Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting Distributed: The Diary of Preston Plummer

We are super excited about the future for our new film The Diary of Preston Plummer. Our World Premiere will be held at the Miami International Film Festival on March 5th. The festival is planning a red carpet event to begin at 6:30p. At 7p, we will hold a tribute to our star Robert Loggia by showing some clips from his past films and bring him on stage for a few words. The film will then start right after.

The Miami film festival and its staff have been incredible. They have a wonderful publicity group and really work hard for your film. We have had mentions in The Hollywood Reporter and IndieWire already.

The Diary of Preston Plummer has also been picked up by Warner Bros. for digital distribution and VOD. We are aiming for an April launch date so we can begin promoting the film to the world shortly after its world premiere. Demand It! in your city by clicking the icon at the top of this blog!

At the same time, we are planning a 10-city theatrical! This is going to be a challenge because we want it to be day and date with our VOD. I am finding that theaters really do not like this. But I think for smaller indie films, it will actually help drive the theatrical as it will mean more publicity for the title.

PerezHilton posted an exclusive clip from the film and we are inching toward 20,000 hits in 48 hours. That's awesome! Check out the clip here.

Along with all this great activity comes a lot of high costs! We have to deliver the film to Warner Bros. with closed captioning in various aspect ratios and already quality controlled. This will cost us over $10k and this is $10k we don't have - yikes! So we have started an IndieGoGo campaign for the film here.

I'd love any support you may provide. If you like my blog, I would love it if you would support this little film - any amount helps! Cheers!





11th Annual Film Independent Directors Close-Up Series


Film Independent announced the guest speakers and program for the 11th annual Film Independent Directors Close-Up series, taking place every Wednesday from February 8 – March 7, 2012 at The Landmark – West Los Angeles. 

Directors Jonathan Levine, (50/50), Mike Mills (Beginners), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), Writers Will Reiser (50/50), Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids), Sound Designer Will Files (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Tree of Life, Take Shelter) and Composer David Wingo (Take Shelter) will be this year’s series panelists, with more to be announced. Actor Harry Lennix (Man of Steel, Ray), writer/director Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and HitFix Editor-in-Chief Gregory Ellwood will be moderators.

Over the course of five consecutive weeks, filmmakers and film lovers will hear first-hand from prolific directors whose originality, ingenuity, and talent have set them apart as leaders in their craft. Each night will delve into specific aspects of directing—sound, writing, cinematography, casting and eliciting compelling performances from actors. The 2012 Film Independent Directors Close-Up sponsors include Skywalker Sound, The Landmark Theatres, the Directors Guild of America, SAGIndie/Screen Actors Guild and HitFix (HitFix.com).

“The Film Independent Directors Close-Up provides a rare opportunity for cinephiles, and filmmakers alike, to hear candid stories from esteemed directors about the joys, trials and tribulations of making a film. This series really pulls back the curtain on the collaborative process in an intimate setting, and allows our audience to ask those burning questions they have about independent filmmaking,” said Director of Education Maria Bozzi.

This year’s panels will cover the following topics:
February 8 – Sound Advice: Moving Beyond the Picture
February 15 – The Storytellers: Writers and Directors
February 22 – The Independent Spirit: A Directors Roundtable
February 29 – The Actors: Getting Great Performances
March 7 – The Creative Team: Executing the Vision

Past panelists include Lisa Cholodenko, Bill Condon, Guillermo del Toro, David Fincher, Ruben Fleischer, Marc Forster, Rodrigo García, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Susannah Grant, Paul Haggis, Catherine Hardwicke, Nicole Holofcener, Tamara Jenkins, Spike Jonze, Miranda July, Richard Kelly, Neil LaBute, Kasi Lemmons, Justin Lin, Tom McCarthy, Alexander Payne, Jason Reitman, Eli Roth, Walter Salles, Julian Schnabel, Kevin Smith, Mike White and many more. 

All panels will take place at The Landmark - West Los Angeles (10850 West Pico Boulevard at Westwood Boulevard) on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information on the schedule, panel descriptions and participants, and to buy passes, please visit www.filmindependent.org or call 310-432-1222.

Sundance 2012: Wrap Up






I'm alive! I think. Every time I go to Sundance, I get sick. All of the travel, talking, running around, moving in/out of the cold and heat, parties, and movies all add up to disaster on your body. And I was determined to not get sick this year! But I did. I came home with a horrible viral bronchitis. My doctor (who practices integrative medicine between Eastern and Western remedies) gave me six kinds of meds to take! I feel much better now but it has been a rough few days. 

Now that I'm feeling better, I want to share the awards that were given out at Sundance 2012 this weekend: 



The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Charles Ferguson to:
The House I Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Justin Lin to:
Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Nick Fraser to:
The Law in These Parts / Israel (Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz) — Israel's 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Julia Ormond to:
Violeta Went to Heaven (Violeta se Fue a Los Cielos) / Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain (Director: Andrés Wood, Screenwriters: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood) — A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes. Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:
The Invisible War / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:
The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O'Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented by Edward James Olmos to:
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented by Edward James Olmos to:
Valley of Saints / India, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Gulzar plans to run away from the war and poverty surrounding his village in Kashmir with his best friend, but a beautiful young woman researching the dying lake leads him to contemplate a different future Cast: Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid.

The Best of NEXT <=> Audience Award, Presented by Adobe Systems Incorporated, was presented by Tim Heidecker to:
Sleepwalk With Me / U.S.A. (Director: Mike Birbiglia, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.

The U.S. Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Fenton Bailey to:
The Queen of Versailles / U.S.A. (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.

The U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Lynn Shelton to:
Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissaint, Edwina Findley.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:
5 Broken Cameras / Palestine, Israel, France (Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi) — A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:
Teddy Bear / Denmark (Director: Mads Matthiesen, Screenwriters: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet) — Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother, sets off to Thailand in search of love. Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented by Anthony Mackie to:
Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to.Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was presented by Richard Pena to:
Young & Wild / Chile (Director: Marialy Rivas, Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano, Sebastián Sepúlveda) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto.

The U.S. Documentary Editing Award was presented by Kim Roberts to:
DETROPIA / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award was presented by Clara Kim to:
Indie Game: The Movie / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Tia Lessin to:
Chasing Ice / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Amy Vincent to:
Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:
Putin's Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:
My Brother the Devil / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change was presented by Heather Croall to:
Love Free or Die / U.S.A. (Director: Macky Alston) — One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance was presented by Heather Croall to:
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry / U.S.A., China (Director: Alison Klayman) — Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing was presented by Cliff Martinez to:
Andrea Sperling and Jonathan Schwartz for Smashed and Nobody Walks
  • Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and... drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.
  • Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting was presented by Cliff Martinez to:
The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O'Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision was presented by Clara Kim to:
Can / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Rasit Celikezer) — A young married couple live happily in Istanbul, but their decision to illegally procure a child threatens their future together. Cast: Selen Uçer, Serdar Orçin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci.

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit was presented by Richard Pena to:
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The inaugural Short Film Audience Award, Presented by Yahoo!, based on online voting for nine short films that premiered at the Festival and are currently featured on Yahoo! Screen, was presented to:
The Debutante Hunters (Director: Maria White) — In the Lowcountry of South Carolina a group of true Southern belles reveal their more rugged side, providing a glimpse into what drives them to hunt in the wild.

The following awards were presented at separate ceremonies at the Festival:
The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was awarded to: FISHING WITHOUT NETS / U.S.A. (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey). The Jury Prize in Short Film, U.S. Fiction was presented to: The Black Balloon / U.S.A. (Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie). The Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction was presented to: The Return (Kthimi) / Kosovo (Director: Blerta Zeqiri, Screenwriter: Shefqet Gjocaj). The Jury Prize in Short Film, Non-Fiction was presented to: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom / U.S.A. (Director: Lucy Walker). The Jury Prize in Animated Short Film was presented to: A Morning Stroll / United Kingdom (Director: Grant Orchard). A Special Jury Award for Comedic Storytelling was presented to: The Arm/ U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis). A Special Jury Award for Animation Direction was presented to: Robots of Brixton / United Kingdom (Director: Kibwe Tavares).

The winning directors and projects of the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, in recognition and support of emerging independent filmmakers from around the world, are: Etienne Kallos / Vrystaat (Free State) (South Africa); Ariel Kleiman / Partisan (Australia); Dominga Sotomayor / Tarde Para Morir Joven (Late To Die Young) (Chile); and Shonali Bose / Margarita. With a Straw (India).

The Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award, honoring and supporting emerging filmmakers, was presented to Jens Assur, director of the upcoming film Close Far Away.
The inaugural Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award for a completed feature film was presented to The Island President, directed by Jon Shenk. The in-process feature film award was presented to Solar Mamas, directed by Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief. Each project received $25,000.

The inaugural Sundance Institute Indian Paintbrush Producer’s Award and $10,000 grant was presented to Dan Janvey and Josh Penn for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prizes, presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character, were presented to Robot & Frank, directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford, andValley of Saints, directed and written by Musa Syeed. The two films will split the $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Jurors were: U.S. Documentary Competition: Fenton Bailey, Heather Croall, Charles Ferguson, Tia Lessin, Kim Roberts; U.S. Dramatic Competition: Justin Lin, Anthony Mackie, Cliff Martinez, Lynn Shelton, Amy Vincent; World Cinema Documentary Competition: Nick Fraser, Clara Kim, Jean-Marie Teno; World Cinema Dramatic Competition: Julia Ormond, Richard Pena, Alexei Popogrebsky; Alfred P. Sloan Award: Tracy Day, Helen Fisher, Dr. Robert J. Full, Gwyn Lurie, Alex Rivera; Short Film Competition: Mike Judge, Dee Rees, Shane Smith.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival presented 117 feature-length films, representing 30 countries by 45 first-time filmmakers, including 24 in competition. These films were selected from 4,042 feature-length film submissions composed of 2,059 U.S. and 1,983 international feature-length films. 91 films at the Festival were world premieres. The Short Film Program was comprised of 64 short films selected from a record 7,675 submissions.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sundance 2012: A Whirlwind!

I thought I would have time to be relaxed and blog to my heart's content but it has been wonderfully frenetic with networking and panels and films.

Sundance is a producer's dream. Someone said one party at Sundance is like 100 lunches in Hollywood. It's so true. In one party, I meet so many people with whom I'd like to work or consult or just get to know. I actually find it hard to watch many movies because there are so many awesome networking opportunities.

On a sad note, indie veteran Bingham Ray, who recently took over the San Francisco Film Festival, suffered two strokes and I heard Tracey Morgan collapsed at a gala here. Sundance is really tough on your body. The high altitude and frigid weather is hard to navigate - then add in the free drinks and food at all the parties and often no time for a real meal and you have a physical trauma waiting to happen. I went to the HBO party last night and after being on my feet all day, I too found myself sitting down toward the end just to summon more energy.

Well, we're off to a breakfast with Focus Forward and then hopefully on to some movies! Another busy day at Sundance.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Road to Sundance: v/h/s, directed by multiple directors

Answers from Radio Silence, a group that directed one of the segments.  Here is their bio.

Radio Silence is Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez & Chad Villella.  Formerly known as Chad, Matt & Rob, their previous works include the popular series of "Interactive Adventure" movies: The Treasure Hunt, The Birthday Party & The Teleporter.  Their segment "10/31/98" for the horror anthology movie, V/H/S marks their feature film debut.  After a slew of viral videos that have been seen by over 55 million viewers worldwide, the group is currently working on a full-length feature venture as well as developing several concepts for television.



Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?

  • The movie is called V/H/S and it’s part of the Park City at Midnight screening series. There are 6 segments in the movie (the other directors are Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg and David Bruckner), ours is called “10/31/98.” We wanted to make something fun and hopefully provide a fresh take on the found footage style. The idea for our segment was something we’d be toying with for awhile and when we got involved with “V/H/S,” it seemed like the perfect place to finally make it.
How long did it take you to make your film?

  • Our segment of V/H/S (“10/31/98”) took 4 days to shoot and just over a month for us to edit, mix sound, and complete visual FX.
How did you finance your film?

  • The good folks of The Collective and Bloody Disgusting Selects approached us to be involved with the project. They put a lot of time and energy into getting such a cool and interesting group of filmmakers involved in something with such a unique and experimental style of storytelling.
What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?

  • The most challenging part of making our segment of the movie was choosing a story and writing it in a way that allowed us to be incredibly loyal to the rules of the found footage style without making something that felt extraneously long or too reliant on the gimmick of the ever-present camera. The limitations of this style really challenged us to write something action packed but specific enough to play out in what appears to be several long continuous takes. We were essentially editing the film during the shooting process -- blocking and staging the action in a way that really allowed us the creative freedom to build out the scariness of the world without ever making it feel like it wasn’t completely real. The location we chose to shoot in was essential to this -- we were all legitimately afraid to be in the house we used for our 3 principal nights of shooting -- and this location not only dictated our story from beat to beat, but really influenced all of the performances in a very real way.
Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?

  • The only advice we’d give is to represent your own voice and story as strongly as you can. It’s really clear to us when we’re watching a film if the filmmakers enjoyed the process of creating it and that’s only possible if you tell a story that you believe in
If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?

  • This is a hard one to answer since every movie is such a unique combination of the variables and the problems we needed to solve to make this project in the short amount of time we had influenced us in a very specific way. But given a similar set of limitations, we’d probably make a very similar movie. Basically, you do the most you can with what you’ve got and you hope for the best.

Sundance 2012 Experience - Arrival

I'm sitting in the T-Mobile Lift Stella Artois Cafe and having lunch on Stella Artois, which, of course, includes a mug of Stella. As my brother would say, "Very nice." And it is.

After a very long morning commute from LA, it's a wonderful respite to arrive at the Stella Artois cafe. I had a killer morning flight at 6:15a. This meant I had to be up at 3:15a. Ugh! Not sure how I'm even awake right now. The Sundance energy helps.

As soon as I landed in Park City, after a lovely shuttle ride, I dropped my bag at our house rental and headed to the Sundance Headquarters to pick up my press credentials. This is the first year I've attended as press so it's a New World to me.

At the HQ, they lost my credentials and I had to resubmit an application and have a photo taken. So much for having my nice photo on my credentials. Everyone gets to look at my hat head for the next 4 days.

With some food in my belly, I'm ready to tackle the films. Between the press and public screenings, there's a lot to plan. Of course, I was so swamped by the work on my own films prior to leaving that I didn't have a chance to pre-plan properly. So I'm the one in the corner with her head in her film guide, frantically figuring out my plan of attack.

More soon...



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Diary of Preston Plummer Set to World Premiere at Miami International Film Festival

Our film (written and directed by Sean Ackerman and produced by moi) The Diary of Preston Plummer, starring Trevor Morgan, Rumer Willis, Robert Loggia, Erin Dilly and Christopher Cousins, will have its World Premiere at the Miami International Film Festival on March 5, 2012! It will be held at the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. This theater seats 1500 so come one, come all!

Just prior to the screening there will be a tribute to Robert Loggia (one of our stars of Diary). Red carpet begins at 6:30p and the tribute will start at 7p with the screening right after. It should be a really fun night! Cast and filmmakers will be in attendance.

Who doesn't want to go to Florida in March?

If you want to see it in your city, Demand It here!

Here is the trailer and the behind-the-scenes for The Dairy of Preston Plummer:



Friday, January 13, 2012

The Road to Sundance: Tumult, directed by Johnny Barrington



Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it? TUMULT, INTERNATIONAL SHORTS DRAMA.  I was inspired by my faulty knowledge of Scotlands history and a love of tourism. Tourists are beautifully innocent  - like little lambs...  and I always see warriors fighting when I visit historical sites. 


How long did it take you to make your film? 18 months

How did you finance your film? Creative Scotland and Channel Four


What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
Working in the Scottish winter with semi naked warrior actors. We worked them like slaves and they gritted their teeth against the snow/hail/sleet/lightning and thunder. If the weather was worse the film probably would not have been made and there would definitely have been a few hypothermic lawsuits. 


Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?  My experience was  blissful. It was entered and I forgot that it had been entered - thinking the chances were miniscule. And a few months later: A phone call that I will never forget from my producer telling me we were accepted, I thought I was hallucinating, I had to ask her to repeat the good news again so I could fully believe what she was saying.


If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
I would like to strive to make exactly the same film again - right down to the finest detail. An idiotic exercise but it could prove hugely rewarding in a masochistic kind of way. I would take my own coffee mug next time and provide more warmth for the poor semi naked warriors. They were honourable and courageous at all times.


What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
No distribution. I hope it is seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible in festivals online and on television.  


Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
Ignore Sundance. Concentrate on making and finishing a film you love, then think about festivals. It will find its own festival journey path.  To me, Sundance is the city of gold - the Mecca of all festivals - and I feel blessed to be accepted,  but to think you can tailor-make a film for a certain festival is the kiss of death. 



The Road to Slamdance: The First Season, directed by Rudd Simmons

*Note: this is a film in Slamdance. I decided to focus on Sundance initially as I am only one blogger and can't handle covering both festivals, but I received the answers to my questions for this film and said, why not post them? Filmmakers, if you ever want to discuss your experience making your film in this blog. Just reach out! I'll do my best to accommodate. I'm actually looking to expand this blog and will think about adding a filmmakers section where we can all tell our behind-the-scenes stories. Filmmaking is a journey for all of us. 


Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?THE FIRST SEASON tells the story of Paul and Phyllis van Amburgh who, believing that a small, family farm is the best place to raise their children, take their life savings and buy a defunct dairy. With three children and a fourth on the way they fight to defy the odds and become full time farmers.

The film is told in an intimate cinema-verite, fly-on-the-wall style. I've always loved that kind of filmmaking; the very nature of the style forces the filmmaker to simplify. It's the complete antithesis to making a dramatic film which involves hundreds of people and truckloads of equipment.

In our case, I shot and recorded sound; there was no one else on location. In this kind of filmmaking, I think that the filmmaker needs to disappear, both on-location during the shoot and as a stylistic voice in the finished film. When a cinema-verite film works, the story unfolds as if one is sitting in the same room as the characters. It's just like a dramatic feature film, only it's real.

I've known Paul and Phyllis Van Amburgh for a long time and when I heard that they were buying a farm, I thought it would make an interesting film. Paul and Phyllis are both extraordinary people and what they were attempting to do had a built-in conflict. The structure was also there, one year divided by the seasons which would become visual markers for the various acts in the story.

How long did it take you to make your film? Five years. I lived with the farm family and filmed for the first 6 months of their starting the dairy. Then, over the course of the next 3 years, I did follow-up visits, shooting additional material, landscapes and interviews. When I felt that there was nothing else to shoot, we started post-production which took another year to complete.

How did you finance your film?The film is self-financed. Since I was doing all of the work, and filming on HD video, the shooting of the film was very inexpensive.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?Believe it or not, I think the most difficult part of the film was finding the stamina to keep going for so long.

I love character driven stories as opposed to plot driven. By their very nature, character driven films are made up of details that unfold as the story progresses. In the case of THE FIRST SEASON, those details are the small, day to day stories that define the lives of the Van Amburgh family. It's not a film about a big dramatic event, but a very intense, dramatic story about a day to day struggle. Filming that day to day struggle, I was never sure if we had a film. It wasn't until we started editing, did I really understand what the film could be.

Now, I'll admit that, shooting for five years and not knowing if there was a film in the material sounds like a crazy way of working. But once I made the commitment to the Van Amburgh family, I couldn't not make the film. I was going to find a way to make it work.

Tell us about your experience getting into Slamdance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?I was surprised, I had applied to a number of festivals and had prepared myself for the rejection, knowing that it was going to be a year-long (or longer) process where we would be accepted at some festivals but turned down by most. One morning, while walking my daughter to school, my phone rang and I got the news. I really didn't believe it so I waited until LA opened and called the Slamdance office to see if it was really true.

As far as advice? I think the most important traits a filmmaker needs are tenacity and perseverance. Make every film as if it was the only film you will ever make and then be prepared to hang in for the long term to make sure it gets the best chance of being seen by its audience. 

The Road to Sundance: Ok Breathe Auralee, directed by Brooke Swaney


Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it? 
OK BREATHE AURALEE (Shorts competition) is about a baby-crazed woman, Auralee, who finds herself drifting away from her baby-reluctant boyfriend, Colin and searching for something more.  It's part of an overall feature-length character driven piece that focuses on Urban American Indians, the four elements and the mystical in the quotidien.  So basically, I really wanted to make a movie that was kind of surreal with interesting (and not necessarily always likeable) characters. I have a bunch of female friends who have reached a point in their lives where they want to pop out a baby (and no, that's not me), but I wanted to explore what that must be like.  Auralee is also adopted away from her Native community (like many people of a certain generation) and I wanted to do a story about that, but not have it be so over-the-top about identity politics, rather more quiet and character specific to really get into her experience.


How long did it take you to make your film? 
On and off, over a year.  Shooting only took up around 7 days, but the edit was a doozy.


How did you finance your film? 
Friends, family, some through an indiegogo campaign (where we failed to reach our goal), some through a foundation, and some funds from the NYU graduate film program, and some of my own pocket money.


What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
I think the most challenging part of making this film has been living hand to mouth and doing some serious couch surfing, while turning down more respectable work in order to finish the film.  The edit was the hardest.  After putting together an assembly cut based off the script, we knew that the film wasn't quite working.  It took months to find an editor to figure out the puzzle of the plot and the feel of the film before it all clicked.  But I knew it was in the footage there somewhere.


Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?  
Oh man, it was amazing.  Thrilling!  I've never gotten so many emails and texts and facebook messages when it was officially announced.  Really weird, good weird.  I'd point towards honing your craft and telling a good story.  The story is key.  Ask yourself is the story something that you would want to watch on the interwebs and be inspired? 


If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different? 
Oh maaaaan.  I think if I was asked this question four months ago, I would have wanted to change a lot.  But now that the film has been finished properly (with a great sound design and color and score and everything), I don't think I would change a thing.  When it all comes together, those little things that you'd want to change become obsolete.


What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
More festivals!  No distribution yet, but we're working on that.  We'd love for more people to see the film, whether they want to or not and whether they like it or not! 


Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
Work with people who inspire you to do your best.  And keep at it!  I've been submitting to Sundance for ten years now!



OK BREATHE AURALEE - TEASER TRAILER from Brooke Swaney on Vimeo.

The Road to Sundance: Dr Breakfast, directed by Stephen Neary


Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
My film's called "Dr Breakfast" and it's playing in Animation Spotlight. It's about a lonely man whose soul bursts out of his eyeball at breakfast. The soul flies all around the world eating everything. Meanwhile, two deer bathe and dress the man's catatonic body.

I had some really old drawings of a soul bursting out of a man's eyeball--I save all my sketchbooks. And I wanted to try building a film based on a continuity of emotion rather than logic. I started thinking a lot about the creative process. For me it's very bumpy. There's lots of starting and stopping. Perhaps days of mundane work will go on before a little moment of eureka. And the whole time you're lucky just to have friends that tolerate your quirks and keep you sane. So most of all, this film is about that rejuvenating nature of friendship.

How long did it take you to make your film?
I worked on the Dr Breakfast off and on for about a year. I think I had various drafts of the script before that, but it didn't congeal until later. From there I did all the storyboards and animation. I live in New York City, but work in Connecticut, so most of the work was done on the train. Laptops, portable light-boxes, and lots of stares from strangers. 

How did you finance your film?
I draw storyboards at a feature studio called Blue Sky for my day job, but really Dr Breakfast wasn't extremely expensive to make. The most expensive thing is my time--many boring hours. I paid my friend Robin Arnott to do some great sound.  And Nick Koenig wrote some awesome music. That money all came from the day job. Wish I could have paid them more though, cause it really sounds quite good.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
Making an animated film takes so long, the hardest part for me is sticking with early decisions. When you're working on a personal project with no real deadline or expectations, it's easy to get lost. I had to trust my instincts, stick to my storyboards, and just make the thing or else I knew I could wind up working on it forever. 

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?  
I have no idea. I'm still pretty sure they made a mistake. I would say, just do your thing, make your art, enjoy. I've applied before, but I'm glad that this was the film that broke through for me.

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
I would have changed a couple shots, adjusted things here and there. But at some point you've got to let go. I always think of this Chuck Jones quote, it goes something like, "Short films aren't made, they are abandoned." 

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
You can actually already see Dr Breakfast online. I put it up online a few weeks before finding about Sundance.


I might go with distribution at some point, but as an unknown filmmaker, the exposure is the biggest help. I'd love to keep sending to festivals. And I definitely want to keep developing these characters.


For More Information:
Stephen Neary's Blog


Dr Breakfast - TRAILER from pizzaforeveryone on Vimeo.

The Road to Sundance: Juku, directed by Kiro Russo


Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
Our film is titled JUKU. The Jukus are mine thieves, expert miners who choose to risk their lifes in order to obtain large quantities of mineral. There are hundreds of stories about Jukus "Pirates" of the mine. When I was a child my grandmother told me many stories about the mine, she was from the mining town of Huanuni where we filmed the short film and I was always very curious about these stories and this world. On the other hand, JUKU has a lot to do with experimenting with light.

We start from the premise of how to handle a short where almost nothing is seen, and everything heard; this in a context that has gone through our
cinema´s and narrative history in different kinds of ways: the mines. JUKU will be screening at Sundance in the Shorts competition Program 5.

How long did it take you to make your film?
It took about a year and a half, we stopped a lot because there was not to much budget that made the post production process too long.

How did you finance your film?
The film is a very low budget production, a lot of the money we spent was actually from my savings account. The equipment was largely lent to us by friends and local production companies.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
One of the main complications we came across was the decision of the mining company to choose our acting crew for us. Our casting for the leading role had to be made among the team we had been assigned. Therefore the sort of casting and meeting with the crew had to be made on the first shooting day. Of course, the help of the mining company and the sort of joy that the miners had in making this possible was the main reason that this film was made succesfully. Another complication, and this one in a technical level, was the illumination. It was very clear from the start, that the characters of this short had to be mainly represented by the lights they were carrying, it was a specification I gave to Pablo Paniagua, the photography director. Finally he came across the idea of using a very little 1000 w fresnel connected to a motorbike battery hidden in the suit of the main character.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?
I found out about our film getting accepted in Sundance while I was in a Script and cinematography workshop, at first I didn´t really realize what it meant, of course I knew about the size of this accomplishment, but I didn´t foresee the help that this recognition is going to give us in order to make the feature film we´re working on “Viejo Calavera”. We´re really proud of being the only latin american short film, and we are very glad to be representing.

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
I would make it less solemn, it has too little humor.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
We hope JUKU enters another festivals, hoping that the possibility of raising funds for making “VIEJO CALAVERA”, the feature I will be directing, will be fruitful.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
I think that one should be sincere with the things one does.