Will Prescott — Thursday, April 17th, 2014


If you haven’t already heard of, or run into, filmmaker PAUL OSBORNE somewhere along the way, don’t sweat it because the odds are you will. A champion of indie film and a staple along the festival circuit, Paul has been making a successful go of it in the industry for a while now.

In addition to contributing articles for Moviemaker Magazine, Film Threat, and Ted Hope’s blog Hope for Film, he’s the driving force behind indie gems TEN ‘TIL NOON, OFFICIAL REJECTION, and most recently the critically-acclaimed thriller FAVOR (killer trailer below), which will be hitting iTunes and Cable VOD on April 22nd from Gravitas Ventures.

No stranger to making things happen on a shoestring budget, we asked Paul for some advice on directing micro budget productions that don’t suffer from a lack of quality. Lucky for us (and you), he was kind enough to share some of his secrets.


1. Shoot Quickly and Efficiently. Shooting a movie is the most expensive part of any production, and if you’re making a micro-budget flick (defined as anything with a cost of $50,000 or below), it’s critical to get the most out of the time the cameras are rolling as possible. The best way to accomplish this is to shoot as fast as you can without significantly impacting quality. When we made my movie FAVOR, our mantra was “write it like art, prep it like art, cast it like art, rehearse it like art, cut it like art… but shoot it like exploitation.”

The trick is to be prepared, know what you want, have your priorities in order… and follow the rest of this list.

2. Rehearse Your Actors During Pre-Production. When you make a small film, it’s vital to get good performances – after all, there are no giant CGI robots or superheroes to distract the audience if the actors suck. But sussing out the nature of a scene or the layers of a character takes time, and when you’re shooting you don’t have a lot to play with. So, I suggest doing extensive rehearsals (with the actors who are willing to participate) in the weeks leading up to your start date. Not only will your performers be fully primed when they finally step in front of the camera, you’ll have likely already developed an all-important shorthand with them as well.

3. Schedule Each Day Yourself. You may have an assistant director, production manager or producer willing to do it for you, but I suggest taking on this task personally. Having rehearsed your actors, only you know which ones are slow to warm to a scene, which are good to go right when they arrive and which burn out quickly. Only you can decide which pages should be given more attention than others, and if they’re calling lunch in ten minutes, whether it’s worth squeezing in one more take or breaking early. Additionally, if things have to be shifted around, you’ll be so familiar with the plan you won’t have to call a meeting to figure it out – you’ll simply know what to do.

4. Be the Hardest Working Person on Set. Directing a movie, even a micro-budget one, is a privilege. Yes, it means you have all the responsibility on your shoulders, but in a director-driven medium it also means you have the most to gain. It’s a given you should treat every member of your cast and crew with kindness, dignity and respect, but it’s also important to demonstrate this by working harder than any of them. You should be the first one there, the last one getting food, the first one back from lunch and the last one to leave after wrap. The crew will not only feel appreciated, they’ll also work harder just to try and keep up with you.

5. Make Decisions Fast. Your cast and crew are looking to you to steer the ship, and the confidence they have in you is directly proportional to the mood on set. Making decisions quickly will give the illusion you know what the hell you’re doing, even if you don’t. As strange as this is to say, it’s often better to make a quick decision rather than the best decision as long as it keeps the shoot moving forward.

6. Feed Your Crew Well. It doesn’t matter what your budget range is or how much you pay the crew – if you don’t feed people well, they will revolt. This doesn’t mean the food has to be expensive – on FAVOR, our producer often cooked for everyone, and craft service consisted of whatever was on sale at Costco. On a day-to-day basis, quality meals are more important than good wages. I’ve seen volunteer crews toil endlessly on full bellies and well-paid ones walk because they were served leftover curry for the sixth straight day.

7. No Task is Beneath You. Yes, a director is generally the highest authority on set, but you’re not above the crew – you’re a member of it. If you’re sitting on your ass and everyone else is working, you’re doing it wrong. Get up, move a light, clean up the paper plates from lunch, steam the shirts in wardrobe…You owe it to your movie, and it sends a positive message to everyone else.

8. Protect Your Actors When They Fail. Sometimes actors come to set not knowing all their lines, or aren’t in the right headspace, or are just tired. Even the most professional performers can have an off-day, and calling them out on it is only going to make it worse. If a performer just isn’t hitting it, your best bet is to invent some “technical adjustment” so they can step aside and collect themselves without any attention placed on the fact that they need to. Remember that actors have to expose a part of themselves in order to do their job, so it’s your job to make them feel safe enough to do it.

9. Limit the Toys. Lighting a scene can often take a long time. Want it to go faster? Have fewer lights. Would you like to streamline the time it takes for your cinematographer to set up a shot? Limit the number of lenses available. If there are a lot of toys on set, your technical people will want to play with them, so if you’re shooting on a tight schedule and an even tighter budget, it’s wise to limit the gear to the essentials. Just make sure the gear you do have can do the job.

10. Enjoy Your Difficulties. After a particularly grueling day during the production of my first feature, TEN ‘TIL NOON, I vented to my wife about some of the issues we were having on set – our first A.D. was wildly disorganized, our cinematographer was lazy and sneaking off to watch Pay-Per-View movies between set-ups, one of our actors kept trying to rewrite his dialogue. When I finished my rant, she smiled and said, “You’re lucky you get to have these problems. Enjoy them.”

BONUS PARTING THOUGHT. We don’t get to do this everyday. Movies aren’t made, they’re forced into existence, so when you finally get one going and are facing the difficulties that invariably present themselves, take a moment to savor the fact that you have them. It doesn’t make these problems go away, of course, but at least for me, it makes tackling them a whole lot easier.


You can pre-order Paul Osborne’s film FAVOR on iTunes now and keep tabs on his projects by following him on twitter at @PaulMakesMovies. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker or filmmaking related business we should interview, email for consideration.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Nudity Clauses, But Were Too Shy To Ask

SAGIndie — Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Our friends over at Film Independent asked us about nudity in film and we had much to tell them. Check out a few of the tips:

Can the nudity section (section 43) of the SAG-AFTRA Basic Agreement serve as a sufficient contract agreement if both the producer and actor agree?

Section 43 does not serve as a sufficient contract between the performer and producer. Prior written consent of the performer is required in the form of a letter or rider that outlines the actions of the nudity or sex scene that will take place.

Can a producer draft the nudity rider or does the producer need to hire an entertainment lawyer to properly draft this additional contract agreement?
It’s always advisable to have a lawyer at least look over a rider or any other contract. When hiring a lawyer isn’t possible, the producer can draft it on his or her own. Ultimately the performer and the performer’s representation will need sign off on it.

Are there boilerplate contract forms or a standard way of drafting this additional contract clause? If so, is it available through SAG-AFTRA?
There’s a standard nudity clause provided by SAG-AFTRA that outlines everything. That said there really isn’t a sample nudity rider that exists on SAG-AFTRA’s end. The best idea is to draft up exactly what’s going to take place and present it to your SAG-AFTRA Business Representative for review.

Are the descriptions of nudity and sex in a script sufficient detail to be transcribed into a rider or should the producer work out more specific details?
The producer should always, always explain more detail. All of the action that’s going to occur, how it’s going to be shot, who’s going to be present—these details aren’t in a script. It’s also worth mentioning that when a nudity or sex scene is being shot, it must be done so on a closed set.  And always have a designated robe person for in-between takes.

Continuing reading the rest of the article HERE.


Will Prescott — Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Since earning her M.F.A. in 2008, M. ELIZABETH HUGHES has quickly made a name for herself as a no-nonsense producer who can stretch a budget. Her first feature– and first project out of film school– HERPES BOY (starring Beth Grant, Ahna O’Reilly, and Octavia Spencer) was made on a shoestring budget but garnered several festival awards and received distribution.

M. Elizabeth’s career would progress nicely with Sundance hits WE LIVE IN PUBLIC (as production manager), SAVE THE DATE (as line producer) and Joss Whedon’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (as line producer). Most recently she Co-produced the 2013 SXSW Grand Jury Prize Winner SHORT TERM 12 (in theaters August 23) and produced the hit web series HUSBANDS from Brad Bell and Jane Espenson (season three premieres August 15).

She credits her love of movies and passion for logistics as the main reasons for forging on in such an arguably unstable industry. While it hasn’t always been glamorous, her unwavering passion and persistence has kept her consistently employed since starting out only a handful of years ago. During this time, she has learned a thing or two about making a production work on tight parameters. She’s agreed to share with us her twelve most important tips for independent filmmaking.

Aspiring producers, take note!

1.  Make sure your script is in the right place before you start shooting. It’s costly to shoot scenes you knew were never going to make it in to the movie in the first place.

2.  Do whatever you can do before you start shooting to make your shoot as smooth as possible. Rehearsals, pre-lighting, set dressing ahead of time – this may cost you a little extra in terms of rentals and location fees, but it will save you so much time during your shoot and everyone can focus on making the movie instead of prepping for it.

3.  Start your guild (SAG-AFTRA, WGA, DGA) paperwork as soon as possible. Research all the different types of agreements and the ramifications for your project. Turn in your paperwork as quickly as possible in order to stay right with the guilds.

4.  Always have a contingency – you will need it. I try my best to set aside 10% of the budget for this. Something will always come up, I promise. If you are a miracle worker and manage to keep all of it, devote that money to post production.

5.  Cut corners wisely. You want to put as much money as possible on the screen, but you will need to spend money on things that don’t directly correlate to production value.  Craft Services and catering are two of these areas that should not be skimped. Good food makes people happy and keeps them working.

6.  Always try to hire people that you have worked with previously or are recommendations of people you know and trust. They will be less likely to screw you over since they are making their friend look bad too.

7.  When the budget is small and everyone is working for the passion of the project, create a rate structure based on tiers. All department heads make X amount, all 2nds make Y amount, etc. Everyone is more likely to be happy about their rates knowing that everyone is making the same amount. If you agree to this, stick to it. People will talk.

8. On a low budget production, the logistical circumstances of your locations can end up being one of the largest determining factors in the success of the production. Your friend may let you film in their apartment for free, but is the location right for the project? Will you need to spend more money to dress it to fit the story?  Consider every variable… cost and convenience of parking for both crew and production vehicles, distance and relative hostility of neighbors and neighboring businesses, available area for staging equipment.

9.  When you’re picking a camera format, consider all the secondary cost ramifications such as data storage, data processing, online costs, etc. Also make sure your DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) knows what he or she is doing – lost footage is very costly to replace.

10.  Free help is almost always not worth it. It’s better to pay a talented sound person their day rate than to have a friend do it for free and not record the sound.

11.  Make sure you save and keep track of all your paperwork. I like to scan everything and have a digital backup on Dropbox in addition to all of the hard copies.

12. Just remember that you’re making movies, not curing cancer. It’s important, but it’s not worth stressing out to the point of not sleeping, eating, etc. It’s a movie, have fun!


You can keep tabs on M. Elizabeth Hughes and her projects by following her on twitter at @OMGMElizabeth. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker or filmmaking related business we should interview, email for consideration.

Film Review: MUD

Ellen Tremiti — Friday, April 26th, 2013

MUD is the latest film written and directed by Jeff Nichols. Nichols wrote and directed 2007’s Shotgun Stories and 2011’s Take Shelter (one of my favorite Sundance movies from that year). Nichols has proven that he understands character, and Mud, a true bildungsroman, is no exception. Two impressionable teenage boys living in the rural South discover a fugitive hiding out in marshland, and they agree to help reunite him with his true love.

Matthew McConaughey stars as the fugitive known as Mud. He’s taken refuge in a storm-ravaged, shipwrecked boat in the middle of marshland, a place that typically remains deserted. He has bounty hunters on his tail, as well as police. No one is able to figure out his whereabouts until two teens, while adventuring in their free time, stumble upon the boat.

The role of Mud allows veteran actor McConaughey to really use his acting chops. He impresses as a sun-drenched, weathered man on the run who relies on the good in himself to get by day-to-day. He is a complex man, a fugitive we are supposed to empathize with, but he earns that role, which is largely due to McConaughey’s performance. His two teenage confidents, Ellis (Tye Sheridan, Tree of Life) and Ellis’ friend known as Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), are wonderfully cast youngers who we will undoubtedly be seeing more of in future films.

Mud also boasts a superior supporting cast that includes Reese Witherspoon as Mud’s long-lost love interest Juniper, Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, Serenity, Martha Marcy May Marlene) as Ellis’ mother and Ray McKinnon (Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, The Blind Side) as Ellis’ father. The price of admission to see Mud in theaters may well be worth it just to see Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Take Shelter, Boardwalk Empire) in a comedic role as Neckbone’s eccentric but caring father-figure/uncle. The end result: a superb cast and an experienced writer and director have created an extremely well-crafted coming-of-age story.

The only thing missing may be a slight lack of true innovation. This film is executed to near perfection, but it is somewhat of a by-the-numbers coming-of-age story. When I saw Take Shelter at Sundance a couple of years ago, I was amazed at the character development and the individuality with which the character arc and story arc were based. Mud is more accessible, which basically means more commercial, and Jeff Nichols has admitted as much in Q&As. Overall, Mud was one of the top films I saw at Sundance 2013, and if you see it and enjoy it, check out Take Shelter!

Mud opens in select theaters today!

In addition to her duties at SAGindie, Ellen Tremiti is also a Contributor for Fanboy Comics, an online conglomerate of geek media, providing its readers with daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts that span the pop culture spectrum. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Ellen and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing

More Sundance 2013 films we’re looking forward to!

Ellen Tremiti — Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

It’s time! Sundance 2013 is just around the corner. The festival kicks off tomorrow, Thursday the 17th and runs until Sunday the 27th. The Sundance Film Festival creates an opportunity for independent film to make its mark on the entertainment industry at large. Last year, I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I remember the electric energy and excitement that surged through the crowd after the screening. It was the type of energy that made me think, this movie is something special.

Which films will stand out this year? Only time will tell…

Below is an overview of some of the films from the 2013 lineup. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see all of them. One film that I do not have a ticket to right now, but that has sparked my interest is C.O.G., the first book by David Sedaris to be adapted into a film.

*Follow Ellen while she’s at Sundance on Twitter and Instagram at @ETphoneh.

*All excerpts taken from For complete information on any of the films visit

Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her thirties, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen. Careworn by love, she saves enough to fulfill her dream of stepping into Austen’s world and heads to Austenland for an “immersive” vacation to eschew all things modern. And it couldn’t be more perfect. There’s an imposing manor with verdant grounds for afternoon promenades, rosy-faced servants, trusty steeds for hunting expeditions, gilded drawing rooms for evenings spent in polite conversation, and, yes, gallant young suitors. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, she’s relegated to lesser quarters and drearier costumes than fellow bachelorette guests, but her cares melt away as she catches the eye of a young footman, and she’s swept into a romantic adventure she could never have imagined.
Director: Jerusha Hess
Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale
Principal Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis

Ass Backwards
Kate and Chloe have been best friends since childhood, when they both tied for dead last in their hometown beauty pageant. Now they are all grown up and living in New York City, where Chloe works as a “girl in a box” at a nightclub and Kate is a CEO…of her own one-woman egg-donor “corporation.” Their past humiliation remains long forgotten until they receive an invitation to the pageant’s milestone anniversary celebration. The unpleasant memories come flooding back, but Kate and Chloe decide to redeem themselves by winning the elusive crown.
Director: Chris Nelson
Screenwriters: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson
Principal Cast: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty

Kill Your Darlings
While he is attending Columbia University in 1944, the young Allen Ginsberg’s life is turned upside down when he sets eyes on Lucien Carr, an impossibly cool and boyishly handsome classmate. Carr opens Ginsberg up to a bohemian world and introduces him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Repelled by rules and conformity in both life and literature, the four agree to tear down tradition and make something new, ultimately formulating the tenets of and giving birth to what became the Beat movement. On the outside, looking in, is David Kammerer, a man in his thirties desperately in love with Carr. When Kammerer is found dead, and Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr are arrested in conjunction with the murder, the nascent artists’ lives change forever.
Director: John Krokidas
Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
Principal Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen

Leigh, a whip-smart former valedictorian on the verge of 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. When her work aspirations and love life suddenly come crashing down, she hightails it back to the cocoon of the Connecticut suburb where she grew up. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, reunites with her bosom buddies who never left town, and steps back into her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. As she takes a transgressive journey back to adolescence, including entering into a forbidden affair, Leigh’s bold flirtation with disaster triggers a ripple effect all around her.
Director: Liz W. Garcia
Screenwriter: Liz W. Garcia
Principal Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Amy Madigan, Joshua Harto, David Lambert

Afternoon Delight
Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is.
Director: Jill Soloway
Screenwriter: Jill Soloway
Principal Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch

Don Jon’s Addiction
Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography.Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Principal Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown

The East
Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

After the warm reception he received for 2011’s Sound of My Voice, director Zal Batmanglij returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this stunning sophomore effort, which marks his second collaboration with the irresistibly alluring, multitalented Brit Marling.

Upstream Color
Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience.
Director: Shane Carruth
Screenwriter: Shane Carruth
Principal Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins

Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, consummate storyteller Jeff Nichols, whose Take Shelter premiered to great acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, returns to Park City with this homespun fable set on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

Ellis and Neckbone are best friends approaching the twilight of their youth. While exploring, they stumble upon the hiding place of charismatic outlaw Mud (played with controlled charm by a well-cast Matthew McConaughey), who takes a quick liking to the boys and recruits them to his cause: the search for true love and a clean getaway.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Principal Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard

In 1972—long before the Internet porn explosion of today—Deep Throat became a cultural phenomenon. As the first pornographic feature film to be embraced by mainstream audiences, Deep Throat took a multitude of risks: it boasted a plot, humor, and an unknown and unlikely star named Linda Lovelace.

Lovelace tells the story behind the phenomenon. Fleeing her strict religious family, Linda Boreman falls for charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor, who launches her pornography career. Reborn as “Linda Lovelace,” the charming girl next door skyrockets to international sensation with her uncanny capacity for fellatio. Fully inhabiting this new identity, Linda becomes a spokesperson for sexual freedom and hedonism. But six years later, she reveals a far more sinister narrative—the dark secrets of her own life story.
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Screenwriter: Andy Bellin
Principal Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone

Ain’t Them bodies Saints
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s poetic feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism and an aching sense of loss. Aided by powerfully restrained performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster, Lowery incorporates an unnerving tension into the film, teetering it at the edge of violence.
Director: David Lowery
Screenwriter: David Lowery
Principal Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine

Crystal Fairy
Jamie is a boorish, insensitive American twentysomething traveling in Chile, who somehow manages to create chaos at every turn. He and his friends are planning on taking a road trip north to experience a legendary shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus. In a fit of drunkenness at a wild party, Jamie invites an eccentric woman—a radical spirit named Crystal Fairy—to come along. What is meant to be a devil-may-care journey becomes a battle of wills as Jamie finds himself locking horns with his new traveling companion. But on a remote, pristine beach at the edge of the desert, the magic brew is finally imbibed, and the true adventure begins. Preconceived notions and judgments fall away, and the ragtag group breaks through to an authentic moment of truth.
Director: Sebastián Silva
Screenwriter: Sebastián Silva
Principal Cast: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva

The Way, Way Back
The Way, Way Back tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local waterpark where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan—with encouragement from Owen—begins to open up and come into his own.

Mining the caverns of human vulnerability for the humor necessary to make life bearable, first-time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have transformed their terrific screenplay into a bittersweet comedy that is both charming and insightful.
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Screenwriters: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Principal Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James

After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evelyn. Soon after his arrival, India begins to suspect this mysterious, charming man has disturbing ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, the friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Visionary filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, whose Old Boy and Three…Extremes both played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, returns with another macabre story, one that marks his first venture into English-language cinema.
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Screenwriter: Wentworth Miller
Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

SUNDANCE 2013 is upon us!

Will Prescott — Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Super excited to head back to SUNDANCE this week! Below are only a few of the films I’m looking forward to. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @williamprescott as I update from the festival.

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS written/directed by David Lowery
Starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster.

HELL BABY written/directed by Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Starring Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel.

IN A WORLD… written/directed by Lake Bell
Starring Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino.

TOY’S HOUSE directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub.

DON JON’S ADDICTION written/directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson.

THIS IS MARTIN BONNER written/directed by Chad Hartigan
Starring Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.

THE WAY, WAY BACK written/directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT written/directed by Jill Soloway
Starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.

MUD written/directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon.

C.O.G. written/directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (based on the story by David Sedaris!)
Starring Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson.

STOKER directed by Park Chan-Wook
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

WITCH HUNT: A Look Back at the Beginnings of Viral Marketing and its Impact on Today

SAGIndie — Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Happy Halloween fellow filmmakers! For this holiday-themed blog post, we have joined forces with guest contributor, MATT D’ALESIO. Matt took a look back at one of the most inventive, successful and not-to-mention, terrifying, marketing campaigns in film history: the viral internet marketing for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

In June 1998, filmmakers DANIEL MYRICK and EDUARDO SANCHEZ launched the original Blair Witch Project website via their production website The Blair Witch Project then debuted at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and was immediately acquired by Artisan. The months leading up to the film’s release capitalized on internet-based marketing, a novel concept of the time. Artisan’s Steven Rothenberg, along with the Blair Witch filmmakers, sheparded the film through, what is now considered, one of the best viral marketing campaigns of all time.

Enjoy this retro-look back at the marketing for The Blair Witch Project, and perhaps, think about how viral marketing may fit into the campaign for your next project.


The year is 1999, people think that planes are going to fall out of the sky when it reaches midnight on the 31st of December and for most people the internet is a baffling playground with geeks and nerds wildly running about.

It’s 2012 now and looking back on the past 13 years, there has been huge advancements in modern cinema, numerous milestones established and instant classic films have been made in every genre. But not a single independent film has gotten even close to the piercing public exposure and virality of The Blair Witch Project’s advertising campaign, even with budgets going well into the millions. The ad campaign, by method or madness, is now an archetype for many budding viral-wannabe advertising campaigns. They used techniques that were way ahead of their time and are that are now firmly in every marketing firms tool kit.

So what did indie film makers, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, actually do? Well they created a website that documented the history of a witch from North Central Maryland, accompanied by various pieces of ‘evidence’ and other pieces of information. The website alone did two things. It provided an authentic point of reference for people to draw from and it also provided something that could be easily spread, shared and sent about to anyone. They also created a promo reel and sent it to producers, filmermaker John Pierson was so taken in by it that he actually thought it was a real documentary, saying `I can’t believe all of this. I’ve never heard about it’. When Pierson featured the film on his show ‘Split Screen’, an Albany police officer called in and said he would help find the filmmakers.

What Myrick and Sánchez did, intentionally or not, was the equivalent of leaving a load of gasoline and matches in the woods, all they had to do was sit back and watch the wildfire spread. Fanning the flames every so often by posting mysterious, cryptic  nuggets of information and rumours on message boards and forums. The people reading this article will probably be split fifty-fifty at this point, half will think ‘Wow! That’s really clever!’ and the other half will be thinking ‘Wow…A hoax, how clever’. Well this hoax aided in gaining these two filmmakers critical acclaim and brought in $248,639,099 in the box offices. Not too shabby for a poxy hoax.

Hoaxes are usually very clichéd, poorly thought out and simply in no way believable but the intricacy and attention to detail behind the hoax for The Blair Witch Project, put it up there with H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds hoax  in 1938, when his live radio reading of alien invasion novel sparked widespread panic and hysteria. Not only was The Blair Witch Project’s viral ad campaign well orchestrated but it was also massively ahead of the curve. No other marketing campaign before (and arguably after) had been able to tap into the power of the online word-of-mouth effect.

Through the potent mixture of a compelling story, pictures, sound bytes, videos and randomly placed clues, they were able to generate a self-perpetuating buzz both online and offline surrounding the film. Whether you were in the group that was convinced the story was true or you were a hard nosed sceptic who wasn’t buying it, the on-going discussion engulfing the movie meant that most people went to see it either through their deep set curiosity, their genuine belief or simply to see what the fuss was about. This culminated in The Blair Witch Project making $48m in it’s opening week alone, that’s the equivalent of $66m today if you’re adjusting for inflation. Not bad for a film that had a budget of roughly around $35,000.

So what exactly can you learn from the Blair Witch Project’s trail blazing, pioneering advertising campaign? Finding an original angle to work from, not only makes standing out easier but it has a much higher share/virality factor, no-one shares “lolcats” at the same rate they did before because once something becomes saturated it loses it’s appeal. Being the first person to do something will gain you more attention, publicity and plaudits than being the 100th person to do something. So don’t imitate someone else’s ad campaign and if you do, find a new angle – make it better.

And finally, what was most impressive about The Blair Witch Project’s viral marketing campaign was their acute attention to the smallest details. From creating a compelling time line of events on their website to using props as ‘evidence’ that people could spread all over. Who else would’ve gone to the trouble of signing up to lots of different forums and discussion groups to keep the debate surrounding the film alive?

It’s simple things like that, that mimics genuine authenticity and that firmly hooks and reels people in. It’s things like that, that create the most successful viral ad campaign ever.


Written by SAGIndie contributor Matt D’Alesio who is a current Media Studies student at the University of Liverpool. He also runs and owns the company Forward by SAGIndie’s Ellen Tremiti; additional source.



SAGIndie — Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is now accepting submissions for its January 2013 Shorts Showcase – a program that is about to launch year four!

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, December 20th. All entries received after that date will be placed in contention for our May 2013 event.

Webseries produced under a union contract are also eligible for consideration.

There is no entry fee, nor is there a cost to attend the screening, which is held in New York City, three times a year.

All shorts MUST be produced under a SAG union contract, and not run more than 15 minutes – no exceptions.

The showcase is open to all types of cinematic expression, and is designed to encourage union members, and others, to create their own projects. In addition to the screening, the evening includes a Q&A with the directors and producers, and an opportunity to network with those in attendance.

Filmmakers may submit a DVD copy of their film – which should be clearly labeled with a title, email contact address and the project’s SAG production number to:

Screen Actors Guild
360 Madison Ave. – 12th Flr.
New York NY 10017

Thanks and good luck!


‘Do The Right Thing’ On Broadway?

SAGIndie — Monday, August 6th, 2012

Our friends over at Indiewire tipped us off to the possibility of Spike Lee bringing one of his greatest films to the stage.

“Potentially energized during his stint as director of Mike Tyson’s one-man show, Undisputed Truth (currently running on Broadway), Spike Lee is considering bringing his seminal 1989 film Do The Right Thing to Broadway as well, telling the Good Morning America this morning…”I’m speaking to Mr James Nederlander about it.” James Nederlander is of course the producer of Undisputed Truth.”


Filmmaker Interview: director MATTHEW LILLARD of FAT KID RULES THE WORLD

Will Prescott — Monday, June 11th, 2012

Matthew Lillard directing on FAT KID RULES THE WORLD

MATTHEW LILLARD has portrayed some of the more memorable film characters from the last couple decades– Cereal Killer in HACKERS, Stu Macher in SCREAM, and Shaggy in the SCOOBY-DOO franchise, just to name a few. With his recent work in Alexander Payne’s THE DESCENDANTS and an upcoming role opposite Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams in TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, it’d be safe to assume he’s more than satisfied with his prosperous acting career. Right?

Not entirely the case. Sure, he’s thankful and perfectly happy working as an actor when the roles are there, but what about when they’re not? Somehow the appetite for creation must be fed or those of us, like Matthew, who are hungry to make stuff will wither away and die (Melodrama intended!).

The good news is Matthew’s appetite to create has been momentarily satisfied with K.L. Going’s popular young adult novel, FAT KID RULES THE WORLD. Matthew first came into contact with the touching tale about a suicidal, overweight teen when he was hired to record an audio version of the book. He related to the main character so much he instantly felt compelled to bring this story to the screen.

Flash forward several years later to the summer of 2011 when Matthew finally stepped behind the camera to direct the film adaptation of FAT KID RULES THE WORLD (trailer below) starring JACOB WYSOCKI (TERRI), MATT O’LEARY (BRICK), and BILLY CAMPBELL (THE KILLING). The film would go on to premiere at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, winning the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award in the process.

Although reviews and buzz have been more than positive for FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, the film has unfortunately not received the same love from distributors– a common experience among most of us indie filmmakers. The phrase “We’re just not sure how to market this” is old hat. Not to be discouraged, Matthew and team have decided to self-distribute via an aggressive Kickstarter fundraising campaign and some forward-thinking partnerships with TUGG.COM and the VANS WARPED TOUR. Come hell or high water, they’re determined to get this unique film to the masses.

To give us more insight into the self-distribution decision, as well as his decision to start directing, Matthew Lillard was generous enough to answer some questions.

WILL PRESCOTT: Up until now, your career has been in front of the camera. Was it always a goal to eventually jump behind it?

MATTHEW LILLARD: Not specifically, no. I’ve always been keen to do more than act though. I’m not a huge fan of passively waiting for the phone to ring, there’s just not enough work as an actor to keep me satiated. Even in a great year, if you count the hours a week or month that you’re actually practicing the craft of acting, what’s the total time spent? What are you supposed to do with the rest of your life?

WP: Directing is a pretty seamless step for actors. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve found making the transition?

ML: All the “challenges” for me actually would fall under the banner of producing. It took 9 years to find someone that believed in the story enough to let me make the movie I wanted.

WP: Did you seek any advice from other directors in preparation for your début?

ML: I didn’t seek direct council from anyone before I took the leap of faith. Directing a movie is like having a baby… what are they going to say to me that would prepare me for the experience I was about to go through? Breathe. Sleep when you can. Drink wine often. For me, directing is instinctual– part of who I am as an artist. I don’t know if you can seek advice on matters of art. I do enjoy talking about the process with other directors now after the shooting has stopped. There’s a wonderful fellowship in those relationships.

WP: Was directing just a thing you had to do for this particular project or is FAT KID just the beginning? In other words, can we expect more from you as a director?

ML: I hope it’s just the beginning! If I was drawing up a master plan for my life, I would teach acting at a liberal arts college somewhere romantic and ivy covered and direct a movie every couple of years. That sounds about perfect!

WP: It actually does. So, how did FAT KID come to you?

ML: I was lucky enough to do the book on tape of KL Going’s wonderful young adult novel. Twenty pages into the experience I had tears running down my face the story had rocked me so completely.

WP: Wow. How so?

ML: I saw myself in the hero of the book, Troy. He’s is overweight, lost and on the outside of life until he is “saved” by punk rock. For me, I found drama class in Junior High School and that changed my life. Gave me purpose, strong sense of self and helped pull me through the complexities of High School.

WP: In the film, Troy is played by JACOB WYSOCKI. Can you talk a little bit about how you cast him?

ML: WHITEWATER PICTURES and I decided to shoot a short film called FAT PUNK using scenes from the feature script. We were a non-union digital shoot that was paying $100 a day and when we put it out over breakdown we got four kids to come in and audition. Jacob was one of of the kids and we cast him to be the lead in the short. By the end of the process we were so in love with him he became the linchpin for our financing.

WP: Did your extensive acting experience help you communicate better with a young-up and-comer like Jacob?

ML: No doubt being an actor helped but I think it’s the teaching I’ve done that really made a difference in my directing. I started teaching at the Vancouver Film School a couple of years ago and the time I spent there working with those kids in their scene study work gave me the confidence to lead this film’s performances.

WP: Any specific stories or examples from the shoot?

ML: There was a day when Troy is suppose to lose his shit and Jacob came up to me and was worried about his ability to “get mad.” I walked him through a quick exercise and he exploded into the work. We quietly rolled cameras and captured his brilliance in one take. He was so emotionally charged he smashed a hole in the wall while shooting the scene and afterward he went outside and threw up. It’s my favorite scene in the film for two reasons: one, when you watch the work in that moment you can feel it in your body, that energy strikes a physical response in people when they see it; and two, I feel like I helped Jacob tap into a side of his work that he didn’t know existed.

WP: When and where did you shoot?

ML: Seattle, Washington in the summer of 2011.

WP: What SAG-AFTRA contract did you use?

ML: The Low Budget Agreement with a side of the Diversity in Casting Incentive, which was the best part I think. I’m an open minded director when it comes to ideas for casting, but the Diversity in Casting Incentive pushed me to keep thinking outside the box. I’m proud of the diversity in our film.

WP: Where did FAT KID premiere? How was it received?

ML: We premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March and won the Audience Award in the Narrative Spotlight category. It was an epic week!

WP: Any other places it’s played?

ML: We just played at the Seattle International Film Festival as one of their opening night films and at the Toronto International Film Festival– NEXT WAVE where we were the closing night film.

WP: What’s the current status of the project?

ML: After SXSW we had offers for distribution but none of them gave us much of a chance to recoup our modest budget. We had seen the movie play, we’d just won the audience award and received amazing reviews across the board. In light of all that we decided to go it alone. The first thing we did was start a Kickstarter campaign to support our self-distribution efforts. Then we did a deal with TUGG.COM which allows us to screen the movie in just about any theatre across the US once you have a critical mass of tickets pre-sold. Think Group-on with a movie!

WP: That actually sounds really promising.

ML: We also made a deal to co-sponsor the VANS WARPED TOUR this summer to market the film to the 1 million kids that visit that event every summer. We’ll have a street team that travels the country encouraging kids to set up their own screenings of the movie at TUGGTHEFATKID.COM. We believe we’re onto something very cool and can’t wait to see how the whole thing breaks over the next four weeks!

WP: That’s great. So, how important is something like Kickstarter to the rest of the indie film community?

ML: I think it can be an incredibly important tool, not only for the indie film world but for artist in every medium. It’s a simple way for people who want to support the arts to rally behind their passion. Financially! That’s huge for the arts, we need that sort of support.

WP: Any particular incentives we should be excited about?

ML: I can’t believe we still have a Mike McCready (Pearl Jam guitarist who did our score) signed guitar available!

WP: Where’s it going to screen first after you hit your goal?

ML: We’re launching with TUGG.COM so anywhere in the USA! I have a feeling there are some fans of the book who will be the first to make it fly.

WP: What’s the future look like for Director and/or Actor Matthew Lillard? Any upcoming projects we should know about?

ML: I’m in the new Clint Eastwood/Amy Adams movie coming out this Fall, which is fun. As a director, nothing yet but the great thing about this Kickstarter/Tugg/Warp tour model is that it’s repeatable. We’d like to make a movie a year for these kids for the next 100 years!

WP: Any final words of wisdom for directors or actors-turned-directors who are looking to embark on their first feature?

ML: Believe.

Matthew Lillard has only a few days left to raise enough funds to help bring FAT KID RULES THE WORLD to the masses. Visit the KICKSTARTER page and support the effort if you can.

For more information on FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, check out the official website as well as the Facebook Page. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker we should interview, email for consideration.