Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

The(ir) Sky Is Falling.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Brian Newman of the Tribeca Film Institute has the best response I’ve seen to Mark Gill’s “The Sky is Falling” speech, the one that has the (film-centric) internets all abuzz. An excerpt from Newman’s post, which summarizes much of what I was thinking when I read Gill’s speech:

[N]either I nor the people making the music I like are in this game to make a lot of money….Same with most of the filmmakers I know – they are passionate about making films, want an audience and would like to just make enough to live on. The suits are in it for the major profit, and for them the sky is falling – it actually fell a long time ago, but all that dumb money kept the eyes glazed enough not to notice it. So, from the rest of us to all of you just joining us – welcome to our party, it’s not making us any money, but some of us are still finding what we want and having fun.

Click here for the whole thing.

SXSW: Wrap-up

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Last year I think I spent as much time posting thoughts on films I was seeing at South by Southwest as I did actually attending films and panels. This year I chose to err in the other direction. There were simply too many movies to see, panels to attend, people to meet, and parties to drop by.

Highlights (in the order I saw them):

Nights and Weekends by Joe Swanberg & Greta Gerwig
Wellness by Jake Mahaffy
Paper Covers Rock by Joe Maggio
The New Year Parade by Tom Quinn
Present Company by Frank V. Ross

All make use of handheld digital video, feature naturalistic performances, and were made with small (or no) crews and budgets. Despite the superficial sharing of neo-neo-realistic qualities, it would be tough to compare them. Suffice to say that all are worth seeing.

As good as those films were, perhaps my two favorites of SXSW were two very polished documentaries, Second Skin and At the Death House Door.

Second Skin digs into the world of MMORPGs, and how these online games create new lives and identities — on both sides of the computer screen — for the people playing them. Not being a gamer, I wondered how much I would care about the film’s subject, especially in light of the fact that 90% of the audience I viewed it with seemed to be there to see a film about their lives. Happily, the film finds some dynamic people to follow and it does superb job of chronicling their lives, both on- and off-line. I suspect this will have a healthy life on DVD, and perhaps theatrically.

At the Death House Door was the most emotionally gripping film I saw at SXSW. A somewhat conventionally shot documentary featuring lots of interviews, it reminded me that no single documentary style has a monopoly on greatness. The film follows Carroll Pickett who, during his 15 years as the house chaplain to a Texas prison, presided over 95 executions, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. The film also tells the story of Carlos De Luna, one of those 95 prisoners executed, and one that Pickett believed to be innocent. This is a movie that had me in tears — both at horrific things, and also in admiration at the remarkable heroism of ordinary individuals. Emotions aside, it did bring some nuance to arguments for and (especially) against the death penalty. The fact that it was premiering in Austin — that is, in the capital of the state where these executions took place — made the screening experience all the more poignant. At the Death House Door was co-produced by IFC, so look for it there (and, perhaps, theatrically).

As for panels, not all of the ones I attended have been posted (nor do I know if they will) but here are the festival’s recordings of some for those of you that couldn’t be there.

Oscar® Bragging Rights: Avid vs. Mac

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

I ran across some amusing (because they’re duelling) press releases today:

Avid is touting that all of the nominees in “every single one of the nominated and award-winning films in the Best Motion Picture, Directing, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Documentary Feature and Original Score categories at this year’s Academy Awards were created using at least one Avid, Digidesign, Sibelius or Softimage product.”

What Avid doesn’t tout is the fact that multiple-Oscar (and Best Picture) winner No Country For Old Men “is the first movie edited with a completely digital workflow on Mac to win the Oscar.” Indeed, the Coen Brothers have done a fair amount of promotion for Apple’s Final Cut Studio suite.

This Conference is Being Recorded: 2007 Wrap-up

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Over the holidays, Lance Weiler, Mark Stolaroff and I spoke about the year in review for This Conference is Being Recorded, the Workbook Project’s podcast series. You can listen to the show here.

I was fighting off a migraine that day, so apologies if my thoughts aren’t that coherent. I do recall that Lance and Mark had some typically insightful things to say.

The recording is the second in a two part series. Part one, which features Lance, Scott Kirsner, and Woody Benson, is worth a listen, too.

MacHeist: Indy Mac Software + Good Cause = Insane Deal

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

If you use a Mac, you absolutely must check out the insane deal that MacHeist — an alliance of independent Mac software developers — is offering.

For $49.95, MacHeist is selling $428 worth of fully-featured (i.e., not demo mode) Mac software. And to make the offer that much sweeter, a good chunk of the proceeds go to charity. As of this writing, $227,000+ has been raised so far.

Plus, the software is good. I would recommend all three of the twelve titles that I’ve previously used:

SnapzProX – a screencapture utility that’s GREAT for creating screencasts
iStopMotion – a great program for shooting stop motion animation
1Password – a browser extension that saves all your passwords in one place, and generates secure passwords

I’m an especially big fan of SnapzProX. Last fall I used it (in demo mode) to create a screencast for some of my students. I found it to be the best application of its kind on the Mac. It normally sells for $69, but for the next four days people can get it, plus 11 other applications, for $20 less. And it goes to charity. So I’m getting out my credit card now.

As for the charities represented, according to the MacHeist wiki:

Purchasers can choose from the following list of ten charities, or opt to split the donation from their purchase evenly among the choices.

* Action Against Hunger
* AIDS Research Alliance
* Alliance for Climate Protection
* Direct Relief International
* Humane Society International
* The Nature Conservancy
* Save the Children
* Save Darfur
* Prevent Cancer Foundation
* World Wildlife Fund