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by Indiewire
August 5, 1999 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: Trimark's Online Venture; Jem Cohen At Odds with MTV; New DV Feature Slate

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE


>> Trimark Announces Plans for Online Movie Subsidiary

Trimark is continuing to position itself as a player in the emerging online distribution arena. Following the announcement of a deal with leading online broadcaster, Broadcast.com, Trimark has unveiled a plan to launch an Internet subsidiary that will serve as an online distribution outlet incorporating Trimark's catalog of 650 films. The new site, CinemaNow.com, will debut in preview mode later this year and launch in its entirety early next year, according to Trimark.



Curt Marvis, the former president of Learn2.com, has been named CEO of CinemaNow. "We are very strong believers in the potential for what this market can turn into," Marvis told indieWIRE yesterday (Tuesday). Marvis told indieWIRE that a pre-launch of the site is due in October, with a full debut scheduled for February.

CinemaNow will include community areas devoted to various types of films as well as an e-commerce element aimed at selling DVD's and videotapes. In the first year of the site, Marvis indicated that they intend to offer most movies for free, however special downloads may be offered for a price. The site will be supported by advertising incorporated into the streaming movie, either as a PBS-style bumper or within the program as in a TV broadcast, according to Marvis.

Relating the reactions to his new company, Marvis offered that some colleagues have asked, "Don't you think you guys are too early?"

"No," he answered, "I feel like everyone is too late."


>> On the Eve of NYC Event, Jem Cohen Explains Making Music Videos Outside of MTV

This Spring, indieWIRE tracked the emergence of Grant Gee's Radiohead documentary, "Meeting People is Easy." Reached in LA on the heels of the doc's SXSW debut, Gee explained that his project was specifically influenced by the work of film and videomaker Jem Cohen. For Gee, achieving Cohen's distinct lyrical style was a clear goal. Later, the two would meet to discuss their work in a conversation for FILMMAKER Magazine, and in June each presented a midnight screening of their latest features at New York's docfest.

Filmmakers and audiences familiar with the work of Jem Cohen often focus on his numerous music videos for R.E.M., while others might single out a music video for Jonathan Richman, his portrait of Elliot Smith, or even his recent collaboration with Fugazi on the band documentary, "Instrument."

Cohen has created a body of film and video work that includes numerous collaborations with musicians, but in a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday, he was quick to clarify that he doesn't like being labeled a music video director or a video artist. "I call myself a filmmaker," he offered simply in his polite, quiet and deliberate voice.

As a filmmaker, Cohen relies on festivals and special events as ways to showcase his work for audiences. Higher profile projects with big name musicians or groups are often altered before airing on MTV because of their length or content.

The fact that screenings of Cohen's films and videos -- music video and otherwise -- are somewhat rare in the U.S. inspired the AIVF to program a special event (sponsored by indieWIRE) showcasing the filmmaker and his work -- European screenings are often well-attended events. Tomorrow (Thursday), Cohen will screen a selection of work at The Lighthouse as part of a dialogue with fellow filmmaker Chris Munch ("Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day," "The Hours and the Times").

While he has not entirely locked the program, Cohen explained that he is bringing an assortment of tapes that he will play to illustrate points raised during the discussion. Among the likely candidates are the director's cut of a recent R.E.M. video, the Elliot Smith project, the Berlin section from "Buried in Light" -- a portrait of Eastern Europe in 1993 -- as well as a selection of work from "Just Hold Still," a project released by Michael Stipe and Jim McKay's c-hundred film corp. that Cohen describes as "a visual LP." Also on tap is a look at five new rolls of film Cohen has shot in Sicily, Berlin, Rotterdam and South Carolina as part of a work in progress.

Back on the subject of music videos, Cohen realizes that it may be a topic of discussion at tomorrow's Manhattan event. When asked to offer his perspective on the outlets for a filmmaker who embraces musicians and music-themed work, but seemingly rejects traditional outlets such as MTV, Cohen offered, "Respect for music and musicians inherently puts you at odds with gearing your work for MTV." Describing his own work "less MTV friendly," Cohen immediately paused and re-characterized it as, "More MTV unfriendly."

"I don't get called much anymore, because they know that I am trouble," Cohen laughed, "They know that I am not interested in delivering friendly product -- after a while they sense that the work is always going to be a little bit odd or a little bit slow, or kind of uncommercial."

"It makes it harder to earn a living," he concluded, "But its kind of a relief."

[The AIVF "Up Close: Conversations with Filmmakers" event featuring Jem Cohen and Chris Munch will be held tomorrow -- August 5th -- at The Lighthouse in Manhattan. For more information, or to attend, call 212/807-1400 x301, or visit the AIVF website:
http://www.aivf.org.]

>> Winick, Sloss and IFC Unveil Digital Feature Slate

Filmmaker Gary Winick and Sloss Special Projects are teaming with IFC
Productions
on a slate of ten digitally-shot, New York based, features that
will be packaged for the Independent Film Channel. Dubbed Independent
Digital Entertainment
(InDigEnt), the initiative's projects may also be
submitted to film festivals and/or sold for theatrical distribution.
Winick will executive produce the movies with John Sloss, while the IFC's
Jonathan Sehring and Caroline Kaplan of IFC Productions will produce.

When filmmaker Gary Winick ("Sweet Nothing," "The Tic Code") decided to
shoot a new romantic comedy featuring Fisher Stevens, Annbella Sciorra, Ron
Rifkin
, Maria Bello, Rob Morrow, and John Slattery, he opted for DV,
intending to make the movie the first in a slate of projects that would be
produced digitally. He shot "Sam the Man" for about $60,000, entirely on
location in New York, and began searching for a company that would support
the entire slate.

"All InDigEnt films will have stories that lend themselves to the special
format," explained Winick in a prepared statement, echoing the restrictions
of the famed Dogma 95 movement, "Utilizing DV cameras, minimal to no
lighting, small crews with high end sound recording, picture/sound editing,
mix and digital effects to facilitate a 35mm blowup for theatrical and/or
broadcast presentation."

InDigEnt will share 50% of all revenue from each project with the entire
filmmaking team. A stable of collaborators is being assembled to manage the
productions. Already on board are Kaplan from IFC and Paul Brennan, Joy
Newhouse
and Micah Green of Sloss Special Projects along with Ellen Lewis,
Marcia DeBonis and Jennifer Euston to oversee casting, Bill Pankow to
supervise the editing, Ira Spiegel and Marlena Grzasiewicz of 701 Sound for
sound work, Hot House for digital effects and graphic design, as well as
additional collaboration with the Filmmakers' Collaborative.

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