Coming up this weekend and next in New York are two worthy film events for those focused on the future of film distribution, business, and also content. April 3 at the New School is the first Gotham-hosted version of DIY Days, and the line-up looks to be the best yet. If you read Lance Weiler's "Culture Hacker" column in Filmmaker you know what to expect, and I was happy to see the speaker list include many new faces (at least to me) speaking about truly new parts of our digital culture world. This coming Saturday at Columbia University is the first East Coast edition of The Conversation: Social Media Distribution and the Future of Film. Click on the link for the full list of speakers, but I'll be moderating a seminar on new forms of film finance, specifically crowd-sourced financing, with folks from IndieGoGo and Kickstarter as well as filmmakers Gregory Bayne and Tiffany Shlain.

I'm also hosting one of the small-group lunches titled "Creating and Communicating a Consistent Brand for your Film." I winced a bit when I realized that in relaying this idea to Scott I had lapsed into annoying marketing speak. (Perhaps I was remembering the New York Times profile of White Social Director Valerie Jarrett, who would use the term "Obama brand." We shouldn't be referring to him as a "brand," David Axelrod reportedly told her.) In any case, what we'll be discussing over lunch is messaging: specifically, what message, brand, impression, identity (you can pick your own term here) do you want your film's marketing to communicate to your potential audience? More specifically, what message do you not want to get lost amidst all of the requisite viral chatter? Do people go to films because they've read the filmmaker's blogs and tweets from its makers? Of do they go because they're convinced that some aspect of the movie will enrich their lives, entertain them or register as culture? The above are not mutually exclusive, but how do we make sure that viral chatter does not distract from a film's actual content? How can one support the other, run alongside the other, but not conflict with the other? And, while the press, including Filmmaker, is fascinated with these subjects, how can a filmmaker make sure that his or her film is viewed ultimately as a work of art and not a marketing class experiment?

That's a segue - perhaps an awkward one - to a final note. In the last few weeks we switched our blog from Blogger to Wordpress. We also switched our web hosting company. The result is that our URLs and RSS feeds have all changed. When a couple of people e-mailed and even came up to me at SXSW and asked if I had been sick because I hadn't been blogging, I realized that they hadn't received this news and were using old bookmarks and feeds. So if you haven't been receiving our content, please take a minute and rebookmark and subscribe. Our main site URL is the same: http://www.filmmakermagazine.com. Our blog URL is now: http://filmmakermagazine.com/news/category/news/. Our all-content RSS feed is now: feed://filmmakermagazine.com/news/feed/. And if you'd like to customize your feeds among our different content categories, go here: http://filmmakermagazine.com/main/feeds.php.

As long as I'm at it, visit us on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/filmmakermag. At Facebook we are: http://www.facebook.com/FilmmakerMagazine.

Hope to see some of you at The Conversation or DIY Days.


Scott Macaulay

Director Catherine Breillat (Romance, The Last Mistress) tackles the fairy tale Bluebeard, by Charles Perrault, where a teenage girl (Lola Creton) becomes the wife of an old aristocrat who is rumored to have murdered his previous wives. Creton doesn't play her as a naive innocent or a victim, but a headstrong young woman who learns more about her husband's sordid past and outsmarts him, avoiding the same fate as his previous wives. Breillat balances an intelligent script that challenges the audience's preconceptions of both victims and heroines, and re-works a dark fairy tale into a modern-day murder mystery.

A remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie (by filmmaker Anne Fontaine), Atom Egoyan directs Chloe as a meditation on secrets and trust, and crafts a strange but intriguing relationship between two women. Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David Stewart (Liam Neeson) are a long-married couple, seemingly happy on the outside, but Catherine begins to doubt her husband's fidelity and starts a twisted game. She hires a young prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to pose as a regular young woman who flirts with and seduces David, and to report back to her on their activities. It's not enough that David falls into this trap - Catherine pushes Chloe more, "directing" her, and taking pleasure in seeing how far she and David will go to break each other's trust. The film is written by Erin Cressida Wilson, who previously explored the dynamics of sexual power games with her screenplay for Secretary.

A documentary directed by longtime Disney producer-director Don Hahn and produced by former studio head Peter Schneider, Waking Sleeping Beauty chronicles Disney animation's creative resurgence amidst boardroom drama. With the exits of old guard veterans of the Walt years and a switch in management to Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney seemed passe and out of touch with the tastes of audiences who had grown out of fairy tales. Enter Howard Ashman, a gay Jewish lyricist from the NYC theater world whose ear for pop music and clever lyrics gave beauty and life to films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. With the hard-working animators (who went under many stresses as management changed), Disney rose out of its creative slump and produced some of the most stunning animated films of the past twenty years. Waking Sleeping Beauty doesn't shy away from the dark side of Disney politics, but nevertheless, is a tribute to the emotional power of animation.

From Irish playwright and director Conor McPherson, The Eclipse is a quiet and sensitive film about a widower (Ciaran Hinds) who believes that he is seeing ghosts. He volunteers at a local literary festival, and meets an author (Iben Hjejle), who writes novels about the supernatural. He feels he can relate to her and understand her beliefs, but an American novelist (Aidan Quinn) stands in the way of a potential relationship. It's both a ghost story and a love story, and it won the Best Actor award at '09 Tribeca Film Festival for Hinds. Writing about the film for this week's Director Interviews, Damon Smith describes the film as, "a subtle, emotionally restrained drama of male grief shot through with lightning-flash bursts of supernatural horror." Read our interview with McPherson below.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay interviews The Runaways director Floria Sigismondi at Sundance; notes Neil LaBute's documentary about the video game Heavy Rain (pictured left); and a teaser trailer for Jean-Luc Godard's upcoming film Socialism is premiered.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs is the only program in the U.S. supporting first-time feature directors with projects at the crucial rough cut stage, before they are submitted to festivals. The Labs are a free, week-long workshop in New York offering personalized feedback and advice on all aspects of the post-production process, audience building, and distribution strategies in the digital age, followed by continued support from IFP as the project premieres in the marketplace. More than half of Lab alumni have gone on to premiere at major festivals - including Berlin, Sundance, SXSW, Toronto, and Venice, and have enjoyed theatrical releases, been broadcast nationally, or released on DVD. Among recent alums, Zeina Durra's 2009 Lab project, The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, produced by Vanessa Hope, premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2010, and director Tarik Tapa was a double Independent Spirit Award nominee this year for Zero Bridge, a 2008 Lab project alum. Criteria and lab applications are available here.

By Damon Smith

Returning to feature-film directing after a six-year absence, Irish playwright Conor McPherson (The Seafarer, Shining City) drew heavy interest at last year's Tribeca Film Festival when he unveiled The Eclipse, a subtle, emotionally restrained drama of male grief shot through with lightning-flash bursts of supernatural horror. read more


Chicago International Film Festival
Next Deadline: April 1. Late Deadline: July 12
Festival Dates: Oct. 7-21

Indianapolis International Film Festival
Next Deadline: April 1. Final Deadline: May 7
Festival Dates: July 15-25

Hamptons International Film Festival
Next Deadline: April 2. Final Deadline: June 25
Festival Dates: Oct. 7-11


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