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filmmakers and their second jobs. Johnson is a professor at Williams College, and she said, “Since I don't have to take risks about earning money, I feel like I can take more creative risks. But being a professor can really become your whole identity.... Everybody in my workplace takes our work home with us, and sometimes the intensity of our internal faculty conversations can really take up a lot of time. I had to learn to set a balance so that those parts of academic life don't take time away from making my film." These strategies paid off; hers is the only U.S. film in Directors' Fortnight.I’m getting ready to go to Cannes, so a short newsletter this week. It’s funny how when you decide to go, your schedule suddenly fills up by itself. I’m trying to book some meetings for a couple of different projects, I offered to do a financier meeting for a friend’s project, and I’m also trying to make sure there’s enough time left over to see films. I’m of course excited for the new Terrence Malick film, and I also can’t wait to see first-time filmmaker Liza Johnson’s The Return. Filmmaker readers will recognize producer Noah Harlan’s byline from previous pieces in the magazine while Johnson herself appeared in Esther Robinson’s article on
I’ll have coverage from Cannes on the site during the festival, and look for reports too from Livia Bloom and Howard Feinstein.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some links. At the Workbook Project, Saskia Wilson-Brown tells you how to run an independent screening series. At The Wrap, Jeff Steele tells you how to vet your investors. And at Filmmaker I just posted my previously print-only piece on Vladan Nikolic and his transmedia feature, Zenith.
See you next week.
PROJECT FORUM - INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK DEADLINES THIS FRIDAY Independent Film Week is the oldest and largest forum in the U.S. for the discovery of new projects in development and new voices on the independent film scene. Application deadlines are approaching for all three sections of this year’s Project Forum: Emerging Narrative (for U.S. writers and writer/directors seeking producers and agents to develop, produce, represent and finance their scripts) – Final Deadline: Friday, May 6; No Borders (for U.S. and international producers with partial financing on new narrative projects seeking additional partners) – Final Deadline: Friday, May 20; and Spotlight on Documentaries (for U.S. filmmakers with projects in production or post-production seeking financing partners, broadcast/distribution opportunities, and festival invitations) – Early Deadline: Friday, May 6 / Final Deadline: Wednesday, May 25. Once selected, IFP provides invited participants with professional consultation prior to Film Week’s beginning, and during Independent Film Week, participants take part in one-to-one meetings with top independent producers, development execs, agents, managers, sales agents, and festival programmers. More information and applications can be found here.
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LORD BYRON By Michael Tully
Zack Godshall’s Lord Byron was not shot on the Canon 5D (aka, the everybody’s-using-it-so-you-should-too-consumer-grade-Digital-SLR-camera-of-the-very-moment !). Instead, Godshall used a Sony Z1U that he purchased all the way back in 2005 (the horror!). This means that the movie’s images were captured at a 29.97 frame rate, as opposed to the more cinematic 23.98. Which is to say that this 2011 narrative feature has a pretty glaring chip on its shoulder. Just about everything else in Godshall’s production screams no budget at best and amateur at worst: the lack of lighting, the point-and-shoot production design, the clearly nonprofessional performances. But here’s the thing. While Lord Byron has so many technical strikes against it—and I’m confident that this is why it hasn’t received more attention, aside from an appropriately wise slotting in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Section, that is—it nonetheless remains one of the year’s more memorable micro-budget achievements. Read more THE BEAVER Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with Mel Gibson in this long-delayed, quirky tale of a depressive divorcee whose world begins to change for the better after an animate beaver hand-puppet comes into his life. Foster approaches The Beaver’s outlandish premise with a surprising amount of earnestness and improbably manages to wring a tender, moving performance out of the publicity-challenged Gibson. DAYDREAM NATION Youthful, eccentric, and surprisingly surreal, Michael Goldbach's Daydream Nation is every bit as gleefully chaotic as the Sonic Youth song it takes its name from. Kat Dennings stars as a sardonic teen who, after starting at a new high school, finds herself entangled in a love triangle with her handsome teacher (Josh Lucas) and a doting classmate (Reece Thompson). Goldbach, a first-time director, brings a youthful energy to the proceedings, a brio matched by Denning's charming performance. HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN Both a '70s exploitation throwback and a genuinely compelling genre piece, Hobo with a Shotgun premiered with a splash during the Midnight section at this year's Sundance. Originally just a faux movie trailer, the film is now powered by Rutger Hauer's unforgiving performance in the title role and comes armed with more than enough campy goodness and blood-soaked kills to justify the ticket price. LAST NIGHT For her directorial debut, Massy Tadjedin directs Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington in this drama about a young couple whose marriage is tested over one night in New York City. Not only is Last Night a sophisticated exploration of the challenges of sustained fidelity, it's also a provocative and assured debut. In this week's Director Interview, Tadjedin tells Scott Macaulay the origins of the film's premise, explaining, "it's not an autobiographical film -- it's not based on an event in my life -- but it is a personal film." Read Tadjedin's interview below. This week on the blog, transmedia filmmaker Mark Harris anticipates the first preview screening of his new film, The Lost Children (pictured left); Brandon Harris recaps the winners at this year's Tribeca Film Festival; Stewart Nusbaumer surveys the fest’s docs; and M dot Strange gives us an update on his next animated feature. To read more posts from our blog, click here.
“LAST NIGHT” DIRECTOR MASSY TADJEDIN By Scott Macaulay
The eponymous prior evening of Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night takes the form of an out-of-town business trip between handsome, somewhat taciturn and very married Michael (Sam Worthington) and Laura, his sexy and very interested coworker (Eva Mendes). Or, you could view it, the “last night” is the clandestine evening spent between Sam’s beautiful author wife, Joanna (Keira Knightley) and her still-charming ex, Alex (Guillaume Canet), while Sam is away. But most accurately — and no matter what your gender or point-of-view on modern relationships is — the film’s “last night” is best considered from its morning after, when whatever rash decisions made hours before are confessed... or concealed. Read more here.
Raindance Film Festival
Early Deadline: May 6
WAB Deadline: June 17
Festival Dates: September 28 - October 9
New York City International Film Festival
Late Deadline: May 11
WAB Deadline: June 9
Festival Dates: August 11 - 21
Hamptons International Film Festival
Regular Deadline: May 13
WAB Deadline: June 24
Festival Dates: October 13 - 17