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Five Questions for Miss Stevens Writer/Director Julia Hart

Miss Stevens Miss Stevens

We’ve seen our fair share of films about teacher-student relationships, but they tend to fall into either the titillating or inspirational categories. Miss Stevens is neither. It’s a quiet drama which is powerful in its subtlety. The plot itself is understated, but the execution is surprisingly compelling. The set-up involves Rachel Stevens (Lily Rabe), a lonely high school teacher who reluctantly chaperones three teens – including the troubled and charismatic Billy (Timothee Chalamet) – to a drama competition. In her directorial debut, Julia Hart, who co-wrote the film with her husband Jordan Horowitz, exhibits an aptitude for working with actors. Rabe won the Best Actress Prize for Narrative Feature at SXSW earlier this year, and Chalemet excels as Billy. Hart wrote the critically acclaimed civil war…  Read more

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We Tell Ourselves Franchises in Order to Live

Blair Witch Blair Witch

Last weekend I took a trip to the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 and paid seventeen bucks to see Blair Witch. Based on the reviews, I was pretty certain that I wasn’t going to like it very much (spoiler alert: I was right). But still I felt compelled to hop the Q train and head into Manhattan to meet my friend at the multiplex. What brought me out there? Maybe it was the changing weather and its subliminal indication of Halloween’s approach. Maybe it was the faint hope that director Adam Wingard — whose previous work I’ve really dug — would elevate what otherwise reeked of a requisite studio cash-in. Or, hey, maybe it was the titular witch herself, possessing me to the…  Read more

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My First Film Shoot: A Lesson in Documentary Filmmaking and Flexibility

Sole Doctor Sole Doctor

If you need any motivation to begin production on your first-ever documentary, here’s a tip: tell thousands of people you’re making a documentary. That’s what I did when I shared the news on Filmmaker and Facebook that I was going to make my first film, a short documentary, tentatively titled Sole Doctor. Of course, I loved the enthusiastic response. But hearing, “Can’t wait to see it!” from more than 100 people sure ratchets up the pressure to deliver. With my subject nailed down and a DP and sound mixer onboard, it was time to begin production. For the first shooting day, I decided to film the domino game that my film’s subject, George, hosts two nights a week in his small shoe…  Read more

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Episodic Series Bring an Innovative Spirit to IFP Film Week

new-innovators-3

Filmmakers, industry and IFP staff are breathing an accomplished sigh of relief today as IFP Film Week came to a close last night. The bulk of the week was centered around meetings between filmmakers and industry with IFP playing matchmaker. As Deputy Director of IFP Amy Dotson said, “It’s a first date.” I’d been on a lot of first dates, and recently rode one all the way to an actual wedding. So I felt prepared. Throughout the week filmmakers were given a chance to pitch their project to potential financiers, production partners, networks, agents and film festivals. Some filmmakers returned with more developed projects from previous years, while others came with ideas just taking shape as a feature film or…  Read more

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“DUMBO is the Best Thing to Happen to Film Week”: Reinaldo Marcus Green Wraps it Up

Meetings at IFP Film Week (Photo: James Autery)

As IFP’s Independent Film Week has officially come to an end, I’m reminded again of how amazing it is to do what I do, with the people I get to do it with. With the close of this year’s program, this marks my first “hat trick” — three years in a row! Five years ago I was sitting behind a desk, staring at a blank Excel spreadsheet, working for an insurance giant. Fast-forward five years, I’ve graduated film school, became a husband, father and a filmmaker. And in the last 72 hours, I just had more than two dozen meetings with the very best people the independent film industry has to offer. At the beginning of the week, I likened…  Read more

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Five Questions for Closet Monster Writer/Director Stephen Dunn

Closet Monster Closet Monster

A surreal and entirely original coming-of-age tale, Closet Monster tells the story of Oscar, a gay, cinephilic high school senior who has been grappling with the implications of his parents’ divorce — and a witnessed act of gay bashing — by, among other things, conversing with his “spirit animal”: Buffy, a pet hamster voiced by Isabella Rossellini. The feature debut of Canadian writer/director Stephen Dunn, the film has drawn comparisons to the work of countrymen David Cronenberg and Xavier Dolan, but it pulses to its own unexpectedly sincere wavelength. Below, we asked Dunn about that Cronenberg connection, star Connor Jessup (one of Filmmaker‘s 2016 25 New Faces), and the impact today of ’80s New Queer Cinema. Closet Monster opens today…  Read more

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My IFP Film Week Experience, Part 2: The Pitch Perfect(ed)

Film Fatales Happy Hour at the IFP Film Week on Sept. 19, 2016 Film Fatales Happy Hour at the IFP Film Week on Sept. 19, 2016

Read Part One of Isabel Sandoval’s IFP Film Week Diary, “The Female Gaze, Anyone?”, here. Forget Project Greenlight. If anyone wants to do a reality series based on the No Borders pitch meetings, it would be a more grizzled Swingers meets The Hunger Games — but with lookbooks subbing for bows and arrows. The thing is, I’m sure somebody actually used that logline for their own project. The proceedings have a jovially survivalist element to them. While my No Borders project Lingua Franca is my third feature, it’s my first U.S. production so Film Week doubles as Indie Film Financing 101 to me. My modus operandi: be zen going into a meeting but don’t go in blind. Googling the company…  Read more

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2016 Camden International Film Festival and Points North Winners Announced

Cameraperson Cameraperson

Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced the winners of the 2016 Festival, which ran from September 15-18 in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine. For the second year, Conservation Media Group partnered with the Points North Institute to select projects from filmmakers and organizations alike that use video to create measurable action in ocean conservation or sustainable energy. 2016 CMG Action Grant finalists included: Alex Finn’s Whale Heritage Sites, Jeff Talbot’s Protect the Great Bear Sea, and Doug Woodring’s Global Alert – Floating Trash.  This year’s $10,000 CMG Action Grant cash prize was awarded to Whale Heritage Sites. The 2016 class of Points North Fellows included Sofie Benoot, Isabelle Tollenaere and Liesbeth De Ceulaer’s Printed Circuit,  Bridget Besaw and Ben Severance’s The Mountain…  Read more

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Filmmaking

Jack Waters in Jason and Shirley Jack Waters in Jason and Shirley

It’s Not Always About the Money

There’s been a great deal of talk recently in our film community about the concept of sustainability. There hasn’t, however, been a great deal of precision. Take the word itself — “sustainable.” It’s most often defined by its absence. But by the time we ask, “What is…  Read more

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Jul 25, 2016

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Closet Monster Closet Monster

Five Questions for Closet Monster Writer/Director Stephen Dunn

A surreal and entirely original coming-of-age tale, Closet Monster tells the story of Oscar, a gay, cinephilic high school senior who has been grappling with the implications of his parents’ divorce — and a witnessed act of gay bashing — by, among other things, conversing…  Read more

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on Sep 23, 2016

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