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January 29 at 9:42pm

Thank You Manohla (and The New York Times)

Ms. Dargis has been doing an excellent job covering — and contextualizing — Indie Film’s move towards an artist-centric collaboration with the audience (and away from an exclusive control by the corporations in terms of what is made and exhibited).

And she just gave TrulyFreeFilm some serious props today. Perhaps that is why you are reading this now (that is if they fixed their online link). Anyways, this is that big shout out of thanks.
In regards, to art films current inability to attract young audiences, Manhola quoted me:
it “is really surprising how few true indie films speak to a youth audience.” He continued, “In this country we’ve had Kevin Smith and ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ but nothing that was youth and also truly on the art spectrum like ‘Run Lola Run’ or the French New Wave (‘Paranormal Activity’ not withstanding…),” adding: “Are we incapable of making the spirited yet formal work that defines a lot of alternative rock and roll? And if so, why is that?”
If you want to read the whole post that came from: this is it.
And if you are coming here for the first time, please “follow” this blog (see column on right), follow me on Twitter @TedHope, and come join me on FaceBook. And please join in the conversation by commenting, posting, and retweeting.
We can keep a diverse and vital culture alive and flourishing but only with your participation.


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January 29 at 4:20pm

Sundance 2010 Producers’ Roundtable, Part 2

Please, let me know what you think about what we are discussing.


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January 28 at 12:09am

Sundance 2010 Producers’ Roundtable

Sit down, pour yourself a glass of wine, eat a chicken wing, and join myself, Christine Vachon, Jonathon Schwartz, Thomas Woodrow, & Liz Watts discussing how to survive as a producer in this day and age.


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January 27 at 4:03pm

Sundance Observation

To me, the filmmaking community (the artists, the business folk, the curators & promoters, the appreciators & fans) have to embrace that we are in a seismic shift to an artist-centric collaboration with the audience and away from the corporate controlled supply & attention. This requires a redefinition of cinema by its creators to embrace the discovery, engagement, presentation, promotion, & appreciation processes as much as we do development & production. We have to erase the lines between between art & commerce and content & marketing. We have to stop thinking of films as singular objects and refocus on how they are bridges for the ongoing conversation we have with audiences. Specifics like VOD numbers are important, but we miss the point if we don’t look first at the big picture.



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January 26 at 1:26pm

What Defines An Event? 10 Thoughts On Transforming Small to LARGE

Hollywood will survive because of its ability to develop, produce, market, and distribute “Event” pictures. Whereas Hollywood’s Event Pictures are defined as being designed for general audiences, Truly Free Film can have its own event pictures too by focusing on specific audiences and understanding what it is that will drive people out of their house to do something in conjunction with others. So what are those qualities of “event”?

  1. A conversation that inevitably will continue after the screening is over. It is an event if you are compelled to discuss it afterwards. Is that a memorable scene? A relationship to the world we live in? Truth? Understanding? Passion? Beauty? Transcendence? What? What is the return the audience gets on their 90 minute investment? It’s the after-effect, the conversation.
  2. Content whose impact is enhanced by timely consumption. The audience recognizes that their social and intellectual capital will increase by having been among those whom participated — and thus are compelled to attend.
  3. A once in a blue moon opportunity. It expires, is used up, & is gone gone gone. If you don’t go, you will never get this chance again. It is dated and defined by that date.
  4. There are many pieces that fit together into something much much larger. Maybe it is part of a series or a sequence. Maybe it is the fact that the screening is only part of a bigger activity.
  5. The awareness that a lot of people will be participating somehow. The larger the audience the more it is an event. The wider the audience the more it is an event. The more an audience is spread out, the more it is an event.
  6. The memory, the understanding, and/or the appreciation of the participation changes as time passes. Events aren’t static. They grow and transform.
  7. Events have a material aspect to them. We take events home with us somehow, but generally via the merchandise that we barter for with our dollars.
  8. People you will never know are talking about it. When the Velvet Underground or The Sex Pistols first played they were events, perhaps not so much in the moment, but certainly in terms of how they were discussed long afterwards. It is partially the knowledge that we have that others are talking about what we participated in that defines an experience as an event.
  9. Anticipation. What makes us think about doing things in advance? How often do we need to be reminded that something is happening here?
  10. Commitment. If we commit to participating in something, it’s importance grows tenfold. If we, by either our own volition, or the badgering or heckering of our friends and acquientances, commit to something, it becomes the event of the moment.
I am up at the Sundance Film Festival now, where every screening feels like an event. People wonder why certain films can pack the house at a festival but no one shows up when booked for an actual run. The context of a festival creates the urgency. Yet even still here, you feel that not enough is done by just putting it up on the screen. Filmmakers need to focus more on the context they create around the film. In this day and age it is irresponsible to simply screen your film. You need to build ramps up to the event, and bridges after the screening — tools & processes that keep the conversation going. It is surprising how few examples there are of folks who are doing it well.
For me, right now, being here in Park City, perhaps the most perfect practice of this is Banksy and his film Exit Through The Gift Shop. The mystique and craft and philosophy of the street art and artist leads me to the movie and keeps me wanting to see the film even though my schedule does not yet permit.


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January 21 at 1:22pm

If Movies Were Music

  1. If I produced movies that sounded like albums I would want them to sound like “London Calling” & “Exile On Main Street”.
    If I produced movies that were performed like nusic they would all star Nick Cave, Fugazi, Early Black Flag, BeastieBoys Minutemen, Cramps and definitely, oh so definitely, Tom Waits.

    If I produced movies that were written like albums, the lyrics would resonate like Blood On The Tracks, Desire, Imperial Bedroom, and Songs Of Leonard Cohen over and over and over again.

    If movies could grab me like albums have they would be Ziggy Stardust, Axis Bold As Love, Slanted Enchanted, and Mr. Hazelwood & Ms. Sinatra.

    If I could get lost in movies the way I have albums you would find me in the dark Loaded, Remain In Light, and dreaming Time The Revelator.


    If a movie could rattle my system like live music does, I would produce films that felt like The Replacements, The Pixies, & X.
    I am glad the music changes every time I play at but I still run through my life of every time I heard it. It’s both immediate and forever, static and constantly changing.


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January 19 at 2:04pm

Ten Things To Do Before You Submit A Script

There’s a whole lot more than ten things I could say on this subject. And this list is NOT a top ten. But people always wonder why certain scripts get acquired or developed, and others with similar content never touched; I would say the former’s filmmakers do most of the things on this list. You really only get one chance. “Getting feedback” will kill your script for the immediate period — at least with the company you are submitting it too. Spend the time now to get it right and understand why you need to be the one to tell this story at this point in time.
 

1) Cut at least another 10% of the script. Even when you think you are finished, there’s always another 10% that can come out.
2) Clarify what you feel the themes are and how they evolve during the course of the narrative.
3) Figure out some of the ways that the story can be expanded onto other platforms.
4) Know what the historical precedents are for your story and how you differ from them in how you have chosen to tell it.
5) Review the script from each characters’ point of view and make sure that their dialogue and actions remain emotionally true for each of them in their different situations.
6) Recognize what some of the mysteries contained within both the characters and story are that you are committed to protecting — as not everything should be explained.
7) Understand why you are truly prepared to tell this story at this time – or not.
8) Make the world that the characters inhabit truly authentic; don’t just give them jobs or apartments or hip music to listen to.
9) Make it somehow provocative, intriguing, audacious, or thought provoking — something that will make it stand out.
10) Make sure it is more than just a good story told well. Be truly ambitious. Take us somewhere new, or take us there in a new way.

 
The key thing with this list or any list is still to put yourself in the shoes of whom you are submitting the project to. Everyone has too much work as it is. Our company is only five people and we get 3000 submissions a year. You do the math (8.2 scripts/day to read, every day = 1.6/d per employee, every day of the year). And no one pays us to read your script. If reading it is a waste of time — because you did not pay us the courtesy of proof reading and writing something really GOOD, then we never want to see something from you ever again.
 
Most of our submissions come from agents, as we use them as sort of a filter — but to tell you the truth, I have never found something that did not come from a friend, a partner, or directly from a filmmaker that I had already wanted to work with. But please, think of the work load you are asking someone to take on when they read your script; you are just one out of 3000. The scripts pile up. Each one is a minimum two hour commitment and a selection not to spend limited time in a different direction. Please be courteous to whomever you submit your project to — even if it takes them longer than you ever dreamed to read it.


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