Archive for the ‘Distribution & Screenings’ Category

On the Utility and Futility of Year-End Lists – Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Happy New Year everyone. I wish you nothing but peace and happiness in 2009.

In keeping with the holiday spirit of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, here’s a link to indieWIRE’s 2008 Critics Poll ’08.

Since many of the films are year-end specialty releases and art house films, one hopes that, at some point in 2009, these movies will find their way into more provincial cinemas and onto DVD so that the 290 million (or so) people in the United States living outside New York and LA (of which I am one) have the opportunity to judge these films for ourselves. In effect, the 08 poll essentially becomes a “to-watch” list for those of us out in the hinterlands. I am thankful for it.

That said, a survey of this list also exposes the increasingly problematic nature of assessing and classifying films by their release date. Take film #35, Ronnie Brownstein’s Frownland. This would have been made my “Best of 2008” list this year… except I saw it at its premiere at SXSW in March 2007. Similarly, the best film I saw in 2008 was There Will Be Blood. Of course, TWBB was not released widely until January, yet it made many critics’ Best of 2007 list. Should I include Frownland or Blood on my best-of? Does it matter? Not really. It only highlights the fact that, now more than ever, time and memory are the true arbiters of what lasts.

Enough hand wringing. Of the films I saw in 2008, these are the ones that have stayed with me the longest:

Favorite doc, favorite studio film, and favorite american indie:
At the Death House Door
The Dark Knight (or There Will Be Blood, if you want to count it as 2008)
Frownland

plus two foreign films…
Chaturanga
In the City of Sylvia

three shorts…
Merrily, Merrily (short)
Second Egyptian (short)
Voda (short)

and four Microbudgets….
Medicine for Melancholy
The New Year Parade
Wellness
Nights and Weekends

And that makes a dozen.

Happy New Year!

“Herbert” – ContemporAsian @ MoMA

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Indian filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay recently visited Blacksburg to screen his two features and speak with filmmaking students at Virginia Tech. Talking with Mukhopadhyay about Herbert and Chaturanga was a real highlight of the semester, and a great way to end to the year.

Today, Mukhopadhyay shares Herbert, his debut feature, with New Yorkers as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s ContemporAsian film series.

Nathan Lee, writing in today’s New York Times, calls Herbert “mad, messy, and frequently amazing.” It is.

Showtimes are as follows:

Thursday, December 11, 2008, 8:00 p.m. (Introduced by Mukhopadhyay)
Friday, December 12, 2008, 6:30 p.m. (Introduced by Mukhopadhyay)
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 1:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Sunday, December 14, 2008, 5:00 p.m.
Monday, December 15, 2008, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 8:45 p.m.

Mukhopadhyay’s newest film, Chaturanga, which is still playing cinemas in India, is even more impressive. It trades Herbert‘s surrealism and self-reflexivity for a more contemplative approach, as befits its story of spiritual searching. Chaturanga is currently screening in theaters in India. Catch it on the festival circuit if you’re lucky right now — and let’s hope that a smart American distributor picks it up.

Election Day +4

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Just wanted to drop this as a follow-up to my last post, which concerned Video The Vote.

For me, the day began at 6am, when I walked to my polling place in Roanoke and stood in a 40 minute line to vote. The line was the result of an electronic voting machine that didn’t work and some poll workers who were getting on the job training about how to use the machines. Needless to say, it wasn’t reassuring. I had a Flip video camera and took some very rough footage from my spot in line of the problematic machine. Needless to say, this was an inauspicious start to the day.

Thankfully, things did improve. The lines to that polling place shrunk by 8am, and I remained “on call” for Video The Vote for most of the day. I did drive out to Cloverdale, Virginia to document a woman whose voter registration address change had been lost; she had to vote provisionally.

The real story of the day, though, was in Blacksburg, where students from Virginia Tech were having to wait for several hours at one polling place. I heard about this late in the day, and a few minutes after reading the story (oddly, on Huffington Post instead of via The Roanoke Times website or from friends), Video The Vote called me from NYC, asking me to document the situation. Ashley was already in Blacksburg, so she went to capture footage. She got some great stuff with her Flip camera (videos 1, 2, 3).

NOTE: My name, not Ashley’s, is on the footage because I was the one that registered for Video the Vote.

When Ashley returned home, we spent the evening uploading her footage. Video The Vote’s website was SLAMMED, so uploads took forever. The fact that we were hitting the “refresh” button on our browsers to see election results wasn’t helping.

Pennsylvania was called for Obama around the time that we were close to done uploading all of our videos from the day. We knew what was coming, so we headed over to an Election Day party.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Literally.

Production Boards and EP Scheduling with Chris Cobb

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Assistant Director Chris Cobb has two sets of tutorials up on Expert Village that are worth a look.

The first is a tutorial on setting up a script production board. If you’ve never done a script breakdown, you’ll want to check it out.

The other tutorial demonstrates how to use EP Scheduling, the industry standard software for film shoot scheduling. Granted, EP Scheduling is not cheap ($499 msrp), but film school students may have access to it or may be able to afford the academic version (around $145 online), hence the linkage.

Peter Broderick’s “New World”

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

This was originally pub’d in indieWire and is getting some linkage, but I’ve got to link to it too, as it’s an astute piece on old and new distribution. Some of it is common knowledge by this point, but it does feel more up to date than Mark Gill’s “sky is falling” speech a while back. Why?

Mark’s keynote focused on the distributors, production companies, studio specialty divisions, and foreign sales companies that dominate independent film in the Old World. Mark has many years of experience in this world. He was President of Miramax Films, then head of Warner Independent, and is now CEO of the Film Department. He sees things from the perspective of a seasoned Old World executive.

I see things from the filmmaker’s perspective. For the past 11 years, I have been helping filmmakers maximize revenues, get their films seen as widely as possible, and launch or further their careers. From 1997 until 2002, I experienced the deteriorating state of the Old World of Distribution as head of IFC’s Next Wave Films. After the company closed, I discovered the New World of Distribution in its formative stages. A few directors had already gotten impressive results by splitting up their rights and selling DVDs directly from their websites.

Read Welcome to the New World of Distribution.