DAILY NEWS: Cannes Financing Panel; Lake Placid Forum
by Anthony Kaufman and Andrea Meyer/indieWIRE
>> Film Financing in a Global Market, It's Not that Tough
(indieWIRE/05.18.00) - Stuffed in the hot, humid Variety tent on Monday
afternoon, a packed house, including actress Faye Dunaway, attended the
IFP's Film Financing Conference which included many noted players in the
production and distribution biz. Moderated by Pamela Koffler (of Killer
Films), the panel touched on the challenges of making films in today's
global marketplace with a mostly optimistic look.
Commenting on international pre-sales, USA Films' Russell Schwartz
commented, "We've found that it's not just the big action movies or genre
exploitation films driving those deals, but it's really films of all kinds,
coupled with the right industry commitment from the North American side."
Chris Sievernich, of Kinowelt USA, Inc. (executive producer of "Where the Money Is," and "The Crow: Salvation") added, "I believe the market is not
contracting. It's expanding. There's an enormous demand for anything that's
really good and even more demand for something that's exceptional."
Rick Sands, Miramax's Chairman of Worldwide Distribution, was a bit more realistic about the current state of the worldwide market and the chance of American independents to capitalize on foreign opportunities. "It's very strong and
it's always difficult," he said. "There's no one type of movie that the
marketplace wants anymore. Italy is the most star-driven territory, Japan
loves action and loves to cry. And you have independent films that don't
fall into the genres and you have to figure out how to sell it." Sands said
that many Amer-indies are competing for funding with an increasing number of
home-grown films in foreign territories. "So that's another slot gone for
American independent movies. But again, there's a bright side," he said.
"It's like PacMan, there's a constant need to replenish the shelf. There's a
never-ending appetite for product." Sands went on to explain that foreign
countries are building more screens and adding more months to their
distribution calendar, from 9 to 12. Still, he closed his remarks with:
"It's a great time to be an independent, but it's a tough game."
"It's not that tough," retorted IFC Productions' Jonathan Sehring, citing
the proliferation of cable channels like the UK's new broadcaster Film Four
which produces and purchases films. Also, the addition of shooting digital,
according to Sehring, makes film financing an easier game to play in the
21st century. "It really allows filmmakers as well as actors and producers
to experiment and try things that they really couldn't do otherwise, because
every penny matters, and in terms of shooting a film for 2 million dollars
verses on digital for 150,000, it's amazing," he said. "And it's amazing the
quality of the films that comes out. And when they're blown up theatrically,
I defy anyone right now to tell the difference [between DV and film]."
>> Organizers Announce Plans for First Lake Placid Film Forum
(indieWIRE/5.18.00) -- The First Annual Lake Placid Film Forum is kicking
off June 8-11, 2000. The Film Forum is being organized by novelist Russell
Banks, film critic Kathleen Carroll, and artist Naj Wikoff, all of whom will be joined by writers, directors, actors, producers and film fans for four
days of screenings, readings, panels, and workshops. "Forum 2000 has two
areas of concentration," says Executive Director Naj Wikoff. "The first is
the controversial issue of the screenwriter's role versus the director's in
the making of films. The second is the impact of the emerging digital
technologies on film writing, production and distribution. This discussion
takes place within the context of seeing a lot of movies - new feature
films, shorts, documentaries, and films presented using digital technology."
The impressive list of participants flocking to the small Adirondack town,
mainly from the East Coast and abroad, include New York City-based
writer/director Paul Schrader, film company executives Michael Barker, Lynn Holst and Eamon Bowles, film critic David Sterritt, Canadian author Michael Ondaatje, Irish director Terry George, Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven, and indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez.
Kathleen Carroll, head film critic for the New York Daily News for twenty
years, was responsible for selecting the films screened. Opening night
festivities feature Jim McKay's "Our Song," and Dan McCormack's "Other Voices." Closing Night features the silent film classic, "The Scarlet
Letter," written by one of Hollywood's first female success stories,
two-time Academy Award-winner Frances Marion. The film will be accompanied by live music performed on the Palace Theatre's historic organ.
Other films include the world premiere of "Red Letters," starring Peter
Coyote and Nastassja Kinski, with screenwriter Tom Hughes, a resident of the area, in attendance, Anna Deavere Smith's "Twilight: Los Angeles," David Gordon Green's "George Washington," Nigel Cole's Sundance 2000 favorite,
"Saving Grace;" Zhang Yang's "Shower," Jenniphr Goodman's "The Tao of Steve," Laurie Collyer's documentary "Nuyorican Dream," Spanish director
Manuel Rivas's "Butterfly's Tongue," Eugene Martin's "Diary of a City
Priest," Ruth Sergel's short film, "Cusp," the Coen Brothers' classic
"Blood Simple," Gale Mayron's digital feature, "Bad Bride," and William
Greaves' 1968 landmark,"Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One."
A wide variety of panel discussions includes "Storytelling Digitally:
Challenges and Opportunities," moderated by indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez.
One of the forum's highlights is a gala Tribute to filmmaker Milos Forman
(One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt) on Saturday night. The Forum will also screen a selection of Forman's work,
including the early Czech film "Loves of a Blond" and his most recent, "Man on
the Moon." [Andrea Meyer]
For tickets and further information please contact the Lake Placid Film
Forum at PO Box 489, Lake Placid, NY 12946, (518) 523-3456, or the web site: