g The Film Panel Notetaker: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

'Billy the Kid' Opens Dec. 5 at IFC Center

Last night, I attended a press screening of Jennifer Venditti's documentary Billy the Kid, which opens to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the IFC Center in New York. I really enjoyed the film a lot, and plan to attend one of the screenings next week where Jennifer is scheduled to attend for a Q&A, where I'll take notes and write some more commentary about the film and post that for you here. In the mean time, here's some more details on the film. I highly recommend it:

Jennifer Venditti's BILLY THE KID Opens Theatrically in NYC Limited Two Week Engagement!!!

WHEN: Opens December 5th

WHERE: IFC Center: 323 6th Avenue @ West 3rd Street

HOW: To purchase tickets visit:
http://www.ifccenter.com or visit the boxoffice: 212.924.5246

Group sales please email:info@elephanteyefilms.com

VIEW: Theatrical Trailer and Q&A dates/times here

ENTER: The "I'm Billy" MySpace contest here.

"Many memorable dramatic films about adolescence have been made over the decades, but few of them can match the impact of BILLY THE KID, a striking, heartfelt documentary that deserves to have a long shelf life."-Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, November 29, 2007

2008 Sundance Out-of-Competition Films Announced

More news out of Park City today. Sundance Institute announced today the lineup of films screening at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in the out-of-competition sections of Premieres, Spectrum, New Frontier, and Park City at Midnight. Read the list here.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2007 Gotham Award Winners

...and the accolades continue. Tuesday night, the IFP's 17th Annual Gotham Awards were handed out in New York. A couple of Gotham winners are mirrored in Film Independent's Spirit Award nominations such as Great World of Sound, so double congrats and good luck to Craig Zobel!

And the Gothan Award winners were...

* Best Feature presented by Kyra Sedgwick

Sean Penn, director; Sean Penn, Art Linson, Bill Pohlad, producers (Paramount Vantage & River Road Entertainment)

The Best Feature Jury included actors Benjamin Bratt and Kerry Washington, filmmaker Ryan Fleck, composer Mark Mothersbaugh and producer Ron Yerxa.

* Best Documentary presented by Kerry Washington and Emile Hirsch

Michael Moore, director; Michael Moore, Meghan O'Hara, producers (The Weinstein Company)

The Best Documentary Jury included filmmakers Bob Drew, Rory Kennedy, Jennie Livingston, Morgan Spurlock, and Marco Williams.

* Breakthrough Director Award presented by Keri Russell

Craig Zobel for GREAT WORLD OF SOUND (Magnolia Pictures)

The Breakthrough Director Jury included actor Vera Farmiga, director of photography Russell Fine, producer Mike Ryan, and filmmaker/actors John Cameron Mitchell and Mike White.

* Breakthrough Actor Award presented by John Cameron Mitchell

Ellen Page in JUNO (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The Breakthrough Actor Jury included actors Jeff Daniels and Peter Sarsgaard, filmmaker Michael Cuesta, and casting director Sheila Jaffe.

* Best Ensemble Cast Award presented by Sarah Jones

Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian F. O'Byrne, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Marisa Tomei (THINKFilm)

- AND –

Cedric the Entertainer, Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mike Epps, Vondie Curtis Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Martin Sheen (Focus Features)

The Best Ensemble Cast Jury included actors Michael C. Hall and Parker Posey, filmmaker David Gordon Green, and casting director Ilene Starger.

* Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award presented by Marisa Tomei

Ronald Bronstein, director; Marc Raybin, producer

The editors of Filmmaker, a magazine published by IFP, selected the winner of the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award.

2008 Sundance Films in Competition Announced Today

A day after Film Independent's Spirit Award Nominations were announced, yet another high-profile event, the Sundance Film Festival, has announced the films in contention for the Competition sections at its 2008 bru ha ha in Park City, Utah. A complete list of films in competition are here. Films selected for the out of competition sections are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Film Independent's Spirit Awards 2007 Nominations

Congratulations to all of the nominees for this year's Film Independent's Spirit Awards, as announced on IFC this morning. Many of the films nominated have been covered here at The Film Panel Notetaker this past year including I'm Not There, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Great World of Sound, Quiet City, 2 Days in Paris, and Lust, Caution. Below is a complete list of the nominees.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
"I'm Not There"Producers: Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern
"Juno"Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
"A Mighty Heart"Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
"Paranoid Park" Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

Todd Haynes, "I'm Not There"Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"Jason Reitman, "Juno"Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"Gus Van Sant, "Paranoid Park"

"2 Days in Paris," Director: Julie DelpyProducers: Julie Delpy, Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok
"Great World of Sound," Director: Craig ZobelProducers: Melissa Palmer, David Gordon Green, Richard Wright, Craig Zobel
"The Lookout," Director: Scott FrankProducers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes
"Rocket Science," Director: Jeffrey BlitzProducers: Effie T. Brown, Sean Welch
"Vanaja," Director: Rajnesh DomalpalliProducer: Latha R. Domalapalli

"August Evening," Writer/Director: Chris EskaProducers: Connie Hill, Jason Wehling
"Owl and the Sparrow," Writer/Director: Stephane GaugerProducers: Nguyen Van Quan, Doan Nhat Nam, Stephane Gauger
"The Pool," Director: Chris SmithProducer: Kate NobleWriter: Chris Smith & Randy Russell
"Quiet City," Director: Aaron KatzProducers: Brendan McFadden, Ben StamblerWriters: Aaron Katz, Erin Fisher, Cris Lankenau
"Shotgun Stories," Writer/Director: Jeff NicholsProducers: David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Jeff Nichols

Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner, "Starting Out in the Evening"Adrienne Shelly, "Waitress"Mike White, "Year of the Dog"

Jeffrey Blitz, "Rocket Science"Zoe Cassavetes, "Broken English"Diablo Cody, "Juno"Kelly Masterson, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"John Orloff, "A Mighty Heart"

Angelina Jolie, "A Mighty Heart"Sienna Miller, "Interview"Ellen Page, "Juno"Parker Posey, "Broken English"Tang Wei, "Lust, Caution"

Pedro Castaneda, "August Evening"Don Cheadle, "Talk To Me"Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Savages"Frank Langella, "Starting Out in the Evening"Tony Leung, "Lust, Caution"

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"Anna Kendrick, "Rocket Science"Jennifer Jason Leigh, "Margot at the Wedding"Tamara Podemski, "Four Sheets to the Wind"Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Talk To Me"Marcus Carl Franklin, "I'm Not There"Kene Holliday, "Great World of Sound"Irrfan Khan, "The Namesake"Steve Zahn, "Rescue Dawn"

Mott Hupfel, "The Savages"Janusz Kaminski, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"Milton Kam, "Vanaja"Mihai Malaimare, Jr., "Youth Without Youth"Rodrigo Prieto, "Lust, Caution"

"Crazy Love," Director: Dan Klores"Lake of Fire," Director: Tony Kaye"Manufactured Landscapes," Director: Jennifer Baichwal"The Monastery," Director: Pernille Rose Gronkjaer"The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair," Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Director: Cristian Mungiu (Romania)"The Band's Visit," Director: Eran Kolirin (Israel)"Lady Chatterley," Director: Pascale Ferran (France)"Once," Director: John Carney (Ireland)"Persepolis," Directors: Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi (France)

"I'm Not There," Director: Todd HaynesCasting Director: Laura RosenthalEnsemble Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Avignon New York Film Festival - "How to Be Popular" - Nov. 17, 2007

On Saturday night, contributing notetaker Liz Nord invited me to a screening of John Dilley's short film "How to Be Popular" at the Avignon/New York Film Festival, which was held at Hunter College. Liz is a former colleague of John's at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. FYI, in 2001, a short film I worked on as a production assistant called "Here" starring Lee Majors, also played at the Avignon/New York Film Festival, where it won the Le Roger prize for best short (USA). I wish John the best of luck in hopes he may also receive that prize.

"How to Be Popular" is narrative comedy short inspired by an article written in The New York Times about how popularity affects middle school students. The film has the look and feel of a documentary, but is actually a comedic re-enactment. The student characters are interviewed and asked a bunch of questions about popularity. They're even asked to rate who's the first, second, third, and so on most popular, as if there's even a scientific way to calculate that, but it's very funny and poignant.

After the screening, John was asked to say a few words and take some questions from the audience. He said the article that the film was based on captivated him. He contacted the writer to ask permission to make the film. He really wanted to see this as a movie, because he went through similar issues as a kid, and it seemed really relevant now as an adult. When asked how he found all the kids in his film, he said he had a committed casting director who looked at almost 100 kids. Also the school and the kids in the film are not the actual school and kids in the article. Someone commented on how astounding the make up was that the girls wore in the film, and John replied that it wasn't too far off from real life, and that some of the girls in the film did their own make up. In all, the film took seven days to shoot. The final question of the night was what will John be doing next. He said he has plans to shoot another short sometime within the next few months. He also has a feature brewing.

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Big Apple Film Festival - Distribution in the New Age - Nov. 17, 2007

Video from Brian Chirls.

(ED) Erik Davis (Managing Editor, Cinematical.com)
(PG) Peter Goldwyn (Vice President Acquisitions Samuel Goldwyn Films)
(BC) Brian Chirls (Four Eyed Monsters)
(CT) Clémence Taillandier (Head of Theatrical Sales, Zeitgeist Films)

(AL) Aaron Levine, Gen Art Film Division Coordinator

“Distribution in the New Age" is a panel discussion that will focus on utilizing the Internet, as well as other modern technology and media outlets as a means of independent film distribution. The panel will focus on areas such web based marketing and promotion, how to best utilize websites such as YouTube and MySpace and other options available for DIY film distribution in the modern age.

(AL) Where are we at with the WGA strike? What are the writers looking for? How does the strike affect your job or the nature of what you do?

(ED) Learned last night that talks are scheduled to resume on November 26. It’s kind of a surprise. The Davinci Code sequel became the first casualty of the strike. Looks like there will be a media blackout. I support the writers.

(BC) The writers are looking for a larger percentage share of DVD and download sales. The last negotiation was in 1988. They received too small a share from home video sales. Producers argue that sales are not significant enough.

(CT) The strike doesn’t affect Zeitgeist, which distributes foreign films and documentaries.

(PG) Samuel Goldwyn released Southland Tales, which had a lot of bookings, but The Rock was supposed to promote the film on late night TV and couldn’t because those shows weren’t being taped. We also release foreign films and documentaries. There’s still going to be stuff for us to buy. The effect won’t hit us till 2009.

(AL) Have innovations in digital distribution changed your business model?

(BC) The amount of screens for digital projection is still limited. Most theaters still want prints, but there’s always a way to do it. The traditional window is theatrical, then PPV, DVD, now download. There’s room to mix that up. With Four Eyed Monsters, it started out at film festival, then had a theatrical release and on YouTube (1 million views). After YouTube, got a TV deal. There’s also a DVD distributor who will take it wider, but still in negotiations on that.

(CT) Zeitgeist is still trying to make money through theatrical releases. We distribute five films per year. We’re thinking of digital distribution. We’re doing some, but not making any money. Still relying on prints. Hoping there will be a niche audience for digital.

(AL) Will Day-and-Date be a standard of practice five to 10 years from now?

(ED) There will be a lot more within five to 10 years slowly as the Internet moves to TV. There’s a lot of talk about Brian DePalma’s new film Redacted now. You can watch it on PPV or in a theater. It’s hard to imaging films like Spider-man or Transformers doing Day-and-Date.

(PG) It’s debatable. Redacted has a $20 price point on Day-and-Date. Exhibitors have a lot of problems. These films can only play in certain theaters that allow for Day-and-Date. It’s nice to have options. Some theaters aren’t as nice to go to anymore. Personally, I like going to theaters. Newer generations like watching things on smaller screens. There are a lot of unanswered questions.

(BC) Everything’s going to be Day-and-Date. If there’s no difference between watching a film at home or at a theater, then what’s the point? In almost every business, you can’t sell to consumers based on what they can’t do. Some theaters are now selling alcohol. Innovations can be made. The social experience is the biggest thing. Why spend more money on beer? Because it’s a social experience.

(CT) Exhibitors Zeitgeist deals with are devoted completely to cinema. Trying to make it a more cultural experience, ie. inviting filmmakers to Q&As. There’s still going to be an audience for specialty films. You can’t create the same experience on your flat screen TV.

(AL) What other innovations would you like to see in theaters?

(ED) I don’t go to theaters anymore. You have to sit through 20 minutes of ads. It bothers people. There should be two start times. The problem is, in New York City, every weekend films are sold out, so you have to get to the theater sometimes one hour early. It’s draining. There have been some ideas for special reserved seats and call-buttons on chairs for people making noises in the theater.

(PG) I like previews, just not the ads. I’ve always enjoyed trailers. Do you feel watching DVDs at home gives you a disconnect from the audience?

(ED) I don’t feel like I have a disconnect. I get comments from readers.

(PG) As a distributor, we want critics to watch films in theaters. There’s a big difference in the communal experience than watching something on DVD. Something gets lost when you don’t see a film with an audience.

(ED) There’s something to be said for watching a film at home.

(PG) We get a lot of DVDs before going to festivals, because sometimes we miss stuff. Ads can be reduced. I like a theater to be clean and have comfortable seats. An example of a good theater is the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX.

(BC) There should be a complete change in the way theaters schedule films. There’s always a lot of empty screens. There’s so much opportunity to fill screens with more independent and local films. This is a benefit of digital projection. Theaters should push back scheduling. Mix it up a little. Make screenings more eventful..

(CT) There’s a difference between art and commercial movie houses. Art houses should be closer to the audience. A platform for discussions.

(PG) There was a time when theaters did a lot of promotion themselves. You can’t leave your children in theaters by themselves anymore. The charm is lost. The distributor has to find group sales for the exhibitors now.

Audience Q&A

Q: Can the model for the new Radiohead album be applied to independent filmmakers?

(PG) It’s more inexpensive to make an album than a movie. How will you pay off your bills? Some films are cheap to make, ie. Mumblecore. Their distribution deals on a whole aren’t profitable, but their goal is to show it to an audience.

(BC) I love what Radiohead did. Pay what you want. People will download it anyway. Listen, then buy. Four Eyed Monsters co-director Arin Crumley got an emailed from someone who’d been searching for monster movies and found 4EM. He downloaded it, liked it, then bought it. This is a great opportunity.

Q: Do you think people will be willing to send money to filmmakers?

(ED) I paid between $10-$15 for the Radiohead album. It depends on the person. The target age is teenage males. Would the average teenaged kid shell out money? It depends on the individual person and how passionate they are.

(PG) There’s always a certain level of stealing. If you make things accessible, you take a risk.

(BC) You can get people to pay if there’s an experience. I think we’ve lost that.

(PG) Our job as distributors is to bring films to an audience. If you just put out a donation plate, a lot of people won’t put anything in it. You have to set a few standards. There needs to be some way to monetize the work. The Radiohead album was sold on a sliding scale, but their concert tickets won’t be.

(BC) We need to come up with equivalents. There is a cultural experience of consuming media. Four Eyed Monsters was a big challenge. Was the directors’ first feature and had no celebs. They created a podcast/video series to promote the film.

Q: What’s your opinion on the primary way for an indie producers with their own money to distribute their films with a goal to recoup expenses and make a profit?

(PG) The traditional theatrical route. Distributors get back the cost. They buy all rights to certain territories. Get a sales agent, or at least a lawyer. Work out a deal. Some filmmakers put out their own money. Some producers put up all the P&A (prints & advertising).

(BC) I’m a strong advocate of being prepared to self-distribute as a back up, even if you don’t want to. You can’t always count on going to a festival and expecting to get a huge deal. You plan gives you a better negotiating position if a distributor approaches you with, for example, $15,000 for all rights to your film.

(PG) Be careful about giving rights to distributors for long-term deals. Don’t take something like $15,000 for eternity.

(CT) If you’re making a documentary, make sure to clear all your rights. You need to trust the distributor.

(PG) Find out which distributors pay their bills. Find someone who has experience getting their money from distributors.

(CT) Be available to promote your film with the distributor.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buffalo Movie-Video Makers November 2007 Meeting

The Buffalo Movie-Video Makers has been around for nearly three quarters of a century. It may be the oldest movie making club in the country. I was a member of this club back in 2000 when I was living in the Buffalo area. Since moving to New York City, I have kept in touch with the current BMVM President Phil Utech. Phil and I worked on a short fantasy/horror film about a mythical banshee during my short tenure at BMVM. It was a much larger undertaking then we imagined at the time, so our project was never completed. Somewhere in Western New York, footage from this unfinished work lurks, perhaps someday to be resurrected for all to see. Luckily, there’s a website devoted to stills and behind-the-scenes images from the film here to whet your appetite. I now welcome you to partake in some notes I took at the November BMVM meeting, the first meeting I’ve attended in nearly seven years.

(L to R) BMVM Tech Tips Presenter Fred Calandrelli and BMVM President Phil Utech

Buffalo Movie-Video Makers
November Meeting
November 11, 2007
The Screening RoomAmherst, NY

Special Focus on the 2007 48 Hour Film Project

Filmmakers who participated in the 48 Hour Film Project held in Buffalo earlier this year presented their winning short films. The filmmakers were required to comply with specific rules laid out by the 48 Hour Film Project in order to qualify. Each filmmaker was given his or her own genre or category, but the general rules applied to everyone. For a complete list of rules, click here.

Life’s Elixir by Emil J. Novak (Ollagnod Productions)
WINNER: Best Use of Character & Best Musical Score

Dan Gallo, who produced, wrote and acted in Life’s Elixir as the scientist said his team was lucky enough to pull the silent film category. They wrote an outline of the story and shot the film at his house, just a few blocks away from the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site on Delaware Avenue. One of the rules in their category was that they could only play piano music. They went to Phil Utech for the score. Phil gave them 10 pieces of piano music from which to choose. The editor put the music to the film. The film was shot pretty much in continuity. The assignment started at 7pm on Friday and ended at 7pm on Sunday. They had to make decisions really quickly. By the time they submitted the film, they only had 15 minutes to spare. Emil Novak, the film’s director, said that if there was more time, they would have included some great cutaway shots. They went for the classic, silent movements.

Final Cut by Matthew Lorentz (Idle Entertainment)
WINNER: Best Editing

Matthew Lorentz said they pulled the horror/comedy category. They didn’t have a lot to work with. It was shot like a documentary. What happens in the film is really what happens. All the dialogue was ad-libbed. They shot it entirely on Saturday. Lorentz also edited the film.

The Signal by Reed Rankin (RPM)
WINNER: Best Use of Prop

Reed Rankin said they pulled the detective genre. They had a six-person team. They spent three to four hours brainstorming on Friday night. They came up with an idea that the invention would have something to do with a signal. By 11pm, they had their idea fleshed out. Reed sat up writing the script until 4am. The next morning, they started shooting in a warehouse on Seneca Street. They shot the roof scene first because they needed the daylight. Reed said there was a lot he would have done differently. Certain shots were covered up with cutaways.

Tech Tips by Fred Calandrelli

BMVM member Fred Calandrelli, who has worked in commercial film production for many years, presented a comparison of film and video. Fred said the reason he made this presentation was to show the radical changes in technology and the way we do production. He discussed several factors that differentiate the film from the video process. Those factors include cost, sound, exposure, preparation, and editing. He then showed a commercial he made a while back for Adelphia cable called Sprockets: The Making of ‘Cable Theft’ & The Film Experience.

Shorty Contest Winners

Amongst the honorable mention winners of The Shorty Contest (which was presented at the October meeting) were John Weiksnar’s Heli-o-Rama, Emil Novak’s Universal Monsters and Phil Utech’s Lens Filter Demo, and the winner of the Shorty Contest was Rebecca Utech’s Something New.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Screening of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution with Q &A – November 6, 2007

Screening of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution with Q &A
Sponsored by BAFTA and NYWIFT
AMC Loews Kips Bay 15, New York, NY
November 6, 2007

(AL) Ang Lee - Academy Award-winning director of “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” among many others
(JS) James Schamus - Lee’s writer and producing partner in over 10 films
(TW) – Tang Wei, lead actress, Lust, Caution

It was a rare treat, after watching the provocative and beautifully subtle new film Lust, Caution, to hear the film discussed by its creators. The film is a depiction of the Chinese government officials who were allied with the Japanese occupiers during WWII, and members of the resistance movement against them. WARNING! There are some movie spoilers in these notes.

Q: AL and JS, how did you decide that Lust, Caution, would be your next collaboration?

(AL) We often work from short stories. JS brought me the short story that Brokeback Mountain was based on. I resisted working on it for three years, but after doing The Hulk I was exhausted, and wanted to make a movie no one would see (laughs). Brokeback brought me back to health and energy, so I was able to do another film. This time, I brought the short story to JS. It was written by our most beloved writer in China. It puts female sexuality against the backdrop of a very frightening chapter in Chinese history, and I wanted to make the movie.

Q: How did you find Tang Wei?

(AL) There were no really big movie stars in Asia who were the right age, so I had to go from scratch. We found her out of over 10,000 actresses. My assistant director saw at least 1,000 herself. I chose Tang Wei because I felt like she could carry the story from the moment she walked in. We understand each other. I almost feel as though she is the female version of myself.

(JS) This was Tang Wei’s first film, and it turns out that it has become the most important film in the Chinese language ever. It is a cultural phenomenon, like the “Titanic” of China.

Q: TW, as this was your first film, how did you know you could trust AL?

(TW) I was sick and very uncomfortable the first time I saw him. He poured me a cup of tea, and made me feel comfortable. He looked into my eyes and could tell what kind of person I am. I did a lot of homework for this part. I had three shelves of materials to study about the era and learn how to play mah johng.

Q: What was the response in China to the movie while you were making it?

(AL) This regime was never allowed to be portrayed in Chinese cinema because they are regarded as traitors and a disgrace. I didn’t expect to be allowed to make the movie but I got all kinds of support from Shangai studios. I made the sex scenes discreetly in Hong Kong. There is no rating system in China, so I had to create a special version just for them, which is 12 minutes shorter than the one you can see in America. The love for this movie in China is incredible. I was worried about what people would say, but they are very appreciative of a story that is weighing humanity against blind patriotism.

Q: What 12 minutes were cut for the Chinese version?

(AL) Basically, all 5 of the sex scenes and part of the stabbing scene. With the sex scenes, the movie is rated NC-17 in the U.S., NC-18 in Europe, and NC-21 in Singapore. Taking out those scenes doesn’t affect the story, but the movie weighs differently. People in China wonder what’s missing from their version, to the extent that people are flying from mainland China to Hong Kong just to see the full version.

(JS) AL was convinced that it would not play well in China because it would be considered too radical, but it has done extremely well.

Q: TW, what has feedback been from your friends and family?

(TW) They are so proud. When the movie was first released in China, there were lots of reviews and everyone was discussing it. People were waiting for an art film like this. It changed people’s points of view, and that is important for me.

Q: How long were you filming and what was the budget?

(AL) We shot for 5 months, 6 days a week, 14 hour days. Tang Wei worked 114 of 118 shooting days. The budget was just under $5 million.

Q: JS, what were the challenges of writing a screenplay about China, in Chinese, as an American?

(JS) After all these years working with AL, I still only know enough Chinese to order a beer. Fortunately, my co-writer is able to help me with a lot of the cultural stuff. One of the scariest moments of my life was showing an early screening of this movie to Chinese historical scholars, because writing this was very different from writing a contemporary Chinese story. When I was working on Eat Drink Man Woman, it was a lot easier because Ang could just look over the script and say, “Nobody would ever say this.” That didn’t work when we had to be historically accurate.

Q: AL, How is it different working with Asian actors and American actors?

(AL) I almost have a split personality. I’m a different person when I speak English and when I speak Chinese. In English, I am nicer, quieter, and more suggestive. I am meaner in Chinese. Chinese actors give themselves to you. They are submissive to the movie. They expect you to be demanding, or they think you are not paying attention.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Arin Crumley's panel discussion videos

Check out Four Eyed Monsters co-director Arin Crumley's blog on Myspace. He posted a ton of videos from recent film panel discussions. Topics range from self-distribution to YouTube to Filmmaking in Africa, etc.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

"1,000 Journals" at AFI Fest Nov. 4 & 5

Some interesting news to share. After posting info about the U.S. premiere of SOLOS, the first Singaporean film to be selected by AFI Fest, I received a message on my Facebook account from Andrea Kreuzhage, whose documentary 1,000 Journals is also playing at AFI Fest. Andrea told me that Zihan Loo, one of the directors and stars of SOLOS, is also one of the subjects in 1000 Journals. The film is about people whose lives are touched by 1000 traveling blank journals that were released into the world in the summer of 2000, by Someguy, a San Francisco based artist. Read more about the film here. In the mean time, if you're at AFI Fest, 1,000 Journals will be playing on November 4 & 5 at the Arclight Theatre. But you better hurry, because Andrea posted on her Facebook profile that 1,000 Journals' "box office light turned red. Rush line tickets only! So, rush and get them."

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