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DAILY NEWS: Shooting Gallery Film Series on Hold; Collaborative Online Doc Project; “Babylon” in Br

DAILY NEWS: Shooting Gallery Film Series on Hold; Collaborative Online Doc Project; "Babylon" in Br

DAILY NEWS: Shooting Gallery Film Series on Hold; Collaborative Online Doc Project; "Babylon" in Brooklyn

by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE

>> Shooting Gallery Film Series Officially On Hold; Company Facing Difficult Financial Situation

(indieWIRE/06.21.01) — Amidst growing concern surrounding its financial
situation, The Shooting Gallery has confirmed that its Shooting Gallery Film
is on hold; it will not be held this fall, but plans are that it will
return in the Spring of 2002.

Reports regarding the fate of Shooting Gallery surfaced yesterday, following
an announcement released by Itemus, the Canadian outfit that completed its
acquisition of Shooting Gallery earlier this year. Itemus indicated that the
financial situation at its subsidiary “has deteriorated substantially,
primarily as a result of deferrals of expected revenue-generating contracts
and additional delays in the disposition of certain assets.”

In a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday, a Shooting Gallery spokesperson
cited “business and creative decisions” as motivating the move to cancel the
fall series. But the person added, “The decision regarding the film series
was made prior to the (Itemus) announcement.”

According to the prepared Itemus statement, Shooting Gallary “has become
unable to service its debt obligations in an orderly manner,” consequently
Itemus admits that its own financial resources are under pressure and added
that this may affect its own ability to secure funding.

At the time of the Itemus deal announcement in November, Shooting Gallery
CEO Larry Meistrich told indieWIRE that while Itemus was acquiring the
service side of its business (including the Gun For Hire production
division), it would spin off its film, TV and music development and
distribution businesses. According to the Shooting Gallery spokesperson
yesterday, that has not changed. “Larry Meistrich is still pursuing other
options regarding the film company,” they told indieWIRE.

The Shooting Gallery Film Series, which releases movies in 15 markets over a
three-month period, has been hailed as a landmark approach to distributing
independent and foreign films domestically, relying on sponsorship and
partnerships with exhibition chains. Headed by Eamonn Bowles, along with
Ryan Werner, the series acquired a diverse slate of pictures beginning with
Croupier,” “Judy Berlin” and others in the Spring of 2000. “Croupier” was
its biggest hit, earning $7 million at the box office and ultimately
expanding to 140 markets, while “Berlin” earned $500,000 in 40 markets. “A
Time for Drunken Horses
” was a hit last fall, earning more than $700,000 in
North America and reaching nearly 50 markets, while “When Brendan Met Trudy
and “The Day I Became a Woman” were hits this Spring.

Meistrich indicated, in the November conversation, that Shooting Gallery had
a go ahead on the Film Series for the next two and a half years. The
Shooting Gallery spokesperson indicated yesterday that putting the series on
hold would allow organizers to pursue additional sponsorships and give
programmers the chance to acquire films from the fall festival circuit.

The Itemus announcement this week was especially tough on Shooting Gallery,
given the company’s additional financial difficulties. In its statement,
Itemus said that it would need additional capital before the end of the
third quarter. “Itemus is engaged in discussions concerning opportunities
for the raising of capital,” the statement said. “But while the company is
hopeful that current negotiations will result in sufficient capital being
made available, there is no guarantee of a successful outcome, particularly
under current market conditions.”

Itemus, which has faced steep drops in its stock price, indicated in its
announcement that the company is ” considering all options in regard to its
Shooting Gallery investment.” A decision is expected shortly according to
the statement. Itemus estimates that its liabilities for Shooting Gallery
obligations are less than $10 million. [Eugene Hernandez]


+ (11.01.00) — Meistrich Details Shooting Gallery/itemus Deal; Announcement
Includes Spin-Off of “Content” Company

>> D-Word Launches Collaborative “Essays on Documentary” Project

(indieWIRE/06.21.01) — D-Word, the online forum of working documentary
filmmakers, launched its first collaborative venture yesterday, “Essays on
” (www.docuweb.org/essays.html). The first of several web-based
projects experimenting with collaborative filmmaking, “Essays on
” presents eight short non-fiction films in which filmmakers
explore the business, art, and trauma of the documentary processes. The
shorts range in style and tone from Carlos Gomez‘s “Seeds,” a portrait of
fellow doc filmmaker Margarita Carrilla in earthquake ravaged Columbia to
Jill Chamberlain‘s “Living on Borrowed Time,” a humorous first-person
account of credit-card film financing.

The site includes an online discussion board for filmmakers and
non-filmmakers to exchange ideas, reactions and information. “It’s a taste
of what’s coming down the pipe as far as documentary on the web goes. It’s
more interactive. People making the films want to talk to you. People in the
films want to talk to you. With Hollywood movies you get these prefab
websites that are just eye candy. Here the viewer is invited in as deep as
they want to go,” supervising producer and D-Word host Doug Block told

The project grew directly out of D-Word’s online discussion. “We’re
connecting isolated filmmakers across geographical boundaries and creating a
genuine sense of documentary community,” explained Block. “Whenever you get
creative people together they’re going to want to work together.” [Maud

[For more information on D-Word, visit:

>> “Brooklyn Babylon” Gets Brooklyn Release

(indieWIRE/06.21.01) — After already being released on video and DVD by
Artisan Entertainment, “Brooklyn Babylon,” the latest film from “Slam” director Marc Levin, will receive an East Coast theatrical run at Brooklyn’s
BAM Rose Cinemas from August 17 – 23. Described as “a rap Romeo and Juliet,”
the film stars hip hop MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Karen Goberman,
in her screen debut.

Levin and Artisan went head to head at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival
when the distributor tried to pull the film from its Opening Night premiere
because they were not consulted about the fest screening. Levin has since
buried the hatchet with Amir Malin, CEO of Artisan Entertainment. “Amir
Malin and I are not at war,” the filmmaker says. “We decided it was better
to work together than be out to destroy each other.”

Still, the Brooklyn theatrical run is being solely handled by BAM. After the
film’s sold out Slamdance On the Road screening at BAM last March, the
theater’s curatorial staff decided to program the week long run. Artisan is
providing no promotional materials or manpower for the release, though an
Artisan spokesperson said, “We’re supportive of the BAM booking and we hope
the film finds its intended audience.” Last month, Artisan released the film
theatrically at two locations in Florida.

In terms of other future theatrical venues, Artisan indicated that they
would be responsible for a handful of additional locations through the
summer. Levin would like to see the film play in Philadelphia, home of
Trotter’s group The Roots, who also provided the film’s soundtrack.

Levin says he’s too busy to get behind the distribution campaign himself,
currently working on a number of new projects, including a feature doc
called “O.G.: the Original Gangster,” about “the oldest living mafioso,” he

Commenting on the film’s very limited theatrical bookings, Levin did add, “I
understand the business world Artisan is in, but I feel like they’ve spent
more time making a mess of the movie, rather than just let it do its own
thing. They’re going to want to deal with the whole hip-hop world; they’re
going to want them as allies. They can use my film as a bridge to that
constituency.” [Anthony Kaufman]

+ (01.21.01) — Defiant Levin Screens “Babylon” at Slamdance After All

>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: Sundance Stays in Park City; IFC ’70s Doc; Florida Fest Winners

(indieWIRE/06.20.01) — Sundance will begin one week early and remain
in Park City for the next serval years. IFC will produce a tribute
documentary to ’70s American directors. Also, Dani Minnick‘s “Falling
Like This
” and Kate Davis‘ “Southern Comfort” were among the winners at the 2001 Florida Film Festival.


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