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Film Independent Directors Close-Up
      EDITOR'S NOTE
In this week’s newsletter I am urging you to sign the Petition to Save New York’s Film and TV Tax Credits and to call your elected representatives and ask them to support further funding of this program.

If you aren’t aware of the situation, funding for New York’s film tax credit program ran out this week. The program was initially funded through 2013, but after the state’s 10% rebate was increased to 30% last year, all the resulting production work burned through the budget allotment. A new budget is due to be presented in April, but it is not clear whether additional funding to continue the program will be included.

In its short tenure, the program has been hugely successful at not only attracting studio work but also foreign-financed production and independent, equity-financed filmmaking. A February 11, Crains New York Business article quoted a 2007 Ernst and Young study stating that the $690 million New York has issued in tax credits has attracted $2.7 billion tax revenue to the state and supported 19,000 direct or indirect jobs. These jobs are at risk if the program is not renewed.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill recently argued for the stripping of filmmaking incentives from the stimulus bill, saying that Hollywood had its best January at the box office ever. But they are speaking of the studio film distribution business. The production business – particularly the independent one – operates on a different economy, and it is on far shakier ground. New York’s production business needs these credits. As the Crain’s article notes, already we’re seeing studios move their productions from New York because they don’t want to risk the program not being renewed, and in the midst of the economic crisis the production community here is already feeling the specific and painful strain of a filmmaking slowdown.

Please take a moment and click on the link in the "Recent Blogs" section below to learn more and sign the petition.

See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor
      NEW IN THEATERS
GOMORRAH
Based on the best selling exposé by Roberto Saviano, Italian director Matteo Garrone's gritty look at the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples has been regarded the world over as a modern-day classic. Ignoring the glamorization and hero worship model that has made the mafia genre flourish in the States for close to a century, Garrone uses hand-held camera work, no score and filmed on the turf of the Camorra to give a frighteningly realistic portrayal of this violent group that has murdered more people than the IRA or Islamic terrorist groups. Winning the Grand Prix award at Cannes and having Martin Scorsese on as a presenter of the film for its release in the U.S., everything has gone right for Garrone's film. Except being snubbed in the Best Foreign Language category for this year's Oscars.

TWO LOVERS
The classic romantic drama, a human being caught between two lovers, is a tale that never seems to get old. Director James Gray (We Own the Night) sets the aptly titled Two Lovers in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, where Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself back at home and living with his parents after suffering heartbreak from a relationship that has recently crumbled. But Leonard’s emotional struggle truly begins when he falls for two women at the same time: the mysterious and erotic Michelle (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) who tempts him from a neighboring window, and the caring and dependable Sandra (Vinessa Shaw). The nuanced dimension of these characters, combined with the dark-hued ambiance of the surrounding New York winter, imbues Two Lovers with both weight and heart.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay shows how Gmail can help producers stay organized, posts a petition to help save the New York TV and Film tax credit program and delivers the closing chapter on Kim's Video (pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
      UPCOMING AT IFP
IFP's DOCUMENTARY LAB APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 20th
IFP designed its Independent Filmmaker Labs to assist filmmakers in tackling the creative and technical challenges of completing their projects before they are submitted to festivals. The five-day Lab programs support low-budget, independently produced films by first-time feature directors in the rough assembly stage that can benefit from the mentorship of experienced film professionals. Recent Documentary Lab project alumni have included Matt Wolf's Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, released through Plexifilm, and two recent 2009 Park City debuts – Ngawang Choephel's Tibet in Song which received the World Cinema Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and Lee Storey's Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up with People Story, which premiered at Slamdance. Deadlines, criteria and additional information on both the Narrative and Documentary Labs available here.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
TOM TYKWER, THE INTERNATIONAL

Tom Tykwer's movies (Run, Lola, Run, The Princess and the Warrior, Perfume) have always had thriller elements but, as he puts it, he always got distracted by other aspects. All along, though, he planned to make a straight thriller, and it finally has materialized in the shape of The International. With a script by Eric Singer, the film centers on the obsessive quest of Interpol agent Lou Salinger (Clive Owen) to take down the International Bank of Business and Credit, a shadowy power player in the global financial market. However, as Salinger and Manhattan Assistant D.A. Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) close in on the truth behind the organization's malicious dealings, they find that anyone who helps them is instantly “liquidated.” read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

FEBRUARY
DC Shorts Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 15, May 1 (Final)
Festival Dates: Sept. 10-17

Charlotte Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 15
Festival Dates: Sept. 21-27

Edinburgh International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Feb. 16
Festival Dates: June 17-28

Find more festival deadlines, click here. And get the latest news and notes on the fest circuit at Festival Ambassador.

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