Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood sports movies: Do fans love losers as much as winners?

No one would accuse Jonathan Hock of being a feel-good filmmaker. Hock, who has carved out a career as one of the best sports documentarians, premieres his new film Tuesday night on ESPN. Called “Unguarded,” it chronicles the career of Chris Herren, a schoolboy basketball star from Fall River, Mass., whose promising career is derailed by a harrowing descent into drug addiction.
A hoops legend at an early age — he was a McDonald’s All-American who once scored 63 points in a game — Herren had an NBA-ready resume after stints as a star guard at Boston College and Fresno State. But as the film makes clear, he also had a full-blown cocaine problem. Because of his much-publicized stints in rehab, he fell into the second round of the 1999 NBA draft. After his rookie season, he became addicted to a new drug — OxyContin. That was followed by heroin. After being cut by the Boston Celtics, he played for teams in Italy, Turkey, China and Germany.
His career ended in 2004 when, playing for a team in the CBA, he was found by police unconscious at a Dunkin Donuts drive-in with 18 packets of heroin. Herren didn’t get sober until after another heroin arrest in 2008. Hock met Herren when he had two years of sobriety under his belt; they were introduced by a mutual friend, Liz Mullin, whose husband, Chris, an NBA hall of famer, had battled alcohol dependency during his playing career.
As a filmmaker, Hock is attracted to lost souls. In “The Best That Never Was,” he examined Marcus Dupree, a high school football legend whose career was derailed by injuries and over-inflated expectations, and his “The Lost Son of Havana” centered on fabled Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant’s melancholy return to Cuba after four decades in exile.
Before he began making his own movies, Hock worked at NFL Films, the cultural propaganda machine that promotes football as an irreplaceable component in our American way of life. “When I left to do my own projects, I guess I came to believe that sports stories, as they’re traditionally told, are really misleading and off the mark,” Hock told me. “‘Hoosiers’ is a great story about a wonderful game, but I’m interested in what happens when the game is over and the athlete has to go off and live the rest of their life. That’s when the story really gets interesting.”
Hock spent countless hours with Herren, watching him give motivational speeches about his troubled past. Finally, it clicked: Hock could tell Herren’s story through these informal talks at prison treatment centers, high school all-star tournaments and West Point student gatherings.
“It just never felt right to mike him and light him and do a formal interview,” Hock explained. “After hearing him tell his story in front of young players and tattooed inmates, I realized that we could do the film almost like a one-man show, with the man in the show baring his soul.”
With its intimate portrait of Herren’s raw, working-class origins, “Unguarded” often looks a lot more like an episode of “The Wire” than an ESPN sports film. “Chris was always told that his destiny was to be a basketball player,” said Hock. “But it turns out that he had a higher calling — his destiny was to help other people. He was never allowed to be who he was because he was always on track to be a star.”
“The Wire” was never a big hit, but thanks to the stewardship of HBO, it lasted for 60 episodes, each one as brutally frank and openly pessimistic about the state of mankind as the last. Can sports films aim as high? If you put Hock’s “Unguarded” together with “Moneyball,” last year’s Oscar-nominated “The Fighter” and five marvelous seasons of the Emmy Award-winning “Friday Night Lights,” you’d have a collection of dramas and documentaries that have as much scope and ambition as any of the great novels or stories — think “The Silent Season of a Hero,” Gay Talese’s 1966 Esquire profile of Joe DiMaggio — that have become required reading for sports fans.
From Red Smith and Ring Lardner through David Halberstam and Buzz Bissinger, writers have always been drawn to sports’ endless gallery of battered but beautiful losers. “The losers are always more interesting than the winners,” said John Schulian, a veteran sports columnist and TV writer whose latest collection of stories is titled “Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand.” “Winners tend to be more self-protective — they don’t want to spoil their image. Losers are more open. They’ll talk about why they blew the game or why they robbed the jewelry store when they were 17. You just find out a lot more about yourself when you’re on the losing end.”
This sense of introspection is at work in the hot novel of the moment, Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding,” which offers an apt illustration of why sports is such fertile territory for storytellers. Ostensibly a novel about a shortstop who aspires to perfection, the book ends up probing a host of deeper issues, its characters enmeshed in struggles with fallibility and the curse of self-consciousness.
Hock’s portrait of Herren in “Unguarded” is also about fallibility, human frailty being the curse of so many sports icons. (As a troubled soul from a blue-collar Massachusetts town, Herren's character is a first cousin to Dicky Eklund, the lovable but drug-addicted boxer played by Christian Bale in “The Fighter.”)
In days past, writers would plumb dark corners and Hollywood would scrub them clean. It’s worth remembering that in Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural” Roy Hobbs strikes out. It’s only in the movie that he hits a majestic home run. You can guess what ending Hock would choose. Like a lot of filmmakers of his generation, when it comes to sports, he’s a realist, not a mythmaker.
“I guess my films turn that whole redemption thing upside down,” he says. “Sports provides the illusion that athletes can achieve perfection. But sometimes if you’re searching for redemption, you can only find it away from the game, like Chris Herren did.”

My pals who are big sports nuts love to heap scorn on Hollywood sports movies, especially when the discussion is unfolding in a bar. Their biggest complaint? The films are squishy, full of more easy sentiment than soul, with the victories being achieved with too little cost. Movies want all of us to feel good when, in real sports, the only ones feeling good are those who were rooting for the winner.
If you divided up the best-known Hollywood sports films, the vast majority could be cataloged as stories about triumph over adversity (“The Blind Side,” “Miracle,” “Rocky” and “Rudy”), spiritual uplift (“Field of Dreams” and “The Natural”), raunchy high jinks (“Major League,” “The Bad News Bears,” “The Longest Yard” and “Caddyshack”) and underdog empowerment (“Remember the Titans” and “A League of Their Own”).

Hollywood sports movies: Do fans love losers as much as winners?
But I have a hunch we’ve recently embarked on a new era of sports films whose stories are just as compelling as the ones you’d find in any other dramatic genre, in part because they aren’t obsessed with happy endings.

Apple Launching iTunes Movie Offerings in Over a Dozen New Countries

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Song Hye Gyo Talks About Her Complicated Role in Latest Movie "Today"

Song Hye Gyo was recently inteviewed by TVReport about her latest movie "Today", which was released on October 27 in Korea.  

In the movie "Today" (English title “A Reason To Live”) directed by Lee Jung Hyang, Song Hye Gyo rarely smiles. Her character Da Hye had quit her job at a broadcasting station after the shocking loss of her fiance (actor Ki Tae Young) in a motorbike accident a year ago. Da Hye then became a freelance documentary PD exploring the theme of forgiveness.
As a documentary PD, Da Hye met the families of those who have killed, families of those who have been killed, and religious workers, hearing stories of painful pasts and alienation from society. Although Da Hye forgave the youth who caused the death of her fiance, the movie seeks to explore the meaning of true forgiveness, especially after Da Hye realizes belatedly how the youth she forgave did not atone for his misdeeds.

In an interview with TVREPORT, Song Hye Gyo admitted, “After filming this movie, it made me think hard about whom forgiveness is meant to be for. I wondered whether the word ‘forgiveness’ was said this easily to make ourselves feel better.”
“I have never internalized a word like “forgiveness” so seriously, for such a long time (throughout a movie). Vaguely, I understand the word is well-meaning. However, when you think separately from the perspective of the object (giver) and subject (receiver) of forgiveness, it becomes difficult to grasp. No matter how you want to forgive, if the party to be forgiven is not prepared to receive the forgiveness, then there is no genuine forgiveness at all.”

Song Hye Gyo Talks About Her Complicated Role in Latest Movie "Today"
This is the darkness and weight of “Today,” a movie by director Lee Jung Hyang after a 9 year hiatus, whose previous movies include “The Road Home” (2002) and “Art Museum By The Zoo” (1998). Towards the later half of the movie, viewers can expect a tearful catharsis rarely experienced from other movies. Even Song Hye Gyo, whose character suffers much in the movie, said, “If you wait for the actors, there will come a time when they will reward you with their existence.”
When asked how she feels about the many praises for the movie, she replied, “Ae-ey… that’s impossible,” as she lowered her head. “The regrets I felt for this movie were so much more than my other works. Although the director tried to instill more courage in me by calling me ‘Da Hye Gyo,’ I felt my responsibilities become heavier instead. I’m not confident of doing this again,” She said with a laugh.
Since “My Girl And I” (2005), works starring Song Hye Gyo often have scenes where she is riding on a bike. “During ‘My Girl And I’, most of the time I was behind (Cha) Tae Hyun oppa in the bike scenes. Eun Seo was like that too, in ‘Autumn In My Heart.’ The director made me ride the bike so many times!” She said as she broke into laughter.

Towards fellow actress Nam Ji Hyun, who takes on the role of a high school student who is a victim of family violence, Song Hye Gyo praises, “She is an amazing junior. I have heard much about her as an acting genius, and she really is one. From the first day we met, she called me ‘onni’ (older sister) affectionately. I thought I was at an age where she would call me ‘aunt.’”
She also revealed, “The filming set was so quiet, the atmosphere felt like a library reading room. For four months, I became rather close to the food truck ahjumma (lady who prepares food for staff at mobile filming locations). Her side dishes of sausages and fishcakes were the best, they reminded me of what I ate when I was young. Wherever we were, I ate her food well, and thanks to her, I never caught a cold during the filming.”
In the movie, Da Hye was a devoted Catholic. Song Hye Gyo elaborates, “After her fiance’s accident, she didn’t believe the world anymore, and lost her religion. When I was a kid, I used to go to church but I became distant sometime after that. Now I don’t have a religion.” When asked what she would say to Da Hye if they could meet, she took a long pause before answering.
“Well, I think I wouldn’t like to meet her. (laughs) I guess I would just say something short and polite before getting away from her. Da Hye and I both have pent-up, frustrated characters. Although I have become quite extroverted now, just a few years ago , I couldn’t even express 10% of what I felt inside me. I’m the type who literally ‘festers’ internally. I was recognized as a triple AAA blood type but I think I can be considered just an A blood type now. (laughs)”

ArcLight Cinemas launches documentary festival

ArcLight Hollywood Lobby
A good movie trailer can generate an opening weekend crowd, can win its own awards and can even inspire Muppet-filled spoofs. Now a trailer can secure a feature film a spot in a film festival, as ArcLight Cinemas has shown with its new documentary festival occurring next month.
The upscale theater chain will present its inaugural Documentary Film Festival at its Hollywood location on Sunset Boulevard. The 10 films were selected by Web users, who voted on the docs’ trailers on the ArcLight YouTube page. The top 10 “most liked” will screen at the festival Nov. 7-11. ArcLight announced Wednesday which films made the cut, after an Oct. 17-23 voting period.
The festival will award the winning documentary producer $10,000.
The festival was conceived by Gretchen McCourt, ArcLight’s executive vice president of cinema programming, after seeing the positive response to Banksy's “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which opened in Los Angeles at ArcLight Hollywood last year. The theater chain’s marketing company, Mission Control, organized the festival.
The event “is a strong way to be able to enjoy what ArcLight wants to do more of — not just blockbusters. Independent documentaries have a lot to bring too,” said Jonathan Josell, creative director at Mission Control.
Determining the finalists through voting by the public was motivated by the opportunity to “allow people to promote their own films," Jossell said. "That’s where independent film is sort of going today.”
Among the films in the festival (see full list below) is “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians,” which is produced by Jason Connell, founder of Connell Creations. His work — putting on film festivals — takes him all over the world, but the ArcLight festival will be close to home, as the theater is just half a mile away from the company’s offices.
“I’m such a huge fan of [ArcLight Hollywood]. It’s by far my favorite theater,” Connell said. The producer also sees the festival as a way to generate more buzz for “Holy Rollers” in L.A., as he’s “close to closing a few deals” for the film’s distribution, he said.
The winning documentary selected by four judges will be announced Nov. 12 at a gala. McCourt is one of the judges, along with Rhadi Taylor, associate director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program; Rebecca Cammisa, director of Oscar-nominated “Which Way Home”; and Marjan Safinia, a member of the board of directors for the International Documentary Assn.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

’11-11-11′ Trailer Promises A (Possibly) Spooky Supernatural Thriller

’11-11-11′ Trailer Promises A (Possibly) Spooky Supernatural Thriller

Saw II-IV helmer Darren Lynn Bousman – who’s also known for directing the cult horror/rock musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera – intends to scare the socks off moviegoers with his new supernatural horror flick 11-11-11: a thriller based on the beliefs of the 11:11 movement.
Previously-released teasers for Bousman’s film have primarily focused on playing up the ominous implications of its premise (ie. that the appearance of the number 11 signifies an attempt by spiritual beings to communicate with regular people) – and featuring flashes of creepily unnerving imagery. The new full-length trailer for 11-11-11 doesn’t vary from that approach.

One thing that 11-11-11 does seem to have going for it is Bousman’s decision to rely heavily on practical tools (costumes, monster makeup, etc.) and actual spooky locations for atmospheric effect. While that move was probably in part due to the writer/director having a comparatively small budget to work with, it nonetheless allows the film to visually harken back to menacing old-school horror tales like The Exorcist – and not come off as just another cheesy CGI-fest in these early previews.
Here is an official synopsis for 11-11-11:
In the film, after the tragic death of his wife and child, famed American author Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs) travels from the United States to Barcelona, Spain to reunite with his estranged brother Samuel (Michael Landes) and dying father, Richard (Denis Rafter). However, fate has a different plan for Joseph as his life becomes plagued with strange happenings, and the constant sightings of the number 11. Curiosity quickly turns to obsession, and Joseph soon realizes that this number holds a horrific meaning not only to himself but possibly to all of religion. Isolated in a foreign country with only the support of his companion, Sadie, Joseph soon realizes that 11/11/11 is more than just a date, it’s a WARNING!
Now check out the new 11-11-11 trailer below:

This new 11-11-11 theatrical preview does a good job of teasing the film’s actual plot in a fashion that gets your attention, but doesn’t reveal too many (if any) of the film’s secrets. While the recently-released Paranormal Activity 3 left many a moviegoer annoyed by its somewhat controversial marketing scheme, 11-11-11 appears to be much more straightforward in its approach. That is to say, the final product will definitely boast all the macabre visuals and narrative twists hinted at in its trailers.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a strong possibility that 11-11-11 will amount to a hokey wannabe scarefest that looks and feels mostly like a glorified direct-to-DVD horror B-movie (re: cheap). That’s not to mention, Bousman also doesn’t exactly boast the greatest track record as a filmmaker, seeing how he’s better known for crafting graphic – but not chilling – horror flicks.
On the other hand: there is definitely an audience which would go for a weirdly (accidental) campy supernatural thriller. So even if 11-11-11 fails to be legitimately scary, that doesn’t mean it will be devoid of any entertainment value.
11-11-11 is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on (you guessed it) November 11th, 2011.

Vampire film haunts Irvine on Halloween night

“Krasinski is an internationally acclaimed improvisational organist who specializes in the art of live silent film accompaniment,” says Kristine Werez, manager for the Perelman Quadrangle, which oversees Irvine Auditorium events.

Empire Magazine listed “Nosferatu” at No. 21 on its “100 Best Films Of World Cinema” list, calling the film “the original vampire movie, before the clichés and the camp sunk their fangs into the genre.” Max Schreck stars as the evil Count Orlov.
For the past two years, Irvine has screened the 1925 silent film “The Phantom of the Opera” on Halloween, complete with Krasinski’s pipe organ accompaniment, reviving a 25-year tradition that was halted in 1997 when Perelman Quad underwent renovations.
Werez says they decided to break with tradition this year in order to capitalize on the popularity of vampire films like the “Twilight” series and television’s “True Blood” and “Vampire Diaries.”
“Vampires are really popular right now and students in particular seem to enjoy vampire movies,” she says.

Move over “Phantom of the Opera.” This Halloween, vampires rule.
In a new twist to Penn’s annual Halloween concert tradition, vampire Count Orlok will assume this year’s frightening duties on Monday, Oct. 31, at 7:15 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium. The 1922 German classic movie “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror,” an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” will be the featured presentation.
Max Schreck as the evil Count Orlok
The silent film, directed by F. W. Murnau, will be accompanied by a musical score performed by famed organist Peter Edwin Krasinski on Irvine’s 10,731-pipe Curtis Organ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Official US Trailer for Ghibli's 'Secret World of Arrietty' Movie

Arrietty, aka Kari-gurashi no Arietty or The Borrowers originally, is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a Studio Ghibli artist and animator who is making his directorial debut with this film. At age 36, Yonebayashi was the youngest person to ever direct an entire feature for Ghibli. The screenplay was written by master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki himself and is based on Mary Norton's series of children's fantasy novels of the same name, first published in 1952. The Toho Company release this in Japan last summer, but Disney is finally bringing Arietty to theaters in the US starting on February 17th, 2012early next year. Look good?
Official US Trailer for Ghibli's 'Secret World of Arrietty' Movie

No friendship is too small. Disney has unveiled the official US trailer for Studio Ghibli's animated adventure The Secret World of Arrietty, the latest Studio Ghibli feature, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, to get re-dubbed and released a year late in America. This version features a voice cast with Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, David Henrie and Moises Arias. We've already seen some trailers for this before, including the UK one recently with its own voice cast, but this still looks good no matter how they present it. It's a tale of two friends, and it looks great. Hitting US theaters in February!

Watch the official US trailer for Studio Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty, via Apple:

Leatherface Makes The Cut For MTV's Killer Halloween

MTV's Killer Halloween continues! We're on a mission to find out who the best and scariest movie murderer is based on your votes, and we're ranking these ghastly guys on their deadliest attributes. Freddy Krueger and Ghostface, Jason and Leatherface are just a few of the cinematic terrors on our list.
Michael Myers in "Halloween"
Check out our latest killer profile, for "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" crazy man Leatherface, and be sure to visit us every day this week to see the latest matchups!

Name: Leatherface
Occupation: Taxidermist, cannibal, serial killer
Weapons: Chainsaw, meat hooks, butcher's hammer, family baggage
Archenemy: Sanity, vegetarians, syphilis (the reason Leatherface doesn't have a nose)
Profile: What's not to love about a killer who wields a chainsaw and wears a mask made of human skin? Not to mention that bloody butcher's apron — it is a killer getup, pun intended. Leatherface made his terrifying debut in 1974's beloved slasher classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The backwoods cannibal's gruesome appeal is enhanced by the involvement of his totally twisted, psychotic, inbred family members, who own and operate the Last Chance gas station and use it to find new victims to torture, kill ... and barbecue.

Horror movie expert Brian Collins of Horror Movie a Day attributes Leatherface's appeal to his simplicity and consistency.

"They never really screwed him up like the other guys. Freddy [Krueger] turned into a cartoon, Michael [Myers] was ret-conned into a henchman for some druid cult, but Leatherface was always just a simple cannibal with a chainsaw and a mask made of human skin," Collins told MTV News. "He always had a group of other killers to play off of, making him a little more three-dimensional than the others who worked alone."

Leatherface and his family, along with their creepy cannibalistic ways, were featured in several other films following the original: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," the 2003 Michael Bay-produced remake, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and a 2006 prequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning."

Their appalling adventures also inspired several comic books: 1991's four-issue series, "Leatherface," 1995's three-issue "Jason vs. Leatherface," and one-off special issues like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Cut!"

"Leatherface is up there with Freddy, Jason and Michael as far as the die-hard horror fans are concerned," Collins said of the chainsaw wielder's place among favorite horror movie killers, adding that the hankering for human flesh and hacking through it is an unforgettable combo, even if he isn't as mainstream as the likes of Freddy and Jason. "I don't think he's as iconic to the casual moviegoer as the others, since there haven't been as many movies," he said.

Will Martin Scorsese reinvent 3D with Hugo?

Scorsese’s next film is Hugo, which is based on the children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Footage was shown at the New York Film Festival, and the reaction was very positive.

Steve Pond at TheWrap wrote, "Has Scorsese just saved 3D? Viewers seemed to agree that the film makes remarkable use of the oft-derided technology."
Yes, word has it Scorsese uses 3D much like Cameron did in Avatar, giving the film much depth and texture to peer into instead of throwing everything but the kitchen sink out at the audience.  IFC  explained that with Hugo, Scorsese "constantly moves the lens towards the objects in the frame, playing as much with our perception of movement as our perception of depth."
And Deadline raved, "Scorsese has provided the most intriguing use of 3D since Avatar. Instead of the gimmick opportunity of using 3D to have objects jump out at audiences, Scorsese employs it to subtly immerse the audience into Hugo Cabret’s world."

Scorsese is indeed a fan of 3D movies, and loved the irony that his favorite 3D film, House of Wax, was made by a director with one eye, Andre De Toth. So in a way his latest movie is surprising, but if you’ve followed his career and know his passion for movies, it’s not as surprising as you’d think.

As his long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker told MovieMorlocks, "There’s never the same reason why he’ll do a movie. I think sometimes he knows a movie’s going to have a small audience. For example, I don’t think he expected Kundun to be big box-office, he made it because he was intrigued. Mean Streets was another film he never thought was going to be released, but he had it in him, he had to get it out, and look what happened: It was his big breakthrough. Every film he makes for a different reason, and every film he sets a new challenge for himself."
Being a long time Martin Scorsese fan, I was certainly quite interested to learn that he’s made a movie in 3D, and a children’s film to boot. 

Sure, it’s not the usual fare of the man who gave us GoodFellas and The Departed, but he’s tackled a lot of different kinds of films in his career, from The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, The Age of Innocence, to The Last Waltz.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Madonna booed by fans at new premiere W.E.

Madonna booed by fans at new premiere W.E.
LONDON - Madonna received a less than generous reception at her latest film premier when she was booed for only talking to a handful of waiting fans.

The 53-year-old singer, who co-wrote and directed W.E., admitted she was nervous as she arrived on the red carpet at the Empire cinema in London's Leicester Square.

The film has already been shown at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, but Madonna revealed she felt under pressure screening it in Britain.

She revealed: "It's slightly nerve-wracking because it's about a British king, it's predominantly filmed in Britain, it's a British production, most of my actors are English and I know the British can be tough critics. But I hope they like it."

The film looks at the romance between Wallis Simpson, played by Andrea Riseborough, and Edward VIII, played by James D'Arcy, which led to the monarch's abdication.

Both Ms Riseborough and Mr D'Arcy attended the BFI London Festival screening along with co-stars Laurence Fox and Richard Coyle. All the cast agreed Madonna paid great attention to detail throughout the filming.

Ms Riseborough, 29, said: "She was extraordinary, because she was very prepared and passionate about the piece and that's what excited me when I first met her."

Mr D'Arcy revealed: "As a director Madonna is about as prepared a person I've ever worked with. Reams and reams of research she'd done. She gave me so many books and every single page was underlined, and if it wasn't underlined it was highlighted, and if it wasn't highlighted there was a post-it note on it." THE TELEGRAPH

Film Independent Names Producers Lab Participants, Sloan Award Winners

After their weekend-long Film Independent Forum (where Werner Herzog gave the keynote Q & A), FIND announced eleven filmmakers and nine projects for their 11th annual Producers Lab, and named Brent Hoff and Malcom Pullinger the winners of the 5th annual $25,000 Sloan Producers Grant. Hoff and Pullinger will participate in the Lab with their film, El Diablo Rojo, the story of a marine biologist and his team, who risk their lives to prevent ecological disaster after discovering a super swarm of El Diablo Rojo squid. FIND’s director of Artist Development, Josh Welsh, says; “Two of the films we’ve awarded this grant to in the past, Future Weather and Valley of Saints, are in post-production now. I look forward to seeing El Diablo Rojo follow the same path.”
Thompson on Hollywood
This year’s Lab instructors are: Karin Chien (Circumstance [developed through the Lab], The Exploding Girl), Ted Kroeber (Splinter, American Gun), Gina Kwon (The Future, The Good Girl) and Meg LeFauve (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Baby Dance).
Filmmakers (listed below) were chosen for the Lab based on their script, business plan and creative vision. Upon completion of the free Lab , participating producers are year-long Fellows who will receive support and access to FIND’s offerings.
The 2011 Producers Lab filmmakers and projects are:
1.  A Day With Dandekar – After being forced into retirement, a kindly Iranian man goes on a search to find the beloved car his well-meaning daughters have traded away.
Megha Kadakia brings a unique blend of business experience and artistic vision to the world of independent filmmaking. She has secured equity financing and put together numerous deals and services in order to produce her first feature, Raspberry Magic (Audience Award Winner for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival). Raspberry Magic has screened at over 25 festivals and has acquired domestic distribution through Film Buff, Cinetic Rights Management. Kadakia is currently working on producing her second feature – A Day with Dandekar, with writer/director Leena Pendharkar. Kadakia began her film career at Plinyminor Films, where she helped strategize and market their award-winning independent films, Online and Taking the Wheel. Since then, she has helped produce and finance numerous films, productions and art festivals. In the fall of 2008, Kadakia produced a short documentary featuring Lesa Terry and the Women’s Jazz Orchestra for the World Sacred Music Festival in Los Angeles, and won First Prize/Best Short at the Kansas City Filmmakersʼ Jubilee. She also produced the ever-popular one-woman solo show, Miss India America, a tragically comedic coming-of-age story of actress Meera Simhan. She has raised equity financing for indie films Here and Here After and Kissing Cousins. An avid proponent of art and culture, Kadakia has produced several arts festivals, most recently, Artwallah 2008, 2006, 2005 and the 2005 Artivist Film Festival. She holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University, Graduate School of Business. In addition to producing, Kadakia provides strategy and business development expertise to media and entertainment organizations through her company, Blue Velocity Consulting.
2.  El Diablo Rojo – Called down to investigate a mysterious disappearance of fish in the Sea of Cortez, a marine biologist and his team discover a super swarm of “El Diablo Rojo” squid and must risk their lives to prevent a looming ecological catastrophe. Based on true events.
Brent Hoff is the editor and co-founder of Wholphin DVD where he films drunk bees, crying competitions, and illegal trans-border volleyball matches. Before that he authored Mapping Epidemics, a book on pandemic disease transmission, made TV at The Daily Show, VH1 and Nickelodeon, and wrote articles about squid. His first feature script, about the last days of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is currently in production. Hoff was a member of the Sundance 2010 Shorts Competition Jury.
Malcolm Pullinger is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker based in San Francisco. He produced and edited the critically-acclaimed Winnebago Man, which was released theatrically in 2010. He also produced and edited the Gotham-nominated film Following Sean. He has produced for PBS and Channel 4, and has created programming for various political and nonprofit campaigns, including Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection and the Democratic National Committee.
3.  Ethel – When Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass are picked up for being Russian spies, the drama of the communist red scare is played out, not in political machinations, but in a drama where the personal becomes political and family members turn against one another as Ethel Rosenberg is caught in a dilemma where she must choose between her husband—who may or may not be a spy—her dysfunctional family, and her own life…
Anil Baral has recently been accepted to participate in the 2011 Producer’s Guild Diversity Workshop for a television pilot he is writing with his wife and writing partner, Carla Blair. He is currently writing the book and producing a stage musical, One Day, along with the co-writer and financier, Greg Mitchell; the lyricist, Brian Yorkey (who was awarded the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Next To Normal); and the composer, Woody Pak (Wedding Banquet, Making Tracks). In 2009 and 2011, Baral was awarded the Tribeca Institute & Sloan Foundation Screenplay Award & Grant for a biopic on the scientist, Marie Curie, A Noble Affair, co-written with Kathryn Maughan. Baral is also developing various projects including Ethel, a controversial biopic of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, written by Yon Motskin and with Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) attached to play Ethel Rosenberg. He has co-written a television pilot, The Source, and his writing awards include the New York Foundation for the Arts Geri Ashur Screenplay Award and Grant for an epic World War II story about the Gurkha soldiers of Nepal and various short film awards. He was a producer on the internationally successful short musical film Pretty Dead Girl (Sundance, AFI and Tribeca Film Festivals) directed by Shawn Ku. Baral earned a Bachelor of Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Film and Television Department. Before forming Fictitious Features, he worked at some of the most innovative feature film companies, starting in the development department at Good Machine. After a brief stint at Killer Films, he worked for writer/director Adam Brooks (French Kiss, Practical Magic, Wimbledon). Moving to Los Angeles, Baral freelanced as a story analyst for Working Title, was the assistant to Tom Sternberg (Under the Tuscan Sun, Lost Highway, Talented Mr. Ripley, Apocalypse Now) and then worked as the Director of Development for writer/director, Kimberly Peirce (Boy’s Don’t Cry, Stop Loss).
4.  Lee – A quiet and daring Lakota boy takes on a dangerous job in order to keep his family together on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Angela C. Lee is a Los Angeles based independent producer. Her current projects include Left Handed Girl (w/d: Sean Baker, Shih-Ching Tsou), Lee (w/d: Chloe Zhao), and she is developing a feature adaptation of Food Girls and Other Things I Can’t Have by YA novelist Allen Zadoff. Most recently, Lee served as Director of Development for Vox3 Films where she oversaw the company slate including The Widow Clicquot (w: Chris Monger) and Empire City (w: Zayd Dohrn). Lee was also selected as a fellow for the inaugural CAAM Fellowship Program.
5.  Man With Van – Made destitute by the recession, an honest electrician bumbles into professional arson to provide for his doting daughter and win back his suspicious ex-wife. But the cost is more than he can afford.
Shrihari Sathe has produced many short films, including A Piece of America, one of four American films presented at Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival (2008) and Breaking the Chain, Golden Palm Award winner at Mexico International Film Festival (2010). Sathe co-produced First Day of Peace, Grand Jury Prize winner at Slamdance Film Festival (2010) and Off Season, a BAFTA (2010) nominee. Shrihari’s films have played at festivals in Greece, Canada, United States, England, France, Italy, India, etc. In 2007, Shrihari assisted on Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s feature film, Delhi 6 as a Director’s Assistant – Visual Effects. Born and raised in Mumbai, Sathe received his bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he majored in Film and Video Studies (High Honors), and Global Media and Culture. He has received fellowships from the HFPA, PGA and IFP to name a few. In 2009, Shrihari received the Entertainment Partners’ Best Producer Award at the Columbia University Film Festival. Shrihari has a MFA-Film (Producing) Degree from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in New York. He is a visiting faculty member at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Sathe was a UPM/Associate Producer on Sweet Little Lies, a narrative feature currently in the festival circuit. Sathe’s latest feature production - Pervertigo, a dark comedy is currently in post-production and was selected to be a part of IFP’s Independent Narrative Labs (2011). Shrihari founded Infinitum Productions Pvt Ltd in 2007 to develop/produce feature films and commercials in India/USA and is currently developing various projects.
6.  Pit – A boxer who murdered his manager returns to his hometown to fight for the love of his wife, but is recruited to an underground fighting circuit by his victim’s vengeful brother.
Rikki Jarrett is a native of Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English and African American Studies. After working in publishing for several years, she attended the USC’s prestigious School of Cinema and Television. After graduation, she went to work in development at Muse Productions, the indie company behind such films as The Virgin Suicides, Buffalo 66, and American Psycho. She has been producing films independently since 2007. Her first feature film, the sci-fi romantic comedy TiMER, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009. She currently resides in Los Angeles and has several projects in development.
7.  Raw – Raw is a poignant, authentic, and often funny story about how the introduction of a young woman throws the world of a middle-aged couple and their kids into an unexpected tailspin.
Gil Kofman received his MFA from the Yale School of Drama in playwriting. Before that he studied Physics at Cornell and was enrolled in the MFA film program at NYU. He wrote and directed the feature film The Memory Thief - starring Mark Webber and Rachel Miner and was an associate producer/additional editor on the Sundance documentary film Derrida (2002).  He also co-edited and acted in You Wont Miss Me (Sundance 2009). Additionally, he shot verité footage for Kirby Dick’s Outrage and This Film Is Not Yet Rated. This summer, he directed a thriller in China called Case Sensitive in Chinese, which was originally work-shopped at the Sundance Producer’s Lab as iCapture. The film had a wide release in China this June. Kofman has had three plays published by Broadway Play Publishing including American Magic with Sonic Youth doing music and Richard Foreman reading one of the parts, and Pharmacopeia, which received a strong LA premiere. His other plays have been produced in London, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Canada. A short fiction piece was previously published in Gordon Lish’s The Quarterly, and he’s currently working on a feature on the life of Rainer Werner Fassbinder called - RWF:The Terror of Dreams Come True with Tanner King Barklow.
Stacy Raskin graduated from UCLA and afterwards, began working as an agent trainee at ICM. She then went on to work at CAA and shortly thereafter began assisting Todd Feldman, the Co-Head of the Motion Picture Literary Department. She was a part of the day-to-day team that worked with such clients as Todd Phillips, Leslie Dixon, David Benioff, Kurtzman & Orci and also worked on the general team of Steven Spielberg and Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B. Next she took a position assisting Joel Silver, where she worked side by side with Silver on his entire Warner Brothers and Dark Castle slate that included multiple projects in pre-production, production and post including The Book of Eli and Sherlock Holmes. She also worked in tandem with Silver and the WB marketing team that helped engineer campaigns for all of his Warner Brothers and Dark Castle projects. While there, Raskin brought in specs, targeted projects for Silver’s brand and helped develop his current slate by writing script notes on multiple film projects that were utilized in the development process. She is currently working with writers and directors who have projects in active development throughout the industry.
8. Televisionaries – In an epic battle of wits between two of the 20th century’s most influential figures, a genius inventor faces off against a shrewd tycoon for control over a world-changing technology.
Jonathan Sheldon has worked professionally in Hollywood for the past 15 years in both film and music. Sheldon has written and recorded for MCA Records and has produced a slate of films with acclaimed filmmakers, the Polish Brothers, that star top-tier talent such as Billy Bob Thornton, Tea Leoni, Ed Helms, Virginia Madsen, James Woods and Nick Nolte. In the early 2000s, Sheldon became the Head of Development for Mark and Michael Polish’s shingle Prohibition Pictures. He spent many years learning film development from the ground-up, from financing, screenplay structure and cast attachments, to physical production and coordinating post-production. During this period, Sheldon associate produced the lauded films Northfork, and The Astronaut Farmer. Sheldon also co-authored with the Polish Brothers an influential how-to book published by Harcourt/Brace called The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking: An Insider’s Guide to Making Movies Outside of Hollywood. In the recent past, Sheldon produced the Polish Brothers’ films Manure, which stars Billy Bob Thornton and Tea Leoni, and the highly anticipated ensemble comedy Stay Cool. Sheldon is currently producing the documentary My Future Baby: Breakthroughs in Modern Fertility and Televisionaries, a Sloan grant winner at this past TFF 2011.
9.  Three – A college professor, her older husband and her young lover struggle to create a polyamorist relationship that works.
Anna Kerrigan is a playwright, screenwriter and director based in New York City. Her first independent feature film Five Days Gone (which she produced, wrote, directed, edited, and starred in) premiered this summer in both the Brooklyn Film Festival (where she was awarded Best Screenplay) and the Nantucket Film Festival. Her play The Talls premiered this August at Second Stage’s McGinn Cazale Theater. A graduate of Stanford University, Kerrigan has developed plays with Naked Angels, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

No, Seriously... Horror is NOT Dead!

You could set your watch to it. Every couple of years, someone in Hollywood writes an article about how horror movies aren’t doing very well lately, implying a canopy of doom and gloom spread tightly across the entire genre. The implication (and often the title): “Horror is Dead.” The latest culprit? Hollywood Reporter, which recently published this article, which somehow expresses concerns for the fate of the horror genre even though Paranormal Activity 3practically broke the box office last weekend.
The article rattles off a string of figures – all of them accurate – which indicate that horror movies haven’t been particularly successful this year, with PA3 and Insidious being the two notable exceptions. The guilty parties are “young audiences,” apparently, who aren’t heading out to the multiplex as much as they used to. That this says a lot about the cost of ticket prices and the overall diminishment of the theatrical experience goes unmentioned. Why are we blaming the victims? Not just audiences, but the horror genre itself?

No, Seriously... Horror is NOT Dead!
I’m not decrying Hollywood Reporter here. They’re reporting on tangible information and quoting real, and really worried, industry sources. Sources like Nikki Ross, the president of Universal’s domestic distribution, who says, “I don’t know what’s happening. The young people just aren’t there.” As if audiences are suddenly to blame for industry problems. Maybe if Universal’s big horror offering this Halloween season wasn’t an unnecessary – and given the financial figures, clearly unwanted – remake/prequel of The Thing there would be a reason for the confusion.
Again, this happens every couple of years. Audiences get a little sick of the horror movies that mainstream Hollywood produces, the industry freaks out, and periodicals start whipping out articles with titles like “Is Horror Dead?” or, in this case, one that refers to dwindling audience turnouts as a “Horror Film Bloodbath.” I've seen this happen so many times in the last ten years alone that I'm going to try to nip it in the bud this time. The problem is not the genre, the problem is how Hollywood treats the genre. Not that anyone in the film industry would actually admit to being at fault.
Very telling is the opening line of Hollywood Reporter’s article, which reads as follows: “Only a few years ago, a new horror movie was considered as close to a sure thing as anything Hollywood produced.” Hollywood, yes, considers films a mere commodity. That’s how they make their money after all. But horror movies have always been a particularly redheaded stepchild. They’re cheap to produce and they cater, often, to low common denominators. But that doesn’t mean the fans will accept anything, at least not for long. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Hollywood treats the horror genre not as the complex and rich tapestry of subgenres that it is, but rather as a series of fads. And fads go away over time, with the possible exception of Pokemon.
Actually, that’s not fair. If something lasts long enough it’s not a fad, it’s merely popular. Horror movies have been successful since the dawn of film, and even kept Universal afloat during the Great Depression with blockbuster frightfests like Dracula and Frankenstein. But that’s the industry doesn't treat them with much respect. Which is ironic, especially coming from folks at Universal.
J-Horror remakes were a fad, and one that Hollywood successfully milked for a year or two before audiences stopped going to see them. Torture Porn was a fad, and the same fate befell that subgenre too. The latest fad was pretty much horror remakes, which of course were doomed to fail from the get-go. Horror movies aren’t like dramas or action blockbusters. Strict adherence to a familiar formula, like those established by the original films, doesn’t interest horror audiences for long. Like comedies (which also frequently suffer through fads, like the Scary Movie craze – now mercifully almost dead – and the gross-out boom of the late 1990s), horror depends on the unexpected. Audiences are not scared by something they’ve seen over and over again. There’s nothing unexpected to be found in seeing the same type of movie week after week, and there’s definitely nothing unexpected about audiences getting bored with it after a while.
What’s going to happen? The same thing that always happens: horror movies might subside for a little while, thanks to typical industry skittishness, but then something unexpected will come along and inject life into the genre. And then Hollywood, being Hollywood, will make foolish assumptions about why the film was popular – usually surface elements that are easy to rip off, like the visual style or highly specific subgenre – and run it into the ground. And then about two years later, someone will post yet another article suggesting, directly or indirectly, that horror is dead. And they’ll be wrong too.
Horror is not a fad, it’s a legitimate film genre that follows different rules than Hollywood is used to. It’s based on surprises, which can’t be easily catalogued, categorized or calculated. It’s an art, damn it. That’s not confusing; it’s common sense. If audiences aren’t turning out for the latest boring “sure thing,” then the industry has only themselves to blame. No, seriously.