Archive for the ‘Film Industry News’ Category

New MPAA Report Gives Filmmakers Good Stats for Business Plans

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has just released its 2007 U.S. Theatrical Market Statistics Report. It looks like the U.S. domestic box office receipts for 2007 hit a record $9.63 billion, up 5.4% above 2006. Internationally, the worldwide box office rose to an all-time high – $26.7 billion.

So why would an indie filmmaker care about this report? Well, beyond having a positive financial result from the medium that you work in – you can use those stats for your business plan. When pitching your project to potential financiers, it is always good to present a positive outlook in the industry that seeks investment. It’s arguably more difficult to convince someone to invest in your low budget film if the overall marketplace is on a decline.

Here’s the summary from the MPAA report (you can also view and download the PDF file here:


Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Institute Merges with Renew Media

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Robert De Niro and his producing partner, Jane Rosenthal have merged their nonprofit organization – Tribeca Film Institute (affiliated with the Tribeca Film Festival) with Renew Media. Renew Media (formerly known as National Video Resources) was founded by The Rockefeller Foundation in 1990 as a funding source for media artists. The Tribeca Film Institute was created after September 11th 2001 as an effort to stimulate the economic revitalization of New York City through arts based initiatives and to “educate, entertain, and inspire filmmakers and film lovers alike.”

The merger will take the name Tribeca Film Institute and will continue to expand its home in lower Manhattan as a cultural institution providing artists with funding, exhibition and work space.

We have been pursuing complementary avenues with respect to filmmakers and media artists for many years now,” said Jane Rosenthal. “By putting these two institutions together under one roof our impact is going to be greater than anything we could have achieved separately and we look forward to building an unprecedented arts organization.”

“This new organization enables us to carry out our mission and support artists and filmmakers throughout all stages of their careers,” said Robert De Niro. [excerpt from official announcement]

Together, the two organizations will combine their resources, staffs and programs that according to indieWIRE, will “rival established entities as the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and the Independent Feature Project (IFP).”

Zhura: A New Online Collaborative Screenwriting Application

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I just ran across a new online screenwriting application called Zhura. It offers free membership and is similar to the collaborative concept behind Celtx. Although Zhura doesn’t have all the pre-production features that Celtx provides, it simplifies the user experience by being an online application doesn’t require any software downloads and upgrades (also check out Plotbot and ScriptBuddy). Zhura’s editing tool allows you to format your script into an “industry standard” layout and if you need a hard copy or want to save it to your computer, you can convert it to a PDF or text (.txt) file. I definitely appreciate the way it maintains a complete history of your changes/revisions.

If you’re working with collaborators on your screenplay or just want to share your work for public feedback – this can be a very useful tool. Their motto is “Make it together.” It’s worth checking out.

The Doorpost Film Project

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

The Doorpost Film Project is a new filmmaking contest which will also serve as an ongoing project that aims to “change the world.” It’s another positive social filmmaking endeavor in the light of Pangea Day which I blogged about before. Along with the project’s optimistic goals, they’re giving filmmakers some serious cash!

Here’s the gist of the contest:

Submitted films (accepted from February 1 to May 1, 2008) need to be 5 minutes or less in length – themed in one of seven universal concepts: ENERGY, LOVE, PAIN, GREED, REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS, and FREEDOM.

Entries are to be uploaded to where it will be streamed and judged by “industry experts” and online viewers.

15 finalists will win $10,000 each to make another short film (8-15 minutes in length). From there, three winners will be selected – 3rd prize = $20,000, 2nd prize = $30,000 and 1st prize = $100,000. Not bad.

Here’s what they say about their organization:

This is more than a contest, this is an ongoing project. We ask you, this century’s revolutionaries, to join us in creating a new way to understand the core of our humanity and a new way to change the world.” [from ‘about us’]

New Green Screen Technology Creates Virtual Sets and Locations in Real-Time

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

M.I.T. alum, Eliot Mack started Cinital, Inc. and created a system that can revolutionize the costly, time consuming process of traditional visual effects post production. The Cinital system has the ability to instantly track and match camera motion to virtual environments and to perform real-time keying and compositing. Although it costs $85,000 to buy, it will certainly be available to rent (some day). The Boston Globe ran a piece on this recently:

…when the Cinital-enhanced camera is pointed at an actor standing in front of a green background, it uses a powerful multiprocessor PC to replace the background with footage digitized earlier. The merged image appears on a high-definition monitor on the set, so that the director can adjust lighting or the position of actors to make the shot look more realistic. When the camera pans across a landscape, or zooms in, the background imagery adjusts appropriately. [excerpt from Boston Globe article, “A new script for moviemaking,” by CinemaTech‘s Scott Kirsner]

Check out the video interview with Eliot Mack – demonstrating the process (click below for the video).


The Hollywood Reporter Breaks Down State-by-State Incentive Programs

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

The Hollywood Reporter has a great feature titled “Made In America.” It highlights all 50 states’ production and tax incentive programs and information on all its film commissions. They have an interactive map of the U.S. that facilitates your search. It also includes Puerto Rico and “D.C.” (District of Columbia). If you’re getting ready to shoot your film in America, check out what incentives your state has to offer. Click on their map to browse complete details on production and tax incentives and film commission info by state.

You can also check out Filmlinker’s Links Directory – Industry Organizations for more info on Film Commissions, Groups & Associations, Organizations and Guilds from the U.S. and around the world.

Pangea Day Wants Filmmakers to Unite the World

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Pangea Day is not a celebration of Plate Tectonics but a filmmaker’s “wish” to change the world through the power of film. The “Wish” is part of the TED prize (Technology, Entertainment, Design) obtained by the documentary filmmaker of Control Room, Jehane Noujaim [IMDB info]. Previous TED prize winners also include former U.S. president Bill Clinton and musician Bono.

Pangea Day organizers are asking filmmakers to submit their short films (5 minutes or less) for the event that will be broadcast throughout the world on May 10, 2008.

“We’re looking for films that will make us laugh, cry, and gasp. They can be fiction, non-fiction, real-life, animation, or your own unique mixture. But they should hold our attention for every second. And above all, they should tell a story that someone else on the other side of the world will be able to relate to.” [from]

All submissions will be reviewed by Jehane Noujaim and a panel of jurors. 30 films will be selected to be screened on Pangea Day. Plus, selected filmmakers will also be invited to submit a treatment for a feature film or documentary – eligible to win a grant ($20,000) and awards program established through a partnership with Participant Productions (An Inconvenient Truth, Syriana, Good Night, And Good Luck).

To submit your film, go to and go to the ‘Submit a Film’ page for all the instructions.


Scorsese’s Take on “Found” Hitchcock Script

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese [IMDB info] has been seen in a few commercials this year, but this time – he directed a very interesting homage to Alfred Hitchcock [IMDB info]. It’s called The Key to Reserva – sponsored by winemaker Freixenet whose product is prominently displayed throughout this short film/commercial. It starts as a mockumentary with Scorsese describing a found, unmade Hitchcock script that he will direct the way Hitchcock would have made it. He uses several methods that give tribute to the ‘Hitchcockian’ filmmaking style. Check out for a list of these techniques that were used by Alfred Hitchcock.

Here’s the Martin Scorsese advert/film/mockumentary – The Key to Reserva:


Online Initiative Invites Aspiring Filmmakers To Create Their Own Version Of New Film

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald [IMDB info] made his latest film The Tracey Fragments available for download and launched an open-source re-editing experiment called Tracey: Re-Fragmented. All the footage from the film is available for users to download, re-edit and make their own related creations – music videos, trailers, or their own version of the entire film. This is also a Creative Commons licensed initiative which makes available the score of the movie by Indie Collective Broken Social Scene.

This re-editing initiative is also a contest (for Canadians only). McDonald and his editors will select their favorite edition and include it in the DVD release of The Tracey Fragments, plus an Apple Final Cut Pro prize pack.

Director Bruce McDonald explains the inspiration behind the project:


JAMAN Gives Independent Films a New Outlet for Digital Distribution

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Independent filmmakers from around the world are embracing a new website called JAMAN – as a new means for showcasing their work. At this time, Jaman houses over 2,000 independent films and they expect to double that in the up coming months. The company is embracing the social aspects of the Web 2.0 world by creating an interactive community and delivering “better-than-DVD quality” films from indie filmmakers. Filmmakers can upload their films directly to the website and Jaman members can then rent, download and/or buy it.

Jaman upgraded their site this month by improving their search capabilities into a new Movie Finder. This search tool allows you to find the kind of movies you want to watch by adjusting the 4 category “sliders” that match your search criteria. You can adjust from – (1) Serious to Funny, (2) Mellow to Charged, (3) Deep to Shallow, (4) Tears to Bullets [see picture below].