School Of Visual Arts
      EDITOR'S NOTE
As you know, we held the first in our series, "A New World: A User's Guide for Audiences and Filmmakers," at the IFC Center this week with a presentation by Jon Reiss. I wrote about it on the blog here, and now, a day after I posted, I've been thinking about this recommendation of Jon's: "During the development of your project, think of five specific audiences your film will appeal to." He relates a story about Oscar short-listed Valentino director Matt Tyrnauer, who was surprised to learn that sewing groups had been coming in large numbers to his movie. In today's world, the trick is to identify these passion groups early on, while in production, and to cultivate their interest in your movies.

Jon's directive may seem to have a market research vibe to it, or it may seem to urge filmmakers to be overly concerned with their audiences, but at least in my mind, it has more to do with insuring that films have sufficient depth and passion embedded in their storylines. My elaboration on Jon's rule is to make sure that your film engages its various subject matters with enough creativity and surprise so as to make these niche audiences want to rally around the films. In other words, don't assume that just because your protagonist is a bowler that all the bowling leagues around the country are going to buy group tickets to your movie. Make sure that even if the bowling scenes are few that they are laced with real insight and inside information. Show part of that world that's never been on screen before, and give your character psychological traits that will resonate with the real-life versions. Think before you shoot: what will motivate groups you can identify to make your film part of their schedules? The result will not only be viewers in seats but also, I believe, better-developed screenplays.

See you next week.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

      NEW IN THEATERS
BROKEN EMBRACES
Back together for the fourth time is power cinematic couple Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz in Broken Embraces, about a writer named Harry Caine (Lluís Homar) who loses both his sight and the love of his life (Cruz) in a brutal car crash. We see their love affair in flashbacks that begin in the 1990s and lead to the present. They love, they fight, they make up, and it's all shot with gorgeous cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (Amores Perros, Lust, Caution). Seeing Broken Embraces, you're reminded why you love Almodóvar's films: they are filled with rich, deep characters and respect for all humanity, and here again Cruz shows she is a funny, sensual, intelligent and intriguing performer.

BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS
Loosely based on Abel Ferrara's 1992 film Bad Lieutenant, Werner Herzog and screenwriter William Finkelstein take the eponymous antihero cop and just have fun with him. Played with crazed energy by Nicholas Cage, Terence McDonaugh is a former "good cop" in New Orleans who thinks nothing of using the drugs he pinches off of dealers and roughing up perps in public places. He spends his time committing more crimes than stopping them, and is one second away from killing somebody. But the film is a lot lighter than Ferrara's gritty classic, as Herzog has created a kind of multiplex black comedy. Interviewed for this week's Director Interviews, Herzog admits that playfulness with the story and characters started very early. "It was inherent in the screenplay, in a way," he says. "But we emphasized it. Immediately I said to Nicholas, there has to be such a thing as 'the bliss of evil.' Enjoy yourself, as vile and as debased as you get." Read our Herzog interview below.

THE MISSING PERSON
In The Missing Person, written and directed by Noah Buschel, private detective John Rosow (Michael Shannon) is hired to track down a man named Harold Fullmer (Frank Wood), who had been presumed dead on 9/11 but is now believed to be alive. Rosow follows Fullmer cross-country, and is torn between bringing him back to New York, to a life that is no longer his, or to let him remain anonymous. The Missing Person weds pulp dialogue out of a '40s film noir with the aftermath of 9/11, exploring the conflict between conscience and emotional. Read an exclusive essay on the emotional aftermath of making the film by Buschel here. And, read our interview with the director from this year's Sundance Film Festival here.

      RECENT BLOGS

This week on the blog, Howard Feinstein gives some thoughts from the 31st Starz Denver Film Festival, Scott Macaulay looks back on Tuesday night's "A New World: A User's Guide for Filmmakers and Audiences" event at the IFC Center (hosted by Jon Reiss, whose new book, Think Outside The Box Office, pictured left, is on sale now), and is reminded of the rigors of obtaining music rights for indie films.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

      UPCOMING AT IFP
BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU® SCREENING SCERIES BEGINS TONIGHT
The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You® Screening Series, presented in partnership with The Museum of Modern Art, kicks off tonight at MoMA. The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You® award, sponsored by Stella Artois, is given annually as part of the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ to the most outstanding independent film of the year without theatrical distribution in place. The five nominated films - all critically acclaimed from the 2009 festival circuit - will screen at MoMA from November 19 - 22. Most screenings will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers: Frazer Bradshaw (Everything Strange and New), Damien Chazelle (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench), Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher (October Country), Ry Russo-Young (You Wont Miss Me) and Tariq Tapa (Zero Bridge). Nominees for the award were selected by the editorial staff of Filmmaker, and Josh Siegel, Associate Curator, MoMA Department of Film from recommendations by critics, festival programmers and curators. See MoMA screening schedule.

      NEWEST WEB ARTICLE
WERNER HERZOG, BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS
By Damon Smith

Forty-plus years into a still-vital, ever-proliferating filmmaking career, Werner Herzog has aged gracefully into the role of the sage adventurer, still fearlessly exploring the terrain between documentary and fiction as well as the vanishing point between charismatic eccentricity and full-blown psychosis. His latest film is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a rogue-cop drama loosely based on Abel Ferrara's 1992 crime thriller about a drug-deranged, out-of-control New York detective investigating the murder of a nun. (Herzog claims never to have seen Ferrara's film.) In the new reimagining, Nicholas Cage plays Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, a decorated Crescent City officer who injures his back rescuing an inmate from a flooded cell in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and then spirals downward into pill-popping addiction, boisterous self-abuse, and all manner of depravity (extortion, bad gambling debts, forced fellatio). Under Herzog's resolutely go-for-broke direction, Cage's wild-card badge careens between feats of grotesque gutsiness and coarse-tongued slapstick. read more

      FESTIVAL DEADLINES

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

DECEMBER
Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters Lab
Submission Deadline: Dec. 4 (early), Jan. 8 (final)
Festival Dates: April 16-18

      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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