Archive for August, 2009

GAZE Winners

27th August 2009

The Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, GAZE, has announced the winners of its festival prizes:

Best Film: Grey Gardens written by Michael Sucsy and Patricia Rozema, based on a story by Michael Sucsy, and directed for HBO by Michael Sucsy.

Best Documentary: Identities, written and directed by Vittoria Colonna Di Stigliano.

Sheridan gets Pecked

27th August 2009

Irish writer, director and producer Jim Sheridan has been named the recipient of this year’s Gregory Peck Award, an honour that is bestowed by the Dingle Film Festival in recognition of Excellence in the Art of Film.

The Gregory Peck Award will be presented to Sheridan by Anthony Peck, Gregory Peck’s son, at the ceremony in The Phoenix Cinema, Dingle on Friday 11th September at 8pm.

C4 Looking for New Drama

27th August 2009

The Stage reports that the upside of Channel 4’s decision to axe the reality TV show Big Brother is that the broadcaster is going to inject an extra £20 million a year into its drama budget.

Director of television and content at Channel 4, Kevin Lygo, said the extra funds in the drama budget would allow the broadcaster to deliver more “event dramas” such as this year’s Red Riding and The Devil’s Whore, but added Channel 4 would be looking for “more quirky, returnable series aimed at younger audiences”.

In addition, he revealed that Channel 4 was looking for a long-running comedy drama and single films that can sit “at the heart” of themed seasons.

“Channel 4 is at its best when it does things that others don’t or won’t. This is a fresh opportunity to reach out to audiences underserved by drama on the more mainstream channels. We don’t want to be prescriptive about themes or formats. We just want the most creative ideas from Britain’s best new and established drama talent,” Lygo said.

New Film Strategies Needed

26th August 2009

The Washington Post has a long article analysing the current trends in the American box office, and what effect this might have on the production of new films in the coming years.

Two kinds of films are doing well: big budget blockbusters with visual impact (and often little else), and the low-budget indie film. One is making money by satisfying the desire in moviegoers for the visual spectacle, and the other is earning because of its low outlay.

The middle-range, well-made film with strong performances is suffering. One distributor in the USA is releasing such films in the theatres, and on its cable company simultaneously, so it can capitalise on the buzz of the film’s launch and yet reach those viewers who don’t want to leave their couches.

The usual Hollywood strategy of paying $20 million for a prominent actor and expecting that to translate into box office sales for a film is no longer working.

The marketing of the film is being deemed as critical:

Hollywood Reporter writer Carl DiOrio, who in April wrote about the struggles of adult-oriented dramas, says it all comes down to one thing: marketing. “It’s less about whether there will be actual motion pictures and more about whether they’re concepts that are easily marketed,” he says. “You need to let the viewer understand what their moviegoing experience is going to be like in a very simple TV message, and that’s not easily done unless you have something that can be boiled down to a [one-sentence synopsis]. And the [typical] modestly budgeted adult-oriented drama of the character-driven variety doesn’t really lend itself to a convenient marketing hook.”

(Last winter’s “Taken” and the current “Julie & Julia,” both adult-aimed movies that have done well, exemplify DiOrio’s point. One is a fast-moving action thriller about a retired CIA agent who must rescue his abducted daughter. The other features a beloved actress playing an equally beloved American icon, in a story set in romantic postwar France and full of delicious shots of food and cooking. What’s not to like?)

Bickford echoes DiOrio’s observation. “As long as you can figure out a way to market these movies without spending your entire profit, they’ll be made,” she says.

“The last 18 months have been just devastating,” she continues. “But in terms of audiences for these movies, they’re there. Look at how many people want to see Meryl Streep play Julia Child.”

YouTube Addresses Copyright

26th August 2009

Wired has an interesting article on how the issue of copyright infringement on YouTube is being tackled.

Its ContentID program was initially designed to discover and delete copyrighted material from YouTube. Now, it can also compensate artists whose work is being infringed:

YouTube’s database of audio and video fingerprints is learning how to deal with the fact that the guy who added a saxophone part to a particular song deserves a certain minute percentage of revenue when the song appears in your YouTube video. When you upload a video with someone else’s song as the soundtrack, you infringe on two exclusive rights of the copyright holder: the right to to distribute the work and the right to synchronize it to video. Nobody cares.

YouTube’s database pays the saxophonist (and everyone else with a stake in the song) a percentage of ad revenue, depending on the way their contracts worked out. This explains why the JK Wedding Dance video was able to feature Chris Brown’s “Forever” without permission, without being taken down.

That said, you can’t please everyone. Warner Music Group thinks YouTube’s revenue-sharing deal is too paltry and refuses to participate. The label also has a problem with guitar-themed videogames and a longstanding quarrel with YouTube.

But Warner’s in the minority here. Other major (and independent) labels have embraced YouTube’s partner program, so that in many cases, you can put entire copyrighted songs in your videos and upload them to YouTube. Just one caveat: If it becomes a hit – as the folks behind the JK Wedding Video found out – the rights-holders of the music will get paid while you, most likely, will not.