Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Trans(media)ition: the Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival

After ten years of being the scrappy little guy to the Seattle International Film Festival’s big kahuna, the Seattle True Independent Film Festival has run its course — which is exactly why I decided to visit the tech-addicted city (as a guest of the fest) to check out the outgoing underdog. Rather than pluck along as second fiddle for another 10 years, STIFF has done what I wish more regional festivals would do: rebrand for the future. As of this year STIFF now stands for the Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival, putting the focus squarely on “web series, video game concepts, storytelling apps for mobile phone and tablet, and social media narratives.”

Filmmaker spoke with festival director Tim Vernor throughout the festival, then continued the conversation with the savvy Seattle native post-fest.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Don’t Mess with the Missionary Man: Machine Gun Preacher Sam Childers

I recently attended the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida, where I served on the documentary grand jury as well as a panel discussion about filmmakers and the press. In the Filmmaker Lounge post-panel, I was surprised to meet the subject of one of the docs I’d watched. Kevin Evans’ Machine Gun Preacher tells the unbelievable tale of Sam Childers, outlaw biker turned rescuer of African children, fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army with a Bible in his hand. (If this stranger than fiction story sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw Gerard Butler play Childers in the 2011 Hollywood version of the same name.)

Even odder was Childers’ unabashed openness with a journalist he’d just met and his willingness to flit between diverse subjects: his steadfast belief in Obama’s ties to the loathsome leader of northern Sudan, whether Erik Prince of Blackwater was giving mercenaries a bad name, the reason he was at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in the first place. Because I found myself with more questions than time, I decided to follow up with Childers ASAP, before he was off on his next African mission and out of touch with the first world.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kentucker Audley, the Richmond International Film Festival and A Checklist for Avoiding Bad Publicity

I don’t know Kentucker Audley, but I can’t stop thinking about his tongue-in-cheek call for mediocre filmmakers to pledge to stop making films so that in a crowded environment the truly talented can shine. Recently I’ve been wondering if his petition should be expanded to film festivals as well, many of which are erstwhile enablers of said mediocrity. As a whip-smart producer friend of mine once told me, “The world needs another film festival like it needs another strip mall.”
Which brings me to the event that started this whole thought process.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stanley Kubrick’s Producer Jan Harlan on His Life in Film

If, like me, you’re a hardcore film geek who ranks Stanley Kubrick as your favorite director of all time, then Jan Harlan needs no introduction. At least that’s what I thought when I met Kubrick’s longtime producer (beginning with A Clockwork Orange — or rather the never-made Napoleon – right through to Eyes Wide Shut) this year at the Bermuda International Film Festival, where I’m on the international advisory board. Harlan was also Kubrick’s brother-in-law: his older sister Christiane was the director’s wife.

It was a simple twist of fate that I found myself filling in as a last-minute replacement on the Harlan-headed jury. (BIFF is Academy Award accredited for Live Action Short, with the winning short becoming eligible for Oscar consideration.) As I grew to adore Kubrick’s right-hand man over five days of film-going, partying (the quick-witted septuagenarian still has the energy and exuberance of a teenager) and exchanging ideas about moving pictures and more, I soon came to a startling conclusion: Stanley Kubrick is perhaps the least interesting thing about this classy and endearing gentleman of the cinema.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wish Granter Tamika Lamison on the Make A Film Foundation

In late February I attended the Richmond International Film Festival, where I met Tamika Lamison, the extraordinary founder and executive director of the L.A.-based Make A Film Foundation, which lets children with serious or life-threatening medical conditions live out their filmmaking dreams. She was there with the MAFF film The Magic Bracelet, a Diablo Cody-adapted short originally penned by 15-year-old Rina Goldberg, who died of mitochondrial disease in 2010. I decided to find out more post-fest about the idea to pair veteran altruistic filmmakers with young aspiring filmmakers in need. I spoke with Lamison right before the short’s next stop at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, which was attended by both myself — doing doc grand jury duty — and Rina’s dedicated mom Stacy, who’s present at every screening of her daughter’s fest-trotting film.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.