Category Archives: American Film Market

AFM Finance Panel: XYZ, Cinetic, The Exchange, Village Roadshow Talk

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Exciting material with this morning’s AFM Finance Conference and yesterday’s interview with Borat writer Dan Mazer. Check out these highlights from the sessions, including Producing without a Completion Bond and Low Budget Films with Huge Profit Potential featuring  Brad Krevoy, Motion Picture Corporation of America, Brian O’Shea, The Exchange, and John Sloss, Cinetic Media as well as Jillian Apfelbaum of Village Roadshow, Pictures, Nick Spicer of XYZ Films and Zachary Tarica The Forest Road Co.

AFM Finance Conference 11/11/20 @ 9:30AM

Highlights from today’s 1st AFM Finance Conference Panel: Producing Without a Completion Bond

 Panelists:
Brad Krevoy, CEO, Motion Picture Corporation of America
Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange
John Sloss, Founder, Cinetic Media

Moderator:
Jill Goldsmith, Co-Business Editor, Deadline

The current state of Insurance and Production?

Brian O’Shea: “It’s really been a standstill ever since COVID happened…We were in the midst of one production we had to stop …we moved the production from Eastern Europe to the UK, and found that there was more of a likelihood of finding a bond given that there were more insurance-backed opportunities there. It was all private investment, so they had to find a new investor and it was required that he had to have a bond so they were forced to move out of the UK…I was in the midst of trying to figure that issue out during the COVID process, and so I was out there trying to find investors that do non-COVID investment, or backed investment by bond…and it’s really difficult to find.”

Brad Krevoy: “What we decided to do is go full steam ahead on the basis that very few people would be able to take the risk to make more productions, and our thinking was ‘Okay, we’re going to make these movies and everybody will want them.’ What we didn’t fully figure out was that ad revenue was going to be a little bit lower and that the studios were going to limit what they were going to release, but we still continued and still moved forward.”

“In that process, during that exploration, we discovered some very interesting things…We made seven movies and one TV series which we shot in three locations.  One was Canada and they have it together. The US policy, when it comes to protecting all of us….it’s messy, it’s very messy and confusing. But in Canada, they make you do a two-week quarantine, and I mean it’s a severe quarantine…they track you! We were able to get Covid-insurance, $50K for half a million worth of insurance…we bought a little bit of the insurance to reduce and hedge our risk a little bit. It does exist, they offer that product, but it’s very expensive”

“There were quite a few films made and still being made [during the pandemic] under previous policies still in effect that did not have a COVID exclusion. A company, particularly a broadcaster, will have a year-long insurance policy, so long as that policy is still in effect, it covers COVID.”

John Sloss: “It’s the films in the middle that are really challenged. The ones above $2M but below the studio, I think have largely ground to a halt. When we talk about PRIA, we’re talking about sovereign subsidies…In England, they’ve got $500M from the government to subsidize production” “What it does is give an additional ability to attract production to your physical location, so if you’re willing to basically be the insurance company as a government, you can have a leg up certainly on the US but on a lot of other locations.”

“If you look at all the states in this country that subsidize with their tax fees and all of the soft money that we’ve come to rely on, a state covering COVID insurance risk is not so different from a state giving tax rebates, it’s an actuarial calculation. I would call upon the commissioners out there to give some serious consideration [to this] if they want to take advantage of this situation to draw a lot of production to where they are.”

Brad Krevoy: “By the time the governments, at least in the US, get around to figuring this out, it will be too late because we’ll have a vaccine, hopefully.” “The level of development with scripts and writers is at an all-time high right now…I think that’s a common theme.”

What will the Post COVID reality look like?

Brad Krevoy: “It will be the roaring twenty-ones! Content is going to come back strong, and it is going to be happy times, it is going to be fantastic for all of us….There’s going to be tremendous demand…The biggest hope of all for independents, that’s transformational, is going to be advertising-supported VOD. That is going to give life to us for many years, AVOD will be the ship we all ride on for a while”

How companies are Forging Forward and International Support

Brian O’Shea: “The German government is backing insurance relief up to a certain amount, and that is enough given the budget of a [certain] film, which is $10M, that they’re basically putting up…no more than 15-20% of the film budget for COVID insurance, and that is enough for film financers to move forward with the bond.”

John Sloss: “There’s no absolute normal prescription…there is no rehearsal for this period. We’re kind of figuring this out as we go along.”

Brian O’Shea: “We have done a number of films non-bonded with strategic investors in the film. They need to move money…there’s a lot of money out there that is not being worked…there are some investment groups out there that are willing to take a risk and that have been successful, so there are specific investor groups that are taking opportunities on non-bonded films…but…they have to feel comfortable with the package in general.”

John Sloss: “You don’t always need a completion bond, but if you’re working through conventional finance channels where you’re not at the high-risk edges of these arbitrageurs and if you’re working with commercial banks or you’re taking contracts from territorial buyers who have committed to pay on delivery of a completed film — if you’re taking those to a bank to borrow against it and fund your production, you really do need a bond.”

Brad Krevoy: “Sometimes in COVID, the riskiest thing is not making to the post-production process. So what you might be able to do is get a bond for a post at a normal price and you’re just hoping that every day of production goes the way you want it to so that you can still convert some of your contracts into cash.”

What positive outcome of the pandemic could there be for the independent product when COVID clears?  

Brad Krevoy:  “There’s a huge demand. You have all the new streaming services coming online. You have the AVOD coming online. All the mechanisms are aligned.”

John Sloss: “There’s only so much you can do at this moment but the consumption hours for content have exploded because everybody’s quarantined in their house, watching. It happens to coincide with the launch of all SVOD services that are going to be chasing Netflix. The real bottleneck here is in production, and when the pandemic passess…the bottleneck is going to open up….sowhat a smart person does is create the best possible source material they can right now…when the production opens up again, people are going to be working 24 hours a day.”

What Content is Wanted?

John Sloss: “I think documentaries are going to fare well.  They have not been as impacted. We’re all moving towards episodics…they’re doing that for scripted, doing that for docs, and I think that is a very fertile area to focus on at this moment.”

Brian O’Shea: “It’s about content, and people needing content…I’m meeting with a lot of broadcasters too, major broadcasters in Europe, and they are looking for content as well.”

Brad Krevoy: “Movies will reflect the culture, and that culture will have more uplifting, fun properties as opposed to dramatic projects. I think you’ll see a little bit of a shift with people wanting stories that make you laugh, that make you cry, or make you think.  I don’t know how horror will fare as it’s not in my wheelhouse.”

John Sloss: “The most reliable genre is the New…something that has not been seen before.  When we had Napoleon Dynamite, we saw about 500 scripts after that that were take-offs on Napoleon Dynamite or tried to capture that vibe.  It’s not necessarily within the realm of everyone to create something new and yes emotion is important and passion is important but if you have a chance at creating something no one has seen before that has the greatest chance.”

AFM Finance Conference 11/11/20 @ 11AM

Highlights from today’s 2nd AFM Finance Conference Panel: Low Budget Films with Huge Profit Potential

Panelists
Jillian Apfelbaum, EVP, Content, Village Roadshow Pictures
Nick Spicer, Partner, XYZ Films
Zachary Tarica, CEO & Director, The Forest Road Co.

Moderator
John Rhodes, Co-Founder, Screencraft

How do you Decide on Budget?

Zachary Tarica: “It’s what you can afford, it’s what you can put together. The thing we press on as a film finance company is making the budget make sense for the project.”

Nick Spicer: “Most scripts have a minimum budget that it’s going to take to actually make what’s on the page. And there are certain production elements that are immutable in a project, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is worth that amount of money, or worth that amount of money in one iteration versus another. So, what we do is that we always value the project with realistic assumptions for cast, realistic assumptions for what we think we would be able to get in terms of production value, and we figure out what we think the movie is worth to the market.”

What do you look at to decide value?

Nick Spicer: “It’s one part science and one part instinct. I wish that I could tell you exactly how to value a movie and you could go do it and it was easy math. But a lot goes into it, because it’s a creative industry and because you’re trying to gauge audience taste, which is a very hard thing to do. The best thing to do is look at comps…the breakout successes of the past five years — those are usually not realistic comps for a low budget movie.”

Zachary Tarica: “The first thing I do when I look at even the top line of a budget is try to figure out what type of coverage that film can have.  We see hundreds, even thousands of projects, [where] we’re having a real, honest conversation with the production company looking at it and saying, ‘There’s a really good chance here that you lose $6-7M….“It’s important to go into it with that open mind looking at your budget with an accurate…or realistic outcome.”

How has Success Evolved?

Jillian Apfelbaum: “What determines a film’s success in this new environment is directly related to the reason why the film is being made…it is not often that a high risk, the low budget movie can have huge financial returns. That doesn’t mean it’s not a success, especially if you’re trying to prove a filmmaker, build relationships, build your own production company, try it for awards…While financial success is definitely one of the areas in which a movie can be successful, there are other areas in which there are achievements that have value in the long-term growth of a producer or company.”

Zachary Tarica: “There’s so much more to it that can ultimately get you to where the profitability needs to be…The lower the budget, the more important the distribution plan is, the correlation’s 100.” “We’ve had some really interesting case studies, where films sub $500k…have done incredibly well.”

Nick Spicer: “Huge profit potential does not mean $100M at the box office. If you have a movie for $25k-$50k and you sell it for $150k…that’s a really good return…don’t expect that it’s going to become the next Paranormal Activity.”

Can a film Have Success without Name Talent?

Zachary Tarica: “It’s having a pinpoint audience…you have to have an audience that’s interested in what you think you’re creating and really hone in on that audience so that this is something that is sellable.  We had low budget filmmakers that drove cross-country selling packages to churches and made a profit.”

Jillian Apfelbaum: “I think Nick’s company [XYZ] is also doing something really interesting when it comes to the audience in that they’re doing a lot of local language productions.  I’m also fascinated by the faith-based audience and think that there’s a total market there.” “I think there’s a market for local language, for the Spanish language, especially in the US and South America. There is an opportunity to find value in your film outside of the US.”

Nick Spicer: “Local language is booming…Netflix is capped out on subscribers in the US so their growth is entirely international, so there’s a pretty great appetite for local language content.”

Jillian Apfelbaum: “Calling casting directors and asking them who is in the next wave of movie stars or TV stars that you can access before they hit it, that’s really helpful too…Making a movie takes time, so if you cast someone ahead of their break…we made a movie called ‘Hot Summer Nights’ with Timothee Chalamet in it before Timothee Chalamet got big. Our movie didn’t come out until after Timothee had done several major movies, and it ended up really bolstering the success of the film.”

The Impact of COVID

Zachary Tarica: “[In one instance] a false positive COVID test can cost the production company about $200k, so think about that when you have a…$1M to $5M budget film…the issues of quarantine, a bubble, travel, the contingency, the insurance, the things that go into it [planning for COVID] are things that we’re not always thinking about as filmmakers that really come into play here.”

Maximizing Profit Potential?

Jillian Apfelbaum: “Genre is critical in the development stage…if it’s horror or thriller, it is going to have a stronger chance at breakout success and a larger audience than if it’s a drama. Otherwise, finding ways to maximize production value without increasing cost is always really effective, and that has to do often with visual effects, and when you’re going practical versus going visual…but I think the biggest determining factor has to be genre.”

AFM Podcast Session 11/10/20 @ 11AM

Highlights from yesterday’s Filmmakers Podcast ft. Dan Mazer: How to Make Movies, From Indies to Studio Features & Working On Set

Hosts
Giles Alderson, Creator & Host, The Filmmakers Podcast
Ian Sharp, Founder, Sharp House

Guest
Dan Mazer, Writer & Director, LBI Entertainment

On Home Alone reboot:

“We were making a movie in March…and they read on Deadline that we were about to be shut down!”

“We made the announcement, we shut down, without knowing when, if, how we would come down having a five million dollar set still standing in Montreal for all that time…and more pertinently, having a young, 11-year-old boy as our lead with the clock ticking on whether he was going to hit puberty”

On Borat 2:

“With Borat, obviously there you’re in the real world; film sets are sort of hermetically sealed, we’re tested five times a day [he def meant week]…but with Borat, that’s a very different scenario”

“I remember on the first day of shooting, we were waiting for the COVID test for the makeup person to come through, we couldn’t start until that came through and sat in a car park waiting for a negative result for nine hours…and then we lost the light and had basically a half hour’s worth of filming”

Dan on getting financing during covid:

“People started to look more towards…comedy, I think the need for people to just have the stress and strain taken away and to be able to just laugh at stuff has come to the fore”

Dan on success:

“One thing that I’ve learned…the things that have been the most successful that I’ve done have tried to break the mold in some way, and anything that feels familiar or like you’ve seen it before or like a facsimile of something…however good it is, it’s much less likely to breakthrough”

“Daring to be different is really the answer to making an impact”

“As with most things with filmmakers, it’s about ego. As a director, it’s very easy to get high on your own supply and just think you’re a god because everyone’s so nice to you, and you don’t have to listen to anyone…but my attitude to filmmaking generally is surrounding yourself with brilliant people and let them be brilliant and that will steer the ship”

Dan: “[On when Home Alone is coming out] It’ll be next Christmas!”

(Source: Press release provided by Jennifer Garnick, AFM Press)

 

 

AFM: MARIO LOPEZ and TONY ALVA’s OLLIE Skates into World Market Premiere

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Film Mode Entertainment’s OLLIE, Starring MARIO LOPEZ and TONY ALVA,

Skates into its AFM World Market Premiere

LOS ANGELES (November 10, 2020) – Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment announces the acquisition and AFM world market premiere of the live-action, animated family comedy, OLLIE. The new feature film, now in development stars Mario Lopez (Saved By The Bell) and world-renowned skateboarder, musician, and entrepreneur Tony Alva, one of the original members of the Z-Boys.

A skateboarding bulldog, the legendary Tony Alva, talking dogs, all wrapped up in a family film. Get the popcorn machine ready! We’re excited about how things are coming together and can’t wait for audiences to get a chance to join in on the fun.” Said Lopez.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Mario, Tony, and such an amazingly talented and diverse team on Ollie,” said Epstein. “This exciting, comedic and adventurous film has all of the components to be a major hit with viewers of all ages across the world. We look forward to introducing this very special project to the global marketplace and fans everywhere.”

OLLIE is about CJ, a 13-year-old boy, who is having a tough time getting by at his local skatepark. His life takes a dramatic, adventurous, and positive turn when he is befriended by Ollie, a skateboarding bulldog who was just fired from his watchdog job. The two band together and use Ollie’s incredible talent to save the family business.

Lopez will produce as well as provide the voice for Ollie.

Both Lopez and Alva have amassed major followings from dedicated fans all over the world. Lopez is best known for his iconic, starring role on Saved by the Bell and as a celebrated anchor, host, and reporter for top-rated news entertainment shows like The Talk, Access Hollywood, and Access Daily, with hundreds of credits to his name in film, television and on Broadway.

Alva, known across the globe as a legendary and pioneering skateboarder, is ranked in the top 10 of the most influential skateboarders of all time, was one of the originators of vertical skateboarding, and an original member of the infamous Zephyr Competition Skateboarding Team, also known as the Z-Boys. He is featured in the documentary on Santa Monica and Venice Beach skate culture DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS which was fictionalized into the hit feature film LORDS OF DOGTOWN featuring a star-studded cast that includes Heath Ledger, Nikki Reid, Emile Hirsch, and Victor Rasuk.

Also producing is Mark Roberts via Roberts/David Films, along with Lorena David. Clay Epstein is executive producing.

Roberts teamed up with Lopez to produce both The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia for Netflix (2020) and Feliz NaviDAD, a Christmas movie about a single father, for Lifetime Television premiering in their holiday line up on November 21, 2020. Most recently Roberts completed a documentary about the life of Painter/Activist Carlos Almaraz, Carlos Almaraz / Playing With Fire (Netflix), as well as Love and Betrayal on the Force, a true crime documentary (streaming on AMAZON).

Film Mode Entertainment is representing the world on OLLIE.

About Film Mode Entertainment

Film Mode Entertainment is a leading worldwide sales agent, production entity, and distribution company, focusing on commercially driven feature films of all genres and budget sizes. Film Mode represents projects at all stages of the filmmaking process, often as Executive Producer, with the aim of helping producers and distributors achieve maximum exposure for their films. Film Mode’s recent titles include CRYPTO starring Kurt Russell, Luke Hemsworth, and Alexis Bledel, HOOKING UP starring Brittany Snow, Sam Richardson and Vivica A. Fox, STAGE MOTHER starring Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver, Lucy Liu and Adrian Grenier, and DREAMKATCHER starring Radha Mitchell, Lin Shaye, and Henry Thomas.

Previous releases include SUGAR MOUNTAIN starring Jason Momoa, and THE GOOD NEIGHBOR starring Academy Award nominee James Caan. Film Mode accelerated their growth and expanded their capabilities by entering into a partnership with SCREEN MEDIA, representing their catalog of more than 600 titles, including WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance, and MONSTER, starring Charlize Theron who won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress for the film. The company also has its own distribution arm, as well as a documentary label, DocMode. Film Mode is based in Beverly Hills, CA.

(Source: Press release provided by Lon Haber, Lon Haber & Co.)

American Film Market 2020 Day 1 Highlights “Spotlight On Russia”

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Day 1 at the 2020 Online American Film Market (AFM) kicked off its morning session with Keynote Speakers, Mark Gill of Solstice Studios, and Elissa Federoff, President of Distribution. Neon. Both conversations offered a plethora of detailed and insightful information on topics ranging from exhibition to distribution and timing of releasing films during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Evgenia Markhova

The first-afternoon session, “Spotlight on Russia,” hosted by Roskino CEO, Evgenia Markova, provided an introductory overview of New Russian Cinema and upcoming Russian Television Series.  High energy features with strong production values were on full display. Seeking co-production and co-funding partners, one of the first pieces presented was Die Hards from Russia’s Channel 5 TV, closely resembling the Bruce Willis-led, global phenomenon Die Hard franchise. Covering the full gamut of genres with Russian gangsters, love stories, inspirational, historical, and war, a look at the “Spotlight on Russia,” was illuminated.

The dramedy of Chicks seeks to capitalize on both the local and global markets with a swanky and sultry cast dealing with real-life situations with comedic relief. Set for a 2020 November release, Check it out. You’ll be glad you did!

Red Ghost set in WWII theatre of combat puts on full display the unearthly prowess and determination of the Russian soldier on the battlefield – cunning, baffling, powerful! A must-see piece.

Other promising TV and theatrical titles featuring strong Russian-themed action include The Conquest of Siberia and Run.

The Queen, a teenage comedy featuring a social media darling who also doubles as a professional tennis player has all the dressings of when Maria Sharapova meets a randy Clueless’s, Alicia Silverstone.

Wrapping up the impressive Russian lineup were the animated features for the young viewer, The Golden Hive,  and the older viewer, Silver Skates. Targeted features with compelling narratives. Highly recommended!

The follow-up session to “Spotlight on Russia” featured a panel of Russian women sharing their experience with key art and merchandising in “The Wow-effect of Russian Movies’ Marketing Localization,” moderated by Screen International’s Geoffrey Macnab.

An excellent primer on developing a consistent audience and being sensitive to regional cinema differences.

A storied filmmaking industry featuring the pioneering and ground-breaking montage of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, Russian Cinema is seeing widespread popularity throughout Europe and is finding more followers on Youtube. Hostess Markhova showcased the riveting series, Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes, released on YouTube in April 2020. The powerful storyline with exquisite costuming and make-up, make this an Editor’s Choice.

Keep an eye for these pieces and for opportunities to team up with production and distribution companies.

AFM 2020 Opens with Keynote Conversations and Speakers from Solstice Studios and NEON

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFM Day 1 Opens

The 2020 Online American Film Market (AFM) kicked off its Day 1 morning session with Keynote Speakers, Mark Gill of Solstice Studios, and Elissa Federoff, President of Distribution. Neon. See below for highlighted topics from the moderated conversations follow. The AFM continues through December 13th. For more information visit the AmericanFilmMarket.com.

Keynote Conversation 1 / AFM Opening Session

Mark Gill, President & CEO, Solstice Studios

Moderated by Anthony D’Alessandro, Managing Editor, Deadline

On releasing Unhinged into theatres:

“Our idea was that we could be first and probably elevate a film of an otherwise modest budget of $33 Million Dollars against Tenet which is hundreds of millions of dollars or Mulan and that we might have an opportunity to elevate the movie. And that is actually what happened.  But it wasn’t for the faint at heart because we had five release dates.  Every time we thought it was done another outbreak would happen somewhere in the US or theatres wouldn’t open or Tenet would move.  It was just the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve been doing this for a long long time.”

On his perceptions of the theatrical landscape before releasing Unhinged and what he learned:

“It looked like Asia was well ahead of the US and Europe certainly too so we allowed the international folks to release first which is not all that common and it worked out great….What we were looking at were three things you have to get to line up.  There are three sets of planets: There are the theatre owners obviously.  There were other distributors, notably Warner Bros. for Tenet and at that time Disney with Mulan.  And then, of course, there’s the public health situation. Our theory was if we waited until Fall things could easily get worse – which is what we see happening.  Our thought was that in the Summer we had a chance. And going first was important since no one else wanted to do it.  I’m glad we did. It worked out well for us but it was also an important statement to make about why theatres matter and that people would go.”

Other Countries and Pandemic give hope.

“You’ve got more and more films pushing, FOX has just moved a couple of things.  It just does not look good. So I was glad to see Pfizer released good news about a possible vaccine.  That’s clearly going to be key.  The other thing that is incredibly heartening in the long-run is if you look at Japan and China and Korea, where the public health situation is under control, they’re breaking records.  So, people like going to the movies.  They just want to do it in a way that allows them to relax and enjoy and feel comfortable doing it and not enough of them are right now in the US.”

On what makes a film like Unhinged ripe right now for the current marketplace.

“I have three theories about that. The first is the movie has to be good enough.  The second is, for some reason men seem to be a little more willing to go to theatres than women. And third is that it’s a good way to blow off some steam.  We’re all living in a very very tense time.  Unemployment is high. Everything is uncertain. It’s tough for everybody. So if there’s a chance to go and just enjoy some craziness on the screen as opposed to the craziness in our real lives, that’s what the exit polls are telling us that people are liking about these kinds of movies.”

 Why Solstice stuck to a full theatrical release for Unhinged.

“Where possible, we want to be in theatres. That’s what we’re [Solstice Studios] all about so as others are running from it – you’ll see the majors making fewer movies for theatres which were coming anyway but are now just accelerated – that will create more opportunity in the long run for mid-sized films to run in the way that they used to.  The impressive list of films that the AFM has been a part of for the last 40 years, those are precisely the kinds of films that are going to benefit from this once there is a vaccine.”

On the potential of having a shortage of films for the international markets by next year. Will we hit a dry spot?

“What we’re starting to see from the production side is a number of movies gearing up for late winter or early spring starts. But that means they’re delivered a year from then so by the time we get to Cannes or certainly Toronto I think there is going to be a shortage of films.”

On Good Joe Bell

“We bought Good Joe Bell for the world which means that we will sell it internationally after we’re done doing a little bit of work on the film.  I thought it was very very strong but not quite where it needed to be in terms of hitting critical mass. It will be done in the next 2 ½ – 3 weeks and then we need to probably take it to Berlin and we’re looking at releasing it for Academy Award consideration – which is by February 28th this year.  I’ve never seen that before.  It’s an emotionally compelling film.  We all unanimously agreed on that which never happens.”

On Selling International

“We have chosen so far to just sell the movies one at a time to independent distributors in all the key markets.  It’s worked out surprisingly well.  It was fascinating working with all these distributors as they were facing what we were which was essentially ‘Is our country going to be open? Are the cinemas going to be open? Is anybody going to go?’ And what was just so impressive was how many of them – whether it was the UK or France or Australia or Italy, there are so many countries that did so well with the movie [Unhinged].  The reality is that on this movie we got out alive and getting out in a pandemic was quite an achievement. A huge part of that was the international distributors taking a lot of risk in trying to do what we did, and in some cases doing it even better than we did.  Australia was blow out good for example and this was with 30% of their country closed.”

Keynote Conversation 2 / AFM Opening Session

Left to right, Brent Lang and Elissa Federoff

Elissa Federoff, President of Distribution, NEON

Moderated by Brent Lang, Executive Editor, Film & Media, Variety

 On theatrical coming back.

“We know that audiences will come back to the movie theatres. That the theatrical landscape will be vibrant again.  This is very exciting news about the vaccine because potentially it makes the span of time a little shorter…”

“We’ve always projected we would be back and our movies would be in those theatres. We love the cinema so much.  It is the best way to see a movie  I truly believe there is no virtual offering, there is no streaming equivalent there’s no digital equivalent to being in a movie theatre with an audience having a completely immersive experience in the dark, no phones, no talking, no distractions and of the audience being a character in that film. That really changes the whole dynamic.”

On how NEON has adapted a pandemic strategy in the short term.

“Over the pandemic, we’ve released a ton of films.  We’ve released more films than probably the majority of our independent counterparts have.  We’ve been buying films, we’ve been producing films. We’ve taken this opportunity to pivot our strategy and release our films digitally and with Hulu.”

“Ammonite, we are releasing this Friday in theatres and then we’re putting it on PVOD on the 4th of December. This is the first PVOD release that we’ve done and we’re really excited about it. Inside this pandemic and inside this award season, this is a highly strategic way that we are releasing this film.  LA is not open, New York is not open, San Francisco is not open so we don’t see the theatrical box office at this moment to be the same as it has been in the past and we believe it will be in the future.   This has been previously very very successful for us when we released Bachelorette for example or Snowpiercer – the VOD was so robust that it actually made the film just as viable as if we had put it in theatres and spent the P&A.  So this works great for Ammonite.  We have several other movies on our slate and we would absolutely love them to see them in theatres.  We have Gunda, we have The Killing of Two Lovers, we have several other films for next Spring that we have not yet slotted for our release calendar and fingers crossed theatres are back and everyone is going.”

 

On why they’ve been so active releasing films during this time.

“Independent film has always been a very very difficult business.  It’s always been hard to release these films.  We’ve always found challenges in the marketplace with theatres even when every screen was open.  We’ve always felt the competitive nature of the business. When tentpoles were there when other independent films were there and we were all vying for our spot.  So we’ve always been up against something and it’s never stopped us. We truly want to bring films to people.  We want to bring them out when people want to see them the most which are now when they want to be fulfilled by something.  Our films and a lot of Independents are, in some cases, so much more important than the tentpoles because they reach so many different audiences and really specific niche audiences who may not find something in the digital space.”

“We really wanted to stay relevant and bring, buy, and release films at a time when production is struggling, and the exhibition is struggling. We want to support artists.  So much of this time period has been in doubt and we don’t know when we will ‘get back to normal’.  I don’t think we should wait to get ‘back to normal’.  We should pivot and figure out strategies that will help us now.”

View on Drive-in Theatres.

“I think what has shifted is that they typically were seen as theatres that only play very commercial films.  They haven’t been in the space of anything really different. And now they’re playing the independent film for the first time.  They’re playing art releases.  They’re playing movies from smaller companies and not just the major studios and that’s what has shifted so much about drive-ins. We love having them in our plans.  People feel safe.  I see them sticking around.  I think we’ve opened up both the audiences for Drive-ins and the theatres themselves to think more about independent film.”

On Windows Shifting

“The reality is that multiplatform releases have always been around. We’ve always had then as part of our strategy for certain kinds of releases and many other companies have as well.  We’re no stranger to the short window or the multi-platform release.  What’s exciting about right now is that the studios are kind of acknowledging it as a way to release a film.  NEON is not a company that believes every film is one size fits all – there will always be films for us and for the entire world that will need a very long and thought out release in theatres for 180 days before they go to VOD.  We love those.  Films like Honeyland.  We would have never released that in any other way than a long thought out release. Parasite the same thing.  But then there have been other films like Snowpiercer that we did a compressed window and we put it on VOD and it was very very successful for us.  It made in excess of $10 Million on VOD.  And the fact that we can be flexible, I think just opens up many more avenues in our business.”

Stay tuned for the upcoming “Spotlight on Russia” coverage!

 

Tribune Pictures and The Exchange feature adaptation of ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES adds talent

Posted by Larry Gleeson

JOSH HUTCHERSON AND MORE JOIN LIEV SCHREIBER’S ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES

Photo Credit: John Russo.

Venice, Italy/ Los Angeles, CA, November 9, 2020: Tribune Pictures and The Exchange announced today that feature movie adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s final novel and NY Times bestseller ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES just added award-winning actor Josh Hutcherson and award-winning Italian actress Sabrina Impacciatore.

Propelled to stardom by the HUNGER GAMES franchise and the critically acclaimed independent film, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, Hutcherson currently stars in the Hulu TV series Future Man. Impacciatore wrote and starred recently in Italian box office success THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

n pre-production in Venice, Italy, Hutcherson and Impacciatore are joining six-time Golden Globe nominee actor Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, Spotlight, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), award-winning Italian breakthrough actress Matilda De Angelis (Susan Bier’s The Undoing), award-winning Italian Laura Morante (CHERRY ON THE CAKE, THE BALL) and Academy Award-nominated Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini (QUANTUM OF SOLACE).

Produced by Robert MacLean of Tribune Pictures, the adapted screenplay by BAFTA-award-winning screenwriter Peter Flannery is directed by award-winning Spanish director Paula Ortiz (THE BRIDE) with award-winning director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe (BLUE JASMINE, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, THOR RAGNAROK, THE ROAD).

The film is being produced in association with Jianmin LV and Spring Era Films. John Smallcombe and Ken Gord are also producing, William J. Immerman and Justin Raikes are Executive Producers. Andrea Biscaro is Italian Line Producer. Filomena Cusano is production counsel.

ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES is the story of Colonel Richard Cantwell, played by Schreiber, a semi-autobiographical character partially-based-on Hemingway’s friend Colonel Charles T. Lanham. Hemingway had his own relationship with Italian aristocrat, Adriana Ivancich. Cantwell is a complex and conflicted character, wounded and damaged both physically and mentally by the war, seeking inner peace, and trying to come to terms with his own mortality.

“Adding Josh to this internationally renowned cast is very exciting. His popularity and talent will help make this film even more valuable to our buyers,” said Brian O’Shea, The Exchange C.E.O.

Hutcherson is represented by The Beddingfield Company, The Gersh Agency and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman, Impacciatore by Gianni Chiffi and Volver Consulenze Artistiche.

The Exchange’s Virtual AFM’20 line-up includes Liev Schreiber’s ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES, Noomi Rapace’s THE THICKET, Kumail Nanjiani’s THE INDEPENDENT, Trace Lysette’s MONICA, Zoe Saldana’s KEYHOLE GARDEN, Anna Faris’ SUMMER MADNESS, Sundance’20 SPREE, Tribeca’20 Drew Barrymore’s THE STAND-IN, completed movie GRINGA, Sundance’20 and Berlinale’20 documentary WELCOME TO CHECHNYA, documentaries WELCOME TO DALE and STREET GANG,

(Jazo PR press release provided by Laurent Boye)

Ethan Hawke boards NEW film ZEROS AND ONES by Abel Ferrara

Posted by Larry Gleeson

ETHAN HAWKE BOARDS ABEL FERRARA’S NEW POSTMODERN, WAR-TIME THRILLER

“ZEROS AND ONES”

CAPSTONE GROUP’S BLUE BOX INTERNATIONAL TO LAUNCH SALES AT AFM THIS WEEK

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 9, 2020) Four-time Academy Award-nominated actor and filmmaker Ethan Hawke (First Reformed, Boyhood), Cristina Chiriac (Siberia, Tommaso) and Phil Neilson (Siberia, Ben-Hur) have joined seminal filmmaker Abel Ferrara’s (Bad Lieutenant, The Funeral, Kings Of New York) upcoming thriller Zeros and Ones.

Both written and directed by Ferrara, filming begins in Italy later this month.

JJ (Ethan Hawke) is an American soldier stationed in a Rome under siege, locked down, and at war.  The Vatican being blown into the night sky is only the beginning of our hero’s journey to uncover and defend against an unknown enemy but threatening the lives of the entire world.

Christian Mercuri’s Capstone Group will launch sales at AFM this week under its Blue Box International label and will co-rep domestic with CAA Media Finance.

Zeros and Ones is produced by Diana Phillips (Bad Lieutenant, Siberia, Alfie) of Rimsky Productions, and Philipp Kreuzer (Guns Akimbo, The Happy Prince, Run & Jump) from Maze Pictures.  Award winning cinematographer Sean Price Williams who most recently lensed Cannes Film Festival Official Selection Good Time directed by Benny and Josh Safdie and starring Robert Pattinson, anchors the production below the line team.

Danny Chan of Almost Never Films will serve as Executive Producer alongside Brent Guttman and Don Young.

“Zeros and Ones is a film of lockdown and war, danger and espionage, American soldiers, Chinese middlemen,  Mid Easternholy men, provocateurs, diplomats, rogue elements of the CIA and KGB.  I cannot wait to roll the cameras next week in a way that is safe because this film was written during and with anunderstanding of the pandemic,” declared Ferrara  

“Buyers are hungry for compelling and original storylines in the hands of master filmmakers and Zeros and Ones ticks all the right boxes,” Mercuri stated. “Coupled with worldclassproduction values and locations that includes the eerie backdrop of present-day Rome which has a feeling of Paris at the end of WW2, this film is a package not to be missed.”

In a career that spans over three decades, Ethan Hawke’s prolific filmography includes screen performances in Dead Poets Society; Reality Bites; Gattaca; Training Day; Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead; Boyhood; Born to Be Blue; Maudie; Richard Linklater’s trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight; and First Reformed, among countless others.  He is also a noted filmmaker, author, and currently makes his television debut as star, co-writer, and executive producer of Showtime’s critically acclaimed limited series, The Good Lord Bird.   

Long-time independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara has built a cult audience following with his stylish, neo-noir imagery, gritty urban settings, and provocative award winning films. A Film Festival favorite, his credits include Siberia, The Addiction, The Funeral, Blackout, Pasolini, Tommaso, Mary, Bad Lieutenantand the crime-thriller King of New York starring Christopher Walken.

ABOUT CAPSTONE GROUP

Capstone Group is an independent film financing and international sales company focusing on high quality commercial films with worldwide box office appeal.  Established in 2017, Capstone is headed by renowned international sales and distribution veteran Christian Mercuri who has sold, financed and produced over 150 feature films with distribution contracts exceeding $1.7 billion USD and a worldwide box office exceeding $3 billion USD.  In its first years, the company has financed and/or licensed films with 

International stars such as Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis, Chris Pratt, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Prior to forming Capstone Group, Mercuri helped finance and distribute projects such as The Wolf of Wall Street, The Expendables, Dumb and Dumber To, and Out of the Furnace.

(Source: press release provided by MLPR)

AFM 2020 ONLINE ADDS SESSIONS SPOTLIGHTING AI, BLOCKCHAIN, CASTING, DIVERSITY, DOCUMENTARIES, PITCH, AND STREAMING TO PROGRAMMING LINEUP

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Announces Speakers from CAA, Cinedigm, Dogwoof, EFO Films, Elevated Film Sales, Endeavor Content, FandangoNow, IndieFlix, Magnolia Pictures, NAACP, Participant, ScriptBook, UCLA, Universal, Verve, and Winston Baker 

Networking to Take Center Stage with Opportunities to Connect via Video by Genres, Location, and Specialty Topics 

Los Angeles, CA – November 3, 2020 – Ahead of its kick-off next week, the American Film Market (AFM®) today announced new topics and speakers added to the expansive AFM 2020 Online programming lineup that will bring 70+ sessions and 200 speakers over five days, November 9-13, alongside the AFM’s marketplace and screenings at AFM2020.online.

Plans for AFM’s Networking Pavilion have also been revealedThis truly unique online experience gives attendees the opportunity to explore and join over 100 video discussions / “tables” every hour with small groups focused on various genres and specialty topics ranging from Documentary to Horror to Socially Responsible Storytelling.  Additional “tables” will offer hourly meet-ups for dozens of countries and U.S. cities, providing the “face-to-face” connections that happen organically in Santa Monica.

While the AFM doesn’t officially start until Monday, November 9, three buildings on the AFM Campus – the Industry OfficesLocationEXPO, and the On Demand Theatre will go live on November 4 for pre-market screenings and project previews.

Additional topics and speakers joining AFM’s two online stages and previously announced conferences, panels, conversations, workshops, podcasts and presentations, include:

  • AFM’s Pitch Conference featuring Producer & Agent, Cassian Elwes (Mudbound, Dallas Buyers Club), Elevated Film Sales, Elizabeth Haggard, VP Narrative Film, Participant Media, and Lee Jessup, Screenwriting Career Consultant & Coach.
  • How to Secure the Right Cast for a Greenlight featuring Randall Emmett (The Irishman, Power), Co-Chair & Producer, EFO Films, Caroline Couret-Delegue, Managing Director, Film Seekers, Jenny Jue, Owner & Casting Director, Downtown Casting, Laura Rister, Producer, Untitled Entertainment.
  • Who Did I Offend Now? Cultural Competency in Storytelling presented in partnership with the NAACP with Kyle Bowser, NAACP, Darnell Hunt, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, UCLA, and Brittany A. Little, Vice President, Drama Development, Universal Television.
  • Distributing & Monetizing Feature Documentaries with Anna Godas, CEO,DogWoof, Gregg Goldstein, Author, Variety, Kevin Iwashina, Agent, Endeavor Content, John Von Thaden, Head of Acquisitions, Magnolia Pictures, Krista Wegener, EVP, Sales and Distribution, Participant Media.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence to Inform Success featuring Nadira Azermai, FounderScriptBook, Tobias Queisser, Co-Founder & CEO, Cinelytic, and Debajyoti “Deb” Ray, CEO,
  • Discover New Voices presented in partnership with WINSTON | BAKER with Adhrucia Apana, Founder & Producer, Curiosity Entertainment, Janaé Désiré, Media Finance Executive, Creative Artists Agency, Gina Reyes, Television Lit Agent, Verve Talent & Literary Agency, Sophia Yen, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, and Viviana Zarragoitia, Vice President, Three Point Capital.
  • Standing Out in the Streaming Game – What Platforms and Audiences Want featuring Scilla Andreen, Co-Founder & CEO, IndieFlix, Cameron Douglas, VP of Home Entertainment, FandangoNOW, and Erick Opeka, President, Cinedigm Digital Networks.
  • Blockchain Streaming Platforms presented in partnership with the Blockchain Global Entertainment Alliance with Jake Craven, VP, Content Partnerships,Breaker, Adrian J. Garelik, CEO, Flixxo, Trinabh Gupta, Professor at University California Santa Barbara, Rouslan Ovtcharoff, Founder, Blockchain Global Entertainment Alliance, Patrice Poujol, Founder & CEO, Lumiere, and Serban Simu, President & Co-Founder, Eluvio.

As previously announced, AFM’s programming will kick off on November 9 with two marquee one-on-one conversations: Mark Gill, President and CEO of Solstice Studios, will take the online stage to discuss his views and predictions of how independent film, the marketplace, and audience consumption will change in the near future with Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. The morning will continue with a dialogue with Elissa Federoff, President of Distribution for NEON, who will share her insights with Variety’s Brent Lang on the future of feature film distribution and exhibition.

View the schedule of sessions and speakers for AFM 2020 Online. For more information and registration, please visit americanfilmmarket.com.

About the American Film Market® (AFM®)
The AFM is the most efficient film acquisition, development and networking event in the world. More than US$1 billion in production and distribution deals are closed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production. Over five days in November, 7,000+ professionals from 70+ countries access the entire global catalogue of available films and projects, attend world class conferences, and connect with decision makers. The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance®.

(Source: Press release provided by Jennifer Garrick, VP, Communications, Independent Film & Television Alliance)

 

American Film Market 2020 ONLINE ANNOUNCES INITIAL FIVE-DAY PROGRAMMING LINEUP

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Conversations with Solstice Studios’ Mark Gill and NEON’s Elissa Federoff to Kick Off Market on November 9

80 Sessions to Feature Executives and Producers from BFI, Cinetic Media, Cornerstone Films, Facebook, Film4, Highland Film Group, IMAX, MadRiver International, Millennium Media, Symbolic Exchange, The Exchange, Troma Entertainment, XYZ Films, YouTube and More

Prominent Film Podcasts to Take the AFM Stage for the First Time

 

 

Los Angeles, CA – October 21, 2020 – The American Film Market (AFM®) today announced its initial speakers, topics, and programming calendar for AFM 2020 Online. Its 70+ sessions will take place over five days, November 9-13 alongside the AFM’s marketplace and screenings at AFM2020.online.

 

The AFM’s opening Conference – The Future of Filmwill launch with two marquee one-on-one conversations: Mark Gill, President and CEO of Solstice Studios, will take the online stage to discuss his views and predictions of how independent film, the marketplace, and audience consumption will change in the near future.  The morning will continue with a dialogue with Elissa Federoff, President of Distribution for NEON, who will share her insights on the future of feature film distribution and exhibition.

 

Gill just realized his goal of having the first new film in theatres since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown with Unhinged, the first film his company also financed. Federoff recently made history for her company with four Academy Award® wins for Parasite, which became the third highest grossing foreign language film ever released in the US.

 

This year’s lineup will take place wholly online and will bring 200 speakers to two stages for conferences, panels, conversations, workshops, podcasts and presentations. Covering timely topics and issues most relevant to global filmmakers and the independent industry at large, several sessions will center on how to move production and the business forward in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Highlights include:

 

  • Producing Without a Completion Bond featuring Jill Goldsmith, Co-Business Editor, Deadline, Brad Krevoy, CEO, Motion Picture Corporation of America, Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange, and John Sloss, Founder, Cinetic Media.

 

  • Pandemic Production Challenges & Solutions featuring Richard Botto, Founder & CEO, Stage 32, Chris Moore, Producer, Manchester by the Sea and Promised Land, Celine Rattray, Partner & Producer, Maven Pictures, and Jennifer Westin, SVP, Production, MarVista Entertainment.

 

  • Keep Calm and Carry On Filming presented in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI) featuring Adrian Wootton, OBE, Chief Executive, Film London and the British Film Commission, Anna Mansi, Head of Certification, British Film Institute, Julia Oh, Senior Commissioning Executive, Film4, and Alison Thompson, Co-President, Cornerstone Films.

 

  • Navigating Hollywood During COVID-19 : How To Find Success For Your Project During A Global Pandemic in partnership with the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) and featuring Jen Barrett, Head of Entertainment, Creative Shop Facebook, Megan Colligan, President, IMAX Entertainmentand EVP, IMAX Corp, Malik Ducard, VP of Content Partnerships, YouTube
    Mike Jackson, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Lifted Film Co., and Gil L. Robertson IV, Co-Founder, African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA).
  • What’s Working in the Pre-Sales Marketplace featuring Kimberly Fox, Partner & Head of International Sales, MadRiver International, Jeffrey Greenstein, President, Millennium Media, Inc., Jeremy Kay, Americas Editor, Screen International, and Nat McCormick, EVPWorldwide Distribution, The Exchange.

 

  • Low Budget Films with Huge Profit Potential featuring John Rhodes, Co-Founder, Screencraft, Nick Spicer, Partner, XYZ Films, and Zachary Tarica, CEO & Director, The Forest Road Co.

 

  • Working with Sales Agents featuring Tamara Birkemoe, President, Foresight Unlimited, Clay Epstein, President, Film Mode Entertainment, and Jordan Yale Levine, Producer, Yale Productions.

 

  • Global Sales and VOD presented in partnership with The Film Collaborative and featuring Wendy Bernfeld, Founder/CEO, Rights Stuff, Todd Olsson, President of International, Highland Film Group, Orly Ravid, Founder & Co-Executive Director, The Film Collaborative and Attorney,Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, and Gabrielle Rozing, General Manager, Fortissimo Films.

 

  • Deciphering Streaming Models & the Path to VOD Distribution featuring Audrey Delaney, SVP, Distribution & Worldwide Marketing, Blue Fox Entertainment, Bruce Eisen, President, Digital Advisors, Linda Nelson, CEO, Indie Rights, Lise Romanoff, CEO & Managing Director, Vision Films, and, James Schamus, CEO, Symbolic Exchange.

 

  • Navigating and Negotiating Intimacy on Set presented in partnership withSAG-AFTRA and featuring Amanda Blumenthal, Founder, Intimacy Professionals Association, Gabrielle Carteris, SAG-AFTRA President, Jim Kleverweis, Executive Producer, Euphoria, Insecure and Silicon Valley, Alicia Rodis, Executive Team, Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, and David White, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director.

 

  • Casting Global Talent: Who do Latinx Audiences Want to See? presented in partnership with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and featuring Aaron Ashford, Director of Development and Production, Pantelion Films, Liliana Espinoza, Projects Director, NALIP, and Carla Hool, Casting Director.

 

  • A Conversation with Lloyd Kaufman: Make Your Own Damn Movie in 60 Minutes or Less!

 

  • Facts Matter: Health & Science Accuracy Onscreen presented in partnership with USC Annenberg Hollywood, Health & Society and featuring its Program Director Kate Langrall Folb.

 

  • The Black List Can Change Everything About How You Find Future Projects with The Black List’s Franklin Leonard, Founder & CEO and Terry Huang, Director of Product and Data.

 

  • The Director / Producer Relationship featuring Shaked Berenson, CEO, Entertainment Squad, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Director / Actor, Culture Shock, The Purge (TV Series), Travis Stevens, Founder & CEO, Snowfort Pictures, and Lisa Whalen, Producer, Mandy, Color Out of Space.

 

For the first time, AFM will also spotlight five leading film industry podcasts with special episodes to take place on the AFM stages:

 

  • The Producer’s Guide: Founder of Broken Road Productions, Producer and host Todd Garner and WWE wrestler turned actor John Cenawill discuss Producing Comedy in Today’s Hollywood, A Serious Business.
  • Show Don’t Tell: Director and host Noam Kroll and screenwriter Bryan Hill to talk Screenwriting on a Micro-Budget.
  • The Filmmakers Podcast: Host Giles Alderson and producer/financier Ian Sharp on Making the Leap from Indie Films to Studio Features.
  • Indie Film Hustle: Host Alex Ferrari and producer Franco Sama on Raising Money in a COVID World & The Future of Film Distribution.
  • Film Riot: Host Ryan Connolly and writer/director Colin Levy to talk Directing a Blockbuster Film on an Indie Budget.

 

View the schedule of sessions and speakers for AFM 2020 Online. For more information and registration, please visit americanfilmmarket.com.

About the American Film Market® (AFM®)
The AFM is the most efficient film acquisition, development and networking event in the world. More than US$1 billion in production and distribution deals are closed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production. Over five days in November, 7,000+ professionals from 70+ countries access the entire global catalogue of available films and projects, attend world class conferences, and connect with decision makers. The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance®.

(Source: AFM Press Release)

Indie Contenders Inform and Entertain at AFI FEST 2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The AFI FEST sponsored by Audi Summit Indie Contenders took place on Sunday, November 17, 2019, inside the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom. Presented by The Hollywood Reporter, moderated and created by columnist and blogger Scott Feinberg, the annual panel featured a 90+ minute discussion with major talent from the AFI FEST 2019 lineup and recent releases, including Awkwafina, Jon Hamm, Florence Pugh, and Alfre Woodard.

AFI FEST Director, Michael Lumpkin welcomed the room with brief introductory remarks. Feinberg prepped the audience for the program and warmly introduced each panelist. While the panel focused on its members, a powerful undercurrent pulsed with each film’s potent messaging. Feinberg provided a monetary definition of an indie production of 22.5 million dollars.

Akwahfina
Actress Awkwafina, left, addresses the issues of being an American and working on films Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, with Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg at the AFI Summit, November 17, 2019, at the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom in Hollywood, Calif.. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

Each panelist discussed issuers related to working on an independent film and their importance in the age of the massive budgeted “Hollywood blockbuster” studio projects based on comic book narratives steeped with heavy doses of computer-generated imaging. Not surprisingly, the talent present represented some of the year’s most thought-provoking films of the year.

The film’s and talent on this year’s panel were Alfre Woodard (Clemency), Jon Hamm (The Report), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Sterling K. Brown (Waves), Jimmie Fails (Last Black Man in San Francisco), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Kerry Washington (American Son), and Florence Pugh (Fighting with Family, Midsommar).

AFI FEST 2019 sponsored by Audi continues through Thursday, November 21, 2019. See AFI.com for the festival’s full schedule and ticketing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SABAN FILMS BOARDS sci-fi thriller “BREACH” starring BRUCE WILLIS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

LOS ANGELES (November 10, 2019) – Saban Films announced today that they have acquired North American rights to John Suits’ (Pandemic, The Scribbler) Breach starring Golden Globe Award® winner Bruce Willis (Glass, Die Hard franchise).  The sci-fi thriller also stars Cody Kearsley (“Riverdale,” Power Rangers), Callan Mulvey (Avengers: Endgame, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Kassandra Clementi (“UnREAL,” “Home and Away”), Timothy V. Murphy (The Lone Ranger, “Snowpiercer”) and Corey Large (In Like Flynn, The Ninth Passenger).  Danny Roth produced under his Almost Never Films banner along with Corey Large and Edward Drake.

Breach follows a young stowaway (Kearsley) aboard an interstellar ark to New Earth. With the help of a seasoned crewmate (Willis), he must outwit a malevolent cosmic terror intent on using the spaceship as a weapon.  The film was shot in Fitzgerald, GA.  Executive producers are Danny H. Chan for Almost Never Films, Mike Donovan, Ryan Charles Griffin, Mary Aloe and Roger Dorman for Aloe Entertainment, Carlos Velazquez, Benjamin Krause, Stephen Eads, Johnny Messner, Edward Drake, and Elizabeth Zavoyskiy and Andrew Kotliar from MEP Capital, who are also financing.

Bill Bromiley
Bill Bromiley

Bill Bromiley said, “Bruce Willis leads a fantastic cast fighting to survive in this highly suspenseful, action-packed thriller that will keep audiences captivated.”

Bromiley also negotiated the deal for Saban Films along with Danny Roth on behalf of the filmmakers.  Screen Media is handling international rights at the upcoming AFM.

Saban Films continues to grow its presence in the industry, remaining active in the acquisition, production and distribution space. The company’s successes have run the gamut from critically acclaimed theatrical films such as The Homesman starring Hilary Swank, to two of the biggest Fathom events with horror icon and heavy metal mastermind Rob Zombie’s 31 in 2016 and 3 From Hell earlier this month, as well as Kevin Smith’s highly-anticipated Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the sequel to the 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which the company partnered on after coming on board at script stage.  Its upcoming slate includes Steven C. Miller’s Line of Duty; Will Forbes’ John Henry starring Terry Crews and Ludacris and executive produced by Matthew Antoun.

About Saban Films

Saban Films

Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company that acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America.  Focusing on commercial, talent-driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as President, Shanan Becker, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Vice President of Business Development.

(Source: Press release from Rachel Simmons | DDA Group)