BANDSLAM: Victim of Shoddy Advertising?

Eliza Hajek — Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Nikki Finke has posted an insightful insider account of a very real possibility behind the embarrassing gross of Walden Media’s BANDSLAM. As I am very close with a handful of people who worked on the film, I have had to opportunity to see it twice in previews, and I can assure you, it’s smarter than your average cringe inducing, placating drivel that something like Disney churns out consistently. I have heard a lot about the advertising, about how it appeared to be another film compromised of the aforementioned descriptors.

Honestly, I haven’t even seen any advertising for Bandslam at all, but have heard enough about it to surmise that someone decided it was in the film’s best interest to go the lazy route and now we have a great film that never stood a chance; dressed it up in High School Musical clothes, when it should have been out in something closer to what SCHOOL OF ROCK was wearing.

Check out the Article HERE.


Darrien Gipson — Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Eh, we’re here, just busy.  The world of SAGIndie is a never ending barrage of work.  When the rest of the [filmic] world seemed to be slowing down, we were still going strong – spreading the word of low budget contracts.  I like to think of us as KUNG FU, going from town-to-town, helping poor filmmakers make films.

Only I’m not grabbing any hot pot with my forearms.  It’s summer and I want to go sleeveless.  (kudos and Geritol for anyone who gets that reference).

I can’t speak for the rest of SAGIndie’s staff, but I have been BUSY!  Let’s just start with June.  Somehow, June was a crazy month for us.  We usually have about 4 sponsored festivals in June.  This year, we had 8!  We attended 7 of them!  Crazy.  Here are the highlights:

We went to the Producer’s Guild of America’s “Produced By” conference.  Pretty cool.  Too bad they couldn’t get any big names to appear.  Once James Cameron stopped extolling the bright future of 3-D, they still had little people like Kathleen Kennedy, Laura Schuler-Donner, Norman Lear and Kevin Feige (Marvel Studios) chatting up the crowds.  I’ve decided that Kevin Feige is my hero.  He’s got IRON MAN 2, THOR(!), and CAPTAIN AMERICA coming up, and a slate that extends for years.  I can’t wait for them, as they all look and sound incredibly cool.  Of course, MY Kevin won’t know of my obsession with him until he glances out his window some night at 3am and sees me camping in his bushes.  I’m sure he won’t mind once he sees that I’ve made S’Mores.

CineVegas was a blast, as always.  The SAGIndie Filmmakers Bowling Party was, of course, a great success.  Not only was there raucous bowling from midnight until nearly 4 am, but the blatant campaigning from filmmakers for the oh-so-prestigious bobble-head trophies was, frankly, embarrassing.  You know who you are.  I finally saw 500 DAYS OF SUMMER and was so pleasantly surprised that it’s one of my recommend films (and I don’t have many).

The day after I returned from Vegas, I loaded up and headed back to the airport for the Maui Film Festival.  Yep, it’s a hard knock life for me.  Well, Maui just sucks.  The weather is perfect, the ocean is beautiful, and the beaches are pristine.  Movies?  Oh yeah, and they had some interesting movies.  SAGIndie sponsored the screening of 500 DAYS OF SUMMER.  Zooey Deschanel was there and when my daughter (4) accosted her in the bathroom to tell her she liked her dress (“A” claims she didn’t know who she was, but I’ve seen her sneaking glances at InTouch magazine in the supermarket), Zooey (I call her Zooey) was extremely gracious.  The festival gave a tribute to her (so early in her career?) and to Willie Nelson.  Would have like to have been in the room while they were planning that one.

You would think that, after partying in Vegas and Hawaii, I’d be too tired to do anything else.  Well, you’re right, but I went to the Palm Springs Shortsfest anyhow.  I’m glad I did.  My partner in crime, Mark Friedlander (also known as SAG’s Guru of New Media) and I were on panels that were very well attended.  We saw a few shorts, met a bunch of really cool filmmakers, and stayed at the Uber-cool ACE Hotel.  Clearly where all the cool cats hang out (and occasionally they let people like Mark and me in).  I especially like the “adult snowcones” they offer poolside.  Not that I was poolside.  Not like I had one (or two).  That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

So finally, June is behind me and July is, actually, half over.  Things are settling down to our usual two festivals a month.  And I’m not going to most of them.  So it’ll be up to the rest of SAGIndie’s staff to blog about their festivals.
And they will.  I haven’t fired anyone in a while and I’m starting to develop a tick.  Must. Fire. Someone.

An NPR Podcast That is Relevant to Your Interests*

Eliza Hajek — Friday, July 10th, 2009

*If your interests include NPR podcasts about soundtracks to summer romcoms starring Zooey Deschanel and JGL.

PRODUCED BY CONFERENCE JUNE 5-7. Special Pricing for SAG and SAGIndie Members!

SAGIndie — Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Spend the weekend with an unprecedented gathering of over 100 A-List Producers at the PRODUCED BY CONFERENCE, hosted by the Producers Guild. SAG Members and friends of SAGIndie can take advantage of a discounted industry professional rate by choosing package “C” when registering.

Visit the Produced By Conference website or check out the one-sheet below for more details.

All the best,


PBC One Sheet Ad 512_1.jpg

The Ultimate Filmmaker Competition: EARLY BIRD DEADLINE MAY 19th!

SAGIndie — Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Hey Filmmakers!

Get your film produced and distributed by entering The Ultimate Filmmaker Competition presented by Filmmakers Alliance.

The winning entrant will have their feature film produced and distributed and will receive a minimum $200,000 cash grant along with resources for a total value of more than $500,000. The winning entrant will also have their film distributed on multiple platforms simultaneously – theatrical, cable and online – for maximum global exposure.


All the best,



More about Filmmaker’s Alliance:

FILMMAKERS ALLIANCE is a community of film artists dedicated to the advancement of true independent film through community action. FA is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.

FA provides a unique mutual support system through which members share time, energy, expertise, equipment and, most important, creative support for one another’s film projects from concept through distribution. We work together to restore humanity, authenticity, diversity, originality, intelligence, relevance, personal vision and emotional resonance to American Cinema.

Started in Los Angeles in 1993 as a collective answer to the practical needs of independent filmmakers, FA has evolved into a multi-layered support organization with an emphasis on aesthetic empowerment. Hundreds of films have been produced through FA and have screened in dozens of major festivals throughout the world.

In 2009, Filmmakers Alliance will launch the global online analogy to the support work we’ve been doing in Los Angeles. The site will include an expansive menu of project management and development tools, filmmaking resources, key databases, education and connectivity. Basically, it will be one-stop shopping for any filmmaking need that can be answered online.

Your entry ensures that you will be a charter member of this new, empowering, global filmmaking community.

For more on Filmmakers Alliance, click here

Pretending to be part of the ACADEMY: Oscar Weekend 2009

Will Prescott — Friday, February 20th, 2009

The “biggest movie event of the year” is taking place this Sunday and I feel compelled to offer my votes for the top awards. Granted, I’m not part of the Academy but I do feel qualified enough to comment on who I think is worthy of these high honors. I chose not to vote on categories where I felt either (A) unqualified to comment on or (B) hadn’t seen enough of the work nominated (sorry docs and shorts). Please keep in mind that these picks are my personal opinion only and don’t necessarily reflect the views of SAGIndie or SAG.  
My vote is for Mickey Rourke in THE WRESTLER. Since the Golden Globes there’s been a lot of hype for him. I’m honestly getting a little sick of the whole “comeback story”, but he’s just SO good in this film. I’ve been hoping for this nomination since I saw his performance during AFI Fest. RUNNER UP: Sean Penn, MILK.
Probably the toughest category for me to pick as they’re all amazing performances. I have to go with Philip Seymour Hoffman in DOUBT. Every role this guy portrays is gold, but this one in particular had me glued to the screen. RUNNER UP: Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT.
Another tough category as all of these women are deserving. My vote would be for Anne Hathaway in RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. Anne has been solid in her “lighter” performances thus far in her career. In this film she displays so many different colors and shows signs of a true professional. RUNNER UP: Meryl Streep, DOUBT.
My vote would be for Penelope Cruz in VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA. In my opinion, it was her performance that made this film. I couldn’t get enough of her. RUNNER UP: Marisa Tomei, THE WRESTLER.
Unless I’m completely naive, I wager that the Academy would be in agreement with me when I say that WALL-E is not only the best animated feature film of the year, but quite possibly the best film of the year. RUNNER UP: KUNG FU PANDA.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. The film is gorgeous in so many ways, but it was the casual use of props and set design that really makes the period piece pop. RUNNER UP: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.

Elliot Graham, MILK. His ability to intercut archival footage is really what sold me here. RUNNER UP: Lee Smith, THE DARK KNIGHT.

Wally Pfister, THE DARK KNIGHT. I feel like he’s due since he’s already obtained two nominations, but the fact that he shot a great portion of this film using the cumbersome, albeit breathtaking, IMAX format is good enough for my vote. RUNNER UP: Anthony Dod Mantle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

WRITING (Adapted)
Simon Beaufoy, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. What can I say that people don’t already know about this film? When you try and explain the synopsis of the story it almost seems impossible to capture — but they did it. RUNNER UP: John Patrick Shanley, DOUBT

WRITING (Original)
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter, WALL-E. As I’ve already stated, it’s a shame that this film can’t also be considered for Best Picture. RUNNER UP: Martin McDonagh, IN BRUGES

Yikes. Another tough category. All of these nominees did an excellent job at honing performances and storytelling. My vote would be for Danny Boyle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. The scope of this project alone deserves high praise. RUNNER UP: Gus Van Sant, MILK.

It’s really a toss-up between my top two. I could seriously go either way, but at the end of the day I would vote for MILK based on it’s social relevance. The film is an immense piece of work on all levels (story, performance, technical, etc.), but it’s the message that it leaves you with that really puts it above all others. RUNNER UP: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

Whoa. What’s with the new guy?

Will Prescott — Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

As Barack Obama begins a historic transition of power as the new commander in chief, I too have begun a transition of power as the new Information Coordinator here at SAGIndie (not near as historic, but I’m sure you can appreciate the attempt at parallelism).

My name is Will and I’m the new Scott.

My predecessor, Scott Garner, has moved on to pursue new and exciting adventures. What little I know about him from our handful of meetings, it’s obvious that the guy is good people and will be greatly missed around the halls of SAGIndie headquarters. As the new Information Coordinator, I’m going to continue Scott’s legacy of successfully getting what we do out to the masses. In addition, there are many things I will work hard to build upon in order to strengthen SAGIndie’s presence in the independent film world.

It’s worth noting that the indieBlog is going to go through a minor revamp – with commentary dedicated to a number of specific topics such as the hell that is the production process, film reviews, music in film, filmmaker and actor interviews, and film festival reports. If this sounds off-putting in the slightest, please relax – it won’t be all serious. There will still be the occasional random blog about something we saw or heard while driving to work or intoxicated at some industry party.

Also, our presence online will be increasing rapidly. If you’re not already a friend of ours on Myspace, add it up. You can also join our new Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed pages. We hope to get more quality information out to you on a regular basis.

That’s enough for now. Expect more soon.

Happy Thanksgiving,


By the way — I like dive bars, sketch comedy, buffalo wings and Journey. I can do without crowded dance clubs, panda bears, spicy brown mustard and REM. Because I know you care, I’ll be sure to elaborate on many of these truly fascinating aspects of my life in the days and months that follow.

More ways for you to connect to SAGIndie!

SAGIndie — Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

We’re proud to announce that we’re finally getting hip to this social networking game. You can further strengthen your SAGIndie ties by joining us on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, and Flickr.

We can’t promise much, but by connecting to us at least you’re covering your bases and won’t miss out when we announce new events, contract workshops or indieBlog posts.
All the best,


Rambo? Noooooooo!

Scott Garner — Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

If the latest Rocky sequel, Britney’s "crazy monkey", and Rosie O’Donnell’s Ching-Chong Meltdown aren’t enough to convince you that the apocalypse is nigh, then try to wrap your mind around these two words: Rambo. 4.

Yup, he’s back – tanned, rested, botoxed beyond all recognition, and armed to the teeth. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent the two decades since the last Rambo movie not thinking about how much I missed Stallone’s drooling, dropping visage leering out at me from the Coke-stained screen of my local multiplex. Because I don’t. Apparently, though, there is an audience for ghastly, ancient, steroid-cases, as long as guns and explosions are involved.

The saddest thing about this whole sorry mess? The Weinstein’s are actually going to the mat to assert their rights of first refusal to this steaming pile of reheated excrement. Et tu, bros?

Again: apocalypse. I better start practicing for the end times war with the latest Left Behind religious intolerance training software video game. I’d advise you to do the same.


Eliza Hajek — Friday, November 10th, 2006

In college Saturday mornings meant getting up early to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my friends. We’d all discuss each other’s inebriated faux-pas and rate the libations at whatever party we had gone to the night before. Marcus would make breakfast and Chris and I would argue over who was more like Rafael…well…to be honest, I never woke up in time for these bonding over a cartoon sessions, but I always heard about them afterward.

Ok, no, that’s a lie. I wasn’t invited, but I knew they were going on because I was stalking someone and spent a good deal of time listening outside their dormitory door. Those were really, really good times. And since everyone loves good times (!!), may I present THIS. They may not be the greatest quality, but where else are you going to find some of this stuff?

As for me, I’ll be neglecting responsibilities to watch The Black Adder, It’s Always Sunny…, and of course, TMNT.