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Editor's Note
The IFP Narrative Labs are in full swing this week, and one of the mentors is my friend Jon Reiss (, who lectures on new model distribution. Jon's a teacher in addition to being a filmmaker, and the quality of his presentation always knocks me out. He begins by contrasting today's world with the "old model," where filmmakers would take their film to a festival and sell all rights to a distributor for enough money to pay back the investors and maybe pocket a bit on the side.

That "old model" got referenced also by Ted Hope last week who, in a talk with Ed Burns at the Vimeo Festival titled "Failure, FTW," spoke about the premiere and sale of Nicole Holofcener's first feature, Walking and Talking. Ted said that after the success of The Brothers McMullen, his head swelled and he thought he was immune to failure. But on the day of the film's premiere, it was shaping up as a big one -- Ted carried the print on two flights, both of which were called back to the airport, had to charter a plane, and barely got the print there in time. (The end of this story on failure was the film selling to Miramax for more than its budget -- for North American rights alone. Clearly, failure today is not what it used to be!)

And then this weekend I had brunch with a friend and conversation also turned to the old days, and how different things are now. Yeah, the financial climate was healthier back then, but I wouldn't turn back the clock. Why, she asked? Here are six reasons, starting with the first one I replied with at that brunch.
  1. The tools are better. As a young filmmaker, would you want to give up DSLRs and Final Cut? How about platforms like YouTube to disseminate your trailers, and Facebook to aggregate your fans? And this is to say nothing of more specialized services like Topspin. Or Kickstarter? Okay, forget about them - what about email? For what we do, is a world of faxes, 3/4" dubs, voicemail, and begging DuArt for a rate to develop your 16mm film one you want to return to?
  2. Less money can mean better films. A lot of films made back then sucked. Because most people couldn't make movies super cheap, you had to make compromises to get the basic money to get your images on screen. And those compromises led to even more compromises, budgets bigger than the films could realistically handle, and compromised filmmaking. But because you can make movies cheaper today, it's easier to resist that pull and scale your films appropriately.
  3. It was harder to come up with a Plan B. Okay, say you want to forget all this and live the dream. Go for it. I hope you succeed. But if you don't, it's a lot easier to recover now and do something with your movie, whether that be recut it, get people to see it by putting it online, or get it out there on DVD or streaming via your own site. Before, you'd be that guy whose movie never came out. Now, you can declare victory and move on.
  4. Expectations got out of whack and it was easier to go down the wrong road. All those compromises I cited in #2, above -- they could mess with your head. There were enough people that did make it that you'd think you could be one of those people too, and you'd get angry and bitter when you didn't. There's more esprit de corps now; people feel they're in it together.
  5. Right now you're already where the old people need to be anyway. Times change, and that impoverished new world you find yourself entering after college? Well, old people are in that same world too, and their skill sets aren't as good as yours. You know that Wayne Gretzky line that gets quoted all the time -- "Skate to where the puck's going, not where it's been"? That's for them; you're already there.
  6. The old days weren't that great anyway. There were good things about the old days, but really, that rational marketplace ready and waiting to buy your indie film? That never really existed -- or at least on the scale people imagine it did. Yes, I think it was easier for the savviest and hardest-working among us to actually have a career making more idiosyncratic films. But those spoils were hardly distributed evenly. I guess, as they say, there's no time like the present... so revisit #1, gather your tools, and make a movie.
On another note, the Northside Film Festival begins today, and Filmmaker is presenting two films next week, Wednesday, June 20. If you read my SXSW coverage in the current print edition, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Andrew Neel's wickedly smart and highly entertaining King Kelly, which features a fearless performance by Louisa Krause as the Tracy Flick of webcam porn. The film will receive its New York premiere along with Remains, a beautiful short about memory and relationships by Jeremiah Zagar and Nathan Caswell. You can buy tickets here and I hope to see some of you there.

See you next week.

Scott Macaulay

Upcoming At IFP
IFP ANNOUNCES NARRATIVE LINE-UP FOR ITS ANNUAL INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER LABS Ten narrative projects selected for IFP's 2012 Independent Filmmaker Labs, its annual year-long fellowship for first-time feature directors, were announced this week. The creative teams of the selected films, chosen from a national pool of 150 submissions, join the 8th edition of the Labs, taking place this week in New York City. The Labs are a highly immersive, free mentorship program supporting first-time feature directors with projects in post-production as they complete, market and distribute their films. Focusing exclusively on low-budget features, the Labs provide filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films. The selected projects are: Bastards of Young, Blue Caprice, Concussion, El Empantanado, Go Down Death, Hide Your Smiling Faces, I Believe in Unicorns, Karaoke Girl, Land of Tomorrow, and The Forgotten Kingdom. Following this week's Lab sessions, the filmmakers will return for two weeks in September and December for additional focus on their marketing and distribution plans. All projects will also participate in IFP's Project Forum of Independent Film Week in September. More on projects and Labs here.
In This Newsletter
Editor's Note
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
Your Sister's Sister
Matthew Akers, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
IFP Announces Narrative Line-up for its Annual Independent Filmmaker Labs
Fest Deadlines
New In Theaters
EXTRATERRESTRIAL In Nacho Vigalondo's Extraterrestrial, Julio (Julian Villagran) wakes up hungover and disoriented in the beautiful Julia's (Michelle Jenner) bed only to discover that aliens have invaded earth. Confined to her apartment by the UFO hovering overhead, Julio has some unfortunate close encounters not with extraterrestrials, but with Julia's voyeuristic neighbor and a boyfriend whom she never mentioned. The film has garnered rave reviews and been described as a Woody Allen-esque alien invasion movie.
MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, Matthew Akers' documentary, centers on the controversial performance artist's preparation for her legendary retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The equivalent of an art-world blockbuster, Abramovic's show drew hundreds of people who lined up for the chance of witnessing her performance in which she sat silently for 7-and-1/2 hours each day. Judging by the film's critical reception, Akers' film is sure to be one of the summer's must-see documentaries.
YOUR SISTER'S SISTER In Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister, Iris (Emily Blunt) offers her family's vacation home to her friend Jack (Mark Duplass), who is grieving over the death of his brother. When Jack arrives at the house, he has a surprise encounter with Iris's sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). A drunken one-night stand follows, and the unexpected appearance of Iris at the cabin only heightens the awkward tension between the three friends. Shelton's film was a festival hit and has been praised for its witty humor and honest performances.
Recent Blogs
This week on the blog, Jon Reiss eulogizes production designer J. Michael Riva (pictured left), Scott Macaulay interviews Todd Solondz, and Hannah Fidell discusses her work-in-progress feature A Teacher.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
Newest Web Article

The self-described "grandmother of performance art," Marina Abramovic has for almost 40 years been one of the leading lights of a still-marginalized form. Born to ex-partisan parents in 1946, in the early days of Tito's Yugoslavia, she is the fascinating subject of Matthew Akers' new documentary, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. Despite her international renown, the Belgrade-born, New York-based Abramovic failed to enter the public consciousness in the States until her blockbuster 2010 MoMA retrospective. Akers' film is a sinewy tour through Abramovic's peculiar life and working process as she embarks upon her most high profile performance yet, one that she hopes will finally push performance art out of the margins and into the mainstream. Mixing biography, interviews and verite, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present captures a snapshot of a high-art world in flux and one of its most ambitious inhabitants at the top of her form.
Read more

Festival Deadlines
Gotham Screen Film Festival and Screenplay Contest
Earlybird Deadline: June 15
Regular Deadline: July 15
Late Deadline: August 15
WAB Deadline: September 3
Festival Dates: October 4 - 14

Mill Valley Film Festival
Late Deadline: June 15
WAB Deadline: June 29
Festival Dates: October 4 - 14

San Diego Film Festival
Late Deadline: June 15
WAB Deadline: July 15
Festival Dates: September 26 - 30

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