Archive for September, 2007

The Rise of Online Content

28th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The LA Times has a very interesting article about now Hollywood studios are branching into creating online content, and establishing small digital houses to write and create this work. The web content is not being completed with writers, cast, or crew that are being paid Union rates, so this is causing tension between the studios and the Unions in the USA.

“The more it looks like television is migrating to the Internet, the more important it is for us to ensure that writers are covered under a writers guild contract,” said Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. “We certainly don’t want to get left behind the way we were with cable television, reality TV and animation.”

Network executives are loath to further inflame the issue by discussing it publicly. Privately, however, several studio and network executives said they were not trying to circumvent the unions but instead attempting to adapt to a changing landscape in which entertainment plays out on multiple screens.

Many likened their situation to being in a vise grip, squeezed on one side by advertisers and fans demanding more online entertainment while pressured on the other side by guild officials who insist that ground rules be established first.

“It’s something that our viewers are demanding,” said one television executive, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. “We are doing a disservice to them by not providing it. We are going to provide it to them one way or the other.”

90-second Drama

27th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The first of four 90-second dramas, collectively called Limelight, written by Irish playwrights Hugh Leonard, Patrick McCabe, Frank McGuinness and Tom Murphy, will air tonight on RTÉ One after the 9pm news.

The plays were directed by Shimmy Marcus, produced by David Blake Knox of Blueprint Pictures, and were shot on location in Dublin’s Gaiety and Gate theatres. The series is a promotion for the 50th Dublin Theatre Festival, which opens today.

Radio Nominations Open

26th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The Guild Awards Committee has decided that the volume of nominations for the ZeBBie for best radio script is not large enough to make a definitive shortlist. Accordingly the date for receipt of nominations has been extended to 5.00pm on Monday 1st October.

If you have not made a nomination for best radio script you are invited to do so now. Please examine the list on the Guild web site and make your choice.

The shortlist for the ZeBBies will be announced on Monday 8th October and will be available for reading and voting.

Tickets for the awards ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday November 6th, will be available from the week of Monday, 8th October.

Venezuelan Films

26th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The Associated Press reports that last year President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela established a state-run film studio, called Cinema Villa, to create a new era of local cinema.

The first film is about a controversial subject: Luis Posada Carriles, the former CIA operative who allegedly masterminded a jetliner bombing and attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro. The director, Eduardo Barberena, claims he did not get any pressure from the Chavaz government to tell the story in a particular way.

Barberena, who has mostly made TV commercials, sees Cinema Villa as a chance for Venezuela to expand a tiny movie industry — which has made only a few internationally known movies, such as “El Pez que Fuma” (The Smoking Fish) in 1977 and “Secuestro Express” (Express Kidnapping) in 2005.

Three dozen feature films, documentaries and TV programs are now in production at the center, according to Culture Minister Francisco Sesto. They include “Imagining Revolution,” about the development of Chavez’s socialist movement, and “Venezuela Petroleum Company,” about corporate exploitation.

The new film center is both financed and controlled by the government, similar to how Cuba runs its Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. Scripts are selected by a committee that includes Venezuela’s culture minister, who reports directly to Chavez.

This initiative by Chavaz is drawing fire for being propagandist from some quarters who suspect that the art will come second to the message. The audience will have its chance to judge once the films are released.

Miranda gets Frank

25th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The Guardian reports that American writer, playwright, performance artist, and film-maker Miranda July won the 2007 Frank O’Connor award this weekend for her collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You.

Miranda wins €35,000, and the accolades of the jury.

The chairman of the judges, Pat Cotter, who had earlier defended the shortlist as a demonstration of the judges’ independence, hailed Miranda July as a worthy winner.

“The award has been won by a book of original genius,” he said, “a book which we believe will endure for a long time.”

Perhaps, as the daughter of two Californian writers, it was only a matter of time before July turned her talents to fiction. Born in 1974, she began working as a playwright, adding music and video to create a style of multimedia performance she describes as “live movie”. Her first feature-length film, the quirky romance Me and You and Everyone We Know, won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Caméra d’Or.

No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection full of a similar type of fantasy, but underpinned with a new toughness, an awareness of the real world that underlies the characters’ rich inner lives.