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November 1, 2000 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: itemus Buys Shooting Gallery; "Boring" Film Fest; Denver Winners; Int'l Indie

DAILY NEWS: itemus Buys Shooting Gallery; "Boring" Film Fest; Denver Winners; Int'l Indie



by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Jeffrey M. Barker/indieWIRE

>>Meistrich Details Shooting Gallery/itemus Deal; Announcement Includes Spin-Off of "Content" Company


(indieWIRE/11.1.00) -- Making the distinction between its "service"
activities and its "content" activities, Shooting Gallery announced
yesterday that Canadian dotcom, itemus Inc., will acquire the company in a
$56 million deal that gives itemus 80% of the enterprise. At the same time,
Shooting Gallery will spin-off its film, TV and music development and
distribution businesses (the content side), under the brand name Shooting
Gallery Entertainment -- an entirely seperate company. The entertainment
organization will keep its private ownership, but will strike a client
relationship with the new Shooting Gallery subsidiary of itemus (the service side).


Larry Meistrich, who will serve as Chairman of the entertainment company and
also CEO of the new itemus-owned "service" business, told indieWIRE
yesterday that Shooting Gallery Entertainment will farm out all its
"execution" to Shooting Gallery, including its trailers, posters, creative
design, interactive work, physical production, and post production.


"We are absolutely still committed to the film and TV business," Meistrich
told indieWIRE, including the popular Shooting Gallery Film Series which has
the go ahead for at least the next two and a half years.


"Shooting Gallery brings to itemus an exceptional management team, strong
revenues, creative excellence and a blue-chip client roster," commented
itemus President Jim Tobin in a prepared statement. "This accelerates
itemus' growth into a unique [company], ready to play in the new broadband,
wireless and secure-transaction [e-commerce] Internet with leading-edge
solutions capabilities."


Explaining that Shooting Gallery has always been a hybrid company with both
a service outfit (including the well-known Gun For Hire production division)
and a production & distribution side that creates and releases
entertainment, Meistrich indicated that the announcement will grow the
service side with solid management and an infusion of cash, while offering a
number of solutions for the entertainment side. "One of the reasons we did
the deal is that we felt that we were unique in our space and they seem to
be the same," Meistrich explained.


On the service side Meistrich touted what he said would be a solid interactive
division, now partnered with a company that can add a number of software
solutions to the mix. For the future, the service company is in search of
clients for which it can offer its expanded suite of production, design and
software services, while on the content side, they are hoping to, in Meistrich's
words, "get a studio film under their belt" and at the same time expanding
their music division. [Eugene Hernandez]



>>New Venue and Generic Revisit Lumiere With PDA Film Fest


(indieWIRE/11.1.00) -- The New Venue (www.newvenue.com) was one of the first online showcases of film made specifically for the Internet; now it is the
curator of the first film festival on the Palm Pilot OS. The website, along
with Generic Media, are now calling for submissions for their Aggressively
Boring Film Festival
.


Submissions will resemble the early silent films of the Lumiere Brothers.
They will be approximately 15 seconds long, without sound, a maximum of
8-bit color, and fit in a rectangle about an inch and a half by an inch and
a quarter.


"I'm really curious to see what people send in," said Jason Wishnow, founder
and only employee of The New Venue. The challenges in creating films for the
Palm Pilot operating system are similar to those difficulties that artists
once faced when first making films for the computer and the Internet,
according to Wishnow -- limitations which will "encourage creativity,"
he added.


The new Sony CLIE comes bundled with two videos, Wishnow said. Both of them
are simple pictures of a boy in Japan. He suspects many of the submissions
sent in will resemble the Sony videos -- looking like home movies.


Generic Media, a fresh-from-the-womb company based in Palo Alto, is making
the festival possible. The company aims to make digital media more friendly
and accessible. They have created gMedia, currently a Sony-exclusive
software that can easily convert AVI, MPEG-1, Flash, and Quicktime footage
into something readable by the Palm OS.


It may seem like an overt and premature stab at the kind of films we'll see
on miniature, portable screens, but the Aggressively Boring Film Festival
gets its name from the equally dull-named company, Generic Media. The outfit
intends to remain out of the spotlight, hoping that the lifestyle made
possible by their products becomes popular, rather than their name and logo.


In all aspects other than their software, they aim to be "aggressively
boring." The films should not be.


Submissions must be sent in before November 10. All submitted films will be
displayed at www.newvenue.com and www.genericmedia.com. The top films will
be played at Sony's CLIE booth at Comdex in Las Vegas, November 13-17.
[Jeffrey M. Barker]



>>"Billy Elliot" and "Remember Me" Top Denver Fest


(indieWIRE/ 11.01.00) -- Stephen Daldry's British favorite "Billy Elliot"
continued its run of festival accolades with a best new feature award,
chosen by fest attendees at the recently concluded 23rd Denver International
Film Festival
. Raymond DeFelita's recently released Sundance 2000 Audience Award winner "Two Family House" was the runner-up.


In the documentary category, Kim Snyder accepted the People's Choice Award for her documentary about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, "I Remember Me," which recently received an honorable mention at the Hamptons International Film
Festival
. The runners-up were Kevin McKiernan's "Good Kurds, Bad Kurds: No Friends but the Mountains," and Charles Kiselyak's world premiere, "A Constant Forge: An Exploration of the Life and Art of John Cassavetes." The festival also presented its annual John Cassavetes Award to Sean Penn.


The festival's only juried prize, the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best
European Film
, went to Volker Schlondorff's "The Legend of Rita," a Berlin debut which won awards there for its two lead actresses Bibiana Beglau and
Nadja Uhl (Kino International will release in early 2001). According to a
press release, the festival set both box office and attendance records in
its 23rd edition, with ticket receipts jumping more that 50 percent from the
previous year. [Anthony Kaufman]


>>BRIEFLY: International Indie, "Love the Hard Way," Begins Production


(indieWIRE/ 11.01.00) -- A German director, a Chinese novel, New Zealand,
German and U.S. producers, and an American cast -- sound like an
international co-production to you? "Love the Hard Way," a neo-noir directed
by Peter Sehr ("Kaspar Hauser," "Obsession") and starring Adrien Brody, Charlotte Ayanna, Jon Seda, and Pam Grier, began production in New York this week. Brody plays Jack, a scam artist who, together with his partner (Seda), victimizes foreign businessmen in midtown hotels. His operation is
threatened when he falls for Claire (Ayanna), an attractive graduate student
who becomes curious in their con games.


Based on the Chinese novel "Yi ban shi huo yan, yi ban shi hai shui" by Wang
Shuo
, the film is written by Sehr and actress Marie No

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