News & Updates
April 14, 2019
“Roma” isn’t considered an FX showcase, with much of the acclaim for Alfonso Cuarón’s intimate period piece focusing on the black-and-white cinematography for which the writer-director won an Academy Award. But there’s more to those ostensibly low-key visuals than meets the eye, VFX supervisor Aaron Weintraub revealed in a CNET interview, with everything from taxidermied dog heads to flashing signs serving as examples of “invisible effects.”
“Alfonso felt they were lacking some realism … that they didn’t feel like actual dead dogs, so we replaced and augmented them with real dog elements,” Weintraub said of one scene that was more involved than it initially appears. “To us, ‘invisible effects’ are effects where the audience never thinks for a moment that any extra work in post production was involved to achieve the shot and that everything was built practically and photographed with the camera on a traditional set.”
Toronto-based Mr. X and MPC in London are the visual-effects houses responsible for those effects, some of which are present, fittingly enough, during a scene set in a movie theater:
That behind-the-curtains look reveals a number of before-and-after shots showing just how extensive the effects are in “Roma.” Mr. X, which produced the video, also worked on “Shazam,” “The Shape of Water,” and the upcoming “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”
In hindsight, it’s unsurprising that “Roma” is more effects-driven than it seems given the visual style of Cuarón’s “Gravity” and “Children of Men.” Weintraub said he would be happy to work with him again: “Like all great filmmakers, he brings out the best in his collaborators.”
Source: IndieWire film
April 14, 2019
Plenty of new and varied titles entered the specialized market this week. But despite some decent reviews and considerable distribution support, none have generated the level of response that could lead to totals in the range of $5 million or more. This is not good for hungry arthouses.
“Her Smell” (Gunpowder & Sky) boasted the best per screen average, boosted by in-theater appearances by star Elisabeth Moss and director Alex Ross Perry. “Teen Spirit” (Bleecker Street), “Wild Nights With Emily” (Greenwich) and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (Kino Lorber) also showed early potential ahead of wider release.
Her Smell (Gunpowder & Sky) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Toronto, New York 2018
$39,058 in 3 theaters; PTA: $13,019
Alex Ross Perry’s latest film, featuring a bravura Elisabeth Moss performance as an aging 90s rocker confronting multiple demons, opened in New York and Toronto. Some shows added Q&As with Perry or Moss. Another challenging personal film aimed at younger rather than conventional (older) specialized audiences, “Her Smell” could gain traction from careful marketing.
What comes next: This adds Los Angeles among multiple second-week added dates.
Teen Spirit (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 59; Festivals include: Toronto 2018, South by Southwest 2019
$44,361 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $11,090
Elle Fanning leads this music-world drama of a girl who dreams of stardom. Bleecker Street got the best theater placement of any of the week’s releases, but mid-level reviews kept the gross from rising higher. This ultimately has a crossover potential, with the first dates giving some initially elevated attention.
What comes next: This jumps to 800 theaters this Friday.
Wild Nights With Emily (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: South by Southwest, Seattle 2018
$33,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $11,000
Opening a year after its South by Southwest premiere, this film starring Molly Shannon as lesbian Emily Dickinson debuted in New York and Los Angeles with a decent initial response in three theaters.
What comes next: The provocative subject will land a significant national release in at least 50 cities.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 88; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018
$27,896 in theaters; PTA: $9,299
This Chinese film, which grabbed press attention for its hour-long dream like 3D tracking shot, opened initially in Seattle and New York (two theaters provided most of the gross). With some of the best reviews of the year, it showed decent initial results at the high-end for a niche audience film.
What comes next: Los Angeles and Toronto. Broadening is a challenge for Kino Lorber –much like Godard’s “Goodbye to Language 3D”– in terms of finding arthouses capable of showing 3D.
Sauvage/Wild (Strand) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Cannes 2018, New Directors/New Films 2019
$(est.) 7,500 in 1 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 7,500 Cumulative: $(est.) 10,700
This intense look at the life of a gay hustler in France opened exclusively on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum, with an initial response above average for subtitled films in the current market.
What comes next: This will expand to major markets including Los Angeles ahead.
Mine 9 (Levey Distribution) – Festivals include: Cinequest 2019
$62,486 in 23 theaters; PTA: $2,717
An example of initially regional independent film that had to overcome obstacles to even get into theaters, but managed when it does so to show some interest. This drama about a coal mine methane leak that traps both veterans and a rookie after those both their lives and livelihoods have been threatened by safety concerns. It opened in coal country, both in West Virginia and surrounding states. It ranked as top grosser at nearly half its theaters. The work involved in making this happened in today’s market is staggering and worth recognizing even if it didn’t initially involve higher profile coastal markets
What comes next: The next stage involves more regional theaters, with its initial response setting it up for further notice.
Dogman (Magnolia) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto 2018
$(est.) 14,000 in 3 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 4,667
Italian director Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah,” “Reality”) has enjoyed previous domestic exposure. Italy’s submission for the Oscars played well at 2018 festivals and scored favorable reviews. But its initial theatrical dates show muted interest so far.
What comes next: This should get major market exposure ahead.
Girls of the Sun (Cohen) – Metacritic: 52; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2018
$8,160 in 8 theaters; PTA: $1,020
The girls in the title of this French film are female Kurdish fighters who joined together to retake territory from ISIS forces in the Mideast. After its high-end festival debut last year, it opened in multiple cities to mediocre reviews and business.
What comes next: Cohen has a track record of finding dates in top cities for films like this, so further dates should follow.
Mary Magdalene (IFC) – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Dublin 2018; also available on Video on Demand
$62,436 in 62 theaters; PTA: $1,007
Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara are the high-end actors in this Biblical biopic, which initially debuted at festivals last year. It launched at the start of Holy Week this year across the country concurrent with home viewing, with minor theatrical results.
What comes next: The Easter holiday should keep it on some screens, but its main venue will be iTunes.
High Life (A24)
$204,181 in 32 theaters (+28); PTA: $6,381; Cumulative: $340,640
The second weekend expansion for Claire Denis’ acclaimed science-fiction space story starring Robert Pattinson gained far more interest than most recent releases, aided by continued strong reviews, but the film lags behind “Amazing Grace” and the performance a few weeks back of A24’s “Gloria Bell.” “High Life” is playing younger than most arthouse releases (which explains the lack of a Saturday uptick). A24 also scored with “Ex Machina,” but that film was much more accessible to general audiences. “High Life” should, apart from wider theatrical play, gain long-term interest on multiple platforms based on this initial exposure, far more than this lauded French director’s past films.
$33,939 in 32 theaters (+29); PTA: $1,061; Cumulative: $66,020
Mike Leigh has eloquently spoken about his preference for theatrical over streaming, and Amazon, though a leading streamer, is still pursuing conventional strategies for its top-end releases. After debuting at high-end fall festivals in 2018, Leigh’s recreation of a little-known early 1816 English suppression of a peaceful protest expanded in its second weekend. Results reveal the limitations of his theatrical preference, other than giving the film exposure a few months ahead of at-home access.
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
Hotel Mumbai (Bleecker Street) Week 4
$868,876 in 617 theaters (-313); Cumulative: $7,977,000
Bleecker Street’s aggressive wider play for their Indian terror attack recreation has paid off with a total that should wind up close to $10 million. That will be their best result for any of their films opening in under 1,000 theaters.
Mustang (Focus) Week 5
$788,000 in 527 theaters (+177); Cumulative: $3,175,000
In a less-than-competitive period for specialized older audiences, Focus is turning this story of prisoners working with horses –featuring rising star Matthias Schoenaerts– into an increasingly successful release. It still has plenty of room to grow. Expect this to add significantly to its total so far.
Amazing Grace (Neon) Week 4
$372,288 in 58 theaters (+52); Cumulative: $612,244
Good news for the Aretha Franklin 1972 concert documentary, which rapidly expanded in its second week (after a two-week qualifying run in December) to a healthy overall response in a mixture of specialized and African-American theaters. This historic, rousing church recording session is getting a response similar to eventual 2014 Oscar-winner “20 Feet from Stardom,” another compelling behind the scenes music world documentary. The results so far are better at mainstream specialized theaters than initial forays into black communities. But with Easter coming up, these early dates could lead to an upsurge ahead.
The Aftermath (Fox Searchlight) Week 5
$160,000 in 234 theaters (-110); Cumulative: $1,430,000
Keira Knightley as a British wife relocated on government business to immediate post-war Germany has not clicked at the level of past and likely future Searchlight releases, as the division continues as an autonomous unit under the Disney banner.
Gloria Bell (A24) Week 6
$155,000 in 168 theaters (-474); Cumulative: $5,350,000
A24’s wider initial-platform releases tend to have a younger appeal (“Eighth Grade,” “Mid90s”). “Gloria Bell” has more of an older audience draw, similar to their “24 Hour Woman” early last year, and looks to end up with slightly higher box office.
Apollo 11 (Neon) Week 7
$120,200 in 126 theaters (-61); Cumulative: $8,300,000
The year’s top-grossing documentary so far (Neon also has in “Amazing Grace” showing early life) is in its late stages before its blazing reentry on CNN.
The Chaperone (PBS) Week 3
$66,450 in 33 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $113,482
This PBS-backed “Downton Abbey”-style creative effort, about silent film icon Louise Brooks’ companion, added new cities this week. It is showing enough interest to suggest room for more growth. 15 additional cities are added this week.
Diane (IFC) Week 3; also on Video on Demand
$83,672 in 63 theaters (+30); Cumulative: $201,057
This high-end critical favorite stars Mary Kay Place and a group of legendary veteran actresses in a story of small-town Northeastern life, and continues to get theatrical interest parallel to its home platform opportunities.
Transit (Music Box) – $39,745 in theaters; Cumulative: $683,627
Ash Is Purest White (Cohen) – $28,894 in 23 theaters; Cumulative: $355,062
Sunset (Sony Pictures Classics) – $13,600 in 18 theaters; Cumulative: $87,197
Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) – $13,500 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $1,206,000
Source: IndieWire film
April 14, 2019
30 years after premiering her debut film “Home of the Brave” at Directors’ Fortnight, Laurie Anderson will return to the Cannes sidebar with three virtual-reality installations created with Hsin-Chien Huang. “Aloft,” “Chalkroom,” and “To The Moon,” described as “three poetically linked and complementary pieces,” will be presented from May 15 – 25 under the collective title “Go Where You Look: Falling Off Snow Mountain.”
“The sensory, poetic and technological dimensions of these three pieces are tightly intertwined and offer new forms of storytelling by amplifying our cinematic experience. It is this singular and fully authorial, approach of virtual reality, that the Directors’ Fortnight wishes to highlight, honour and share,” said Palo Moretti, who runs Directors’ Fortnight. “Laurie Anderson’s artistic path is a testament to the Directors’ Fortnight’s exploratory spirit, and to this 51st edition, aiming to be both an observatory and a laboratory of the evolution of storytelling through moving images, as well as an echo chamber for all forms of creation in this field.”
Anderson most recently made the documentary “Heart of a Dog,” which begins as a tribute to her terrier Lolabelle before gradually revealing itself as something stranger and more expansive; the kind of film that reduces animal-lovers to tears, it was among the most well-received movies of 2015. An avant-garde artist equally active in the realms of music and spoken word, she previously directed “Life on a String,” “Hidden Inside Mountains,” and “What Do You Mean We?”
The two previously worked together on “La Camera Insabbiata,” which won an award at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, as well as the interactive “Puppet Motel” in 1995. He has worked as a new-media creator integrating art and technology since the early ’90s, with interactive installations everywhere from Taipei to Los Angeles.
Cannes will make its first lineup announcement this Thursday, April 18. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” is slated to open the festival, and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” will premiere out of competition.
Source: IndieWire film
April 14, 2019
After years of talking to Mike Leigh, whether at the Carlton Beach at Cannes, on a gondola at Telluride, or a plush hotel suite in Toronto, I’ve gotten used to being reminded that — in his eyes — I don’t know enough about his movies. That’s how he rolls. (Only at one rooftop post-Oscar party, with no transactional imparting of information required, did the brainy auteur and I enjoy a lovely chat about our grown children.)
Here’s what I do know: At age 76, Leigh has delivered the most ambitious, gorgeous, and expensive period recreation of his storied career, “Peterloo.” And, at $18 million, the film stood very little chance of making money for Amazon Studios. While he is deeply respected as one of the finest living auteurs with his exacting and unique creative process, his top-grossing movie was “Secrets & Lies,” back in 1996. That film, which received five Oscar nominations for October Films, made $26.4 million in today’s dollars — and it was released more than two decades ago, when independent films occupied a different place in our culture.
Spoiled by decades of rave reviews, Leigh’s average Metascore (now an amazing 81) was actually brought down by mixed reviews for “Peterloo” (Metascore: 68), with reviews that suggest the period film about an 1816 British massacre is too long, and he should have trimmed some of the endless speeches. He’s furious at this suggestion, nor was he satisfied with three key “Peterloo” fall festival slots at Venice (where he won the Golden Lion in 2004 for “Vera Drake”), Telluride, and Toronto. He has played in Cannes competition five times, and took home the Palme d’Or (“Secrets & Lies”) and Best Director (“Naked”), but Cannes rejected “Peterloo.”
“Cannes is its own quirky thing,” he said. “It’s not a sexy red-carpet film.” But while he memorably opened the New York Film Festival with “Secrets & Lies,” he did not go to NYFF 2018. “Being rejected by Cannes is one thing,” he said. “Far worse than that, more offensive to me personally, was being rejected by the New York Film Festival. In my multiple experience, the most sophisticated, most intelligent Q&As, which I happen to like very much, are in New York.”
After tackling biopics on famous Brits like Gilbert and Sullivan (“Topsy-Turvy”) and the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner (“Mr. Turner”), the filmmaker took on an arcane event that even he and most people he knew who grew up in the Manchester area did not know about. In 1816, British troops attacked a peaceful protest to reform voting laws, killing 15 people and injuring 400–700 more. After reading about it as an adult, “suddenly, I got the idea we should do it,” he said. “And while preparing it, it became clear daily that it was relevant.”
That’s because the movie “is about democracy,” he said at the film’s Toronto Q&A. “I want to leave you engaged with your emotions, feelings of sorrow, sympathy and anger. It was iniquitous what happened. Here is democracy in action, here are genuine hopes that come out of genuine things in people’s lives. To be dealt with in this destructive, chaotic, blind, insensitive, self-serving way by people in power — all those things remain resonant, as far as I’m concerned.”
Audiences haven’t seen it the same way. Now in its second week of release, “Peterloo” has grossed just $66,000 domestic. Some of the reasons for that disappointing result may seem self evident, such as the lack of name actors. “There’s never any of that, never is on my films,” he said. “The minute there’s any suggestion that will be the case, we walk away. So it never arises. These actors in the Northern UK, they do everything — some TV shows, theater, film stuff, and radio acting. When making characters drawn from real people, which we began doing in ‘Topsy-Turvy’ and continued with some of characters in ‘Mr. Turner,’ we research the character, putting in flesh and bones and the breath of life to make an actual character who squares with our interpretation of what we read.”
Nor does he deal with financiers that presume any say in the final product. There’s never a script to read; working with Leigh means accepting that he and his cast make it up as they go. (Nevertheless, he’s received five screenplay nominations; “I do it after the film’s finished…. I don’t draw any distinction between the script and the film.”) With Film4, BFI and Amazon Studios behind “Peterloo,” Leigh made the movie on his own terms. “Amazon was fantastic,” he said. “Ted Hope was supportive, he never interfered in any aspect of the production from the earliest to the end. There was absolutely no pressure of any kind.” And Amazon accepted his two-hour and 34-minute cut, which was longer than the contracted length. (Hope now reports to new Amazon chief Jennifer Salke.)
That $18-million budget helped Leigh create a massacre sequence that took five weeks to shoot with 200 extras, pounding horses, swinging sabers, and spraying squibs. Leigh and his team, including long-time cinematographer Dick Pope and producer Georgina Lowe (“without her, I couldn’t do a film”) was as “improvisational” as his previous films.
“This was no more or less organized than any of my other productions,” said Leigh. “Despite its scale, it is as much a film about individuals as it is about community and society. Like ‘Mr. Turner’ and ‘Topsy-Turvy,’ my normal way of working applies. We are serving and interpreting and distilling actual historical events, added to created and invented scenarios. We made the family up. The inspiration for the boy who is at Waterloo and killed at Peterloo, were guys at Peterloo who were Waterloo veterans. If you actually break down the day of the massacre, the 16 of August at St. Peter’s Field, we had magistrates, people on the hustings, and other units of action on the ground. We develop the characters and rehearse and fix the scenes separately and then integrate them into the whole thing.”
As to the scale of the operation, he said, “it’s a massive collaboration with a group of intelligent and committed people pulling in the same direction. In the massacre scene, we have avoided falling into many movie cliches. It’s important that we are constantly seeing individuals doing things, even though there’s mass activity going on. We have characters played by actors, stunt people, extras. We allocated time before any sequence to go in with the extras and explain to them in clear detail how and why they were there, so they were not corralled around. They were actually motivated.”
While Leigh leans into realism, the movie did not shoot in Manchester. “They built it into a big Victorian city later in the century,” said Leigh. “It’s now a big, modern city, with streets where the area of St. Peter’s Field used to be, right in the middle of town, with a Radisson Hotel and coffee bars. We shot all over the place, in places where you can see the half-timbered and Tudor buildings they had in Manchester at that time, which have disappeared. We shot in Lincoln and Gainsborough and at the Tilbury Fort, which was built by Henry V and extended by Charles II, with a big empty parade ground with some buildings around. We built some stuff to the right size and scale, and were able to control it for some months. And we shot on the moors along the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire border.”
Nor does Leigh resist evolving with the times. “Peterloo” is his second film shot on digital, and also includes the director’s first-ever drone shot. (Prior to that, he’s used only one helicopter shot in all of his films.) He mocks “The Favourite” for only using sunlight and candles. “I don’t know how you shoot that film without being lit. I’ve got no time for that, it’s absurd! That’s like saying this is a better novel because it’s written with a quill as opposed to a word processor. I shot digitally on ‘Mr. Turner.’ It’s a great medium, which a lot of bright people took years to develop.”
Similarly, Leigh is grateful for other technological advances. In “Topsy-Turvy,” a shot of the theater orchestra pit featured a man in the foreground wearing a modern watch. “Somehow it slipped through the net and no one spotted it,” said Leigh. “It cost us $10,000 to remove it frame by frame. Now, it’s a lot easier … What you can do in post-production! There’s a massive amount of CGI in this film. Now it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, like old-fashioned opticals. CGI is all over. [In the film] St. Peter’s Fields is surrounded by factories and churches — they’re not there at Tilbury Falls, there’s sky. We didn’t have 100,000 extras, only 200. That technology, developed by people like Peter Jackson, can be deployed in the context of a film that is about making it look like it’s real.”
Finally, a full-on expensive theatrical release may not have been the best way to bring “Peterloo” to the global cinephiles who could appreciate the movie’s finer virtues. Hopefully, they will catch it when it finally reaches in-home play. Next time out, Leigh may have to offer audiences something more alluring to pull them in.
Source: IndieWire film
April 14, 2019
We talk a lot about the traits that make a great character, but what about the meals?
There are lots of different ways to draw a character. Traits we add so the audience learns how to identify with them or picks up on how they’ll operate. One thing that goes utterly underutilized by screenwriters is food. We can learn a lot about a character given their relationship to food. You can use it as a motivator, like in Lord of the Flies, or to punctuate a love scene, like how George loves to eat during sex in Seinfeld.
Today I want to talk about how you can accentuate your characters and scenes by adding food to them. We’ll go over a few scenes that involve food and see how it can add humor, tension, texture, and make you hungry.
So let’s dig in!
April 14, 2019
For the second time in as many years, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is bringing her skills to one of the biggest franchises in the world. After co-starring as a hilarious android in last year’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the “Fleabag” writer, creator, and star has been tapped to help enliven the script for the as-yet untitled Bond 25. Not only that, but she’s doing so at the specific request of 007 himself, Daniel Craig.
Said film — which follows 2015’s “Spectre,” thought by many to be Craig’s final go-around as Bond, James Bond — is officially being written by Scott Z. Burns, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade, with the latter two having written several prior installments in the long-standing spy series. Danny Boyle was originally hired to direct, but was replaced last year by Cary Joji Fukunaga after the “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” helmer left due to creative differences.
As for how Waller-Bridge came to be involved, The Guardian reports that “sources close to the film in the US said that while in the country she discussed with Craig how to improve the script of Bond 25, which the 007 actor felt needed some “polishing,” by introducing more humour and the offbeat style of writing she is best known for.” That style was first introduced to the world at large on the revered “Fleabag,” the long-awaited second season of which just ended on BBC Three. She has since gone on to develop, produce, and write the equally acclaimed “Killing Eve,” whose second season premiered last weekend.
Further details regarding Bond 25 are being kept under wraps, as is customary for the series, though Rami Malek has been rumored to serve as its villain following his recent Oscar triumph for playing Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The film is set to be released next year, though an exact date has yet to be announced.
Source: IndieWire film
April 14, 2019
When you’re in the thick of the notes process, passing drafts back and forth isn’t always easy. But now, there’s an app for that.
I was recently trading notes with my manager on a final polish. We were so many drafts into it that both of us got confused. But then we got Scriptation and things got a lot easier. So I’m writing this article today to tell you the pros of the app, why I like to use it, and to hopefully turn you on to it as a great tool.
What is Scriptation?
Founded by a television writer and script coordinator, you know…people who actually deal with notes all the time, the Scriptation iOS app is a free script reading and annotating app. The app features note transferring technology, which is designed to make the script revision process more efficient and eco-friendly.
In layman’s terms, this app allows my manager to make notes on the PDF with ease and allows me to sift through the notes, make checklists, and work them off one by one.
And when he wants to go on and on, it allows him to add blank pages for thoughts, brainstorms, or just compliments.
April 13, 2019
Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell revealed that new Oculus Touch controllers will be released to customers with secret messages accidentally hidden inside them. Mitchell apologized for the mistake and vowed that it will not happen again.
The post New Oculus Touch controllers may have secret messages hidden inside them appeared first on Digital Trends.
Source: Digital Trends VR
April 13, 2019
After an extended deadline and negotiations, the WGA and ATA failed to come to a renewed agreement. so as of April 13th 2019, every agent that fails to sign the WGA code of conduct will be fired.
The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have failed to reach an agreement on a new franchise agreement, setting the stage for unprecedented upheaval in the film and TV industry. Thousands of writers now are ordered by the guild to fire their agents, and in the coming days, expect both sides to carry out their threats to sue each other. So that’s kind of insane.
If you want to read a great breakdown of the conflict, check out IndieWire’s FAQ on the situation or our summary from then the conflict began. You can also familiarize yourself with the WGA’s complaints with this video they released:
Negotiations were ongoing, but each side stuck to their guns and couldn’t find common ground. So, with the future of Hollywood and Agents ready for a humungous shift, The WGA released a new batch of instructions for writers:
April 12, 2019
Running a successful production the DIY way.
This time on Adorama Live, Technical Services Rep over at Panasonic Jack Salamanchuk gives us a tour of the company’s many impressive mirrorless camera options, including the new Lumix DC-G95.
Plus, we sit down with Ted Sim of Indy Mogul to learn all the hacks, tricks, and DIY solutions indie filmmakers can use to run a successful production.