Sarasota FF Update: <i>The Deal</i> Gains Momentum

by twhalliii
June 16, 2006 11:56 AM
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In his recent article in the NY Times, Neil Amdur profiles William H Macy's recent trip to the Sarasota Film Festival and our screening of Edmond, Macy's recent collaboration with writer David Mamet and director Stuart Gordon. The article discusses the audience reaction to this dark and challenging film and I was really proud of how the audience handled this powerful film. Mr. Macy is a long-standing friend of the festival and the community and he brings so much good will with him whenever he comes to town, we knew right away that Sarasota audiences would be captivated by a wonderfully difficult work like Edmond. The screening was a great success, and the Q&A spilled out into the hallway after twenty minutes in the theater.

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Edmond: Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Of equal importantce, the article highlights the producing work of SFF Board member Keri Nakamoto who, in collaboration with Macy and director Stephen Schachter, has been working hard to get members of the Sarasota community excited about the benefits of investing in film projects.

"During the Sarasota festival, (Macy) also appeared at a private party with his writing partner, Steven Schachter (they collaborated on the popular Emmy Award-winning "Door to Door"), to raise money for their domestic comedy "The Deal," which also stars Lisa Kudrow and is scheduled to begin production later this year. About a third of the film's $8.25 million budget is expected from Sarasota residents who have become more than casual regional film enthusiasts.

"People are starting to understand it's a business like any other," said Keri Nakamoto, a producer of "The Deal," who is also a board member of the film festival. "It's a calculated risk, but if you understand the calculation, the integrity and the type of film, these are calculations that can make money." --NY Times

I love this idea and am so excited that Keri has brought a new energy and a new perspective to Sarasota's film community. I also hope that this project ushers in a real understanding among filmmakers that Sarasota is a festival where films are not only showcased and celebrated, but where deals can be done. While most festivals hope to position themselves as places where acquisitions can be made, it is my hope that Sarasota can become a festival and community where artists find investment for their projects as well as a home for their completed films. Keri's work on The Deal offers an excellent blueprint for this type of development, and I hope that the festival continues to grow in this direction. Jody Kielbasa, our Executive Director, has been a driving force in shaping projects like this one, and with the support of the community, I think the Sarasota Film Festival can become an important festival for the development of new work. It also doesn't hurt that, when The Deal is completed, we will hopefully be working with Mssrs. Macy and Schachter to premiere the film at the festival. All very exciting.

I'll have more SFF news soon, including news for the upcoming Toronto Film Festival. Lots to do this summer. Stay tuned...

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