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Names and Places

Photo of Sydney Levine By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz January 1, 2013 at 3:44AM

No time for my Year End Roundup or even my Havana Film Festival Report because I am busy with writing a Report -For-Pay of the 1,000 Top Filmmakers, Location Managers and Influencers Worldwide for a particularly smart country’s film commissioner and I must deliver it by the year’s end.
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New Years

No time for my Year End Roundup or even my Havana Film Festival Report because I am busy with writing a Report -For-Pay of the 1,000 Top Filmmakers, Location Managers and Influencers Worldwide for a particularly smart country’s film commissioner and I must deliver it by the year’s end.

As I compile it, I am struck by the names of the film companies I am looking at.  German names are mundane and Irish are imaginative.  I know the U.S. names so well that in contrast, the French names are so evocative. 

Naming companies after their owners and the well known studio names are normal and mundane.  Personal meaning names like Lava Bear or Wild West Picture Show are more interesting as they bring up imaginary pictures.  Weed Road of Akiva Goldsman is very evocative – do its owners smoke weed?  Virgin Produced – well that’s fairly obvious I think -- once you know Richard Branson owns it, Walden Media evokes Walden Pond.  Village Roadshow always sounded good but it’s old school like the majors are by now, as is New Regency of former arms dealer Arnon Milchan now partner of 20th Century Fox and others with their longstanding studio deals.  In the U.S. we have so many old studio or “studio deal” companies whose early origins have been obscured by the sands of time and which no longer elicit dreams of greatness or memories of private childhood games or haunts, names like Alcon, the company founded by FedEx's Fred Smith, Leonardo di Caprio's Appian Way (recalling the old Roman road), Mark Canton's Atmosphere Entertainment, Amram Bernstein's Beacon Pictures, Rob Reiner's Castle Rock Entertainment, Spring Creek which was so evocative of Paula Weinstein when she was with Mark Rosenberg, major Columbia Pictures, Weinstein offshoot Dimension Films, Spielberg's Dreamworks, Endgame Entertainment,  James Schamus and David Linde's Focus Features now Universal's arthouse arm, major Fox 2000 and Fox Searchlight, Gold Circle Films of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, HBO – a perfect name of the time and place, HBO Latin America Group – a perfect revisionist name for the brand,  Imagine Entertainment which still elicits the name of Brian Glazer ,Malpaso which still evokes Clint Eastwood, Mandalay Pictures which still recalls Peter Guber and those old Sony days of power plays, Legendary Pictures recalls Batman and Superman,  Marvel Studios – the comicbook heroes, Lionsgate – gone corporate after their indie Canadian beginnings so long ago, , MGM, Moonstone, Morgan Creek Productions, Mutual Films, Myriad Pictures, New Line Cinema, New Regency, Pandemonium (we still love Bill Mechanic), Paramount Pictures, , Phoenix Pictures (we still love Mike Medavoy), Radar Pictures (Ted Fields), Red Om (Julie Roberts), Relativity Media (Ryan Cavanaugh), Revelations (hooray for Morgan Freeman), , Ritchie-Wigram, Screen Gems,  Sidney Kimmel Entertainment to name a few, Tribeca Films, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros.

We have the usual names based on the company owners who are or perceive themselves to be brands in themselves like Apatow, Berlanti Prods, Bleiberg Entertainment, Blumhouse Prods. In which Jason Blum becomes horror branded, Bender Spenk,  Bruce Cohen Prods., Callahan Filmworks, Chris Morgan Prods., Chuck Lorre Prods., De Line, de Passe Jones Entertainment,  Di Novi, Francine Maisler & Associates, Freemantle, George Litto , Gerber, GK Films, Hurwitz & Schlossberg Prods., , J.W. Prods., Josephson, KatzSmith, Lin Pictures, Stuber Pictures, TDJ Enterprises, Team Downey, The Weinstein Company.

There are those companies whose names evoke places like 22nd & Indiana, Arroyo Films, Broken Road Prods., Cross Creek, GreeneStreet Films, Cherry Road Films (not so new), Hyde Park , Lakeshore Entertainment (where Tom Rosenberg either lived or vacationed as a child), Langley Park, Olive Bridge Entertainment, Pearl Street, Spring Street,  Barry Levinson's Baltimore, Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street,  Thunder Road, Summit named after the street Patrick Wachsberger live(d) on in Beverly Hills.

The U.S. fanciful names like 3 Monkeys, Angle Films,  Agregate Films, Polymorphic evoke something more private than public. Other companies evoking private signals to those who are in the know are 3 Monkeys, Aggregate Films (pretty hip for today), Angle Films, Barnstorm Pictures,  Bold Films, Branded Films (a good capitalistic name for today), Captivate Entertainment, Carousel Prods., Cruel and Unusual, Everyman Pictures, Exclusive Media Group, Film 44, FilmDistrict, Global Produce, Green Hat Films, Groundswell ,  Gulfstream, Heyday, Illumination Entertainment, ImageMovers, Lava Bear Films – hats off to David Linde, Media Rights Capital, Mockingbird Pictures, Ninjas Runnin Wild, One Race Films, Open City (we love Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente), Original Films, Our Stories, Playtone, Polymorphic, Roserock Films, Saturn, , Atlantic Streamline, Shandaland – I love the Yiddish reference here , Strike Entertainment, Thousand Words.

For some reason, the French names sound more exotic or, if not exotic, then somehow more evocative of the unknown…Of course some are named after their owners, like Les Films d’Antoine…though even that sounds more exotic than GK Films, Graham King’s company.    There is an everyday familiarity with the U.S. that I definitely do not have with the French.

I feel a little like Proust in Names and Places, conjuring up unknown histories and deeper meanings to the French companies.

OK, A.S.A.P. is American so that hardly counts, though it is a cool name for a film company.  And Anna Lena, maybe is a person’s name.  Avenue B, again is American as is Blue Monday and Local Film, though Charivari is Italian and Aurora is Latin.  But the Cine names are great:  Cine Nomine – what an intelligent play on words, in the name of g’d, or Cinema Defacto or Cine-Sud;  all have great meaning behind them.  Dharamsala is either an Indian God or food, Dolce Vita we know is a tribute to Fellini.  Is  Delante Films like Adelante?  And Elzevir – again Proust enters with his fictionalized artist.  Estrella and Gloria are names  aiming for Greatness.  But what is Kaleo?

La Vie est Belle gets me singing the song from South Pacific.  Lazennec  seems very old and venerable, aristocratic even, while Les Enrages is very 60s.  Rezo is also an old and classic film company of France and Pathe and Gaumont are equivalent to our major studio names.  Les Films de la Croisade – does it have a crusade as its mission?  Les Films du Lendemain seems very laid back.  Les Films du Poisson makes me wonder what does a fish have to do with the movies?  And what is Veyrier?  Les Productions Balthazar sound s great, though its founder’s name is Balthazar.  And Les Films Pelleas sound grand and mythological. Mille et Une Films makes you know there are 1,001 stories to be told.  Haut et Court elicits a picture which I cannot explain.

While MK2 is simply based upon the name of Marin Karmitz, I love his job title, “President du Conseil de Surveillance”, or President of the Surveillance Council, as he grants his son Nathanael his legacy. 

Noodles is fun.  Petit is descriptive, SBS is boring –  I thought it was a broadcaster but it’s just a name, however, the name Said Ben Said is not boring at all nor are his films, like Passion and Carnage.  Sciapode is intriguing – it sounds like sci-fi and Sombrero makes me think the filmmaker leans toward  the Latino.  Stone Angels – English again, as is The French Connection – both conjure up images from real life fiction.  Stone Angels that decorate tombs of old aristocrats;  Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s name also conjures up the Proustian Names of Old - Stone Angel the Pogam…what is a Pogam?   Tempete Sous un Crane is also totally out there as a name…Storm Beneath a Crane?  Maybe I don’t know French so well after all.  But that is Julie Delpy’s company She’s already mostly American anyway.  .  I loved her last film 2 Days in New York.  It would take me another lifetime to be as knowledgeable about the French as I am about the Americans.  And I’m not very knowledgeable about them either nowadays. But the French names make me feel like Proust as they elicit wonderment and create stories in and of themselves.

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