround a few of the 5D Mark II’s most annoying limitations for filmmakers: no manual control over exposure settings during capture, and a lack of an efficient focusing system while shooting.

This is the life of the film maker though and if you have made ANY films you will know that problem solving is part of the job description. The override on exposure settings was solved by putting a Nikon F mount to Canon EOS adapter and stuck on an older Nikon 50mm lens with a mechanical aperture wheel. The latter problem is was simply a make-shift follow focus system which needs a focus puller. As far as the capturing and importing to Final Cut goes, I will have to get back to you…

If I look at the way the set was run it smacks of old-school meets new-school. Let me explain. The old-school 35mm Panavision et-al camera weighing in at 20kg odd is replaced with a 2kg DSLR. Both have interchangeable lenses and both still need an operator and focus-puller. The sound is separate (as it always was until the PD150 came along). However, we don’t need massive DAT recorders now, simply a good mic, pole and recording device like a mini-disc player or laptop. The crew formation is returning but the gear is transformed! Poetry of technology….

All that is needed, and will come, is a full LCD lighting kit. From the 10k all the way down to the 150 peppers. Take a second and imagine…beautiful.

Searching for Sony” seems to be an interesting story and I will want to see it regardless of the technology they have used. The fact that the pictures are amazing does help motivate me though.

SEARCHING FOR SONNY is the story about three bumbling friends who come back home for their high school reunion only to get sucked into a small-town murder mystery that is
eerily similar to a play from high school.

Another interesting point to this film is the investment strategy. They have a $30 buy a T-shirt and get your name in the credits option and also an invite to invest in the film. You can e-mail them to receive the full proposal.

Have a look at some of the trailers and the quality of this camera. I am convinced. Anyone has a 5D? Let’s make a movie!


Searching For Sonny - Gary Teaser/Canon 5d Mark 2 from Andrew Disney on Vimeo.

Hustlin’, Not Mumbling

This article title is a response to the depiction of our (upper middle class over educated and opinionated) generation. I used the example of Mumblecore film in a previous post, Mumblecore example for SA filmmakers, in the context of making movies regardless of popular taste. I use that example as much as I could have used the Dogma film for example. The content however of Mumblecore represents a “lost” generation unsure of the future and slacking. I don’t think this is a true depiction, I just have to look at my friends to know that.

I found this article which really gets the point across. We’re not a mumbling generation, we’re a hustling one!

The older generation is taking notice. “Today’s whippersnappers—they all take their cue from Monica Lewinsky, who had regular sit-downs with Vernon Jordan to discuss her career trajectory—are the most careerist, focused and entitled generation in the history of the planet,” Barney’s fashion guru and pop culture opinionista Simon Doonan wrote in the New York Observer in 2007. “Why can’t young adults just be the big, fat, freewheeling losers that people in their 20’s are meant to be?”

We are not the baby boomers. We are their children—Chelsea Clinton spring to mind. Have you ever seen someone in their 20s more mature and together than Chelsea Clinton? I can imagine her rolling her eyes at her less-than-perfect parents: “Ugh, you guys are so immature.” Our parents told us we could be anything we want to be. It was a lie, but it motivated us nonetheless.

written by: Aymar Jean Christian

Read full article

Fans Friends and Followers

friend_fans_book_cover.jpg

This new book looks at what is going on in the digital age and independent media. I am going to show you the content of this book and get you excited about it that way…because it is RAD.

Table of Contents

Understanding the New Rules: Building an Audience and a Career in the Digital Age

Table: Defining the Terms

Introduction to the Interviews

Film & Video

Michael Buckley: Creator of “What the Buck”

Mike Chapman: Animator and Writer, “Homestar Runner”

Ze Frank: Multimedia Artist and Creator of “theshow”

Curt Ellis: Documentary Producer and Writer, King Korn

Michael “Burnie” Burns: Creator of “Red vs. Blue”

Sandi DuBowski: Documentary Filmmaker, Trembling Before G-d

Gregg and Evan Spiridellis: Co-Founders, JibJab Media

Timo Vuorensola: Science Fiction Director, Star Wreck

Steve Garfield: Videoblogger

Robert Greenwald: Documentary Filmmaker, Iraq for Sale

M dot Strange: Animator, We Are the Strange

Music

Jonathan Coulton: Singer-Songwriter

Damian Kulash: Singer and Guitarist, OK Go

DJ Spooky: Composer, Writer and Multimedia Artist

Jill Sobule: Singer-Songwriter

Richard Cheese: Singer

Chance: Singer-Songwriter

Brian Ibbott: Host of the Podcast “Coverville”

Visual Arts

Natasha Wescoat: Painter, Designer and Illustrator

Tracy White: Comics Artist, “Traced”

Matt W. Moore: Artist and Graphic Designer

Dave Kellett: Comics Artist, “Sheldon”

Dylan Meconis: Graphic Novelist, “Family Man”

Writing

Sarah Mlynowski: Novelist, “Magic in Manhattan” series and Me vs. Me

Brunonia Barry: Novelist, The Lace Reader

Lisa Genova: Novelist, Still Alice

Kris Holloway: Non-Fiction Author, Monique and the Mango Rains

Comedy & Magic

Eugene Mirman: Comedian and Writer

Dan and Dave Buck: Pioneers of Extreme Card Manipulation

Mark Day: Comedian and YouTube Executive

Resources

Exploring the New Business Models

Power Tools for Audience-Building, Collaboration and Commerce

Supplemental Reading

Acknowledgments

About the Author

*You can buy the book here*

Short review from www.chutry.wordherders.net

Scott Kirsner’s Fans, Friends, and Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age uses interviews with a number of prominent artists who have been able to forge careers and gain widespread popularity primarily through promotional and distribution tools available online. For those of us doing research on digital cinema, Kirsner’s book is a valuable resource, one that illustrates the ways in which content creators are navigating, and sometimes profiting from, what Chris Anderson has described as the “long tail” of digital distribution and what others have described as do-it-yourself (DIY) distribution. While my own research, in Reinventing Cinema (Amazon) , focuses exclusively on filmmakers, Kirsner assembles a number of key figures from what he calls the “era of digital creativity,” including musicians, comics artists, visual artists, and novelists, in order to establish or explore how a set of practices have emerged that allow artists to escape the “gatekeepers” of traditional distribution and market themselves. While Kirsner’s book is generally optimistic about the potentials of DIY, a number of significant themes surfaced throughout the interviews.

Read full review

Future of Independant film

Scott Kirsner interviewed Independent film makers at a breakfast about the future of Independent Film.
The recording is not great because of the background noise, if you can take it you may hear some pearls about distribution, business models and where are we going….

Eight folks who were in Austin this week for the SXSW Film Festival sat down yesterday morning to have breakfast and talk about the one big idea or big challenge or big shift that we’ve been thinking about most these days. We recorded the conversation so you could listen in, but be forewarned that there’s a lot of background noise; the restaurant was noisier than is ideal for audio recording. (It gets better as the recording goes on, as the restaurant empties out.) The order in which people speak in the recording is:

producer Ted Hope
filmmaker Lance Weiler
conference organizer and producer Liz Rosenthal
technologist Brian Chirls
outreach guru Caitlin Boyle
filmmaker Brett Gaylor
producer and Filmmaker Mag editor Scott Macaulay

Listen Here

Green light for Sustainable film making

With all the hullabaloo about going green for a better future and thinking about film making and the waste that goes with that I thought I would dwell for a short time and diverge from my usual rhetoric into the sphere of “sustainable film making”.

Now sustainable film making to me means being able to make films again. Alas, this is not what is meant with sustainable film making. It has plenty to do with the bottom line but not in the way that you would imagine. And this kind of film making could in reality actually change the world!

Just for quick (as my German friend would say) I want to talk about Saachi&Saachi. The global commercial agency monolith has started a sub-company called Saatchi S. The first office opened in San Fransisco headed by ex-Sierra club president Adam Werbach. The company runs less like an agency and more like a consultancy. They basically employ brand strategists, scientists and psychologists who in turn talk to the biggest corporates on the globe (Is Wal-Mart going green?) in order to change them from inside out to becoming a fully “green” company…

I mention this little tit-bit to show the impact and commercialization of “sustainability”. It is real and it is here. We cant deny anymore that we should all do something about saving our little blue planet. The way that we have interpreted that is by recycling, consuming less and ultimately just being more considerate. If Wal-Mart can and is doing it then why the hell on my little short films can’t I get my sh together…! Of coarse I can and it’s actaully quite easy.

By having a brainstorm session with someone you will quickly see how easy it is to make a green production. I know that a couple of studio films have recently decided to “go green” and have used solar power to run offices, donated trees to offset carbon adn even built low-cost housing from discarded building material.

I cant wait for my next film to try this concept. I’m even considering getting a full time person on board for the entire time thinking and improving as the shoot progresses and then actually calculating my (hopeful) savings. Consider for a moment, no purchase of disposable cups, no water bottles, savings on generators by minimizing light and heat usage.

So, this from the Code for Best Practices site here are the basic ideas:

ONE: Calculation
PRINCIPLE: Know how much energy we are actually using.

TWO: Consumption
PRINCIPLE: Lower overall carbon debt and environmental impact by using less.

THREE: Travel
PRINCIPLE: Reduce the carbon debt created through travel.

FOUR: Compensation
PRINCIPLE: Since we cannot completely eliminate our footprint, we should compensate for it through organizations that offer a carbon reduction equal to our carbon production.

As a producer this is exciting to me because I get to play with the dynamics of actual on set principals. On set has a lot to do with customs, hierarchy and “this is the way we do it” attitude. But since the globe is in dire straits who’s going to argue, don’t you want to save the world?!!

Enjoy this new time of experimenting and finding new cool ways to run sets and make films sustainably. You might be quite surprised if it helps your bottom line and then really does make it sustainable film making!

Links:

The Daily Green
Center for Social Media
Environmental film fest
Greens Speak TV
Sundance Channel Green

Mumblecore example for SA filmmakers

In our little South African film industry we keep having philosophical arguments about moneyVStimeVSquality. We have an obsession with trying to make Holly-wood-esque films but only have 10% of their budgets, if we’re lucky that is. I understand the schism and it is one that is driven toward making quality films and thus argumentatively being able to make money back on them. This is all fair and well, however, I think we sometimes start at the end not considering the history of our American counterparts…

We mostly call ourselves indie filmmakers, and yes we are because there are no studios to make us hired help. The history of indie film makers is a long and treacherous one and long and treacherous is not what I have experienced in CPT or JHB. There aren’t film makers making a rough movie with no cash and then showing it in garages and small theaters all over the city. I dont hear of some crazy director taking three actors to make a dark film in a dangerous place. To be honest, when I do they are normally referred to as weird…which to me is weird.

This is the point of indie film making. To push and then break conventions. To make films that we think could make an impact, taking an idea from conception all the way through to exhibition (in an empty parking lot on a makeshift screen run off car batteries). Forgetting that feeling that it wont sell, or asking what am I going to do with it when its done… In many ways we are spoiled to thinking that being an indie means that you wright a script or treatment then find funding and Voilà, film in bag. According to film history this is lucky, not prerequisite.

Referring back to the US and the way a film society builds there I found out more regarding “new” for lack of better word genre Mumblecore.
Wiki

Mumblecore is an American independent film movement that arose in the early 2000s. It is primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors. Filmmakers in this genre include Lynn Shelton, Andrew Bujalski, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Joe Swanberg, Todd Rohal and Ry Russo-Young.

At the end of the day these films are about some young adults talking about arb stuff and dealing with life, vaguely. There was no audience that asked them to make these films, no investor specifying genre, just a feeling, then an idea for a script and, to the point, a movie. What makes it great is that it then becomes something people do. Now nine years after the “inception” of “bedhead cinema”, one of these films is opening SXSW film fest.

So I’m thinking to myself. We have film makers like Jon Barker (Bunnychow) and Elan Gamaker(Search for a South African Husband) who have reached moderate success with their films, yet they are the only two film makers that jump to mind. There should be tons of films being showcased and watched on a monthly basis. Just by numbers: Film schools graduate about 100 kids a year, AFDA is now already in its 13 or 15 year…the film industry is FULL of budding filmo’s with nothing better to do than do what they paid 100k to learn how to do.

I want to be part of a film society that is not afraid of taking risks regarding content or making plans. We need to breed a culture of film making if we all want to be film makers. Right now we are service junkies and while this pays the bills it sure as hell doesn’t satisfy our reason for waking up in the morning…

We should consider what we wanted when we said “when I grow up I want to make movies”. Look at film history in the context’s that we like to adore, and then consider your own environment and what is possible for you. Our film society needs to grow together. Film makers and film watchers should support one another, even it means only rocking up for the exhibition (in an empty building with a single wall painted white for the projection and a bucket of beers in the corner) and giving some constructive critisism.

This way, in a decade, well have our own style of film making and many more films being made every year…

More people doing stuff
Off The Shelf
Inspired Minority

Company of friends

So you want to start a company. Yes, good idea. Not only that, but you want to run it with your best mate. Sound good…to you.

Friends have bled and died for each other. They have been betrayed and made up again. Friends have shared girls/boys, under ware, rooms, booze, family, ideas and road trips. Not much can get between friends, that is true. There are however some instances where friends should not necessary be together. One of those examples is business. When it comes to money and power friendship seems to take a neat third position and very soon your best friend is a lying fake who has done nothing but suck up you energy to promote himself and take the profit!

In other words, be careful. I have attached a link to a good story about this topic and also some use full tips when considering venture like this. Personally, I started a company called “Big Eyed Deer” with three friends and in the end, although very amicable, we struggled to make it a BUSINESS. To come up with a business model we could all agree on or decide what the vision for the company was. Even though it was fantastic to hang with my friends all day and run a “company” in the long run it was not sustainable. Our friendship was more important than the company. We are all still very good friends which may have not been the case we pursued “Big Eyed Deer”.

Some things to consider before starting “Best Mate Inc”

*  Make your agreements explicit so that you don’t break implicit promises
* Detail your agreements so that your promises are clear
* Don’t be afraid of discussing negative scenarios, so that you don’t add the stress of misunderstanding to already bad situations
* Write things down so you’ll remember
* Don’t make things work at all costs, so that you don’t spend the next years living with a deal that’s not acceptable to you
* Don’t assume things will get better with time, so you’re not surprised when they don’t

For more reading on this topic and an in-depth account visit:

DanielTenner

Icahn and the Lion

Over the last couple of months starting October 2008 financier, corporate raider, and private equity investor Carl Icahn has incrementally been buying a bigger stake in Lionsgate Films. When the market crashed in September 2008 the Hyenas came to feast and Icahn was quoted in saying that Lionsgate is undervalued stock. He quickly dove in and doubled his initial stock in LGF from 4.1% to 9.6% in October.

So that you know…LGF is a mini-major studio and is probably best known for their gore fest SAW collection. These films have kept the company going so far, well that and their phenomenal film library with nearly 12,000 titles (8000 TV shows and 4000 films). These titles include hits like Dirty Dancing, Reservoir Dogs, Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, The Blair Witch Project, the Saw franchise, Crash, Monster’s Ball, and the smash television series Weeds. This library generates more than $250m a year in recurring revenue. The positive cash flow of approximately $100m also covers the $90m a year in overheads and creates a stable platform for the company to focus on their core business.

It all went quiet for a while over the holiday season and then in February, BAM!Mark Rachesky buys 1.7m shares giving him a total of 17% stake in LGF. What is the point of this transaction you may ask…? The point is Rachesky is known to be Icahn’s “protege” in the fierce and feisty finance world. He worked for Ichan from 1990 - 1996 and the two are known compadre’s. From this position it seemed as if Icahn was maneuvering to take more control of the management of LGF and cause some stir as he did at Time Warner not to long ago. For the record, that did not end completely in Icahn’s favor. Link

January 2009 Icahn starts talks with LGF about including some board members of his request. These talks continue while the press try and figure out his next move might be including perhaps the sale of LGF. Icahn raises some issues about LGF’s financial state and it’s management that do not sit to well with CEO Jon Feltheimer. Icahn reiterates that he thinks LGF is undervalued and could be making better profit by spending money more wisely and specifically to core business. Feltheimer had recently purchased TV Guide (a TV Network which Feltheimer sais falls into LGF long term strategy of broadening LGF business) which Icahn said was “reckless”.

Jump forward to March and the talks crumble. Feltheimer calls a stand still on the talks saying that although he is happy to listen to stock holders ideas his loyatly is toward shareholders.

Santa Monica, CA, and Vancouver, BC, March 11, 2009 — Lions Gate Entertainment Corp confirmed today that it has ended discussions with Carl Icahn about potentially adding his designees to the Lionsgate Board of Directors.

Lionsgate Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns said, “Lionsgate has a strong track record of successful growth over the past nine years and is committed to building value for its shareholders. We are always open to hearing the ideas of our shareholders and exploring ways to incorporate them. Over the past three weeks, our Board of Directors has been in discussions with Mr. Icahn to consider how we could accommodate some of his requests, including the possible appointment of his designees to the Board of Directors. However, the Board ultimately concluded that it could not meet his requests and continue to serve the best interests of all of our shareholders, which is our number one priority.”

On March 13 Icahn offers to buy $325m of LGF debt. This will allow him to flex more board power and he may turn this debt into LGF shares. Icahn has made it clear that he is not interested in selling LGF in the current climate but this move is deliberate and clear to put pressure on management for board seats.

Icahn has not finished with LGF and this little “mellow” drama has not reached it’s final episode in this season.

carl_icahnshades.jpg lionsgate6bf2d9fbe702845bdb5597c8645c745d.jpg

For more reading:

Dealbook
Nikki Finke

Producers and the love of art…(pt 3/3)

Here is the last installment of Ted Hope’s “Producers and investment” piece. His closing paragraph is quite personal to him ad I enjoyed that he shared what his future vision is for his career.

Each movie requires outreach into the aforementioned communities and careful discussion with them to build the audience for the film. My partners and I are lucky in that we have been able to make quite a few films; with each film we forge new relationships with theatre owners, bookers, journalists, festival programmers, and audiences. Each new project asks us to reinvest the relationships we’ve previously developed. I have no money to invest in my film projects, but I have my history, and personally, I find that priceless.

My experience and my relationships are my capital — the investment I make in every project I do. To miss that part of the equation is to forget that cinema is an ONGOING dialogue with the audience. It is not a single movie, although with each one we hope to lift that conversation up to a new level of passion, thoughtfulness, and aspiration. Each project we take on requires a considerable investment, one in which the profit will be likely be cultural at best, one in which the profit is still going to leave me wondering how to afford to take on the next movie, although with each new project I will be richer in terms of experience, and hopefully relationships too.

As a producer, we don’t look to make one film or five. I have made close to sixty films now and look to make at least the same amount going forward. Each of these films is a new start up, a new company, and a new product that requires I invest all the profits from my prior work into it — albeit not financial profit, but the good will that I have built. With each new film I take on, it all is put to risk; my collaborators could jeopardize it all. As I wade through this hazard filled swamp, I have my own ambitions too: I am constantly trying to improve my craft and expand my resources. I grow from working in all genres and budget levels. I grow from working with the new team we assemble for each project. Each director helps me see the world afresh, to recognize that there is no template for creation. And that is my personal profit.

I have mostly made what are called Art Films, but I hope to also make what some will call crass commercial crap. And I hope to continue to make what some will prefer to call pretentious arty farty wank. I hope to make works of truth and honesty and beauty. I want to make the populist crowd pleaser and the radical revolutionary call to arms. In each my investment will come from the alliances that were built on the prior journeys, the swarms of energy from the many, the donations of the devoted and delighted. If I can invest in a film, it will because of the investment in me that others have made. This is one Ponzi scheme that I think benefits not just those that play in it, but those that sit on the sidelines too.

Producers and the love of art…(pt 2/3)

Walker’s question of why producers don’t invest in their movies brings us back to the perennial problem that most people think that producing is just about raising the money. The first film that I raised the financing for was Hal Hartley’s FLIRT, even though I had already produced about ten films by then. Producing has always been about making the best movie possible and making sure that the audience for it, sees it. The money part of the equation is just the steps needed to get to the making part.

It seems like until the late ‘80’s producing was solely the province of the wealthy and privileged. Up until then it also seemed like those that could pursue producing in this country, had to do it the Hollywood way; which meant that if you succeeded presumably you quickly became more wealthy and privileged. Producing will never be a secure profession in America, but it is open to those who are willing to work at it and have something to offer, not just the wealthy and privileged.

I don’t have money to offer, and never expect to, but my partners and I do make considerable investments in all our films. When we consider taking on a new project, we anticipate it will be a three-year commitment at the very least. Although we have had projects like AMERICAN SPLENDOR that only go through a few drafts (and go on to get nominated for the Academy Award), we also figure that each project will have a minimum of fifteen drafts. Some have forty or more. Each draft represent reading time, discussion, notes, and generally a fair amount of emotion. The scripts themselves require research through books, websites, and other movies, more time, more energy, and more thought. Even AMERICAN SPLENDOR was something that I had spent years developing before I brought to the writers, having already shot footage on Harvey & Joyce, secured the Letterman tapes, committed to a hybrid structure, and decided on the central theme of the project. When Bob & Shari walked into the office they were like a dream come true, the perfect peg to fill the hole: a couple who had written bio pics and made docs on off-center pop culture.

A producer gets no glory for the films they create and make. A producer’s name is rarely recalled for the work that others have enjoyed. A producer is the one that each side looks to for solutions, and thus one that has to sacrifice to bring satisfaction. When the film works, it has no bearing for the producer on future rewards, as it will the actors, directors, and writers. When things go well for a producer, it means more people seek them out, more people expect them to pick up the tab. The producers I know are creative collaborators who put their heart and soul into their projects, but never achieve the ownership that might lift their savings into real levels of security.

The demands on a producer don’t change due to their limited finances however. Each project is also a relationship, or rather several. The filmmakers, investors, and collaborators all have real needs and need thoughtful attention. The forays that we make to investors, cast, crew, distributors, critics, and fans all depend on different relationships that we have put considerable time and effort into. If we are going to survive, theses other relationships will need to extend far past the singular film. How well we service these relationships will directly reflect what fruit we can bring to subsequent projects. Each new film is a risk, where all this historic good will, this capital we have raised, is tested and re-valued.
(to be continued…)
Posted on Trulyfreefilm by Ted Hope

Producers and the love of art…

During my perusing I found this piece on Trulyfreefilms written by producer Ted Hope. It’s the first of three parts so keep checking in for further reading.

Recently on my TrulyFreeFilms blog, Michael Walker of Pangofilms asked why more producers don’t invest in their own movies.

This question first assumes that there are producers who could even afford to consider this possibility. Right now, when it comes to financial matters, I don’t know of any producers that aren’t first and foremost concerned about their immediate survival (even the concern of long term survival now looks like a luxury). The business once supported prolific quality producers with overhead deals, but those days are now dead and gone. A financial investment in a movie is not something most producers can afford.

I have made financial investments in my films, but mostly in terms of bridge loans and never with any reward for it. Usually the director didn’t even know I was doing it. And once I got burned and came very close to watching it spiral and thus losing a great deal more as a result. I have also “invested” in filmmakers I believed in, whether to help them complete their movie, or just to survive, but never in a structure that had expectation for financial reward — more as a friend or family member would. But generally, the reason why, as a Producer, I haven’t invested financially in my projects, is because I, like most producers, can’t afford to. Sad to break it to you, but Indie Film producing is not a lucrative profession. We don’t do it for the money honey.

To be frank, I think investing in films is counter to what a producer should be doing. Investors generally are looking for a financial return, albeit one that contributes something to the culture too. A director is trying to make their movie. A producer has to balance these multiple interests. One of the most difficult things about producing is making sure all collaborators share a common agenda. As much as folks claim to be on the same page, their behavior frequently betrays this goal. The director and the financier both need to know the producer is looking out for their diverse interests.

Producers have a fiscal responsibility to their movie, but it is not their only responsibility. I am surprised that a director would want a producer who by way of their investment was declaring the fiscal responsibility their primary one. I would be surprised that investors would want to go forward without someone to balance their needs with that of the director’s. How would such an investor ever get a great film? Unfortunately, a film’s financial success is dependent on far many things beyond the quality of the script, so even if the producer who developed it had infinitely deep pockets, the intersection of art and commerce would create an imbalance of power. Movies thankfully will never just be about these interests; it is the blend that really makes each film find new heights.

District 9. What its all about by /Film

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District 9 stars South African talent Jason Cope and Sharlto Copley and is directed by S.A.ex-pat Neill Blomkamp. The film used a lot of Johannesburg crew and everyone on that set was super enthusiastic about the project. Here is a full article on what is District 9 by taking an extensive look at the viral campaign.

Last summer at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, the convention center was peppered with random, cryptic signs such as the one pictured here, which featured variations on the phrase “For Humans Only.” The signs were bizarre, eye-catching, and kind of adorable, with their strange-looking alien figures and their copy warning against non-existent aliens who were supposedly trying to invade our territory.

Since then, we’ve learned that the signs were part of an elaborate viral campaign for director Neill Blomkamp’s newest film, District 9. For the uninitiated, Blomkamp was a protégé of director Peter Jackson, and was positioned to be the director of a film based on Bungie’s Halo franchise (that deal subsequently fell apart). Blomkamp has shown much talent in his short films and commercials, but many wondered if he was ready for a big-budget sci-fi thriller. Hit the jump for an extensive look at the viral campaign for Blomkamp’s District 9, and what it reveals about the movie.

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Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
By David Chen

Burma finds distibution home

At Sundance this year I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing an incredible documentary about the VJ’s (Video Journalists) in Burma who where getting news video out into the world under extreme circumstances, the film is called Burma VJ
If you don’t know yet, Burma is a Iron Clad state run by the military. No video is allowed to be taken, there is no such thing as free speech and if you are thought to be against the state you simply disappear. This is real. When the Monks from Burma, who are most respected as its is a Buddhist country, came to stand against the government the military stepped in. Hundreds of Monks disappeared, students rallied and where shot dead and no news crews where allowed in the country. The only way that the world could find out about what was going on was through a handful of journalists inside Burma.

They are guerrilla to the max. With little hand held cameras and a single satellite feed, they would shoot footage during the riots, gather information, smuggle tapes and then send it to a base in Europe. Their footage sparked outrage across the globe as many of you will know because you belong to social groups in protest of the massacre.

The film itself is a compilation of actual footage shot during the uprising and re-enactments that allow you to follow the story of one of these journalists. It is, to say the least, a gripping tale of bravery. Having to deal with insurmountable cruelty and injustice the Burma VJ’s have one calling - to contribute to the freedom of Burma.

Armed with small handy cams undercover Video Journalists in Burma keep up the flow of news from their closed country. Going beyond the occasional news clip from Burma, acclaimed director Anders Østergaard, brings us close to the video journalists who deliver the footage. Though risking torture and life in jail, courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country. The Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages from the streets of Rangoon.

Anders is a soft spoken man who has a long history in documentary. He had originally wanted to make a personal story about one of the characters but the topic of Burma and the Monks was just to important to sideline. In the end you have a story that pulls you into the characters and also a topic so unbelievable it feels strange to think that it is real.

Burma won the Editing award at Sundance and also two awards at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). It was just a matter of time before it would find a distribution home. Finally it has…Oscilloscope Laboratories based in New York. The company now has theatrical and non-theatrical rights with DVD’s to be release in 2010. The first exhibition will be in July while HBO holds the broadcast rights.

Rehash.Remix.Revise

I wrote a post that included some philosophy about our Remix culture, this was never published because it got boring.instead:

I say our culture because we are the digital generation and this generation is creating new culture every day. The truth is though that our new culture is being disrupted and blocked by license/copyright holders, albeit sometimes for fair reason. However, after reading Lawrence Lessig’s ‘Remix’ I am convinced that the next decade is going to bring some major cultural shifts and the battle for new culture has only started.

This post is about a documentary that is being made in Canada called RIP: Remix Manifesto’ which underpins and brings to life all these issues and stories. Director Bret Gaylor is the creator of Opensourcecinema.org and traveled the world in order to create and investigate a Remix Manifesto. The snippets that I’ve seen are great. Entertaining, interesting and most importantly very relevant to anyone who uses the internet and participates in digital, so ya, everyone. There are already remix’s of the film by EclecticMethod which are awesome!

I am so happy he has made this doccie because is brings the topic into the space where most of the dissension is taking place, the net. When you visit the site you are cordially invited to contribute to this film by remixing it, adding music tracks and uploading your own video to be put into the film. This is not an invite that comes along everyday and will hopefully draw some interesting contributions. The film is licensed under Creative Commons and it will stay that way so your additions are safe in the public domain but may and hopefully will be mashed sooner or later. RiP talks to, amongst many others, Girl Talk about his experience in mashing music and becoming famous for it. Girl Talk has just brought out another CD and states on his MySpace “pay as much as you like for it”. It smells of Radiohead but without the marketing machine behind it he is a complete different beast.

Check out the site, add something, read ‘Remix’, listen to some Girl Talk and see what and where our digital culture is going and how much is at stake.

http://dev.osc.clients.raincitydev.com/shanghai-record-110-seconds“/> video platform video management video solutions free video player

Watch’em - Larry Gordon

On the 6th of March, Watchmen, the most epic graphic novel of all will premier in the US. The film has cost about $130mil with A-list producer Larry Gordon (Die Hard, Predator, Hellboy) spearheading the project. The reason I post this article is just to show that Sh*t happens.

Gordon is now in a battle with Warner Bros whom he (Gordon) will have to pay major litigation costs to. Warner Bros had to pay the Fox Network a couple of Million Dolla when the rights for Watchmen where not cleared properly. Warner held Gordon responsible for the uhm, oversight and now it may hurt real bad.OUCH

Thank God the movie wasn’t held back until after the mess was cleared because I can’t wait to be in a cinema seat to watch this film!

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Warner Bros. and producer Larry Gordon will wait to discuss who’s to blame for Fox lawsuit
By Matthew Belloni

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SAFE. The perfect 10.

I worked with Inspired Minority back in 2005-2006 during production of SPOON. The film it self is still in Post Production due to the fact that these film makers are doing it all Indy styles. As a matter of fact that’s the only style Inspired Minority does. So far at least.

Spoon was entirely self produced with Simon and Sharlto taking big risks to get the film made, including hiring a young bunch of enthusiastic film makers to make it. Although Spoon is still getting graded I ever so often have a stranger come up to me and ask me when the film will show becuase they were an extra in a scene somewhere and it made a great impression on them. That is the effect of these film makers.

South African Film Exchange (SAFE) is now Simons baby. We spoke of the idea shortly after finishing Spoon in a broad sence and I offered my two cents on why such an idea would work. It is a great idea to spreads the risk for investors and creates a sharing community amongst film makers.

Instead of trying to convince an investor to give you R1 milj. for a film and then hope to God that your plan works so that you can make the next, SAFE is about a community. A concept I am turning to more and more. The community would make 10 films, a group of investors would invest in 10 films. At the end of the day the community would need two of these films to be really sucesfull in order to make the return on say a R10 milj. investment.

With two workshops already done, one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, the Perfect Ten are making way. Besides looking for 10 scripts, they are also looking for acting talent, a sore point in Indy film making in South Africa. With hope to start pre-production on some of the films by the end of 2009, SAFE is looking for talented and inspired film makers to join in.

I hope to make at least one or two workshops this years and be part of this great vision. You can find SAFE on Facebook and join the group if you are interested. Here is a great opportunity for film makers to actuate their dream.

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Lance Weller: Head Truama

Lance Weller was one of those kids who was making home movies from the age of eight. With the advent of the internet and user video upload he swiftly became an indy-film maker showing, distributing and selling his films online. His biggest project, or most prolific was his film “Head Trauma”. The film was made completely independently and recouped investment through multiple distribution methods.

When trying to get his film to be a top hit on Google he started a bunch of sites and then cross linked them. He used interactive and mash-up techniques to broaden his audience. Finally the project was picked up and is now being turned into a TV series.

Through every project process he puts all the information back on his film maker site Workbook Project and so grows the knowledge base for other film makers. Watch the video on Workbook Project of Lance talking about Head Trauma and how it got made. It may inspire…

Oblong Industries

I went to a panel at Sundance where one of the founders of Oblong participated. These guys are techno film making futurists. The big thing they are trying to create is a complete interactive space for video editing. You watch your footage in front of you, then you stop, cut, drag and drop the footage you want to a screen below you all using your hands. Oh yes, your hands!

It is Minority Report in real life. What was great about John Underkoffler was that his instincts are guerrilla film making but on a whole new level of digital and technical understanding. With hedge fund money they are building this tech piece by piece. Some of it is already in use in government organizations (read military) or very big corporations.

Here’s what Oblong had to say at Sundance.

For us, what’s important is the style of work: real-time manipulation of media elements at a finer granularity than has previously been customary or, for the most part, possible; and a distinctly visceral, dynamic, and geometric mode of interaction that’s hugely intuitive because the incorporeal suddenly now reacts just like bits of the corporeal world always have. Also, it’s glasses-foggingly fun.

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OBLONG


oblong’s tamper system 1801011309 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Fahrenheit, Fries, Fox, & Fairness: The New Political Documentary

A small piece from a great conversation between great film makers on the topic of documentary. Take your time as its quite a lengthy piece but it has great insights and stories about getting films made and more importantly getting them out!

This interest has really brought to the fore what people expect of documentary. And it’s triggered a conversation that I’ve been having more and more, and that I believe we’re going to have today: What is it that we expect from a documentary and of documentarians? What do we think that is? What a great place this is now to ask these four different people to think about that with us: Julia Bacha, who edited Control Room, Jeff Gibbs, producer and composer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Robert Greenwald, the director and producer of Outfoxed, Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me.

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THE BIZ Art meets crafty in the indie market

This is a creative industry and so when we’re in a tight spot we either use gaffer tape or get creative. Finding money creatively -

As banks increasingly opt out of funding, directors are using new ways to raise revenue to make movies.

Wanted: 1,700 brave investors each willing to shell out $30 for a credit as a co-executive producer on an independent movie about New York’s illegal graffiti street-art scene. The reward: striking a “blow for artistic freedom.”

That’s the pitch espoused by tyro filmmaker Alice.ia Carin in a full-page ad that ran recently in the Nation magazine, a fundraising attempt for her film “Don’t See This.” Carin also promised to send profits from the currently unproduced soundtrack, book and film to “help fund [New York City] public school programs in music and fine arts.”

By Rachel Abramowitz
November 23, 2008 in print edition E-1

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1000 True Fans

This post is for musicians and film makers alike. If you want to quit your job at the video store and live off the people that love your art here is a (relatively) simple equation to do so. The theory of a 1000 True Fans is fantastic. It gives us motivation to pay more attention to those people coming to our gigs and viewings and fostering a strong relationship with them. Ultimately they are the reason you can do what you do and they will be the reason that you do it. Hmmm, I should get those Thank You cards out and start writing!

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

By: Kevin Kelly Home Page

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