Indie filmmakers have had a hard time getting their films sold and distributed over the last few years. Many are feeling the pinch of their hard work not getting any recognition and payday to sustain a living making movies.
So here's a plot twist worthy of any Hollywood movie. To save independent films from extinction, the time may be near for some low-budget movies to play outside theaters, instead of in them.
The idea -- alternative distribution of movies via video-on-demand on cable and satellite television systems and the Internet -- is what some "indie" players at this week's major industry event, the Sundance Film Festival, are backing.
The low-budget film arena that produced movies like Oscar-winner "Slumdog Millionaire," has struggled through hard times as low-cost digital equipment and an influx of investors fueled a glut of films at the onset of a recession.
Reasonable people can debate the artistic merits of James Cameron’s work. Anyone for whom Arnold Schwarzenegger is a muse isn’t likely to specialize in observing the human condition, unless it’s in the aftermath of an exploding building or a run-in with a mercenary robot from the future.
What’s indisputable is that the “Avatar” director’s influence extends beyond his movie credits. More than George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay or Pixar, Cameron is the most important commercial force in modern film, and his vision for the movie business is demolishing anything that gets in its way.
When Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the richest man in the United States, came to the Sundance Film Festival here this week, it wasn't movies on his mind, it was education -- your kids' education.
A new documentary, "Waiting For Superman," by director Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth") looks at what Gates and Guggenheim say is a U.S. public school system in shambles.
"The quality of our educational system is what made America great. Now it's not as good as it was, and it needs to be a lot better," Gates told Reuters after the film's premiere on Friday.
"Many of these high schools are terrible, and this film, 'Waiting for Superman' by Davis Guggenheim, which I have a very minor part in, tells this story in a brilliant way," he said.
Director: Scott Stewart
Stars: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton
Studio: Screen Gems
The Plot: God has lost his faith in humankind, causing him to send his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. A remote diner becomes the battleground, where the Archangel Michael (Bettany) bands together with a group of strangers, though Michael's true focus is to protect a pregnant waitress whose unborn child is humankind's hope for survival.
Director: Michael Lembeck
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
The Plot: A bad deed on the part of a tough minor-league hockey player (Johnson) results in an unusual sentence: He must serve one week as a real-life tooth fairy.
Director: Tom Vaughan
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Harrison Ford
Studio: CBS Films
The Plot: A drama centered on the efforts of John and Aileen Crowley (Fraser and Russell) to find a researcher (Ford)
Director: Jon Amiel
Stars: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly
Studio: Newmarket Films
The Plot: English naturalist Charles Darwin (Bettany) struggles to find a balance between his revolutionary theories on evolution and the relationship with religious wife (Connelly), whose faith contradicts his work.
Viewers are about to see full-frontal male nudity, heterosexual, homosexual and group sex, and graphic scenes rarely — if ever — seen on mainstream TV. And that's just on pay-cable Starz's fornication-heavy, 13-episode Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a 300-meets-Caligula epic about the Roman Empire's notorious slave/gladiator.
MTV plans a June launch of The Hard Times of RJ Berger, a scripted comedy about a nerdy 15-year-old whose cool quotient heats up when his anatomical gift is accidentally exposed. And basic-cable network Spike's just-launched raunchy college-sports comedy Blue Mountain State (Tuesdays, 10 ET/PT) showed a masturbating school mascot on the Jan. 12 premiere, while last night's episode featured a scene suggesting oral sex between a coed and jock before the opening credits.
Dileep Rao plays one of the scientists on Pandora's human colony in 'Avatar'. Enjoying the success of the mega blockbuster, Rao is also coming off a strong role in Sam Raimi's 'Drag Me To Hell' from last summer. He chats about the craft of acting and his good luck in landing the opportunity to work with 2 solid directors.
The world's most popular video website is getting into the pay-per-view business.
Google Inc.'s YouTube announced today that it will make a total of five movies from the 2010 and 2009 Sundance film festivals available for online rental. It's the first time that YouTube has given content providers the option to provide video for a fee, rather than streaming it for free with advertising.
The Sundance movies are just a prologue for a much more ambitious pay-per-view venture, said people familiar with YouTube's plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss confidential business plans.
Edge of Darkness is an upcoming action film adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series, Edge of Darkness. The film stars Mel Gibson and marks the first time Gibson has played the lead role in a film since Signs in 2002. Edge of Darkness follows a detective (Mel Gibson) investigating the murder of his activist daughter (Bojana Novakovic), uncovering political conspiracies and cover-ups in the process.
Ray Winstone co-stars, and the movie is directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Michael Wearing, who also directed and produced the series respectively. Based on the hugely popular and multi-award-winning British TV miniseries "Edge of Darkness" (1985) written by Troy Kennedy-Martin and directed by Martin Campbell. In the original, Craven was played by Bob Peck and Darius Jedburgh was played by Joe Don Baker.
In 2002, Martin Campbell announced that he was planning to adapt Edge of Darkness for the cinema. Active development began in early 2007 when Campbell met with producer Graham King, who first enlisted Australian playwright Andrew Bovell to write, and then William Monahan (fresh from winning an Academy Award for King's The Departed) to re-write the screenplay. “I responded emotionally to the father/daughter storyline,” Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan offers. “I have a young daughter so I basically put myself in the shoes of the protagonist, and asked what I would do if this happened to me.”
Mel Gibson, returning to the screen after a highly successful period behind the camera, takes on the part of Craven, his first starring role in seven years. “It was an intriguing story,” says Gibson. “That’s the main thing—if I think it’ll be compelling and entertaining to an audience, I’m on board.”
“Mel was our first and only choice for the role of Thomas Craven. The part called for someone of his caliber; there aren’t a lot of actors who have the kind of gravitas that he has,” says the film’s director, Martin Campbell.
Producer Graham King states, “We really wanted Mel, and we were so lucky to get him back in front of the camera and in a role he’s just perfect for.” “What really grabbed me was how the story sneaks up on you,” offers Gibson. The actor met with King and Campbell and felt they were “two clever guys who had a clear and smart vision of the movie, and I knew it would be great working with them.”
Filming began on August 18, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts and shot through September in the surrounding area including the historic Back Bay; the Boston Commons and Public Gardens; a stately Tudor mansion in Manchester; Charlestown; Newburyport; Lincoln; Merrimac; and Rockport. The interiors of Craven’s house and Emma’s apartment were shot on sets built at the Chelsea Stages. The company also filmed in western Massachusetts, in the picturesque towns of Northampton and Amherst and atop Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield, during the height of the autumn foliage season, known in New England as “the colors.”
“Filming in Boston was terrific, as were the people,” says Gibson. “Anywhere you looked, you got a pervasive sense of living history that gave you a true appreciation of our hard-won freedom. You felt you were in the cultural cradle of a young nation with the aged style and charm of Europe.”
“Mel gave a terrific performance in a very demanding role that had him in front of the camera every day,” admires Campbell. “He didn’t get a day off from filming; his character is in almost every scene. He worked very hard and it shows in his performance.”
King appreciated the actor’s take on the complex role. “A cop is going to have a lot of enemies, so most people are going to think the bullet was meant for him and that she just got in the way,” offers King. “On top of that, one can only imagine what it would be like dealing with that whole guilt and that emotion in a situation such as Craven’s, where he’s got no family left. He’s really done. He’s finished. He wants to find out who did it and then move on, but people are getting in his way.”
Gibson says he found the biggest challenge to playing Craven was “the stillness. Stillness has always been a stranger to me, and he’s very still. I tried to really rein myself in—not pull too many faces or make too many movements—because he’s a very introverted man.”
Incidentally, Robert De Niro had originally been cast in the role of CIA crime-scene operative Darius Jedburgh, but dropped out due to 'creative differences' after spending a few days on the set. No word if scenes of his scrapped character will end up on the DVD. Winstone immediately stepped in to take over the role.
John Corigliano was the first composer on the project and wrote a full complete score to the original cut of the film with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London with the legendary conductor Leonard Slatkin conducting the music. When the film underwent re-shoots and the tone was changed to a more action driven film, Corgliano's score was then rejected as it did not fit the new version of the film. Howard Shore was then brought in by producer Graham King, who previously worked with Shore on The Departed (2006).
Despite the violent lengths Thomas Craven goes to in seeking retribution for his daughter’s murder, the film’s star, Mel Gibson, found it to be a very human story. “I was intrigued by the characters and how they reacted to what was happening to them,” he says. “At the same time, it’s a very compelling mystery involving issues we’re all uncertain about, and uncertainty is scary to most people.”
Edge of Darkness will be released in US theaters on January 29, 2010.
Unless you’re really unfamiliar with 24, it’s not much of a spoiler to say that, since Season Eight exists, Kiefer Sutherland’s long-suffering action hero has survived the effects of last season’s bio-weapon and is back fighting terrorism once again.
Executive Producer Howard Gordon, who has been with the series since its inception and has been 24’s showrunner for the past several seasons, gives us some clues about the new season of the Fox show, which airs Mondays at 9, and looks back at where it’s been.
A major movie-making publication has given Albuquerque an excellent review.
"In the past, when people said, 'New Mexico?' they didn't really think of Albuquerque. Now, they can spell it," said Ann Lerner, of the New Mexico Film Office.
MovieMaker magazine named the Duke City the best place to live and work in film in 2010, citing more than 300 days of sunshine, diverse terrain andfilm incentives.
The magazine labeled Albuquerque as a "mini-movie Mecca." Albuquerque ranked first, followed by Los Angeles and Shreveport, La.
Gov. Bill Richardson has even taken note of the honor, saying, "New Mexicans continue to prove we make some of the finest films in the world." In his 2010 New Mexico State of the State speech delivered Tuesday, the governor noted the article and said the industry has brought in $3 billion to New Mexico.
Richardson added that with good reviews like this one, Albuquerque and the state are likely to draw in more projects -- some that may start out small but put New Mexico on a big map.
The article is scheduled to be online on Thursday.
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