If there’s only one movie you can see this year make itLa La Land. With an early limited release scheduled for December 9th in Los Angeles and New York followed up by a nation-wide roll-out, put on your seat belts for this emotional roller-coaster.
Brilliantly conceptualized from the Damien Chazelle team, La La Land tells the story of two young Los Angeleans, Mia and Sebastian seeking fulfillment through the entertainment industry. Mia is an aspiring actress and Sebastian is a classical jazz pianist who doesn’t believe in compromising his convictions for anyone or anything. Mia, on the other hand, can’t seem to finish an audition without being interrupted. It’s only when their paths cross and the stars align do these two traverse the path of fulfillment.
As performances go, Emma Stone as Mia delivers an all-encompassing performance delicately balancing the drama of her personal life with an expressiveness she’s honed over the last twelve years as an actress in Hollywood. Ryan Gosling as Sebastian delivers an understated performance that matches his character. Together, the two have made cinematic magic in the spirit and image of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.
La La Land is a film for the ages. Exceptional camera work, ardent choreography, exquisite production design, catchy, melodic musical score, strong direction and over-the-top performances catapult La La Land to the top of the year’s best films. La La Land is the stuff dreams are made of.
Interestingly, the film Charlie Victor Romeo, evolved from an award-winning play created in 1999 by Daniels, Berger and Gregory. The play captured two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Experience and Outstanding Sound Design and received recognition from Time Magazine in 2004 as Best Theatre Top Ten plays. The 1999 theatre version eventually was videotaped and the Smithsonian Aviation Museum reviewed it. Shortly thereafter, the aviation community picked it up and incorporated it into its repetoire of training tools for its pilots’ Crew Resource Management. After its 1999 opening at Collective:Unconscious in New York City, the played toured internationally and nationally until 2008.
The film version of Charlie Victor Romeo, is a collaborative effort between Collective:Unconscious and 3LD Art & Technology Center. The production was filmed at 3LD Art & Technology Center as part of its new 3LD/3D+ program, a cross-platform for distribution and production of experimental work and made its West Coast premiere on Saturday, November 9th, at the AFI Filmfest 2013. Following the second viewing at the Filmfest on November 11th, the cast of Patrick Daniels, Irving Gregory, Noel Dinneen, Sam Zuckerman, Debbie Troche and Nora Woolley hosted a Q & A. Producer Catarina Bartha was also in the house to support her cast.
Berger, when asked what was the motivation behind the project, conveyed that it wasn’t anything political that it was simply trying to make something of interest to an audience.
In its most basic sense, Charlie Victor Romeo, dramatizes the human intensity that surfaces during the distressed descents of six airline crashes culled from dialogs taken from the surviving black box transcripts. In introducing the affected flights overlay schematics display the failed mechanical parts of the air crafts.
The team of screenwriters, Berger, Daniels and Gregory, scoured the typed transcripts of scores of airline emergencies and crashes, finally settling on the six presented. The criteria used in choosing which emergencies to dramatize the team wanted scenarios with enough emotional intensity that they could perform the scenes dramatically. They also wanted situations that illuminated the aviation perspective. And, finally, they wanted material that allowed their performances to create a bridge for the audience between professional aviation and their art in portraying the human aspect of handling an aviation emergency while in inflight when things go horribly wrong. All the flights selected had issues due to mechanical failures.
Charlie Victor Romeo, creates a spell-binding, psychologically thrilling techno experience within a tension-filled cockpit as the flight crews provide testament to the ability to live life to the very last second while deftly providing insight into who the people are that we entrust our lives to during airline flights and what they do when things go horribly wrong. Furthermore, the conscious decision to use 3D technology enabled the troupe to help bring the reality of being in the cockpit directly to the audience consciousness during the catastrophic experience as the pilots fight to save their passengers and themselves from an impending disaster.
In my opinion, Charlie Victor Romeo, pushes boundaries proving stereoscopic lensing is no longer the exclusive d0main of the epic major studios productions. But more than that, Charlie Victor Romeo, takes real-life aviation emergencies and brings them into the mainstream consciousness in a very humanistic way. Recommended
‘Tower,’ About 1966, Before Mass Shootings Became Routine
By Manohla Dargis – The New York Times
The haunting documentary Tower revisits a 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin that shocked the country. It may be difficult to comprehend the reaction to the horror of Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student who shot more than a dozen dead, wounding more than twice as many. A cover story in Life magazine suggested just how alien the carnage seemed at the time, noting that during the rampage Whitman’s actions were “so outrageous, so hard to grasp, that people could not believe it.” Many more mass shootings later, it’s now tragically easy to believe.
You get a sense of just how brutal and absolutely foreign that violence must once have seemed in Tower. Directed by Keith Maitland, the movie is partly based on “96 Minutes,” an article by Pamela Colloff that ran in Texas Monthly in 2006, the 40th anniversary of the shooting. Most of the article was an oral history based on interviews that she skillfully pieced together for a mosaiclike remembrance. Mr. Maitland borrows this approach, drawing on first-person accounts, as well as archival and original sources. He’s also turned much of this material into walking, talking animations with the help of actors, an ingenious stroke that — at least at first — helps create some needed critical distance.
Whitman was one of the year’s big news stories alongside Vietnam. Time magazine put him on its cover, running a banner (“The Psychotic & Society”) across a photo of him — just another smiling guy in glasses — reading a newspaper, with a small dog at his side. In time, he was transformed into a popular culture touchstone in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, a 1968 thriller that drew on the incident; “The Ballad of Charles Whitman,” Kinky Friedman’s 1973 satirical song that frames the blood bath as an all-American story; and “The Deadly Tower,” a 1975 made-for-TV drama. By important contrast, Tower isn’t about Whitman; he isn’t its subject, star or selling point.
Tower also isn’t about why Whitman committed his atrocities or even how. There’s little information on him — his background, beliefs, history or health — in the documentary. His name is barely mentioned. He’s there throughout, though, represented as the unknown shooter in the frightened recordings of people phoning in reports; in police dispatch calls; in intermittent gunfire; and in the eerie puffs of gun smoke emanating from the university tower where he took position. He is a question mark, a lethal void whose immateriality makes an agonizing contrast to the men and women he shot, those who died as well as those who suffered and survived.
This shift in focus — from the perpetrator to the victims — doesn’t read as especially American or cinematic. (One of Hollywood’s most durable genres is the gangster movie, after all, not the victim picture.) And while there may be all sorts of sociopolitical and psychological explanations for why movies are so violent, it’s also just an easy way to keep people nervously waiting and watching. Mr. Maitland put in time as an assistant director on the TV series “Law & Order” and he understands how to narratively string out violence. The movie begins with Neal Spelce (Monty Muir), a journalist gutsily reporting from the scene while driving closer to it, an opener that creates instant tension.
The scene then shifts to Claire Wilson James (Violett Beane), a heavily pregnant freshman who is just finishing a coffee break with her boyfriend, Tom Eckman (Cole Bee Wilson). As they’re walking across campus, they are both hit. Claire goes down first, followed by Tom. They remain where they fall for an unbearably long time, creating a ghastly spectacle that becomes an emblematic tableau that Mr. Maitland returns to again and again, at times using news footage. He soon adds other victims and voices, including that of Aleck Hernandez Jr. (Aldo Ordoñez), a teenager on his paper route riding past the campus, his cousin perched on his bike.
The expressive animation was done via rotoscoping, a technique that involves tracing moving images by hand (as in Disney’s Snow White) or through software (as in Richard Linklater’s Waking Life). The results in Tower are extremely liquid, with each line incessantly ebbing and flowing, creating a vivid sense of life. The animation gives Mr. Maitland a lot of creative freedom, allowing him to take Expressionistic leaps. When Ms. James and Mr. Eckman are shot, their bodies briefly transform into wrenching, twisting white silhouettes while the backdrop becomes a blast of bright red. You are spared the blood, even as the horror creeps in and then floods you.
In her article, Ms. Colloff noted that, surprisingly, perhaps, outside of some bullet holes, there were no physical reminders of the shooting at the University of Texas until 1999, when the school created a memorial garden. “No plaques had ever been displayed, no list of names read, no memorial services held,” she wrote. In 2007, the school finally installed a plaque observing the shooting, and this Aug. 1, the 50th anniversary, it dedicated a new memorial. Using a limited frame, Mr. Maitland does his own commemorating, inherently raising questions about terror, the nature of heroism and what it means to really survive. He also does something even more necessary: He turns names on a plaque into people.
Production wraps, post-production is completed, and a film finally plays to the public… a moviemaker’s proudest moments. In between these peaks, though, is the long slog of material delivery.
As unsexy as that process seems, you won’t get to that big premiere (whether at a festival, in a theater, or on a VOD platform) without an understanding of deliverables. So what exactly do you need to show for your labor? At indie distributor FilmBuff, we’ve put together an easy list.
Delivering Your Film
Apple ProRes 422 HQ
The ProRes HQ file is your master source file, used for delivery across all platforms. In order to keep things moving seamlessly, you’ll need to provide delivery in the film’s native frame rate and resolution. The most frequent reason for rejection is when audio is delivered in mono instead of the preferred stereo format.
If you have created your own DVD or Blu-ray for public sale, most platforms and encoding houses will view the file as the best available source for the film. Platforms are always looking for the highest-quality file, and if the distributor has this on hand, it expedites the quality control (QC) process.
Closed captioning has become mandatory for VOD platforms. Distributors can help you create this file, but creating one beforehand helps move things forward more efficiently.
Subtitles are not required for all films, but are always helpful to have on hand. The more languages, the more territories a distributor can access. To save costs, many filmmakers try to crowdsource subtitling, but be careful—subtitles created in this way often fail QC due to formatting issues.
Having a timecoded transcript for your film saves time in creating subtitles and captioning, decreases costs, and protects against errors. International broadcasters require a transcript prior to a film’s debut. This is time well spent upfront, because it will expedite foreign sales.
Music Cue Sheet
Many common platforms require a list of all songs featured in the film and the relevant data surrounding these tracks (duration, composer, title and in-and-out cues). This is important specifically for subscription platforms such as Netflix.
Music License Materials
Music licensing should not be an afterthought—your film cannot be exhibited anywhere without the necessary clearances accounted for in writing. Festival licensing differs substantially from the process required for a full public exhibition, and there may be cost increases for music rights after a festival debut. Sometimes filmmakers have to swap out tracks after a festival run to avoid these additional costs.
Details, details, details! Metadata consists of a list of cast and crew, a synopsis, a logline—basically, all of the other items you might see on an IMDb page. Metadata submission can be one of the more tedious chores of the delivery process, but don’t mess up here. Pay attention to the spelling of names, the ordering of the cast and crew, and how you describe the film in the synopsis. At FilmBuff, moviemakers enter metadata through their online dashboard; afterwards, we review the submitted information and optimize it for distribution.
Marketing Your Film
Trailer (Apple ProRes 422 HQ)
A trailer is the one click that stands between someone buying your film or clicking over to a new title. They can range from 30 seconds to three minutes in length, though at FilmBuff, we prefer something around 90 seconds. Good distributors work closely with moviemakers on the creative direction of their trailers—FilmBuff does not release trailers that aren’t approved by the moviemaker. We may even create multiple versions and lengths in order to maximize audience appeal.
While theatrical posters often feature festival laurels, billing blocks, review quotes and taglines, VOD platforms require “clean” poster art. When delivering to a distributor, make sure you send layered Photoshop or InDesign files in order to meet each platform’s specifications.
Having “extras” to pair with your film maximizes all marketing and public relations efforts. The more creative your materials, the better. Here are some common examples:
Besides the aforementioned extra content, it helps to have select clips from the film to use as exclusives in the press prior to launch.
A standard press kit includes the current poster, a synopsis of the film, cast and crew information, and production stills and/or publicity photos. While this list is the standard, include any assets you think might be useful as marketing tools.
You’re probably raring to go on your next project and procrastinating on the nitty-gritty of poster resolutions and subtitle formats. But hang in there—these are some of the last steps to take before your film gets the send-off it deserves. MM
(Source: This article appeared in MovieMaker‘s 2016 Complete Guide to Making Movies.)
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has found a new home: the historic Riviera Theatre. The Riviera Theatre will allow SBIFF to expand their current slate of education programs, preserve an important historic landmark, and create a cultural hub for all things film.
The decision to make the Riviera the new home was unanimously approved by SBIFF’s Board of Directors in March 2016. The lease was negotiated by SBIFF Board president Mark Scher and board members Bob Brada and Eric Phillips, Jeff Barbakow with Michael Towbes and the Towbes Group, coinciding with the Group’s 60th anniversary.
“As we enter our 32nd year, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has cemented itself as a part of our great city’s history” stated Mark Scher, President of SBIFF and owner of the Scher Investment Group. “We believe a long-term home at the Riviera Theatre is a pivotal point in the evolution of SBIFF and will allow us the opportunity to greatly expand our programming and bring a real cultural center for film to the Santa Barbara Community. I couldn’t be more thrilled for SBIFF and the City of Santa Barbara.”
At the heart of SBIFF’s mission is education, and through its programs its staff is able to seek to engage, enrich, and inspire people through film. The Riviera as the new home will allow for expansion in the current programs and the ability to implement new ones, and to ultimately better serve the Santa Barbara community on a year-round basis.
The new theater allows service to more underserved youth and families through programs such as AppleBox Family Films and Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies. Other programs will continue at the Riviera Theatre, including three year-round programs: Cinema Society (an exclusive membership program), the Rosebud Program for Film Students (a program for local college students), and the Wave Film Festival (the mini film festival which will be increased to three times per year). The Showcase, which features innovative independent films, will move to the Riviera from its current location Plaza de Oro.
Renovations will transform the Riviera into a state of the art movie theater, and a cultural hub for all things film. The renovations will include new seats, acoustical upgrades, improved ventilation, structural fixes, enhanced lighting, a new screen and projection system, and a state of the art sound system.
“We are very excited to provide this new home for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Riviera Theatre”, stated Michael Towbes, Chairman of The Towbes Group. “Over the years we have brought the Riviera campus to an entirely new quality level. The historic significance of the campus, dating back to its locating on the Riviera in 1913, makes it a very special place for me and the Santa Barbara community. The upgrades which SBIFF plans to make to the theatre will complete the campus improvements which we began some 40 years ago. They will greatly enhance the audience experience and honor the legacy of the building.”
SBIFF will continue to provide quality, year-round arts education, provide access to independent and international cinema, and celebrate, nurture, and promote the art of storytelling, as well as the storytellers themselves. Its programs will continue to evoke inspiration and creativity, and will stimulate civic discourse, engagement and exploration.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.
About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. SBIFF offers 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums that transforms beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, CA into a rich destination for film lovers which attract more than 90,000 attendees.
SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community through free programs like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars. In recent years SBIFF has expanded its year round presence with regular screenings and Q&As with programs like Cinema Society, The Showcase and its Wave Film Festivals.
(Source: Press Release provided by Jackson Gibbon, Sunshine Sachs)