More Good Things In Film 2012

I wrote a list.  I checked it twice.  I wrote one naughty.  I wrote one nice.  But dang it, I just could not get it all done in a single sitting, now could I?   So here I go, singing low.  Swing on sweet chariot...  Carry me home. There's more good in this world than I can see in a single glance.  I have six more reasons I found to celebrate (bringing us up to 22); maybe you can add further to the list?

  1. Megan Ellison.  I don't know this savior to our world, but I thank her.  She makes complicated movies with ambition and no easy answers.  I have no idea about whom she is as a person, but in terms of the work she has made, she is one without fear.  She is steel in a world of noodles; everyone else bends but she is the structural support that allows giants to reach even higher.  She made THE MASTER and that alone is enough in my book.  A year that holds that film is a blessed one, but to add on another bit of truly impressive work, ZERO DARK THIRTY,  wow!  That's nothing short of astounding.  But then she's also distributing Harmony Korine and Wong Kar Wai.  Film lovers should all be asking "How do we make sure she is here to stay?  What can we do to support her?".  It's awesome she's in our world; or that we are in hers .
  2. Technology keeps advancing, and with it so do our tools.  Each day shows me a new say to distribute films.  Each day introduces me to a new way to try to organize my life.  We can make our films more better in more ways than ever before.
  3. Successful people left producing or executive producing and chose to focus on building a better world for all of us.  Okay, so Keri Putnam  and Joana Vicente have both been in their jobs for over two years, but they were my inspiration to have the courage to quit the project focus and put on a wide angle lens.
  4. 2012 Was The Year Of The Entire Film In Just One Link (aka The Time We Stopped Sending DVDS All Around).  Filmmakers reduced sending DVDs around and instead started sharing links.  This saves everyone money, and seems to reduce unauthorized duplication.  And it's easy.  And about time.  Glad it caught on.
  5. The JOBS Creation Act was extended in the "Fiscal Cliff" Deal. Section 181 survives!
  6. It is The Era Of The $100M "Indie" (not so sure I think this is a good thing, but I love that directors are getting bucket loads to pursue wild visions) -- and granted this is close to my note on list #1 "Hollywood is taking more creative risks", but here I am speaking of the projects that are more fully artist controlled. (note: this was pointed out to me via Adam Leipzig here).
  7. Films made with ambition, vision, and not focused on the market not only deliver green but garner accolades galore.  BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD got four Oscar Nominations.
  8. Films do not get penalized for making the world a better place, but actually praised and awarded.  Two days before THE INVISIBLE WAR got nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award, Congress announced it would hold hearings on sexual abuse in the military.

But if you don't want to be so happy or comfortable in the way things are...  if you want to have an equal balance of the dark side of reality...  Don't forget all that is still wrong with the film biz, and read this.  Otherwise, sit back, be happy, and recognize: it does get better.

Five Reasons I Have NEW Hope For Film

The last seven days have done a good job convincing me we can build this world a whole lot better and that we have the passion and know-how to keep an ambitious and diverse film culture from falling into ruin.  I have been doing some meetings, going to events, meeting folks -- the days are long, but the inspiration has been great.  It does so much good to observe things done well and I gathered quite of few as of late. The documentary world has knit together a series of alliances, models, forums, and structures that the fiction film world should really take note of.  When the sun was setting today, and I was recognizing that it was such a inspiration-filled last few days, a dark shadow past over when I realized much of that uplift was from another form.  That's not a bad thing really.  It's nice to have role models.  Indie filmmakers the world over should thank their documentary siblings for all they have given us.

What inspired me (and in no particular order)?

Good Pitch.  Make that Jess Search and Good Pitch.  If you haven't been, you must.  Whether you are a funder or a filmmaker, an activist or an artist, you have to attend.  The whole forum is a virtually a perfectly produced event with the best of goals and the craft to achieve them.  Well curated both in terms of films and filmmakers and the potential organizational and funding partners they pair them with, it's the bomb.  Sitting in the room, witnessing new alliances being formed, you feel the world is made a better place before your eyes.  Films are lifted up and given more hope at making a significant impact.  Anyone I was next to, I felt they were my friend.  Ecstacy might have been in the water, because it certainly was in the air.  And as great as all the films and people that were there, there's Jess in the center, looking sharp in a white suit, advancing the proceedings. Total rock star.  I don't know an event that has a better suited  master of ceremonies.  Too many marvels for one day.  They both raise the bar high and make us want to reach higher.  Hearing the pitches, seeing the action, I feel that we are just seeing the tip of the change that films can accomplish.

Sundance.  I attended my first Sundance fundraising outreach event ever this past week.  It was in Silicon Valley and geared towards innovators and technology, but 100% artist focused.  After Keri Putnam, Kim Peirce, and Lynn Shelton spoke, I knew why I wanted to run a not for profit and truly support artists at this most crucial of times.  It is truly remarkable what Sundance has accomplished. The love and appreciation that these women communicated to the organization and the process that they have developed was so so so moving.  Cary Fukanaga and Jon Shenk were good to, but they spoke after Keri, Kim, & Lynn, and for me  those women had already overdosed me in inspiration, understanding, and commitment.  The blood was rushing in my head at such a volume all I could hear was the sea of possibility. It is so vast -- even if there is such a gulf to where we are now.  Sundance shows us so clearly from where Indie Film culture has come.  Imagine a world that had been deprived of that support, of those stories, of Sundance?  I don't want that world.  No way! And will give my life and labor to make sure we have all of that  and much much more to keep artists and their supporters truly thriving,  free to pursue their full calling.

Impact Partners.  What a good idea they were and shall ever hopefully remain.  But if only good ideas could be executed so well as they.  And my appreciation doesn't stop there.  Geralyn Dreyfous and Dan Cogan called upon their friends to put on a "Welcome To San Francisco" party for me.  It was at Pier 24, a truly beautiful gallery of fantastic photos to make your jaw drop, but then they filled the room with incredible and impressive people. I was completely and utterly impressed.

The world is not just.  The world is not fair.  People are not generous and very few are kind.  So what?  When you are in a room with a 100 plus people who are just the opposite of that shitty reality I just laid out, people that are generous and kind and have used their resources to make the world more just and fair, how can you not appreciate the power of both strong individuals and committed community deliver.  Impact Partners filled the room with them and have done amazing work with them.  Good people with strong ideas and access to their passion... man!  How can we all stay centered so that we use our labor in service of our ideals, despite the negative influences that swarm around us?  Maybe it just takes good friends.  Seeing what they do, convinces me how important they really are.

BAVC Producers Seminar.  I came to San Francisco because I wanted to see what would happen when you took committed individuals, ambitious artists, introduced them to cutting edge technologists and engagement specialists, and supported them with top institution, personnel, and resources.  I thought it needed to be built, but then I got to witness what BAVC has been doing well and the community they have built, and I felt great that others were leagues ahead of those goals of mine.  I can now compliment them as I stray from the path they have forged.  We are not alone.  Our ideas are not so odd.  People get things done.  We are part of a continuum, always building upon, refining and advancing.  We will get there, but not  on our own.

Vanessa particularly, but also all the other filmmakers I met this week.  I meet so many people.  I generally have, but that process has been accelerated by new responsibilities as the San Francisco Film Society's Executive Director.  Hearing filmmakers speak of their projects, recognizing both their hope and their fear, I know why I became a producer initially and why I am here now at SFFS.  Artists truly inspire me.  Their process can lift me.  My favorite time is when the ideas are jelling and the film is finding it's way and the filmmakers are coming up with new ideas and reaching higher and higher and the impossible is being spotted and it's changing before our eyes into the  very goal we dared not dream of and yet there it is, getting closer and closer, so close you know you will touch it, maybe even surpass it.  My wife, my love, Vanessa came to San Francisco this past weekend.  She's been editing her film with an awesome team and as much as it is a struggle and the resources all too slim, they won't say die and keep pushing pushing pushing and they have taken it further than they ever dreamed.  It is so exciting to be near someone as they create, and every little bit one gets to help, it is a reason to be here.  How fortunate I am!

I have Hope For Film.  What's inspired you lately?

 

Adventureland: Working With The Team

Pt 2 (of 3) of my NY Film Academy discussion on Adventureland. Mostly about the release, and what it was like about working with the various cast and crew. There is a fair amount on working in the studio system, at least what little I know about it...