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October 25 at 11:10am

Places To Film #2: Glaciers


We have an obligation to film what is vanishing.  And by that logic all filmmakers should begin packing their snow gear.  


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October 23 at 11:30am

Dealing With Challenging Material

You can click here to see Alan Ball, Steven Raphael, and I discuss Towelhead this past summer at the Provincetown Film Festival.  Excuse me for eating my breakfast on camera that morning.  It’s an hour long, well 57 minutes, but never a dull moment (other than watching me eat!)

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October 22 at 10:46am

Government Subsidies For The Arts

I was on a panel awhile back bemoaning the loss of the NEA back in the 80′s, and how short sighted I thought it was not to have government funding for the arts, particularly film.

John Sloss responded that the government subsided film productions via the local state tax incentives — and that’s true, but not the whole picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the state tax incentives.  They are good for the film businsess and great for the states’ economies.  They create jobs and drive a lot of money into the states.  They have helped stem the flow of entertainment jobs out of the country.  But they don’t create a more diverse culture.
When we had a tiny tiny portion of our tax dollars going to artists to develop new work, we had the possibility of new forms of representation.  The local state tax subsidies are for production, not development; they lead to more of the same work.  We all benefit when creative voices help us look at the world differently.  Without financial support how is anyone supposed to develop for anything other than the existing market?
I always use Julie Taymor as the poster child for government subsidies for the arts.  Back in the day she received such funding and was able to develop a truly unique craft.  She was later tapped by Disney to bring The Lion King to Broadway and thereby generated tremendous wealth for many.  Without the support of her development, we all would have been deprived of such a voice.
All that said, if you have finished that script and are looking to move towards production, those state incentives are pretty sweet.  The Incentives Office has a swell state-to-state guide that is free to download.  And through friday you can download here with just one push of a button and no need to fill out any forms.  Check it out. 


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October 2 at 9:34am

Come To Woodstock!

I am on the jury and will be be doing another panel up at the Woodstock Film Festival this weekend.  I am completely impressed with the films in competition.  They’ve done a great job curating.  And they’ve done a great job programming too.

Saturday at the Woodstock Film Festival has an embarrassment of riches, particularly in terms of yours truly.  1P brings Ang Lee’s RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, which I had the pleasure of producing along with this year’s Woodstock Maverick honoree, James Schamus, and the late, great Bob Colesberry.  RIDE’s been cited as a fave of folks as diverse as Bruce Springsteen and Gore Vidal, but it’s been rarely seen.  I think there will be some surprise guests at the screening, and I can only thing of one good reason to miss the show.
That reason is a panel I am on on the current state of what is still mistakingly referred to as the “Indie” film world.  Woodstock’s assembled a stellar and diverse group for it: John Sloss, Mark Duplass, & Ryan Werner — all of us moderated by Variety’s Dade Hayes.  It is on at 2P Saturday.  Here’s the description:

IS IT SAFE? With the closure of many of the studio specialty divisions and the reported financial troubles of many of the independents, has “indie film distribution” come to an end, or is this just the end of the world, as we know it? What does the “falling sky” really signify for the independent film sector? Were these companies right to turn their backs or were they just spending too much? Should you make films these days without some form of distribution? And most importantly, who, what or where is the great future hope for indies (and is it all online?)?
Join this esteemed panel of experts straight from the front lines of indie distribution and learn where the light is at the end of the tunnel.

I wonder what I am going to say?  Hmmmm….   We need to move the dialogue beyond my “1000 Phoenix Rising” and certainly beyond “The Sky Is Falling”.

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October 1 at 12:29pm

The Effect Of The Vanishing Film Critics

We interrupt our discussion on the films themselves, for a brief journey into the business of it all.  Here at LMBFilms I (and I want that to be a “we”) want to focus on the movies and not the industry, but until I (hopefully “we”) launch the better business site, please pardon the interruption…

We started Hammer To Nail because we found it hard to get go analysis of what Truly Free films that were out there were truly worth watching.  The mainstream critics had stopped covering the smaller films.
Ad Age is now running an article on the effect of all the firings of the established critics on the specialized film business.  The loss of established voices has brought a serious drop at the box office.
“It’s the consistent relationship [with a critic] that gets people to go to these movies,” said Mr. Bernard. “[Editors] felt they should get critics that connect to that younger audience that’s getting its news online, but they’re not looking at how the box office is affected when the critic changes.” 

Of course, the loss of these critics had no effect on the revenues of all the interesting and great films that weren’t getting the theaters or coverage in the first place.  For those films, just go to Hammer To Nail.
And to keep a vast and diversified culture alive, vote with your dollars, and go out to see a movie today.  Seriously.  We will lose it otherwise.
There’s a great new program in NYC that bumps the film experience up a notch with direct contact with the filmmakers and a post screening celebration.  It also confronts head-on the over emphasis the exhibition biz puts on the first weekend revenues.  
Credit the IFP and Michelle Byrd with putting their money where their mouth is an truly supporting both Independent and Truly Free films with their new First Weekend series (all done without corporate backing — c’mon you sponsors, follow suit!).  Read about here.
And guess what their inaugural film is?  BALLAST!  Did I tell you how much I admire this film?  How great it is?  How much I like it?  I think I have.  Go see it.


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