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Jonathan Demme’s ‘A Master Builder’ Introduces A New Star: Video

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 2:10pm PDT

Jonathan Demme’s ‘A Master Builder’ Introduces A New Star: VideoAndre Gregory spent 14 years rehearsing the play. Jonathan Demme took one week to film it. The extraordinarily engaging result is A Master Builder, which went into limited release today at New York’s Film Forum. It’s a movie that benefits from one director’s obsession with allowing his actors to live in their roles over time with another’s burst of creative energy. You can sense both up on the screen in this film of a story that might easily have seemed dated but instead comes across as a chilling tale — a “haunted house story” as Demme describes it. And perhaps just as important, it should mark the second time Gregory has introduced an actress who gives every sign of becoming a star. Her name is Lisa Joyce.

master-superJumbo“She’s astounding,” Gregory told me in an interview from his home on Cape Cod. “I am hoping that my work with Lisa will have the same impact as my work with Julianne Moore did.”

A little history, then. In 1994, the late French director Louis Malle filmed Gregory’s equally long-aborning production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, starring Wallace Shawn in the title role and Moore as Yelena, the object of his (and every other male character’s) desire. It remains arguably the best film adaptation of a Chekhov play, and it figured prominently in launching Moore’s stellar career. Read More »

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OSCARS: Indies Capture 60 Nominations

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 6:59am PST

Los Angeles, Jan. 24, 2012 — Independents captured 60 nominations in feature categories during this morning’s announcement of contenders for the 84th Academy Awards, according to the Independent Film & Television Alliance® (IFTA). (Companies listed include Independent companies involved in the film which are also IFTA Member companies)

Best Picture
The Artist (Wild Bunch, The Weinstein Company)
Hugo (GK Films)
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life (Summit Entertainment)

Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist (Wild Bunch, The Weinstein Company)
Martin Scorsese – Hugo (GK Films)
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight)

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir –- A Better Life (Wild Bunch, Summit Entertainment)
Jean Dujardin –- The Artist (Wild Bunch, The Weinstein Company)
Gary Oldman –- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Studio Canal, Focus Features)

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close –- Albert Nobbs
Meryl Streep –- The Iron Lady (Pathé International, Goldcrest Pictures, U.K. Film Council, The Weinstein Company)
Michelle Williams –- My Week With Marilyn (The Weinstein Company, U.K. Film Council)

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Gotta Love Micro-Budget Indie Filmmaking

Indulge me for a minute: what is the least amount of money to make a film? In this day and age of big budget complexity in the movie biz, there’s something incredibly cool about this kind of ingenuity. Pics are being made by shooting  video on an iPhone and editing on a desktop. Today, the 25-year-old son of Deadline contributor Ray Richmond is screening a film shot entirely on one of those nifty 4-inch, 6-ounce Flip UltraHD camcorders that cost well under $200. Then writer-director Josh Richmond spent less than $10K on casting, shooting, editing, and producing his first feature, the mystery Diamond Bar. Knowing he couldn’t land a distributor, he hit on the idea of paying a theater to screen it rather than vice-versa. He’s forked over a few hundred bucks to premiere the film on the big screen at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood at 5 PM. UPDATE: Springing up all over are film festivals specifically for micro-budget pics made by young filmmakers. One of them is The YoungCuts Film Festival.

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Gotham Indie Awards Fete Actor Foursome

Mike Fleming



New York, NY (September 30, 2010) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, announced today that director Darren Aronofsky, actors Hilary Swank and Robert Duvall, and Focus Features CEO, James Schamus, will each be presented with a career Tribute at the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards on Monday, November 29th at Cipriani Wall Street, New York, New York.

This year’s Tribute selection represents a range of individuals – all veterans well-versed in the journey between lower-budget independent films and large-scale studio releases.  In addition, the honorees represent some of the most critically acclaimed and highly anticipated films including: Get Low from Sony Pictures Classics (directed by Aaron Schneider and featuring Robert Duvall); the upcoming Fox Searchlight release Conviction (directed by Tony Goldwyn and featuring Hilary Swank); Black Swan from Fox Searchlight (directed by Darren Aronofsky); and Focus Features’ The Kids are All Right (James Schamus, CEO).

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UPDATE: How “Toxic” Is IFTA’s Best Indies?

By | Thursday September 9, 2010 @ 6:08pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Lloyd Kaufman disputed my assessment that The Toxic Avenger doesn’t belong on the short list of the elite indie films of the 1980s. I’m letting him have his turn, though I can’t say he has changed my mind.

Dear Mike,

Your article impugning the integrity of the IFTA Board of Directors, suggesting that its choices of the 30 “Most Significant Independent Films” have been foisted upon it by me, its Chairman, is absurd and an insult to the entire Board.

Everyone on the 27-member IFTA Board of Directors voted by secret ballot and I had absolutely no influence on the outcome. In fact, there was no politicking involved at all.  These are the Board’s choices and the board’s alone. It is ridiculous for you to state that a group that includes film icons like Roger Corman, Avi Lerner and Mark Damon would be led around by me!

IFTA, for whom I’ve had the honor of serving as chairman for the past three years, is recognizing the “Most Significant Independent Films” in terms of both art and commerce.  Nowhere did IFTA say “Best” or “Top” independent films.  In fact IFTA took great pains to avoid using those terms.

Regarding you dismissal of The Toxic Avenger, I really wonder if you have seen the film. In every respect, The Toxic Avenger is worthy of receiving an honorable mention as one the “Most Significant Independent Films” of the past 30 … Read More »

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Apparition Cuts Staff, Nears ‘Tree of Life’ Distribution Deal

Mike Fleming

In a pre-Toronto blow to the indie film community, Bill Pohlad’s Apparition has let go almost the entire staff that hadn’t been laid off in July. That means about 8 staffers have followed the original cut of about 15 staffers. They got two weeks severance. Not sure what the skeleton crew will draw. Tom Ortenberg remains as a consultant as Pohlad figures out whether to restructure or not.

This development validates talk I’ve been hearing that Pohlad has been showing the Terrence Malick-directed Tree of Life to distributors. I understand the film will land shortly. That means Malick has finished it and it will likely factor into an Oscar race which has suddenly gotten interesting with films that include Black Swan and The King’s Speech. Tree of Life, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was originally going to be the big title on the Apparition slate, but that scenario collapsed when Bob Berney made a surprise exit on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival. Berney is expected to start an indie distribution company at GK Films, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

I’m told the latest layoffs were done because there were no films to distribute, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Pohlad is out of the distribution game, though I wonder if his heart is in it. While it was clear … Read More »

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Icon UK Strikes First Output Deal

Canadian_flagExpect more international output deals soon. D Films, the Canadian distributor, initially plans to release between 5 and 6 films a year from the British sales and distribution company. This will rise to between 6-8.

The Icon output deal will cost D Films around C$5 million ($5 million) a year, guaranteeing 5% of the budgets for Icon’s production slate. It is estimated London-based Icon will spend $100 million on production annually. Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes’ Shakespeare adaptation which Icon is distributing, is now in post-production.

It also gives D Films the opportunity to have Icon sell the 2-3 films it makes each year around the world.

The pact reunites Darryl Iwai, chairman of D Films, with Icon CEO Stewart Till. The pair worked together when Till ran PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and, less successfully, Signpost Films. Both Icon and D Films released Creation, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly.

Last year, indie movies accounted for C$242 million in box office revenues, according to Montreal-based Zoom Services.

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