Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"There is no crisis" - Ted Hope

indieWIRE's got a new first person piece, text from a speech given by Ted Hope, kind of an anti-"the sky is falling" speech. From the article:

"I can't talk about the "crisis" of the indie film industry. There is no crisis. The country is in crisis. The economy is in crisis. We, the filmmakers, aren't in crisis. The business is changing, but for us -- us who are called Indie Filmmakers -- that's good that the business is changing. Filmmaking is an incredible privilege and we need to accept it as such -- and accept the full responsibility that comes with that privilege."

Read the rest of the article at iW.

- Sujewa

Notes from "Film Criticism in Crisis?" panel discussion at NYFF

At TrustMovies blog. Here's a little bit:

"But is true film criticism in any more of a crisis now than at any earlier time? The panel seemed not all that concerned with the "crisis now" attitude."

Read the rest of the post here.

- Sujewa

Saturday, September 27, 2008

EPA shuts down local ghost-entrapment business

"NEW YORK—Citing unsafe practices and potential toxic contamination, the Environmental Protection Agency shut down a small ghost- entrapment operation in downtown Manhattan today, and had four of the business' spectral-containment specialists arrested in the process."

More here.

Spike Lee interview re: Miracle at St. Anna at Salon

From the interview:

"There are a lot of people speaking in their native languages in this movie.

I could not make a WWII film with Nazis speaking English. I made the decision that everyone speak their native language. This film is about barriers, language, culture, all that stuff. So how you gonna have a scene where Train is teaching [Angelo] to communicate by tapping on his chest if they're both speaking English? Where is going to be the conflict, the drama, with these four black American soldiers stumbling into a small Tuscan village if everyone is speaking the same language?"

Read the rest at Salon.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 26, 2008

Maybe Miracle at St. Anna is Spike Lee's Inland Empire

Cinematical's got a nice review of Spike Lee's new movie Miracle at St. Anna. So far, since She's Gotta Have It, I've liked every Spike Lee joint that I've seen - I think I've seen most of them - perhaps all but 2 or 3, so I am looking forward to checking out Miracle, and I like it already.

I like the idea of Miracle because the lead characters are four non-"white" World War II US soldiers. As far as I know hundreds of thousands of non-"white" soldiers (coming mostly from colonies in Asia & Africa, and of course the segregated US) fought on the side of the Allies but, over 60 years after the end of the war, their stories have barely begun to be told in fiction films. I enjoyed the recent French movie Indigenes, which dealt with a group of non-"white" soldiers from French colonies fighting for the Allies in WWII - even though the ending of that movie was kind of depressing (but then war in general is depressing & the movie did lead to a positive change in French government policy).

Now that the historical value of Miracle has been established, let's think about all the negative reviews of the movie. Maybe, like David Lynch's Inland Empire, Miracle is both a departure & a grand experiment for Lee. Most people, as far as I recall, didn't know what to make of Empire, and a lot did not like it, but some loved it, and celebrated it as bold art. Unlike Indigenes, Miracle sounds like a fantastic - as opposed to a realistic - story. Attempting to tell such a story using the war movie genre is a relatively new & unusual thing, so, even if Lee fails in some areas, the fact that he tried something new & interesting is worthy of recognition & celebration. Or, it might not be that great, or it might be very messy, but Miracle sounds like a wild adventure, & specially since Spike Lee made it, I am definitely going to check it out.

Check out the Cinematical review of the movie here. From the review:

"It's taken me a while to write a review of Miracle at St. Anna, probably because I kept thinking about it, turning it over in my head, challenged and confounded by certain scenes and inspired to contemplate and consider by others; in an age where some war movies (and, you could suggest, even some wars) are made to be briefly contemplated and then forgotten, that alone should tell you that Miracle at St. Anna is worth watching for yourself."

Check out the rest of the Cinematical review.

- Sujewa

The Count & Cookie Monster work together

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kinda nice...

Kinda nice being too busy to blog 'cause I've been editing like 8-10 hours a day (& working at the bookstore when not editing or sleeping) for the last 5 days or so (better than the opposite situation; blogging too much & not putting enough time into filmmaking). But, very soon I should be done with both Indie Film Blogger Road Trip (IFBRT) editing & fest submission #1 & Date Number One DVD production (on that project just need to finalize the DVD cover design & order the DVDs), & then will be back for some blogging. Also nice to have '08 projects #1 (DNO DVD) & #2 (IFBRT) very near completion at this point, so that I can plan on starting work on '08 projects #3 & #4 (two feature length, ultra-ultra low budget & superdelicious comedies) in October in NYC.

Until I get back to blogging, check out the blog links at IFBRT's blog, on the right side - scroll down - it's like a mini iW blogs page over there - headlines from about a dozen interesting blogs - writers of which are all featured in IFBRT.

See ya at this blog towards the next weekend - there are several interesting things to write about.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thanks FilmInFocus

Nice, some extra web publicity for this blog from the FilmInFocus interview, check it out here.

Also check out the Movie City: Washington, DC section at FilmInFocus; several interesting articles about DC & the movies.

- Sujewa

SilverDocs needs a Festival Director

Get info. on that & another job opening at Docs Interactive.

- Sujewa

A whole lot of distribution related links & notes

At New American Vision, check it out.

- Sujewa

A week of good reads

Been busy editing Indie Film Blogger Road Trip, have not had much time to blog this week, but did read a few interesting articles, posts about the changing world of indie film distribution. A lot of the ideas presented in these linked articles are not new to DIY/self-distributing filmmakers; however, it looks like that new combinations of DIY + working-with-several-companies distribution approaches (with publicity coming from fests, the web) may soon be tried out by regular indie filmmakers - the kinds that formerly relied or tried to rely solely on distributors for getting their work out. The end goals are (or should be, if you want to build a catalog of work that can be released through new avenues, have some say on how work gets marketed, make money) distribution AND holding on to long term control & ownership of projects, and simple paths for achieving those goals will probably appear after this current period of experimentation. Here are the links (if you haven't read the articles already) to some perhaps useful ideas; old & new:

Ted Hope at Filmmaker Mag blog

Peter Broderick part 1 at indieWIRE

Peter Broderick part 2 at indieWIRE

Anthony Kaufman at Variety, about VOD revenue

(This article is a little older, but shares similar concerns with the ones linked above) Manohla Dargis at New York Times

As some of these veterans of the indie biz are thinking up & looking into new solutions to the distribution obstacles, feel free to come up with your own also. In many cases I am sure each indie filmmaker & film's situation is very different from those of others (motivation for making movies, economic situation, long term goals, etc.), so most likely each filmmaker will have to come up with their own unique combination of approaches in order to publicize, distribute, and generate revenue from their work. Sounds like a lot of fun :)

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Notes from TIFF Talent Lab

Tom Quinn's got the notes, check 'em out. Here's a little bit:

"For “City of God” Fernando looked at 2,000 kids saying their name and some information about themselves on videotape. He then selected 250 and broke them into 6 groups. Rehearsals would run from 8am to 9pm, giving him 2 hours with each group. Initially, he worked on making them less self conscious in front of the camera and building their confidence. While the entire film was scripted, the actors were never given anything to read. Instead, Fernando would give them a scene and have them go work on it as a group. Once they prepared, he would meet with them and shape it, slim it down and feed them lines from the script to throw in. During the shoot, he will often say “keep going” instead of “cut” because actors will often think they are improvising, but resort to the scripted lines making them sound more natural than the initial performance."

A lot more at The Workbook Project.

- Sujewa

Anthony Kaufman's got some VOD numbers

All in all, I think this Variety article by Anthony Kaufman has a lot of good news in it for real indie filmmakers. Don't be lazy, click over & read the whole thing, & to encourage you, here are some quotes:

"...more than two years after the initial hoopla, is day-and-date the distribution solution indies have been hoping for?

Executives at IFC and within Cuban's indie empire still believe it is, and now they have the numbers to show for it."

And:

"For foreign and American indie producers, the model has proved largely worthwhile. Paul Trijbits, an exec producer on two of IFC's VOD successes (Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and Shane Meadows' "This Is England"), says day-and-date uniquely helped the films to thrive where other releases have failed.

"On previous films from Loach and Meadows, there were no overages. Never. They were largely unrecouped films," he says. "Before, we couldn't barely sell them. Now they've all returned money."

IFC's advances can be painfully meager, ranging from nothing to low-six figures, but Sehring says 90% of the movies recoup their advance, minimal P&A costs and earn overages.

Low-budget filmmaker Caveh Zahedi, for example, received no money upfront for his feature "I Am a Sex Addict" but recently received a mid-five-figure check. "The day-and-date thing made the difference between the film being commercially viable and not," he says."

A lot more at the Variety article, including views by producers who do not see the current level of financial viability of VOD releases as being good enough for the moment. Check it out.

- Sujewa

"Separate Muslim Courts Become Part of British Legal System" - American Humanist Association

Not a cool development. Accepting religious law (basically ancient, superstitious/based on the existence of a supreme being/deity) as legal & binding in a modern secular country with separations between religion & state (at least up to now I thought the UK was a secular place w/ religion & state separations) is definitely a step backwards and can be bad news for a lot of people. Basically accepting religious law = a step back towards the pre-enlightenment dark ages (not to mention sharia courts ruled pre-9/11 Afghanistan where it was illegal to watch TV, women had no rights, etc. - go here for more on Islamic law; check out aspects of the criminal code that includes lashing as punishment for drinking) where religious orders & appeals to their Gods & morality determined the definition of justice; again, bad news for lots & lots of people. Of course I could be overreacting here, so, here's the full press release from The American Humanist Association:

"Separate Muslim Courts Become Part of British Legal System

For Immediate Release - Contact Fred Edwords at (202) 238-9088
fedwords@americanhumanist.org - www.americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., September 16, 2008) The British government has quietly
sanctioned five Muslim sharia courts within the United Kingdom. They have
been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, and Nuneaton. Their
rulings are enforceable through the county courts or the High Court, which
is part of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. This is a new development
because, previously, rulings made by sharia courts weren't binding.

The Muslim tribunal courts began operating in August 2007 and deal with
issues that range from family law and inheritance to disputes with
neighbors. The courts have also settled six cases of domestic violence.
Under a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996, arbitration tribunals are
binding in law, provided that both parties agree to give it power to rule.
Some have argued that the sharia courts fall under this domain while a
number of British lawyers have decried what they see as a dual legal system,
arguing that British law should remain absolute. Douglas Murray, the
director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said recently, “I think it’s
appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be
endorsed or enforced by the British state.”

One issue in particular is the concern that women will suffer under Islamic
law, which favors men. For example, under Islamic inheritance law sons are
awarded twice as much as daughters. In all six cases addressing domestic
violence, the husbands were merely ordered to take anger management classes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, sparked a national debate in
the UK when he said earlier in the year that the establishment of sharia law
“seems unavoidable.”

The American Humanist Association supports the concept of a democratic
secular state, with complete separation of religion and government.
Consistent with this, humanists support the freedom to think and believe or
not believe, resisting efforts to impose one’s religious beliefs on others
through coercive and punitive measures. The AHA opposes violations of those
basic rights whether or not they are bolstered by religious law or custom.

# # #

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for
the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in
Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters
and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms
our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Barry Jenkins interview at indieWIRE

Check out a new interview with the writer/director of Medicine for Melancholy here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"The God Who Wasn't There" clip - The Christs before Christ

There are worse things than religion, and religion is an effective way to organize & motivate people, but ultimately (& perhaps unfortunately), at the core of all major religions on this planet are lies or at least ideas that cannot be tested to see if they are true or not (as far as I can tell), and that makes the whole business of religions suspect (maybe we should invent a replacement for religions, hmmm?). Here's a clip from a doc, about where the Christian church may have gotten the idea for Jesus from:

Wayne Wang interview at New York Times

Check it out here. From the interview:

"For more than 25 years Mr. Wang, now 59, has reinvented himself time and again with apparent ease, zigzagging between America and Asia, big and small movies, safe bets and wild risks, insider and outsider status.

“The industry can really box you in, so you try to break the patterns,” he said over lunch in Manhattan in July."

Read the rest at NYT.

- Sujewa

Hope you're having a good weekend

If not, here's a nice scene for you, to make things a little better maybe:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Myth and the Reality

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin telling people that her & their God wants the US to invade Iraq.



Young soldiers from one of the wealthiest countries in the world killing a person on the street after invading that person's country without any defensible reasons (Iraq did not attack the US and there were no signs of them doing so). Basically, this is pure evil on video:

Funny, tragic & true - Damon on Palin

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Princess of Nebraska trailer

Able Danger review at Hammer to Nail, flick playing now

From Hammer to Nail:

"In Krik’s resourceful if didactic movie, shot in a high contrast black-and-white that milks maximum atmospheric effect out of its wide, busy compositions and chiaroscuro lighting, Adam Nee plays Thomas Flynn, skinny and nebbish, a lefty bookstore owner and author of 9/11 conspiracy books. One of these books leads him into a situation of increasingly deadly intrigue involving a mysterious Eastern-European woman named Kasia (Elina Lowensohn), who comes to his store one day claiming to have information verifying Mohammad Atta’s involvement with the US Government. After she waltzes into his Brooklyn bookstore Vox Pop and claims to have answers to his many questions, they set off together on a trip down the noir paradigm of secrets and lies, betrayals and cover ups."

Read the rest of the review here.

Go here to buy tickets for the NYC screenings of Danger at Pioneer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

comsCore says Americans watched 558 million hours of online video in July

Check out the comsCore report here.

Obsession trailer

A trailer for the new film Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West. From the description of the film: "Using images from Arab TV, rarely seen in the West, Obsession reveals an ‘insider's view' of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination. With the help of experts, including first-hand accounts from a former PLO terrorist, a Nazi youth commander, and the daughter of a martyred guerrilla leader, the film shows, clearly, that the threat is real.

A peaceful religion is being hijacked by a dangerous foe, who seeks to destroy the shared values we stand for. The world should be very concerned."

A trailer:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

TuneCore to assist indie filmmakers with getting their movies on iTunes

From this article:

"The movie service, currently in beta, will launch in mid-November with the same basic proposition as TuneCore's music offering:

1. Pay upfront flat fee
2. Have your work sent out to the digital download stores of your choice
3. Profit!

TuneCore takes no rights nor percentages, so artists keep all of the money (the stores still take their cut, of course). While an album of music can be delivered for $20 or $30, films will cost much more. Pricing will depend on the length of the work; a 60-minute film will cost $550 and a 90-minute film will cost $770."

More at the ars technica article.

Visit TuneCore's site.

- Sujewa

Andrew Berends news blog

Here. Thanks Docs Interactive for the link. Here's most of a recent post from Docs Interactive re: Berends, his interpreter George & their situation in Nigeria:

"American filmmaker Andrew Berends and his interpreter Samuel George are back in the custody of the Nigerian State Security Service after a weekend of freedom. Something similar apparently happened to another documentary filmmaker earlier this year, but she was released entirely after one day of being back in custody. Andy has not been. So it is more important than ever to continue the international pressure to get Andy and Samuel released. For recommendations how, please continue to visit http://helpandy.wordpress.com/ "

- Sujewa

Purpose & methods of Large Hadron Collider explained

The LHC gets turned on this Wednesday, the last I heard. And some people think it will cause the planet to blow up. Not so says Professor Brian Cox in the YouTube video below. About the LHC's goals, from Wikipedia: "When activated, it is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, dubbed the "God Particle"[6], the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass."

Monday, September 08, 2008

New York Lately trailer

Looks good; first feature by Gary King:


NEW YORK LATELY - Theatrical Trailer from Kitchen Table Films on Vimeo.

Trailer for Amir Motlagh's feature WHALE

After making a lot of short films, Amir has completed his first fiction feature - titled Whale, here's the trailer & some info. about it:

"whale

Cameron, a writer who seems to have never finished his first novel, returns home to his mother’s house in Orange County Ca., after a failed relationship and lack of direction with life. Back home, Cameron spends his time reacquainting with old high school friends, only to find that life has only gotten more confusing for everyone. What is a young man to do when he seems to have lost all hope?

The film uses a cast made up of mostly non-actors, including Motlagh’s real life parents. Many of the cast were first seen in Amir Motlagh’s short film, Dino Adino (2001). By using an alternative narrative style, the film destroys the lines of fiction and documentary by engaging the audience in a way that traditional narrative fictions cannot. Motlagh utilized an approach that mixes the cinematic language, using influences ranging from Dogme 95, No Budget DIY, Iranian Cinema, Collage, John Cassavettes and Youtube to string together the film in a unique and original way."

More here.

Trailer:

Guarantees are for washing machines

A brief history of independent film, at New York Times.

- Sujewa

New York Lately premiere at Tribeca Cinemas 10/17

Finally some indie film news to blog; this place was in danger of turning into a full-blown X-Files type strange stories zone :):

"Kitchen Table Film Presents NEW YORK LATELY

Friday, October 17 at Tribeca Cinemas

New York, New York – September 8, 2008 - On Friday, October 17, Kitchen Table Films will hold a private premiere event of the independent feature film drama NEW YORK LATELY at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York. Written, directed and produced by Gary King, the premiere will feature a full screening of the 92-minute film and host an after party at the same venue. The filmmakers and select cast will be in attendance for post-screening Q&A's.

NEW YORK LATELY follows multiple characters as they weave through their daily lives struggling to find happiness. Using New York as the backdrop, filmmaker Gary King interweaves several unrelated tales into a larger tapestry that not only pulls viewers into these intimate day-to-day lives,but also draws on those interactions to show how we are not all that different from each other.

The film is packed with rising talent, including up-and-coming singer Susan Cagle whose New York underground music career was showcased on the Oprah Winfrey Show and a haunting musical score by Ben Romans of the chart-topping band, THE CLICK FIVE. Along with other powerhouse performances by the ensemble cast, this is a dazzling independent film not to be missed.

In 2006, King quit his corporate job to pursue filmmaking full-time, moving from Northern California to New York where the inspiration for the film was born. NEW YORK LATELY fuses together those universal themes -- love, infidelity, obsession and friendship -- and explores them among city moments that pulse together. "The film moves through its various stories without attempting to make character intersections any more meaningful than the random nature of life itself," says King, "the effect is a sprawling mosaic of New York City and its everyday people, living everyday lives. People can relate to that."

King also served as producer and financed the film by cashing out his entire 401K. "It's definitely an independent film in every sense of the word, from its financing to the way we shot guerrilla style all around the city," says King. "My motto was: no permits, no problem."

NEW YORK LATELY will hit the film festival circuit in 2009.

ABOUT KITCHEN TABLE FILMS: Based in New York, Kitchen Table Films is an independent film and media production company, founded in the summer of 2003. The company name and logo are inspired by the humble beginnings, late hours and grassroots effort required in creating independent films.

###

Please contact Kitchen Table Films if you wish to cover the invitation only premiere screening and after party at the Tribeca Cinemas on October 17, 2008. Screening times are at 7 pm and 9 pm. The filmmakers and select cast will be in attendance.

Screeners will be made available in the Winter of 2008. Please contact info@kitchentablefilms.com with a mailing address to request a copy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to schedule an interview with Gary King:

Website: http://www.nylatelymovie.com/

Contact: info@kitchentablefilms.com

Phone: 646-957-55555"

Ancient "jewelery" turns out to be a model for a flying machine that works

Check out the video here. Clip also contains an evaluation of an ancient battery.

- Sujewa

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Disorientation can be caused by not knowing the actual point in time in which you exist

If you feel several years or several thousand years out of step (forward or backward) with much of the rest of the world, that's probably because a few layers below the commonly agreed upon idea of point in time lies the actual point in time in which you exist - the two numbers are not the same; more on that here.

That and other "strange" ideas - such as ancient batteries, surprisingly complex navigational tools from thousands of years ago, possible records of ancient nuclear weapons - will be explored at this new blog of mine in the coming months as time permits; might give me some ideas for some sci-fi tinged movies, and - if nothing else- will probably be an interesting/entertaining blog.

And now, for some video:



- Sujewa

At the intersection of indie film & science fiction

Indie filmmakers have used, typically & mostly, comedy and drama as the two film storytelling genres with which to tell the stories that they want to tell. Another very interesting genre, one that seems to have no boundaries; death, time, whatever, is science fiction. After getting caught up on most of the episodes of the four seasons of the new version of Battlestar Galactica, I can see how adding a sci-fi element to an indie film would allow the makers to explore issues that are not as well explored by a walking and talking comedy-drama movie. Any human concern - no matter how outlandish or vast; life after death, origin of life, nature of consciousness, genocide, death squads, Gods, right and wrong, whatever - can be tackled entertainingly & convincingly through sci-fi. So, new indie filmmakers should take a look at sci-fi as a possible genre to add to the mix for their features; maybe instead of a low budget indie feature about a young couple walking around the city & talking on Valentines Day maybe one member of the couple is a robot? Could be very entertaining & interesting. Trailers for 2 indie movies that live at the intersection of indie & sci-fi:





- Sujewa

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Got the 1st Date Number One DVD back from the factory

The DNO DVD cover design needs more work, but the face design (pictured above) I like. On Monday I should have the final cover design & should be able to order the first batch of retail DVDs. So, should be able to start selling DNO DVDs before this month is over.

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc editing is happening. May not make the regular deadline for Sundance (9/8), but may make the late deadline (9/22).


- Sujewa

PBS's CARRIER - what I'm going to watch after I am done with Battlestar Galactica

The most interesting part of Battlestar Galactica for me is the space military vessel life stuff (the humans' attempt to strike a working balance between civilian rights & military needs, relationships between various officers & fighter pilots, and the bizarre reality of living in a heavily armed floating city that is a target for enemies). Apparently for this new version of Galactica a lot of elements of that life were drawn from the world of real life aircraft carriers. So, PBS's multi-part doc Carrier should be very interesting; looking forward to checking out some episodes soon.



- Sujewa

Monday, September 01, 2008

BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer

DATE NUMBER ONE on Vimeo VOD

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

At DIY Filmmaker Blog's Facebook Page

Followers

BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer on Vimeo

Breakthrough Weekend teaser trailer on YouTube

Good Reads