Archive for January, 2010


My Experience with a Man-Eating Croc at the Lake Placid Film Festival (Just Kidding- about the croc, not about the festival)

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Just yesterday I sat at my desk and picked out a list of films that I hope to see at Sundance this year. This will be my first time attending the festival and as a recent film school graduate I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity. I put Welcome to the Rileys on my list and eyeing one of its cast members, Melissa Leo, brought me back to a film festival that I had a chance to participate in while still in school at Emerson College. It was the Lake Placid Film Festival and one of my most beloved film professors, Pierre Desir, agreed to take a group of 5 students to the festival for a long weekend to see a couple screenings, including Leo’s academy nominated performance in Frozen River, and to compete in the student 24 hour film Competition, judged by a Frozen River producer, director Courtney Hunt (also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), and actress Melissa Leo.

After making the drive from Boston to Lake Placid we were housed in a large dormitory style room that shared a large common area with the other groups. The next day it was time to receive our 24 hour rules and requirements, each movie had to incorporate different aspects of the Lake Placid area, including a marathon, acid rain and a dog (not sure how that one fits in thinking back now, residents of Lake Placid must own a lot of dogs). We had time to brainstorm and then cast from a line-up of local actors.

Under the guidance of Pierre we location scouted while making all the necessary stops, the thrift store for costumes, the local all-purpose store for balloons, streamers, and chalk, and the hardware store for Christmas lights and a dog leash; then we ran around with our from-home props, including a banana suit and got to work. We were, if you haven’t figured it out yet, making a love story. We used two of our own crew, who had an acting background, in addition to the local talent, and we set about creating something simple and something short. We had a goal to edit this movie to be 5 minutes as opposed to the limit of 10. We shot all necessary moments, the meeting of the young, eccentric couple, the honeymoon period and then the simplistic moments that pulled them apart. This all led up to our finale at our most scenic location: the Lake Placid horse track/fair grounds.

We had decided to frame our story around a dance marathon at the fair grounds. Our local actor played the Dance Marathon DJ and our group duo played the last couple dancing. After hours and hours of trying to break the world dancing record, they were exhausted and that’s where we spliced in the memories of their relationship, good and bad, which led them to the final seconds before the marathon would end and they would break the record and win, but in that moment our female character realizes she doesn’t know why she’s still there and leaves.

When our movie played the next day I was surprised at the crowd’s reaction to that moment–horrified gasps and sad laughs at the boy left alone on the fair grounds. Our movie was definitely the most absurd; from its opening moment to its end it held onto a specific, colorful and zany vision. We also made a very big effort to have fun, which not all the groups did, and that was pretty key in this whole sleep-depraved experience.

So it was a wonderful moment when all of our fun paid off and our film, titled “Somebody’s Fool,” won the competition, mainly for our “fellini-esq vision” (thanks Ms. Hunt) and for sticking to a style from start to finish. If I could pinpoint why ours stood out that day I would say it was the style, but it was also more subtle moments, shooting our climax at magic hour, playing with silly dialogue, matching our shots to our art/costume design and most of all, being flexible. We were the only group who chose a non-running marathon and the other groups assigned specific roles to each person in their group, there was a writer, a director, a cinematographer, etc. but we didn’t do that. Sounds scary, right? Well, it’s not if egos are put aside. I’m not suggesting that any film be made like this, but for a 24 hour competition, it was vital even if we did receive some flack for this by the judges. By pooling 5 experienced student filmmakers’ minds we came up with the best concepts to suit our movie and we kept everyone involved.

So this second blog of mine told a story, but hopefully it showed you that I enjoy filmmaking and making projects happen successfully and also, that I understand that each project is different and each filmmaker has different needs depending on what they’re making and how they’re making it. The key is flexibility and learning how to make your specific movie happen, and of course, I also learned that winning feels good, so let me and SAGIndie help you improve your movies so you can win at your own festival competitions no matter how big or small they are!


Netflix Interactive Map

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Over the weekend I stumbled upon this amazing interactive map that the NY Times put together. It gives you an idea of the Netflix rental patterns for 100 frequently-rented titles in 12 cities. Some of the 2009 findings are pretty interesting – considering that the top rented films can change drastically from one neighborhood to the next.

While big films like THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and TWILIGHT top many zip codes, it’s very encouraging to see quite a few indie films sprinkled within the findings.

Check out the map HERE.


What’s New in the New Year, you say? Well, me of course!

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

My name is Ellen and I am the new SAGIndie Assistant.

I am very excited to pick up the torch here at SAGIndie and wear as many hats as needed. I’ll be alleviating the workload in the office, helping filmmakers and thespians alike learn how SAG’s low budget contracts can make their lives better and easier, assisting with the planning of SAGIndie events and acting as Darrien’s all-around right hand woman.  There are a few mixed metaphors here, but the point is I am ready to help SAGIndie continue to help all of you as a valuable and approachable resource.

A little about me: I was a film and writing/literature student in college. I still enjoy those subjects very much. My favorite movie is Taxi Driver, mostly because of these two guys, and a seventies theme shrouds my top ten, Jaws, the Godfather and even Rocky are in there. But, I also love Fargo, don’tchaknow, and more recently I really enjoyed District 9 and Up in the Air. On an un-cinematic note, I like Paris (been there once), game nights, and wrought iron and I dislike most cheesy romcoms, really loud sounds and anything flavored with coconut, ugh.

Hope you’re having a good day and you’ll be hearing from me again soon!



iPhone Apps for the Biz

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Happy New Year!

Trying to figure out what to spend that holiday cash or iTunes gift card on? Why not head to the iTunes store and load up on some filmmaker friendly apps?

Our friends over at THE WRAP put together a list of the 10 “Hollywood” apps every movie lover or working professional must have for their iPhone. Some are more fun than practical, like the Space Odyssey inspired HAL 9000 app, which costs nothing, but provides hours of fun with endless Hal one-liners. Other apps are much more useful for the indie filmmaker on the go, like the Artemis Director’s Viewfinder, which costs $29.99, but allows you to plug in the shooting format, the aspect ratio, and the type of lens you’re using to preview an upcoming shot.

Check out the entire list HERE.