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Indie Future: Mechanic Offers Answers

Always one of the smarter players in Hollywood, ex-Fox studio chairman Bill Mechanic (now owner of the production company Pandemonium LLC) gave a keynote speech Tuesday morning on the future of the indies at the Independent Film & Television Alliance Production Conference. Is he looking for a job (there's a big opening at Disney, where he used to run home video)? Maybe.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 29, 2009 10:21 AM
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MoMA Indie Summit Hashes Out Crisis

MoMA Indie Summit Hashes Out Crisis
I came to New York to help moderate a Friday afternoon Indie Summit organized by MoMA's Rajendra Roy, IndieWIRE and Marian Koltai-Levine of Zipline Entertainment, one of several new companies that have sprung up to help indie filmmakers release their movies. That's a sign of the "indie crisis" that has emerged over the last year or so, as indie distributors have cut back and the ones that survive are far from secure. (Harvey Weinstein and Miramax's Daniel Battsek were no-shows.) IndieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez and I sat on opposite sides of the Founder's Room, which looked like something out of the U.N., with a square of facing tables and floating mikes.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 27, 2009 4:58 AM
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  • 11 Comments

No Impact Man: Portrait of a Conflicted Green Marriage

The documentary No Impact Man, which is slowly rolling out in theaters around the country, is about preachy environmentalist author Colin Beavan, who persuades his wife Michelle Conlin, a delightful BusinessWeek reporter, to go along with him on a rather extreme year-long experiment in no-impact living in a Manhattan apartment.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 21, 2009 10:29 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Stringray Sam: Coming Soon to Screens of All Sizes

Just as several folks steered me to check out Stingray Sam, the episodic six-part serial musical space-western designed for mobile phones that debuted at Sundance 2009, writer-director-musician Cory McAbee, one of many filmmakers these days taking distribution into their own hands, posted the following:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2009 4:38 AM
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Comic-Con Aids Independents

Comic-Con Aids Independents
Producer-turned-director Matthew Vaughn needs a hit. Layer Cake was a great audition piece, but Stardust was a flop. Much is riding on his next indie venture, the indie-financed $45 million action picture Kick-Ass, which no studio would finance. In an unusual move, Vaughn took 11-minutes of footage of the Hard-R movie (adapted by Jane Goldman from the Mark Millar comic) to Comic-Con, to rouse the fans. From the stage in the cavernous Hall H he exhorted them to vote with their thumbs. The plan: to boost its value with a North American distributor.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2009 11:46 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Fox Searchlight's Crazy Heart Acquisition Marks Changing Market

In one of the first acquisitions since Peter Rice left Fox Searchlight to run Fox TV, Searchlight co-presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula acquired worldwide rights to rookie director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, which stars Jeff Bridges as an aging country star and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a young reporter. T-Bone Burnett supervised a country music soundtrack. The distrib paid low seven figures. "We just liked it," says one Searchlight executive.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 21, 2009 6:49 AM
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LAFF: Fest Wrap

Film Independent chief Dawn Hudson and new LAFF director Rebecca Yeldham were heaving sighs of relief at the sunny awards brunch at the Hammer Museum Sunday. While official figures are not in, sales of festival passes were down at this year's LAFF, but day-to-day ticket sales were brisk, with many sell-outs, Hudson said. While the various jury and audience award winners are listed on the jump, the real winners of the 10-day fest were the movies that picked up attention and possible distribution.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 28, 2009 2:34 AM
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Overture Ups Ante

As Overture Films lines up their 2009/2010 slate--hoping for a breakout--Wednesday they announced development of Celeste & Jesse Forever, a divorce rom-com co-written by and co-starring Rashida Jones (I Love You Man, Parks and Recreation) and Will McCormack (Must Love Dogs, Syriana). Team Todd (Austin Powers, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) is producing. (It's odd that Overture announced without a director in place.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 17, 2009 7:11 AM
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Indie Studio Combine Announced

There's a new producer/distrib/foreign sales combine in the works. DF Indie Studio is led by finance experts Mary Dickinson and Charlene Fisher, who are raising coin. Two years ago they first met with Ted Hope, one of several indie-prods lined up to supply future product for which there is guaranteed U.S. distribution, potentially supervised by consultant Ira Deutchman; ex-Focus and Weinstein Co. foreign sales maverick Glen Basner is set to handle foreign sales. Having domestic release assured would make it easier for producers to raise foreign funding. That's been the scary factor for producers in recent years, as studio specialty distribs have decreased, and even existing ones often refuse to sign on to projects before they are complete.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 15, 2009 7:27 AM
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Little Ashes: Will Twilight's Pattinson Pull Women?

We know how women respond to Rob Pattinson as Edward Cullen in Twilight . I knew the second I saw the first teaser trailer that he was a new heartthrob. He's dishy. In IFC's on-demand release, the British micro-indie How to Be, he plays a depressed loser version of himself. Not a big reach. On the other hand, Pattinson stretches quite a bit as Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, a European art film with a cultural pedigree. Set in Spain, the movie throws together three brilliant young university students: painter Salvador Dali (Pattinson), poet/dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca (Javier Beltran) and filmmaker Luis Bunuel (Matthew McNulty). Garcia Lorca and Dali form a powerful bond that is sexual, but Dali can't handle it.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 6, 2009 5:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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