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Nokia Productions
Editor's Note


A friend had, I think, the best Facebook status report ever on his home page last week. He said he was walking down the street in L.A. “trying to avoid falling failing business models.” I laughed because I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the last couple of weeks who are all involved with film and the Internet. It’s been a little bit of a late-'90s dotcom flashback as everyone is struggling to start ventures while simultaneously figuring out what the revenue streams for these ventures might be. And yes, business models are dropping like flies as they get beta-tested in the real world.

If you read the Filmmaker blog, you’ll know that we spend a lot of time thinking about how independent film must change in order to sustain itself in the new theatrically-challenged, digitally distributed world. Last week I posted a link to a blog post by Noah Harlan in which he reported back from the Sundance Producers' Lab and crunched some numbers relating to the business models he heard talked about there. His post prompted an exceptionally lively comments thread, which featured opinions by everyone from CinemaTech’s Scott Kirsner to Film Transit sales agent Jan Rofekamp. But one or more anonymous posters kept bringing the discussion back to a more elemental point: does any of this talk matter if the films aren’t good? Rather than debate business models, this poster said, why don’t filmmakers just focus on making a good picture? He (or, perhaps another anonymous poster) wrote, “I don't see distribution as the thorn in indie's side. I see quality as its biggest shortcoming. Seriously. Where are the filmmakers with the ambition to makes sex, lies & videotape or She's Gotta Have It or Reservoir Dogs or Clerks or Gas Food & Lodging or Blood Simple or Stranger Than Paradise or Pi or whatever else?
Those movies weren't just made for nothing (though the budgets and name actors varied), they were GREAT MOVIES made by directors who really had personality and style.”

My response was that if the above films came out today, half wouldn’t get theatrical distribution and of the ones that did, half of those would be IFC releases. And I also think that bringing the conversation down to a basic question of “good films versus bad films” is too simplistic. In fact, I think the one of the biggest challenges for the independent scene right now is to come up with new notions of “what’s good” that we can all agree on and share among ourselves. I think there’s a relationship between viewing platform and one’s impression of a film. Buying a ticket and seeing something in a theater places you in one kind of critical mindset while clicking on a website and sitting through three bumper ads while watching a streamed film places you in another. Is “what’s good” when discovered through one experience the same “what’s good” that’s discovered in another? And does the price leveling effect of the Internet, Chris Anderson’s dictum that everything wants to be free, apply to quality as well? Will the dog on the skateboard – or the Burger King employee in the sink – always trump the well-crafted narrative? Lots of people – everyone from Josh Whedon to struggling indies who are dicing up their unsold features into five-minute webisodes – are trying to figure this out. We’ll keep thinking too.

If you’re interested in these ideas and would like to discuss them in real time, check out the IFP’s upcoming Independent Film Week. It’s packed with very forward-looking panel discussions dealing with how indies can best navigate the changing world we live in.

See you next week.



Best,

Scott Macaualy
Editor

GIRL CUT IN TWO
Another of Claude Chabrol’s trademark thrillers, Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) stars as Gabrielle, a weather anchor on French TV torn between two men. Francois Berleand plays Charles, an author who's infatuated with Gabrielle, but soon after meeting him she is wooed by a pharmaceutical heir who despises Charles, which leads to moments filled with black comedy and suspense.

 

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Filming outside of North America and having a new muse (Scarlett Johansson) seems to have rejuvenated Woody Allen and his latest film comes to the States after having received solid reviews at this year's Cannes. In the film, Spain is the setting as two friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Johansson), travel to Barcelona for the summer where they become romantically involved with a charming painter played by Javier Bardem, who, unbeknownst to them, is still involved with his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). And in typical Allen fashion, chaos ensues as their lives become romantically entangled.

 


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay lets us know NYC's new permit rules have gone into effect and shares the blogsphere's rants on the comparisons between The Dark Knight and the policies of George W. Bush (pictured left), while Jason Guerrasio hears of a Man on Wire remake.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER CONFERENCE SEPTEMBER 2008

Newly announced 2008 Keynotes:
Kevin Smith (writer-director, Clerks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), Robert Greenwald (Emmy nominated director-producer, Iraq for Sale, Outfoxed), Rick Allen (President, SnagFilms).

Including panelists from:
A&E Films, Big Beach, BMI, B-Side, Cinetic Media, HBO, Likely Story, Magnolia Pictures, Maximum Films, Miramax, SAGIndie, Spout, SXSW, This is That Productions, and more!

Six Days. Dozens of Panels. Daily Social Networking. Gain practical knowledge from producers, funders, distributors, agents and buyers addressing the issues facing today’s independent filmmakers and learn about new models and platforms that will impact your work tomorrow.

For the latest Conference updates and pass purchases, go to www.filmmakerconference.com.


 

JON KNAUTZ, JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER
By Nick Dawson

At a time when horror films are getting ever more brutal, Jon Knautz brings a comfortingly old- fashioned feel to genre filmmaking. For his debut feature, Knautz taps into the spirit of 80s horror films with Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. The eponymous hero (Trevor Matthews) is a plumber with anger issues stemming from the childhood trauma of seeing his parents and sister killed by a monster during a family camping trip. He attends night school to learn science from Professor Crowley (a hearty turn by Robert Englund), but when Crowley unearths an evil spirit Jack is forced to take action and finally put his rage to good use. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

AUGUST
Sundance Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Aug. 18 (All Films), Sept. 5 (Final for Shorts), Sept. 8 (Final for Features)
Festival Dates: Jan. 15 - 25

Three Rivers Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Aug. 29 (Shorts), Sept. 5 (Features)
Festival Dates: Nov. 7-20

SEPTEMBER
Tropfest NY
Submission Deadline: Sept. 5
Festival Dates: Sept. 26

Victoria Independent Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 8 (Final)
Festival Dates: Nov. 13-20

Tribeca Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Sept. 15 (Opens), Nov. 14 (Early), Jan. 12 (Final)
Festival Dates: April 22-May 3

Find more festival deadlines here.







 


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