Tuesday, June 30, 2009
His arrest and subsequent release followed the release of Roxani Saberi, Ghobadi’s fiancée and co-writer of Cats. She was initially sentenced to an eight-year prison term for espionage in April. An appeal court reduced her punishment to a two-year suspended sentence and she was released from Tehran’s Evin Prison in May, shortly before Cannes.
Although exact details about the charges against Saberi remain unknown, it is thought that the initial charge of “passing secret information” had been reduced to “having access to classified information”. Saberi was also banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years.
French company Wild Bunch is handling sales of Cats. The film highlights Tehran’s underground rock and heavy metal community, who borrow Western melodies to write political songs. It won a special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard competition of the Cannes Film Festival.
Ghobadi shot Cats underground in 17 days with an S12K camera. In Iran, 35mm equipment is owned by the state. The title refers to a law that bans dogs and cats from being outdoors. Wild Bunch is working with Ghobadi on his next project.
Iran is currently facing its biggest political protests for 30 years following last week’s disputed presidential poll. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected last week with almost two-thirds of the votes but supporters of defeated candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, are protesting against what they claim is a fraudulent poll.
Protests have led to clashes in Tehran between protesters and security forces and heavy restrictions have been placed on foreign media reporting unauthorised demonstrations. Further protests were expected today (June 17).
EFP at Karlovy Vary creates its presence in Eastern Europe and hosts joint activities with the American trade paper Variety: Variety critics select 10 films from Europe for the Variety Critics' Choice, a special sidebar in the festival. EFP has been a partner since 2001 and presents the directors to the local press and festival audiences.
EFP AT THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALSeptember 10 - 19, 2009
As a platform for European films, and as a gateway for product to the US market, Toronto remains a vital, extremely important festival in the international arena. The members of EFP have a unique opportunity to effectively promote their films in this extremely important event by using information stands in the Sales and Industry Office. The festival is also a partner for Film Sales Support.
EUROPEAN DISTRIBUTORS: UP NEXT!AT THE SAN SEBASTIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALSeptember 18 - 26, 2009
This new initiative is focussing on dynamic distributors in Europe and in its first year on distributors from the new EU member states supporting independent, and in particular, European cinema. EFP is partnering with the Sales Office of the San Sebastian International Film Festival to foster the wider trans-national distribution of European films, to encourage theatrical distributors to invest in adequate distribution for non-domestic European films and to offer up-and-coming European distributors a platform where their talent and potential can be recognised. Partner of this activity is "Variety".
EFP AT THE PUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALOctober 8 - 16, 2009
Directors and actors from Europe introduce their new films at one of the most important Asian film festivals. Pusan is one of the most energetic film festivals in Asia. With the launch of the Asian Film Market in 2006, Pusan takes on a new and expanded role in the region – and for the industry in general. In addition to the festival activities, EFP runs an office for European sales agents at the Asian Film Market. The festival is also a partner for Fim Sales Support.
EFP AT THE AMERICAN FILM MARKETNovember 4 - 11, 2009
Since 1998, EFP has run an umbrella office for European sales agents and producers at the AFM the major US film market.
INDUSTRY SCREENINGS IN THE USAJune and November 2009
EFP initiated this programme in 2005 with the goal of introducing new European films to North American buyers. Designed to take place two ore three times per year, each session showcase four to six films from different European countries with commercial potential. World sales agents are on location and actively involved in the marketing strategy and presentation of the films. The screenings will, as in 2008, take place in June (in New York) and November (Los Angeles).
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Father And Guns outdraws Bruno in Quebec (De Père En Flic) was the top film at the province’s box office over the weekend, earning an astounding $1.6m (C$1.8m). The sum was more than the combined grosses of the four other top five titles: Brüno, Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and Public Enemies.
Brazilian romantic comedy A Mulher Invisível beats Terminator into second place in Brazil June 23, 2009.
25 June, 2009 | By Wendy Mitchell
Gigantic Group is launching a full-service “online exhibition venue” for first-run independent films, called Gigantic Digital Cinema.
Gigantic Releasing had been a distribution platform working with digital arm Gigantic Digital. The company already had released (theatrically and online) acclaimed documentary Must Read After My Death.
With today’s announcement, the company will concentrate on online exhibition instead of distribution.
This play on words puts the business on its head, in effect eliminating the line between exhibition and distribution. How smart because in fact that is the stumbling block when everyone says that today's distribution system is broke/ broken. It's because one sees distribution as the feed to exhibition and there are either too many non paying (digital) exhibition platforms or too few (called theaters). Distribution IS Exhibition when one is speaking digitally. Problem solved. The new synthesis of the dialectic conundrum.
The company will work with distributors, producers and film organizations to offer content to broadband users in the US, with publicity and marketing support.
The geographically targeted ad-free platform will offer films day-and-date with any theatrical releases.
How much will they cost to download and how will Gigantic get the word out? And will they all have theatrical releases?
The forthcoming lineup includes Jennifer Steinman’s documentary Motherland, from San Francisco-based Smush Media. The SXSW prize winner is about American women who lost their children and volunteer with orphans in South Africa. The film will open on Gigantic Digital Cinema on August 26.
I already do not know what this film is in terms of going to see it.
Industry veteran Mark Lipsky joined Brian Devine’s Gigantic Group in January 2008 as head of distribution arm Gigantic Releasing. Gigantic Digital kicked off earlier in 2009.
“As things stand now, financial and market pressures on bricks and mortar exhibitors have largely eliminated the possibility of a truly independent film finding its audience or building word of mouth,” Lipsky said. “Not only can we keep a film on screen indefinitely, but we can dramatically extend their reach into the marketplace and grow the audience in areas of the country that have never been exposed to indie films.”
“When we analyzed the success of our Must Read campaign,” Lipsky continued. “It became clear that we had something new and very substantial to offer the independent film community. A release through Gigantic Digital in the first-run window, whether exclusive of or in support of traditional bricks and mortar engagements, will add value to each succeeding layer of release including DVD, cable and satellite VOD, iTunes, etc. Gigantic Digital Cinema will give distributors and filmmakers added visibility, a much wider potential audience, and a new source of accretive revenue.”
With Mark Lipsky there thinking up a storm and up to speed in this fast new world, you can't go wrong. For those of you reading this, please make sure he sees this.
New York-based Gigantic Group also includes production arm Gigantic Pictures (Goodbye Solo), music studio and record label Gigantic Music and post-production facility Gigantic Studios.
And music too? See my other blog of today, Ruminations on Film London News Bulletin
|Great supports are supplied by Film London and other British institutions. Yes too much subsidy may weaken creativity, but for the truly creative, how great to have such opportunities offered. Think of the talent in U.S. which gets no government support. Think of the untapped and fantastic untold stories of new African filmmakers. Oh to have such opportunities! |
Items I find of great interest:
The Black Film Exhibition Publicity Fund (BFEPF) Fast Track Fund will be suspended indefinitely from midday on Monday 29 June, pending a high number of requests on the remaining funds. If you would like to make an application to the fund for £3,000 or less, please do so before this deadline.
I wonder if Americans and other African diaspora filmmakers can apply...it is a bit late this round , but this is helpful for filmmakers looking for a way into the international world of African diaspora film making, marketing and selling.
Film London's Exhibitors' Surgery offers consultation advice to help plan, market, and fund your festival. You bring the project; we bring the expert advice in one-to-one sessions tailored precisely to your needs. Book your place on the next Exhibitors' Surgery on 25 June.Again, I wonder if this is only for British? If not, I would think world festivals would flock to this (except of course, it's too expensive for the ones most needing it so maybe someone should digitalize such a service). It's a great way to network and find ways of festivals to cooperate, find sister festivals like cities find sister cities, sharing programming and other trades, training festival administrators. This offers the chance for festivals to grow up into the new digital age. Maybe they can figure out how to compensate filmmakers whose films they show. Yes a trip is definitely compensation...how about some of the ticket money the public pays the festival? Maybe the Film Festival Summit also serves in this way. I've never been so if anyone knows, I'd like to see a discussion on this, and of festivals and their place in the business generally.
The following articles are brilliant in regards to the education project I am envisioning for teaching literacy through film to the working poor of the Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Thank you again to the UK Film Council for recognizing officially what brought me into the film business in the first place already so long ago it seems (Does 30 years sound like a long time to you?)
The UK Film Council has launched Stories We Tell Ourselves: The Cultural Impact of UK Film 1946-2006. It is a timely and stimulating report, confirming that film has been one of the most powerful cultural and social agents of the last 100 years.
Young London film-makers have delved into local archive footage to provide a vibrant insight into their local community. Our Moving Histories, a free screening programme on 24 June, presents two short documentaries about Sutton's heritage. Year 10 students from Wallington High School for Girls took part in a 4-day film-making workshop run by Chocolate Films, in partnership with Sutton Local Studies and Archives Centre. During this intense training period the students acquired basic film-making skills, as well as the enthusiasm to research and construct their own documentary projects.
Eastside Community Heritage working in partnership with Hibiscus Caribbean Elders present The Kamal Chunchie Story as part of the Story of London. Kamal Chunchie was an important role model and community leader who devoted his life to the Black and Asian communities of east London during the 1920s and 1930s. This project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will screen on 26 June from 6.30 to 8.30pm.
And the following is for everyone now looking for new ways to launch their vision of having a business servicing the film business rather than creating the content of it. Someone recently brought it to my attention that during the California Gold Rush of 1848, it was not those seeking the gold who got rich but those who serviced them, the laundries, bars, hotels, and Levi-Strauss who made the blue denim for tents and later the miners' clothes.
I recently joined a great entrepreuneurial group here in Berlin called E-Factor and-- no that is not the group I joined, but this one also looks spectacular especially if you're from this part of Britain. The one I joined is called E.Factor too but it's website is www.efactor.com. Are these two related? I have already met people of great interest to me personally as well as professionally. A Dallasite now based in Berlin with Design Hotels who I helped hook up with Celluloid Dreams and Criterion Collection's new digital distribution system for specialty and art films called The Auteurs. Another very attractive offering of theirs is one member's online language course. The price is good and I can have one Skype connected teacher for both Spanish and German, my two currently favorite language. French always is there. My Dutch is really bad now.
Booking for BECTU's fourth annual Freelancers' Fair is now open. The event takes place on 26 June, at BAFTA's London headquarters. There will be a varied and exciting seminars programme including Pitching for Success which is still open for entries. The all-day career development and networking event, welcomes members and non-members. Entry is free to BECTU members and £10 to non-members. Book your place.
Music, the language of the world and Film, the visual language of the world. I hear of several new film festivals and financing entities who want to focus on music and film. It might help the music business to pay attention to how film handles distribution since it nearly killed their business. If the only way musicians and singers can make money is through live concerts because the music is pirated (caution to the film industry too), then MTV cannot be thriving - can it? Whether it is or not, how about new ways to make money through digital distribution of new designs of content.
BBC New Music Shorts has extended the entry deadline to midnight on 6 July. In partnership with 6 Music, BBC Electric Proms is challenging film-makers to make original new films inspired by new music tracks from artists Metronomy and Florence and the Machine.
The New British Cinema Season at the ICA continues with screening and Q&A's including The Disappeared*, The Blue Tower and The Dummy*. Book your tickets and support new British film-making talent.
The trailer for Jon Amiel's Creation* is now online. The film, based on the book Annie's Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution by British conservationist, author and great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Digital Innovation in Film is a new initiative from NESTA and the UK Film Council, which is helping to drive growth in British independent film companies by encouraging them to take better advantage of new technologies.
How it works
The independent film companies have been paired up with specialist partners, who are helping them to develop the content, marketing and digital distribution potential of their films. Our two partner teams are Huge Entertainment, and MTM London and Illumina Digital.
Each company will receive a specially tailored programme of financial/business planning support to help them identify and deliver opportunities for new forms of distribution. The business support programme is designed to improve each company’s potential for growth and investment.
Take 12 Digital Innovation Guide
Take 12 logo
We've pulled together our interim findings from Take 12 in our 'Take 12: Digital Innovation Guide'.
The guide is a collection of emerging lessons on how to exploit new digital technologies to drive growth in British independent film companies.
Successful film participants
Together with the UK Film Council, we’ve selected 12 independent film companies from 50 entries. The successful participants are at different stages in the business lifecycle, ranging from incorporating film production, through to distribution and sales."
Protests spark new Iranian filmmakers - Entertainment News, Weekly Smoke and Mirrors, Media - Variety
With the country's hardline authorities cracking down on foreign media outlets in the wake of the disputed June 12 presidential elections, it has largely fallen to Iran's youthful population to chronicle the mass protests on the streets of Tehran and other cities. Social networking sites like Twitter and user-generated content shot on mobile phones have maintained the flow of information and images around the world.
And, reflecting the rapid sweep of these new media tools and the long-simmering hopes of Iran's established filmmakers, the impromptu conversion of hundreds of young Iranians into documentarians is being championed by established helmers.
'This is a cultural revolution and an Internet revolution,' says director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who has been an active opposition voice. 'All the students have become filmmakers now on the streets with their mobile phones.'
During the 1980s and 1990s, Iranian filmmakers such as Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi and Majid Majidi offered viewers outside Iran a valuable window onto life in the country; for their efforts, they were feted at film fests around the world.
Recent years, however, have seen Iranian cinema's star dim on the international"
Friday, June 19, 2009
From Indie Wire. The Dallas Film Society and the AFI announced the end of their nearly million dollar three-year agreement that saw the launch of a major new film fest in Texas. However Michael Cain, formerly of the Deep Ellum Film Festival before AFM Dallas International Film Festival began, said they will hold the renamed Dallas International Film Festival in late March or early April. Michael Cain, also head of the Dallas Film Society said it will continue to present programming throughout the year as well.Announced with fanfare in 2006, the first AFI Dallas fest began the following spring. Its inaugural lineup featured a whopping 200 titles for year one, backed by a sizable sponsorship from Target.
Dallas has accepted the festival and it will continue. The question here is how long will AFI continue to support its own L.A. based film festival?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The London UK Film Focus (June 29-July 2) is showcasing UK films to a captive audience of international buyers. For those smaller UK sales agents trying to stay afloat, this year’s LUFF, run by Film London, has assumed a new importance.
UK sellers claim that LUFF gives them to reach distributors with titles that risk being overlooked in the maelstrom of the Cannes market. The event’s organisers estimate the event generates around $3m of film sales each year.LUFF 2009 is backed by Film London, the UK Film Council, the British Film Institute, Film Export UK, UK Trade & Investment and the London Development Agency.
As was mentioned in the blog June 7, Madrid de Cine Spanish Film Screenings (4th edition) were held June 7, 8, and 9.
The big question was, who was going to buy what. The resulting sales were made:
Latido licensed "Agallas" aka "Guts" to Sony for Spain. Spanish broadcaster TVE, backed the project. "Sex, Party & Lies" sold to Turkey (A Plus Films) and Bulgaria (Vadi Van Kris). "Paper Castles" was picked up in Taiwan (Swallow Wings) and So. Korea (Activers Entertainment). "Bejart, The Show Must Go On" went to Russia (Intercinema) and Japan (Cetera Films). "Ander" sold to France (Bodega Films), Belgium (ABC) and Holland (Cinemien).
After 4 years as Kimmel International chief, Mark Lindsay has stepped and Nick Meyer, whose new company Sierra Pictures is in L.A. will take over all sales and servicing of the international department. Mark will stay in New York with his family. Bingham Ray will continue to split his time between the east and west coasts. Jim Tauber remains SKE president.
Since SKE was founded in 2004, it has produced and financed independently and with studio partners, 18 features. Recent releases include "Management", "Adventureland" co-produced with Miramax, "Synecdoche, New York", "Charlie Bartlett", "Kite Runner" and "Death At A Funeral".
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Given the partners' sense of marketing, their stellar taste in the finest films in the world and their long successful track records running their respective businesses, this business should be a great success. For $5 viewers around the world can finally watch specialty films from directors like Michael Haneke, Michael Winterbottom, Francois Ozon, Walter Salles, Renoir, Godard, Kurosawa, Cocteau, Fellini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Fuller, Lean, Kubrick, Lang, Sturges, Dreyer, Eisenstein, Ozu, Sirk, Buñuel, Powell and Pressburger and be able to interact with other viewers around the world through Facebook style profile pages and discussion forums. As when "foreign movies" found new audiences in the 60s, this new endeavor, The Auteurs, has the mission of introducing art house cinema to a whole new audience.
They are now collaborating with Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation (WCF) -- an organization dedicated to restoring lost cinema classics from around the world -- to exhibit the refurbished masterpieces online as well. The first four works from WCF are currently available to watch for free on The Auteurs Web site: Korean domestic thriller "The Housemaid" (1960) and "Transes" (1973), a documentary about pioneering Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwan, famously described by Scorsese as "the Rolling Stones of North Africa." Watch a clip from "The Housemaid" Watch a clip from "Transes"
Two of the partners, Criterion Collection's Jonathan Tyrell and Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams are old friends and we've watched both do very well at each new phase of distribution. Criterion began under the name Janus Films when father Saul Tyrrell and William Becker acquired the 1956 distribution company and then renewed every art film license for US in their name even though they had not been the original distributors. They knew the other US distributors at the time were very lazy about renewing rights and so they just kept track and renewed them when the time came up, thus establishing a classics collection like no other in the states. They had the greatest taste in films and Saul was always brimful of life and great ideas. His son Jonathan and William Becker's son Peter both took over the business in the time of laser disks and began the Criterion Collection. That's when we met and I used their office in New York when I handled Films Inc. Special Media Division for Social Issue Docs. Jonathan and Peter are so smart and nice and honest...I am thrilled they're a part of it because they know the business so well.
Hengameh started out in international sales when she brought 'The White Balloon' out of Iran and made a huge success with it and opened the world's eyes to Iranian films. Her international sales company, Celluloid Dreams, is the best. Every year they have 10 to 15 films in major film festival competition. She's tried and failed in several attempts to monetize the smaller art films which fail to find audiences. She's the only one you see trying new modes of distribution in big ways. I hope she finds success with this and I don't see why not.
Its a simple money maker. So what's Mark Cuban grousing about? He can put his films into this mix too! And Amazon's AVOD and CreateSpace, and 100 other digital platforms.
The third partner, and allegedly its "mastermind" are Efe Cakarel and Eduardo Costantini in New York.
The basic ambition behind The Auteurs is to make high quality cinema accessible to a young, global audience by making it available on demand cheaply. "If you are not in LA, London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris, or Berlin, forget it," Efe Cakarel told CNN over the phone from Palo Alto, California. "Many of these films you cannot get even on DVD if you are living in Warsaw, in Istanbul, in Seoul or Buenos Aires."
Cakarel comes from Goldman Sachs banking and has a head for technology. His idea for The Auteurs was formed in 2007 in Tokyo when he tried to watch Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love" on the Internet but could not find a place to see it.
Cakarel says he knew that if he was going to succeed in his quest to bring quality cinema to the global village he would have to enlist some of the industry's top brass.
This was done through connections to Argentine millionaire, Eduardo Costantini of Costa Films, the company behind 2007 Berlinale winner "Elite Squad", and Hengameh Panahi of Paris based distributor Celluloid Dreams whose film "A Prophet" won the Grand Prize at Cannes Film Festival this year.
Each month, the Criterion Collection curates a free online film festival making available classic films from its large library on The Auteurs. This month, users can watch Michelangelo Antonioni's 1960 classic "L'Avventura" or "Harakiri" (1962) by Japanese master Masaki Kobayashi.
With comments by Sydney
Some of them are obvious or secret or genius or lame. But they came out of the mouths of the experts at last weekend's 'Produced By' Conference during panels devoted to the financing, production, and distribution of independent films and documentaries. Here are the 35 tips compiled by a DHD stringer with comments by Sydney.
1. Change the title of your indie film to begin with an “A” or a number to get higher placement on iTunes. Cheap shot, but OK try it. Better to have relevant keywords so people find something which interests them.
2. “Experiment and try new ways of getting your indie film out there.” Absolutely. If you don't know how to begin, find an expert to help you in self distribution, exclusivities vis a vis internet platforms.
3. Clark Hallren, Managing Director of the Entertainment Industries Group for JP Morgan Securities warned, “Guys it’s tough. Phenomenal events that statistically cannot happen did happen: we’re at an interesting point in the business.” Huh?
4. Lisa Nitti of Greenberg Traurig offered a financing checklist and the necessary groundwork that indie producers must complete to have a shot at getting money: a preliminary financing plan, a solid budget and schedule, and an understanding of Hollywood guild requirements. Always good.
5. Foreign pre-sales are not as readily available as in years past. This is a cycle which endlessly repeats itself. When there are many completed films on the market, presales subside. Then the films have been acquired and are not doing as well as hoped, presales begin again. When they aren't paying off as expected for distributors who prebought, the distributors begin waiting for films to be completed before acquiring.
6. Established indie producers with a successful track record have a somewhat easier time than newcomers in getting attention from international sales companies. That's for sure! You need a track record or to be THE BREAKOUT film from Sundance or Toronto and occastionally another festival like San Sebastian, Locarno, Guadaljara, Venice (where the trade looks for breakouts).
7. Genre always makes a difference. Forget costume dramas and spoofs. Unless they are your passion projects. Always be true to your passion. Make a genre film if it's your passion or if you are specifically and carefully planning to hit a specific target, e.g., horror fans.
8. “Indie producers must have names that mean something to TV worldwide; [before pre-sales can be made] international distributors need time to talk to TV folks who are covering 60%-70% of minimum guarantees,” said Edward Noeltner, President of Cinema Management Group. We love Edward Noeltner!
9. The number of banks involved in indie film financing has constricted and greatly impacted funds available. Previous to the financial market meltdown, there were 30 to 35 players. That number has been cut by 2/3s. Yeah, well banks always play it as safe as possible and weren't financing any but the best companies anyway, e.g., Summit, Focus, etc.
10. Financiers basically want a return on their investment. “I encourage indie producers to understand their film’s audience as much as they can. Understand what you mean when you pitch project. I want to support a film, but I care about capital and return on that capital. I just want to get my money back,” explained banker Hallren. Yeah, well banks always play it as safe as possible and weren't financing any but the best companies anyway, e.g., Summit, Focus, etc.
11. Risk tolerance by investors is at an all-time low. "We’re all in a back-to-basics environment,” advised Danny Mandel, Managing Director of Newbridge Film Capital. “We won't return to where we were; now investors are all about preservation of capital.” Yeah, well banks always play it as safe as possible and weren't financing any but the best companies anyway, e.g., Summit, Focus, etc.
12. Mandel predicted that by 2010 indieprods could see more capital available. OK, but banks always play it as safe as possible and weren't financing any but the best companies anyway, e.g., Summit, Focus, etc.
13. In indie producers favor: distributors will always need new product to fill pipelines. Absolutely. Be sure to target the top 20 to 30 out of 400 international sales agents who sell to the distributors you need for your product.
14. At the Cannes Festival, Mandel met five international distributors who wanted a movie with "Wedding" in the title. Great comment made to Nikki Finke's blog: "Looking forward to “My Big Fat Spiritual Gay French-Jewish Wedding” in 2010. Comment by TT — June 11, 2009 @ 11:30 pm"
15. New financing models are having some success, says Danae Ringelmann, Co-Founder of IndieGoGo. She cited documentary producer Robert Greenwald as an example of a new paradigm: Greenwald needed $200,000 to finance his Iraq For Sale. He turned to his substantial email distribution list. Nine days and four emails later, he had raised $276,000. Think of it as “raising money Obama-style,” suggested Ringelmann. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, look at IndieGoGo.
16. Build a fan base for an indie film before it’s even made. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, look at IndieGoGo, explore the internet options, read David Meerman Scotts' THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR.
17. The disappearance of a number of local and regional film critics is a major concern because it makes it tough to launch an indie movie, noted Lawrence Bender, the Oscar-winning indie producer of Pulp Fiction, An Inconvenient Truth, and the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. So Bender said indie filmmakers must now be content with “tweets and the craziest things,” but not the critical insights of years past. Acquisitions have changed so drastically that critical acclaim for a film often means more to the financial interests and those who greenlight acquisitions than the gut feeling of the acquisitions executive who was hired for his/ her "eye".
18. Roger Corman, the quintessential indie producer (Death Race 2000, Grand Theft Auto, Rock N' Roll High School) sees the Internet as a “ray of hope” for indie producers. We love Roger Corman and his wife Julie!
19. Corman envisions a day when distributors and theaters are gone and an ASCAP-type organization collects revenues for indie producers. We love Roger Corman and his wife Julie! ASCAP-type organization can collect from distributors and theaters as well and such collection agencies already exist, e.g., Fintage and one or two others. Filmmakers always need an agency to collect for them, even from their international sales agencies.
20. Concensus advice on how to get an indie film made: never give up. If it's your passion, never give up. If you get so many passes over such a long period that you can't take it anymore, get a real job. This is not a business for everyone.
21. Finding a documentary subject that’s worth a two to four year commitment comes down to “you know it when you see it,” related Marina Zenovich, Director/Producer/Co-Writer of Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, Director/Producer of Who Is Bernard Tapie?, Director/Producer of Independents Day Zenovich. We love Marina!
22. “Always good to get an idea from a financier,” quipped Davis Guggenheim, Director/Producer of It Might Get Loud, Gracie, and Director/Executive Producer of An Inconvenient Truth. Guggenheim was lucky enough to be pitched by financier Thomas Tull who asked, “Do you like the electric guitar?" Good idea!
23. RJ Cutler, Filmmaker and President of Actual Reality Pictures (The September Issue, The War Room) noted that marketing and outreach for every documentary film is something of a riddle, but advised producers to investigate ancillary revenues. He pointed to Morgan Spurlock who had significant returns in the educational marketplace for his feature Super Size Me, which he cut down to an hour and created an accompanying curriculum and guide. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, explore the internet options, read David Meerman Scotts' THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR.
24. Before an indie film gets to the marketplace, producers must know who the audience is for the film, counseled Dennis Rice, Founder of Vision Entertainment. “If you can’t market your film, you shouldn’t make it. If there’s no audience, you can’t get a return on investment.” Basic Business for Filmmakers 101
25. Once an indie producer knows who the film’s audience is, reaching them cost effectively is the next hurdle. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, explore the internet options, read David Meerman Scotts' THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR.
26. There’s no longer a one size fits all model for indie distribution; patterns and windows are changing as are the means of distribution. New strategies include video-on-demand, checkerboard release patterns, digital downloads via iTunes. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, explore the internet options, read David Meerman Scotts' THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR. Or contact us at Sydney@SydneysBuzz.com
27. “There are at least 10 distribution structures out there, and new companies popping up,” offered Liesl Copland of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment's Global Finance and Distribution Group. Among the new companies she cited: Big Beach, End Game, and Zip Line. All have been smart about marketing spends, she says. Liesl know what's up. If Big Beach is Marc Turtletaub's company, then that's a good option. I don't know these other companies and would welcome comments on them from the producers they have handled.
28. Indie producers need to move past the old distribution model and learn from experimentation. Absolutely look at Robert Greenwald, look at Peter Broderick's Website, explore the internet options, read David Meerman Scotts' THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR. Or contact us at Sydney@SydneysBuzz.com. But try the old distribution models because those "old" distribution companies are also looking at new models and are experimenting. If they want your film, ask them about what they're doing with new models and ask if your input is encouraged, then learn with them.
29. Copland advised indie producers to think about own their own consumer habits when making movies in this kind of market “though clarity hasn’t surfaced in new revenue streams”. Is she saying "To thine own self be true"? That's good.
30. Ted Mundorff, CEO of Landmark Theatres, sees video on demand pre-release and then theatrical release is working for some indie titles like Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience. (Bubble ignited the trend. But Mundroff worries about cable companies saturating the market with titles.) He's talking about IFC's model and IFC is buying everything at cut rate prices whereas Landmark can distribute indie producers' films but makes more by distributing third party product via distributors. But Landmark is the theater chain to watch (along with Laemmle) for indies.
31. David Straus, Co-Founder and CEO of Withoutabox (a division of IMDb.com), implored indie producers to find ways to connect directly to audiences. “You don’t have to throw a ton of money to push a film to an audience; in an ideal world, the audience pulls film to them.” It's a MUST for every filmmaker with a finished film register for free on Withoutabox and use it for festival submissions.
32. Aggregating an audience is the lynchpin of this new world order. But is it something that impresses banks enough to lend money? Doubtful. Yeah, well banks always play it as safe as possible and weren't financing any but the best companies anyway, e.g., Summit, Focus, etc.
33. It’s not all doom and gloom despite the disappearance of studio-backed indie film divisions like Warner Independent. Films and film companies rise from the grassroots and the grassroots have room to grow and expand when old non functioning ideas fade from the scene. Warner Independent and Picturehouse and New Line were all owned by Warner Bros. whose purchase of AOL bogged it down and whose top management never understood the value of its special divisions.
34. There is opportunity for indie producers as long as they don’t get hung up on a 35mm theatrical film release. Ira Deutchman, CEO of Emerging Pictures, explained: “With digital, we can begin to play around with release patterns.” We love Ira Deutchman!
35. Deutchman also recommended that indie producers “aggregate your communities.” He finds that his network of theaters does well with Jewish, gay-themed and French films as well as those that are spiritual and have "Wedding" in the title. We love Ira Deutchman. He was the godfather of my 21 year old company FilmFinders which I sold in 2008 to IMDb and which can now be seen on FilmFinders on Pro. He gave me the Q&A database in 1987 which got us started. We love Ira Deutchman!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
In the worst of times, Darwinian forces are winnowing out the weak. Companies like Marco Weber's Senator Entertainment that were making their mark at Sundance in January are no longer able to meet their commitments in June. Mark Urman went from the frying pan at David Bergstein's beleaguered ThinkFilm into the fire at Senator as president, moving from NY to LA--and back again. Weber, a hybrid filmmaker-businessman who bought out German company Senator's U.S. arm three years ago, assembled a production slate of six films with the intention of building a distribution company. To that end, he hired away Urman as Bergstein's empire was crumbling under financial strain.
Weber scored a deal with Sony Worldwide to release his slate on DVD and pay and free TV, on the strength of the films Weber had lined up: the horror thriller Clock Tower, based on a vidgame; two genre thrillers from Gregor Jordan, Unthinkable, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Sundance premiere The Informers, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Mickey Rourke, which flopped in April release; the long on-the-shelf family drama Fireflies in the Garden, starring Julia Roberts, scheduled for summer release; and the acquisitions Public Enemy Number One, a French gangster pic starring Vincent Cassel; and another long-finished horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which had been picked up, then dropped, by another struggling indie, The Weinstein Co. Senator also acquired indie Pierce Brosnan drama The Greatest after Sundance. UPDATE: Producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford withdrew their film Splice, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley and produced by Guillermo del Toro, two months ago when signs became unfavorable, sources said.
Weber pre-sells some territories on each title overseas via different sales companies. Sundance acquisition Brooklyn's Finest, an operatic New York cop tragedy directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Richard Gere and Wesley Snipes, also appealed to Sony, which approved and bought into the deal as the seventh film on the Senator slate. Fuqua was re-editing the picture for a fall release on Senator's dime. But with Senator looking for distribution partners and unlikely to stay in the prohibitive release game, many of these titles are going to be up for grabs. UPDATE: Screen reports on where the films are going to go.
The Seattle International Film Festival had to scramble at the last minute when Senator's two-part Public Enemy Number One was pulled. The lab wouldn't let go of the print. Not a good sign, if other pictures are also in hock.
One would hope that distribution veteran Urman had learned a few things along the way; he spun himself out of his Senator contract nine months in. This time he protected himself from twisting in the wind. If there wasn't enough P & A money raised to back a bonafide distribution effort, then he was out. There wasn't.
Monday, June 22nd
6:00pm: A TOWN CALLED PANIC directed by Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar (Belgium)
With Guest: International Sales Agent Fionnuala Jamison from the Coproduction Office
Sydney's comment: I saw this at the Cannes Film Festival and was astounded at how hilarious and completely absurd it was. No one left the screening room; we willingly suspended all disbelief in what was possible. It is an utterly enchanting Family Film par excellence. It's based on a popular European TV series. You won't even find this title in IMDb! But in Cannes Coproduction Office licensed it to Cineart for Benelux, Optimum for UK, Madman for Australia, JinJin for So.Korea, La Strada for Greece, Suraya for, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Media International for the Middle East and Frenetic for Switzerland...Talk about international appeal...
8:00 pm: WINTER IN WARTIME directed by Martin Koolhoven (The Netherlands)
With Guest: International Sales Agent Elisar Cabrera from Highpoint Films
Produced by San Fu's Fu Works, it already has Benelux distribution. In Cannes it was licensed to Kaleidoscope for U.K. and Ireland.
Tuesday, June 23rd
6:00 pm: WIDE OPEN SPACES directed by Tom Hall (Ireland)
With Guest: International Sales Agent Charlotte Mickie from E1 Entertainment
Premier screening 20 June 2009 at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
8:00 pm: OUR BELOVED MONTH OF AUGUST aka THIS DEAR MONTH OF AUGUST directed by Miguel Gomes (Portugal) With Guest: Luís Urbano from O Som e a Furia, Lisbon.
This was presold in Cannes by Abril Films and has distribution with O Som e A Furia for Portugal, Brazil and with Shellac for France.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
British film producer Duncan Kenworthy OBE has donated $1 million to the National Film and Television School (NFTS) for its new teaching building. The building will be opened on June 11 by a group of British film directors including Terence Davies, Stephen Frears, Sir Alan Parker CBE and Mike Figgis. At Kenworthy’s request, the building will be named after 93-year-old British cinematographer Oswald Morris OBE. Morris started in the industry in 1932 as an unpaid sixteen year old clapper boy for director Michael Powell, and went on to become an Academy Award- winning cinematographer.
The donation comes at a challenging time for the NFTS, as some of its broadcaster-funders have cut their support. The Chairman of the School, Michael Kuhn, said: “This magnificent one-off donation coincides with us urgently seeking to establish a more sustainable funding model with the government. The government has singled out the creative industries as a key source of future economic growth for the UK, and I know our award-winning students can deliver this if we follow Duncan’s fantastic example and invest in the next generation of filmmakers.”
Kenworthy added: “The NFTS is a key part of the British film and television industry, and on behalf of the British public it’s up to every sector - industry, broadcasters, educators, government – to make sure the funds and facilities are there for these moving image stars of the future to learn their craft”.
The Denver Film Society, which has three decades of the Denver International Film Festival to its credit was the scene of a massive walkout by about 21 employees, which according to Indie Wire. Certainly among them were long term veterans of the organization, Festival Director Britta Erickson and Artistic Director Brit Withey, as well as co-founder Ron Henderson. After this showdown last week directed at the policies of new DFS, Burleigh “Bo” Smith, who joined the organization in October and was formerly the head of film, video and concerts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for 21 years, Britta Erickson was named interim executive director and Smith was let go according to the Denver Post. Most of those who walked will return to work Monday. What economic cuts will ensue has yet to be seen but discussion was already taking place as the walkout began.
This news is exemplary of problems besetting a number of other large and small festivals curretnly. Often the problem is that the board does not support the director or understand the basis for the festival. It's been rumored that the AFI Fest is facing similar problems. However in the case of Denver it was a problem of the staff not being supported by the director. For a moment the economic crisis and the need for cutbacks was cited by the director and the board but that was quickly denied as the issue for Denver. Economic cutbacks are however up for discussion and will be implemented in the case of Denver and for most other festivals and the fall out will be watched by the industry and by filmmakers alike.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
There is an industrybeyond the familiar names of Pedro Almodovar and Alejandro Amenabar.
"It was very important that Isabel Coixet whose "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" was in Competition at Cannes," said Beatriz Setuain of Imagina Sales, which will screen its thriller "25 Karats." "That generates more interest in the industry from abroad and we can show how international and varied our productions are." (A note here by Sydney: I saw "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo in Cannes. It is a hauntingly sexy cross cultural story...I especially liked the sex scenes in the hotel room which looked like a French subway car and how much the star Sergio Lopez enjoyed himself, smiling as he aroused not only the beautiful Rinko Kikuchi and probably every woman in the audience. The picture is sold to Alta for Spain.)
Organized by Spain's Producers Federation, FAPAE, this year's screenings include more than 50 recent Spanish productions and will be seen by 132 buyers from 31 countries, including 11 confirmed acquisition executives from the U.S. Some of the buyers confirmed to attend are U.S.'s Venevision International, Magnolia Pictures, Lionsgate, TLA Entertainment, Strand Releasing, Outside Pictures, LAPTV, Sundance Channel and Regent; France's Indie Circle, MK2, Ocean Films, Rezofilms and TF1; Germany's Kinowelt International, Kool Film distribution, Senator, Arsenal and Universum Film; Japan's Nettai Museum, Only Hearts, Tokyo International Film Festival and Cetera; and, the U.K.'s Skyline-IFE, Soda Pictures, Dogwoof and Spafax.
What remains to be seen is which companies actually buy which films. With increasing cost cuts, the high cost of flying out buyers and putting them up in expensive hotels, even if rooms are less expensive and with Spain's economic meltdown, inviting buers will become more and more targeted to those who actually buy films.
Even though the dates might be better in winter rather than right after Cannes, at least this way the buyers are already in Europe. In January, after Sundance, between Rotterdam and Berlin there are already other market screenings in Hungary, Tehran and several other countries and it's cold.
"It's a great occasion for buyers to focus on some of the better Spanish movies that were not highlighted in Cannes and will definitely appear in other festivals," said Latido chief Massimo Saidel, who will be screening the possibly San Sebastian-bound erotic drama "Paper Castles," directed by Salvador Garcia Ruiz, and the boxoffice hit "Sex, Lies and Party." "Sex Lies and Party" already sold to Only Hearts for Japan, G2 for U.K. and K and Planis for South Korea.
Dygra Films has organized an event to screen a trailer of its digital 3D "Holy Night." The film, which uses the same technology as "Monsters vs. Aliens," is Spain's first digital 3D animation.
"It's very important that people can see the trailer in a theater in the best conditions," said Dygra's Lucas Mackey, whose company is on the hunt for an international distribution partner. "This is a very high quality product that speaks for itself when you see it in person."
The event, which is held in Madrid's Princesa theaters, is sponsored by Spain's Foreign Trade Institute, the Culture Ministry's Film Institute, the Producers' Rights Management Entity EGEDA, Madrid Film Commission and Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
From The Business Insider
May. 28, 2009, 8:14 AM
Mark Cuban is known for his bold moves in the film business. HDNet, Magnolia, 2929 and Landmark Theaters are his traditional and not so traditional film companies. He sold his company MicroSolutions to Compuserve in 1999. In this interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, he says "Internet video is dead" -- and it's mostly Google's fault when it bought YouTube with no monetizing plan, only for the sake of ubiquity, and it is now subsidizing bandwidth for the world.
In a move that is likely to further fuel speculation that it is facing financial difficulties, the Weinstein Co. has hired advisor Miller Buckfire & Co. to restructure its debt and raise funds to cover operating costs, confirmed a person close to the company.
The film studio behind such critically acclaimed movies as the “The Reader," which won a Best Actress Oscar for star Kate Winslet in this year's Academy Awards, has been struggling to find its footing since brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein formed their own company in 2005 after partings ways with Walt Disney Co.
In a statement, the company sought to portray the move as a routine course of business.
“As a matter of practice we have always worked with financial institutions to explore our options with respect to equity and possible investments and something we will continue to do. This was an ordinary course we took at Miramax, the Weinstein Company and every business venture we have had in our 30-year career.”
-- Richard Verrier
Recent Weinstein Co. films at the box office
Movie Release Date Total U.S. Box office
Zack and Miri Make a Porno Oct. 31, 2008 $31.5 million
The Reader Dec. 10, 2008 $34.2 million
Killshot Jan. 23, 2009 $18,600
Fanboys Jan. 6, 2009 $689,000
Crossing Over Feb. 27, 2009 $456,000
Photo: Harvey Weinstein/Getty Images
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Co-production Forum will take place. The Forum is the business platform for the territory of Russia, providing a cooperative setting for Russian and international producers, focusing on realization of co-production projects.
On the one hand, international producers, financiers, distributors and other companies, investing in the film industry, will be offered Russian projects, focused by the content on co-production with other countries. On the other hand, Russian producers will have an opportunity to assess the options of participation in the implementation of international projects, presented during
the Forum and directly related to Russia.
The co-production projects’ pitching is the key Forum event. To participate in
the pitching which will select 12 film projects, about half of them - from Russia, producers will have 5 mintues to present the film project. Pre-scheduled meetings with potential partners will take place after the pitching.
The Forum partners include Sofia Meetings (Bulgaria), Connecting Cottbus (Germany), Baltic
Event (Estonia), DAB Regional Co-Production Forum (Armenia) are planning to select by
one of Russian project for presenting them at their events, as a result of the Moscow coproduction forum. Strategic partner of the Forum include EAVE which selected 3 producers for the pitching and several European producers without the projects who are interested in co-producing with Russian producers.
The first day of the Forum, producers and directors, taking part in the Forum, will be able
to get a master class of film projects’ pitching.
Conditions, criteria and requirements for the projects.
- High possibility of being realized
- The project concept proposes, or at least is not inconsistent with, participation of Russian partners as co-producers
- Demonstrable talent of the directors and producers, including co-production projects
- Shootings and/or post-production stages in part or in whole are planned on theterritory of Russia (an advantage)
- Feature-length fiction, creative documentary and an animation project for theatrical release from all parts of the world.
- Projects should have a producer, director and script attached (in English).
- At least 20% of the financing must have already been secured.
- In initial stage of pre-production.
- The producer has already took part in creation at least one feature-length film, an animation or documentary film.
Projects’ application (in English):
· Complete application form.
· Synopsis (1 page).
· Treatment (8-10 pages).
· Statement of the director on the project.
· Covering letter, which includes description of the purpose of participation in the Coproduction
Forum and the producer’s idea about the model of co-production that
can be used during the realization of the project.
· List of confirmed financing for the project (if possible).
· One project can be selected from one Production Company.
· No more then two project’s representatives can present their project at the pitching
(director and producer).
· Russian Forum participants pay their own travel and accommodation during the
Forum. The forum organizers can partially cover the transportation and the hotel
expenses of the participants from other countries.
· The forum participants can take part in MIFF events.
Project Selection Committee for participation in the pitching:
- Roman Borisevich (producer - Russia)
- Gabriele Brunnenmeyer (Artistic Director of Connecting Cottbus - Germany)
- Sergei Lazaruk (The First Deputy of Chairman of the Russian Union of Cinematographers,
- deputy director of TV channel «Russia»)
- Natalia Mokritskaya (producer, Russia)
- Riina Sildos (Director of Baltic Event - Estonia)
- Mira Staleva (Head of Sofia meetings - Bulgaria)
- Karsten Stoter (Rohfilm GmbH, Germany)
- Leonid Vereshchagin (producer, Russia)
Applications should include all the above requested documents and send to
On-line Application Form and program is available on:
Kirill E.Razlogov – Creative Director
Moscow International Film Festival
Olga Kolegaeva – Forum Coordinator
Monday, June 1, 2009
New Films Europe shows a trend in Eastern Europe which might perk up sellers’ ears:
Slovak admissions see dramatic increase. Slovak cinemas attracted 1,022,890 viewers in the first quarter of 2009, a 44% rise in admissions comparing to the first quarter in the year 2008.
Hungarian box office up, attendance down. Attendance at Hungarian cinemas went into its seond year of decline, dropping 7.3% to 10,352,494, while box office increased 2.1% to €35 million, and the number of the screenings increased 9% according to the statistics of the National Film Office.Rising box office trend for Estonian film. Over the past half decade, the share of Estonian films at domestic box office has grown nearly fivefold from 47,000 ticekts sold in 2004 to 223,000 tickets sold in 2007.
It is notable that in posting rights, Dubai takes a place among the markets such as Cannes, EFM and AFM. Posting rights creates a flurry of further deals by savvy buyers who are taking note of developments around them.
Making note of market developments the raison d'etre of Sydney's Buzz. By posting the deals which, in cooperation with IMDbPro.com and Cinando.com, are linked for access to future productions by producers or international sales agents, both distributors and ISAs can track competitors' sales and acquisitions. ISAs can track distributors' interests and everyone can track upcoming projects by favored producers, directors, writers and talent.
Development of market savvy is the creative part of buying and selling. And Dubai, once again, stands out among the Arab entities entering the festival world in taking the lead.