AFI Fest 2009
      EDITOR'S NOTE
This week I'm in Doha, Qatar, attending the first Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Look for updates on the festival on our blog as well as our Twitter feed and then a more complete wrap-up in the Winter issue of Filmmaker. Since I'm away, I thought I'd share the newest distribution saga posted in our Web Exclusives section. This one is by Zachary Levy, director of the documentary film Strongman. He's got very thoughtful things to say about the possibilities as well as the responsibilities we have in this historical moment as more filmmakers consider DIY releasing strategies for their films. Check out the piece and then visit his website to learn how you can watch his cinema verite portrait of "the world's strongest man at bending steel and metal," which Levy describes as a "film about faith, about believing in yourself and a film about never giving up."

Here's an excerpt from the piece:
I think I understand what's happening when I see more and more people with traditional distribution experience on their resumes hand me their business cards having reinvented themselves as indie-film consultants, as DIY specialists. I get it when I hear the initials repeated more and more like some kind of post-DV-modern mantra. It's like those earliest whispers about the internet - there's this hot new thing massing out there, and if we can just get a hold of it quick enough, jump on board in the right way, find someone to explain it to us, it just may be the answer to the industry's sense of temporary impermanence, the thing that is going to save us all from oblivion.

The truth is, of course, that for us filmmakers, there is nothing particularly "new" about DIY. There has been a slow creep towards DIY for a long time now: we now make websites, we make trailers, we design and make posters, all in the hope that an established distributor will notice. We have already done at least the first pass on work that a distributor would have traditionally done. And yet, even in those statistically rare cases where a traditional distributor does buy the film, it hasn't raised the purchase prices. We already are doing DIY stuff without any of the benefits.

For more and more of us then, having already taken the lion's share of the risk during production and now doing the basic distribution groundwork anyhow, taking that step towards full DIY begins to look exactly like a logical step forward and not some crazy blind leap off a cliff. Yes, we have reached a potential tipping point between traditional distribution and the DIY models, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.


See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

      NEW IN THEATERS
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
A throwback to old-school horror films featuring ordinary girls in terrifying situations (When a Stranger Calls, Halloween), The House of the Devil succeeds in maintaining a tense atmosphere with a lack of pretense or hipster self-awareness. Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a 1980s college student who calls a couple about a babysitting job, only, when she arrives, to find out that they don't have children, but need her for other, more perverse reasons. The rest is a fantastically suspenseful nightmare, written and directly in an intelligent manner by Ti West (The Roots, Trigger Man), and twisting the expectations of the genre on its head. Interviewed for Director Interviews this week, West explains his style of horror filmmaking. "This is a horror movie but there's an element to this that's about solving a mystery, and I wanted to let that play out," he says. "I also wanted to take everyone who's very familiar with horror movies out of their comfort zone. You go in a room where you think, 'Oh, my God, something's going to happen,' and then she just talks to a fish and leaves. And then she goes into another room – and it's just a bathroom. You get to the point where you go, 'Yeah, I actually don't know what's going to happen, and I'm just at the mercy of this person.' I think that that's effective and I think that's the way that it should be."

SKIN
A breathtaking film starring the underrated Sophie Okonedo, Skin follows the true story of Sandra Laing, a "black" child born to white Afrikaner parents in 1950s South Africa. In the midst of apartheid, she is split between two racial identities, wanting to connect with her white peers but being classified as black, and her parents denying their own black ancestry. The film follows Laing's incredible story as she stands as a symbol of the division and segregation that was apartheid. Directed by Anthony Fabian, and a multiple-award winner at several film festivals, Skin is a stunning and moving film that is highly recommended to see.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay highlights Peter Sollett directing the newest episode of The Burg, learns about the one day distribution/marketing crash course, Distribution U and Jason Guerrasio gets us into the Halloween spirit with Ti West's web series for IFC.com, Dead & Lonely (pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

      UPCOMING AT IFP
THE 19th ANNUAL GOTHAM INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS™ - TICKETS & TABLES ON SALE
With the Gotham Independent Film Award™ nominees announced last week joining the previously announced career Tributes to Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Kathryn Bigelow, Natalie Portman, and Stanley Tucci, all eyes now point toward this first awards event of the season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition. Join the nominees, the Tribute recipients and other members of the community at the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ at Cipriani Wall Street on November 30th. For tickets, ticket packages, and table sales click here.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
ISN'T SHE?...

In his new short film, Jamie Stuart uses the latest version of Apple's Final Cut Studio to create Isn't She?..., an ode to John Hughes that follows a day in the life of Claire (Lauren Currie Lewis) as she tries to claim unemployment insurance.
See short here.
Read parts 1 & 2 of Jamie's review of Final Cut Studio.

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

OCTOBER
Brooklyn International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 30 (early), March 17 (final)
Festival Dates: June 4-13

Cinequest Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 30
Festival Dates: Feb. 23 - March 7

Cleveland International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 31 (early), Nov. 30 (final)
Festival Dates: March 18-28

NOVEMBER
Nashville Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Nov. 15
Festival Dates: April 15-22

      JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Our Forums page is new and improved! Check out the new categories: how to make films, discuss the current trends in the business, job opportunities and look out for guest filmmaker moderators. Click here to get started.

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