Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daryl Hannah Narrates Our Film on Keystone XL

Celebrated actress and environmental activist, Daryl Hannah is narrating our new short documentary on the Keystone XL Pipeline. She spent the weekend with us narrating and today, she in Washington DC protesting the pipeline and has been arrested for it.

We are racing to finish the film so it has time to reach the Capitol as they continue their decision-making process on the pipeline. Hopefully it will help give a voice in this David v. Goliath situation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Karin Chien on Producing the New Indie Film Circumstance

Karin Chien is a New York-based independent film producer. Her new film Circumstance opens this weekend in LA and NY. If you are in either city, you definitely need to see it. Here is the movie's Facebook page - Like It!
     I asked her a few questions about the making of the film in the Middle East and how she feels about being a rock star indie producer - Go Karin!
  • How did you get involved in the making of Circumstance?
Gina Kwon, producer of THE FUTURE, actually brought the script to me. Gina was Maryam's advisor in the Film Indepedent Producer's Lab. The idea was to produce it together, but at the time I was busy starting up dGenerate Films. But I never forgot the script, so when my plate cleared 6 months later, I called Maryam and asked if she still needed a producer.  
  • What did you think of the story the first time you read it? 
The first, second and third time I read the script, it blew me away. The story had everything I was looking for -- incredibly interesting female characters, a politically charged story, and layers of smart, powerful storytelling.

  • What made you decide to produce it?
I knew this story had to be told, with me producing or someone else. When I watched Maryam's short films is when I decided to produce it. Her vision is cinematic and sensual, exactly what this very smart script needed.
  • This was writer/director Maryam Keshavarz’s first feature. What should we know about her? 
Maryam is a talented storyteller and she loves to push boundaries. 
  • What was it like to make a movie in the Middle East?
Exciting, chaotic, stressful, challenging. Undercover police visits, random military checks on set, security surveillance of our filming - this was all routine in Beirut. Lebanon has a very weak film infrastructure but a very strong censorship system . We had to submit a "sanitized" script to the censors and then I carried our exposed film to Jordan to ship back to the US. And on a day to day level, we were navigating 3 languages on set and unspoken political and cultural rules that we couldn't begin to grasp. Plus the phone costs were astronomical. I didn't have a phone for 2 months! Imagine producing without a cell phone or high-speed Internet. Our 1st AD had no walkies and an entirely green AD and PA team. Our DP had a great bunch of guys who did not speak any English. Our sound mixer was working with a Lebanese crew who'd never experienced location sound recording. It was an adjustment in every way. 
  • What was the most challenging aspect of making this movie?
The amount of energy it required. When I came back from the shoot, I slept the entire 14 hour plane ride back to New York, and then went home and slept 30 hours straight! From development to Sundance premiere, this film took all the emotional, mental and physical energy I could muster. 
  • What do you love the most about this movie?
 It's an engaging, thrilling, beautiful film about personal freedom. I also love that the female characters are defined by their choices, not by their relationships to the men in the film. 
  • Can you explain what happened after you finished the film and how it came to be theatrically released in a time when theatrical releases are very difficult for independent films? 
We had a fairy tale Sundance story. The best thing I did for our premiere, was to hire the smartest publicist (Jim Dobson) and most passionate producers rep (Ben Weiss) I could find. This is a subtitled film with no name actors. It would not survive on a sales slate of 12 films with a cookie-cutter publicity strategy. So I found people who would champion the film and fight for it. Ben and Jim also believed in the film's commercial potential way more than I did. Those are the people you want selling and publicizing your film. Jim and Ben pitched their hearts out up until the Sundance premiere, and at that point, your film has to take over. And it did. We got a standing ovation at our premiere. I cannot describe what an incredible moment that was. Then after the Q&A, Jonathan King from Participant Media approached us. I love Participant, but I knew they don't distribute films. But Ben helped spin their interest, along with others, into a bidding war. Within 48 hours, Participant acquired the film, and after Sundance, after the film won the Audience Award, they brought on Roadside. It was by far the best possible outcome. Participant is a master at handling socially relevant entertainment, and Roadside is the best indie film distributor out there. We were very very lucky. 
  • Why should people go see Circumstance?
It will excite them and entertain them. They will fall in love with Atafeh, the lead character, and they will see a side of the Middle East they cannot see anywhere else. 
  • What do you like about being an independent film producer?
It challenges every part of me. It's impossible to be good at everything producing requires of you. I like that. I also get to live this incredible life - I work all over the world with brilliant and talented people. 
  • What advice would you give aspiring independent film producers?
I would really encourage aspiring film producers to think about what kind of life they want. Your personality has to be suited to be an independent film producer in order to stay the course. An intern of mine once said she craves constant validation, and I told her not to go become an indie film producer - she'd be miserable. So if you like unpredictability and abhor structure, if you crave impossible challenges and hate routine, and if you don't mind working nonstop for years, then independent film producing may be the right fit for you. It's hard as hell but it's an incredibly exciting, enriching and rewarding life. 

The Funding Journey Behind Indie Hit Circumstance

One of my dearest friends and an amazing producer Karin Chien produced the new film Circumstance, which hits LA and NY theaters this weekend (please go see it!).

I wanted to post this blog that she wrote about how they achieved the budget for a lesbian, middle eastern film. It's an enthralling and inspiring journey.

Check it out at Cinereach here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Take Me Home Won First Prize Audience Choice Award at Rhode Island Film Festival

Thanks Rhode Island Film Festival! We are super excited to have won the audience choice award. It's so wonderful to know that your audience loved the film - yes!

On to the next festivals: Alburquerque, Boston, Chicago, Napa, Naples, Savannah and possibly more.

Go Take Me Home!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What's Up with The Grill Conference?

We’re proud to announce that AllAboutIndieFilmmaking and TheWrap, Inc. have teamed up for a special partnership for TheGrill conference - being held September 19-20 at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

You may have heard the buzz about TheGrill, a high level forum for entertainment professionals to discuss and debate the business issues created by technological change. The only event of its kind, TheGrill features a unique format that leads to in-depth conversations among the leaders who are shaping the entertainment landscape.

A special discount has been arranged for AllAboutIndieFilmmaking members attending this year’s event.

TheGrill will explore the entertainment industry's future, a new entertainment economy empowered by web innovation and laser-focused on the consumer experience.  See below for a sneak peek at our speakers, and check our website frequently for an updated speaker list:

  • Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, AOL Huffington Post Media Group
  • Mike Lang, CEO, Miramax
  • Om Malik, Founder, GigaOmniMedia
  • Terry Semel, Chairman & CEO, Windsor Media
  • Steven Levitan, Co-Creator & Executive Producer, "Modern Family"
  • Mindy Herman, Chief of Content & Digital, Redbox
  • Alexander Ljung, Founder & CEO, SoundCloud
  • Dick Glover, CEO, Funny or Die
  • Doug Herzog, President, MTV Networks Entertainment Group
  • John Borthwick, CEO, betaworks
  • Harry Sloan, Chairman & CEO, Global Eagle Acquisition Corporation
  • Tim Westergren, Founder, Pandora

AllAboutIndieFilmmaking members will receive a discount rate of $1,595 ($2,195 value!). Register now through this special link - seating is limited.

Contact TheGrill’s conference registrar at 424-832-7662 or email them with any questions.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Decade of LA Filmmaking - Happy Anniversary to Me!

I was sitting at my desk looking at the calendar trying to decide if I should be writing or working on the never-ending tasks of selling three movies at the moment when I realized: it has been ten years since I bought my airline ticket to move from New York City to Los Angeles to focus on being a creative producer. And what a decade it has been!

I made the decision to move to LA after working in the NYC film industry for a couple of years. I loved New York - I still do. I visit as much as I can. But I found myself on the path to line producing in New York and I really wanted to be a creative producer.

Line producing is an awesome and lucrative career and usually a steadier career than creative producing. But it never really inspired me like creative producing has. I love storytelling and the process of finding writers and directors and helping them to tell their stories. Development is a joyful period, full of hopeful expectation and dreams. As a line producer, I would be hired after development and I didn't want to miss out on developing stories.

So I packed my bags and my husband and two cats and we headed West. Sure I could have stayed in New York and tried to be a creative producer there. But it seemed like most of the bigger movies started in LA and that there were more financial avenues to explore in Hollywood. And I am a big proponent of trying all aspects of the industry. I had no studio experience and I really wanted to try it.

That's where my mentor Akiva Goldsman came in. I will be forever grateful and indebted to his kindness and support. In NY, I had worked on A Beautiful Mind and assisted Akiva almost daily. After I moved to LA and desperately needed a job, he hired me into his company Weed Road Pictures. His company is on the Warner Bros. lot and for three years, he showed me how to be a Hollywood producer and how to juggle the demands of the business. I consider him one of the most influential people to my career.

From there, I started my own production company and have been producing films ever since. This past decade has really been a learning process and laying the foundation for my producing career. There have been so many ups and downs, I can't keep count.

Overall, this decade has been awesome and I feel blessed to have known and worked with some of the most amazing filmmakers in the world. And all because I decided I wanted to be a producer. No one handed me this career. I went out and just did it and I continue to make it happen each day. And somehow I am making a living at it.

Long story short, if you want to be a producer then do it. Don't make excuses. Yes, you will scrape by, probably for years. You will juggle crap jobs and you will be beaten up by the strain of filmmaking. But if you truly love it, you have to do it. And before you know it, a decade will go by and you will be smack dab in the middle of your dream and making it happen too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Budget Film School Seminar Coming Up

A seminar you may want to consider if you want to make a no-budget film. I haven't attended so let me know how it is if you go! Here is a press release from the host. 

"The Art & Science of No-Budget Filmmaking"
Saturday & Sunday, August 20 & 21, 2011 * 9:30am - 6:00pm
Raleigh Studios - Los Angeles, CA

For more information and to register, visit:

No Budget Film School presents its famed two-day micro-budget filmmaking class in Los Angeles August 20 & 21, 2011.  Specifically designed for no-budget filmmakers who are ready to finance their own projects, the lessons, tools, and techniques gained will maximize limited resources and minimize critical errors that can doom otherwise worthy projects. Producer Mark Stolaroff--former principal of IFC's Next Wave Films--and guest experts teach the specific methods, models and priorities unique to micro-budget filmmaking, whether the budget is $200,000 or $2,000, in this in-depth, one-of-a-kind class. Attendees will walk away with powerful ideas that they can use immediately, saving them time and money.  These cutting edge techniques can NOT be found in a book, at film school, or in other film classes.  Guest speakers include:

Peter Broderick (President, Paradigm Consulting). Considered one of the world's leading authorities on alternative distribution strategy, Peter will be giving an empowering presentation on Hybrid Distribution and Crowdfunding.

Evan Glodell & Vincent Glashaw
, (Filmmakers, "Bellflower"). Made for $15k with a homemade camera, "Bellflower" was a hit at this year's Sundance and SXSW and opened theatrically Aug. 5th, selling out the Nuart.

Joshua Leonard, (Actor, Director). Perhaps best known for his roles on seminal no-budget films like "The Blair Witch Project" and "Humpday," as well as bigger projects like HBO's "Hung," Joshua's directorial debut "The Lie" premiered at this year's Sundance and is opening this Fall.

Matt Radecki (Producer, "Marwencol"; Founder, Different By Design). A prolific producer whose post house caters to independents, Matt will discuss no-budget post production.

Other Speakers TBA

If you're through talking about being a filmmaker and ready to become one, this will be the most practical filmmaking course you will ever take!

GET 20% OFF!!
allaboutindiefilmmaking.blogspot.com Readers get 20% off the class! Use Discount Code: AAIF

No Budget Film School has partnered with Write Brothers to bring you an incredible offer. All attendees will receive Movie Magic Screenwriter <http://www.screenplay.com/>  software absolutely FREE! (a $250 Value!). We will also be offering special discounts on Budgeting and Scheduling software by Showbiz Software <http://www.showbizsoftware.com/Showbiz_Budgeting_Scheduling_Bundle_p/1743.htm> , and on Quick Film Budget's <http://www.quickfilmbudget.com/Content/Home.aspx> innovative budget-making tool.


No Budget Film School is also presenting Tom Provost's "Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling" class the following weekend, August 27-28, and for the first time we're offering a special discount to folks who take both classes. Use your discount code for any of these classes too! More information on Cinema Language can be found here:


Can't make the class? For more information on future classes and to sign up for the No Budget Newsletter, please visit:


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Pass You Do Want in Film: Quality Control

Quality Control reports are not my favorite reports at all. You charge to the finish line, get your finished product, sprint to your distributor all happy that you made it, only to have them give it back a week later and say, your film didn't pass QC. Here are the issues you have to fix.

Look at all the number 3s (QC reports number the severity of the problem with 3s being issues that must be addressed. 2s should be worked on but they are not as egregious as 3s.) And the fun begins.

You pick the tape back up, run it to your post house, they fix the issues, you run it back, and then you get another report saying, close but no cigar. Eventually it becomes a standoff between creative choice/"it is what it is" and what you can get by with.

These reports really are no fun. And the crazy part is that every time you run a new QC report on a film, there always seems to be a new issue that creeps in. It truly becomes an out of control merry-go-round until someone officially bails out and refuses to go around anymore. At that point, it's up to you and the distributor to say, "it is what it is."

As a perfectionist, it's tough to just say "it is what it is" but there comes a time in life when being just passable is perfectly acceptable. I'll take that pass anyday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Hum Drum of Film Producing

I'm in the hum drum phase of film producing. Trying to figure out my next project. Writing a lot. Thinking a lot. Reading a lot. A lot, a lot.

Days meld together and form a hum drum period in which you wonder, what will happen next?

Don't get me wrong. I'm busy. I have three films on the market right now. I'm in post on a doc that we are prepping for Academy consideration. I'm writing three scripts and trying to find the money for a couple more.

There's always something to do. But every producer craves being in pre-production and gearing up for production and I'm not at that point yet. I'm sure I will have that moment again soon and life will return to its crazy beat. Just not today.

Oh well, back to the hum drum.

New Logo!

I decided it was time for a new logo! I was invited to attend the Grill and they asked for a logo and I thought, you know what? it's about time I had one.

Thanks to Hillary Gronvold for the great design. See the top of my blog for it!

Posters for The Diary of Preston Plummer

Check out our posters on our latest film The Diary of Preston Plummer. We're very happy with them. Thanks Hillary Gronvold for the wonderful designs!