indieBlog

And Now a Word from the Newbies

Colin McCormack — Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

A word of welcome from SAGindie’s two newest employees, Amanda LaFranco and Colin McCormack


FROM AMANDA:

The shoes I’ve gotta fill…

Ellen left a pretty big legacy here at SAGindie, and I’m only just realizing how much of a challenge living up to her reputation is going to be; to put in comparison, it’s like when Russell took over for Auerbach. However, I love what SAGindie offers to filmmakers and I am effused to be able to help connect producers with actors, and to get those on-screen gems we call “indie films” made. Whether your style is Fruitvale Station, Napoleon Dynamite, or even Eraserhead, I’m here to help! Though I may be stuck in an office all day, I’m metaphorically on the front lines with you – so I will be slogging through those thick contracts to find the answers you need.

I’m a Jersey girl born and raised (yes I love Bruce Springsteen), who has finally settled in Los Angeles after a series of grand adventures in Boston. I’m obsessed with the films and themes explored in 1970s cinema from Jaws to Two-Lane Blacktop. However, any time a theater is showing the venerable classics Star Wars, The Princess Bride, or When Harry Met Sally… trust me, I’m there. After seeing my own film come to life on screen I realized I never want to stop creating, so I make a conscious effort to capture my wildest imagination on a page every day.

Personal bragging rights include: running with the bulls in San Fermin (thankfully still in one piece), racing Astons with the Queen from Geneva to Brussels (she was on holiday), and sipping whiskey at the base of Kilimanjaro with Hemingway (that’s a story for another time).

But enough about me, let’s talk about your project and how SAG-AFTRA’s low-budget contracts can help it become a reality.

 

FROM COLIN:

Hey there, how’s it going? You alright? My name is Colin and I’m the new guy – or “the new Will” – taking over the proverbial internet reigns for SAGindie. Don’t worry, I’ll grow on you like fine wine (is that a saying?). I’m here to help get the word out about SAG-AFTRA’s low-budget agreements on the interweb and via (when absolutely necessary) personal interaction.

But don’t fret if you happen to be a pale, hunchbacked writerly type like me. You can keep up to date on SAGindie news, events, interviews, and other fun stuff through our blog, newsletter, Twitter, or Facebook – all from the comfort of that corner in your living room you call your “home office.” I urge you to stay tuned for some exciting developments, as we will be giving the website a facelift in the coming months (though this being Hollywood, we’ll likely attribute the new look to “resting” and “drinking lots of water”).

Originally hailing from the Detroit area, I moved to LA just before Michigan started its filmmaker tax incentives. Since those tax credits did not alleviate five months worth of snow, I decided to stay on the West Coast. I’m fascinated by the creative development process, and get excited/jealous when I read about great “why didn’t I think of that?” movie ideas. I’ve written a few movies, which are all still toiling in good ol’ development. If forced to pick some favorite films, I’d have to include a double-feature of The Graduate and Harold and Maude, though I also have a particular affinity for 1980s comedies (Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Heathers among the obvious greats).

I’m thrilled to be a part of SAGindie and look forward to lending my support to those courageous souls known as independent filmmakers.

 

DOs and DON’Ts on AUDITIONING from DIRECTOR JARED DRAKE

Will Prescott — Friday, April 25th, 2014

jared drake and ryan mccann

Director JARED DRAKE is no stranger to bringing unique characters to life, and he will be the first to tell you casting the right actor is the key to pulling it off. One look at his indie hit VISIONEERS, and it’s easy to see how casting was vital to making it all work. The dream ensemble included Zach Galifianakis (long before HANGOVER fame), Judy Greer, Missi Pyle, James LeGros, and D.W. Moffett who each had their own spin on characters that were, arguably, a major contribution to the critical-acclaim of the project.

That said, it does take a talented team (typically the director, casting director, and producers) to be confident enough to pull the trigger on what they hope will be a homerun performance.

Jared is hard at work on his next feature, MACK LUSTER (a VISIONEERS spinoff of sorts with RYAN McCANN reprising his iconic role of Mack), which has recently launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign (see the pitch video below). With the casting process currently underway, he was more than willing to share some advice for actors looking to nail that audition.

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I love auditions. An endless stream of actors, all shapes and sizes, filing in and out, bringing to life characters I’ve spent years with in my head with fresh ideas, angles, and perspectives that I never could’ve dreamed of. And most actors are polite, longing for a chance to invest their heart and soul into a project. This makes every audition a huge honor from the second the door opens.

But then the door closes.

And from that moment on there is no telling what direction the audition will take. To help define what makes one audition more rewarding than others, I’ve compiled a list of helpful Dos and Don’ts for actors when they audition.

DO: Own it.
When an actor walks into the room with an attitude that says “I have an idea for this character I can’t wait to show you,” I get the chills. I want an actor that makes choices, and comes with all they have. That knows who they are and will take what is written, apply it, and bring it. To show me “this is what I can and will do for this role and if it’s not a fit, it wasn’t meant to be.” And chances are, if you make a strong enough choice, I’ll remember you for future projects. I have cast actors based on choices they made in auditions for past projects. Make a strong, clear decision about what YOU can bring to the role. It leaves an impression. And impressions are good.

DON’T: Tell us the character needs more lines.
Then come with suggestions. Seriously, this happens a lot. And I’m always shocked when it does. If you’re already angling to get more lines, it tells me your interests are not to service the movie, but to service yourself.

DO: Get off book.
I know it is impossible to do with multiple auditions a day, but for those important roles, come in off book. It doesn’t look needy. It looks prepared. I absolutely love this and give huge bonus points for anyone taking the time to get organized. It tells me you’ll be ready to shoot when it comes time to roll camera.

DON’T: Tell us that you can do anything, it just depends on what we want.
This isn’t a one size fits all sort of business. And, maybe, we don’t know what we want for this one liner bit part and are hoping to be inspired through casting. I know this sounds sucky, but sometimes it is the truth. Show us what you got and what you can bring to the role, and we’ll decide if it’s something we can shape the character into.

DO: Say you love the material.
I know it’s dorky, but kissing up does leave a mark no matter how badly we want to admit it doesn’t. Think about it, at this stage in process, we’re probably caught up in rewrites with a million people telling us what they think should change in the script, struggling to digest the vague comments and wrangle them into something coherent…so it’s nice to hear from someone, anyone, that the material is great! Then, before you leave, thank us and tell us it was the one of the coolest auditions you’ve been on all week.

DON’T: Be a broken record.
We give you a massive adjustment that completely changes the direction of the audition, and you do the exact same thing you did before. This happens more times than not. When a director gives you an adjustment, they’re either testing you to see how well you take direction or they genuinely want to see it played a different way. In either case, failing to try something new is goodbye because it tells us you’re blocked and won’t be able to react to the environment once the camera is rolling. So do something… anything… except for what you just did. Flip that switch, and flip it HARD.

DO: Calm our nerves.
Yup, we get nervous just like you do! If the director is in the room, comfort them by thanking them for an adjustment they give you or telling them their approach to the character is solid. Again, dorky. But the more comfortable we are with you in the casting room, the more comfortable we think we will all be on set together and better your chances of being hired when it is down to you and some self-centered jerk.

DON’T: Don’t tell us you’re nervous.
We know you are. Everyone is. Those who don’t make an issue out of it now likely won’t make an issue out of it when they’re in front of the crew and on camera. Keep your nerves to yourself. We’re all freaked out! Oh…and don’t tell us you would be more prepared if things weren’t so screwy at home or you didn’t have to run ten errands that morning. If we’re casting, the rest of my day is probably composed of putting out small fires with producers, financiers, clients, or department heads over logistics. The last thing I need is to hear about your baggage.

DO: Start yourself over in the middle of an off reading.
I love this. I know some argue against it. But all the best actors I’ve ever worked with have some sort of governor on their acting engine that tells them when they’re off and how to fix it. It tells me there is a tangible set of tools there to work with, and you won’t need hand-holding through every line. Just don’t let it happen more than once…and when you do start over, it better rock!

DON’T: Don’t be a talker.
Engage with us, but if you’re droning on after your audition and we start checking emails, it’s probably time to leave. There is a fine line between communicating who you are and making us fear that you’re going to be a nuisance on set. There is nothing that bugs me more than a crew or cast member that can’t see when I have a million things running through my head and, for whatever reason, think it’s a great time to tell me a ten minute story about their cat.

DO: Believe in yourself.
The last thing I want to reiterate to every actor out there is that we are all rooting for you. Every single time an actor walks through the door, there is promise. And I always catch myself holding my breath hoping they’re going to blow it out of the water. We are your friend. All we want is for you to succeed.

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If you found this article helpful, make sure you check out Jared Drake’s latest project MACK LUSTER or learn more about Jared at jaredDdrake.com. If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent filmmaker or filmmaking related business we should interview, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

10 TIPS FOR DIRECTING A MICRO BUDGET MOVIE from FILMMAKER PAUL OSBORNE

Will Prescott — Thursday, April 17th, 2014

paul_osborne_favor

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.

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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.

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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 blogadmin@sagindie.org 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.

12 TIPS FOR INDIE PRODUCERS from M. ELIZABETH HUGHES

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!

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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 blogadmin@sagindie.org 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!

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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 FanboyComics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing subscribe@fanboycomics.net.

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 Sundance.org. For complete information on any of the films visit Sundance.org/festival.

Austenland
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

Lifeguard
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

Mud
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

Lovelace
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

Stoker
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 haxan.com. 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.

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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 MarketingDegreeAdvisor.com. Forward by SAGIndie’s Ellen Tremiti; additional source.

 

SAG FOUNDATION SHORTS SHOWCASE – SEEKING SUBMISSIONS

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:

SAG FOUNDATION SHORTS SHOWCASE
Screen Actors Guild
360 Madison Ave. – 12th Flr.
New York NY 10017

Thanks and good luck!

SAGIndie