PIFVA Reader

Feeds from Independent Filmmaker blogs with  current issues, topics and information affecting our independent filmmaking world.

A little over a week ago, Best First Screenplay Spirit Award winner Justin Simien told the revelers at the ceremony that he started writing Dear White People “as an impulse because I didn’t really see my story out there in the culture.” Simien went on to encourage other young filmmakers, “If you don’t see yourself in the culture, please put yourself there, because we need...
Film Independent 03/03/15
I’m sitting in a small 190°F room. I have taken my glasses off because I think they’d melt, so I can’t see. Also, I’m naked, as is everyone around me. My friend and I are whispering, most likely disturbing the neighboring nudes, but this is my first time in a Berlin sauna, so I’m not familiar with the collective sweaty silence that Germans call relaxation. As my friend escorts me through the...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/03/15
In delivering the first fully 20th-century filmic transplant of Hamlet, Michael Almereyda made wondering how he’d update each famous beat part of the fun, from “to be or not to be” rendered as prince Ethan Hawke’s internal monologue against Blockbuster’s “Action” aisle (totally unexpected, too-obvious only after its execution) to the total collapsing of...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/03/15
Men With Ballsdir. Kristóf Kovács, 2013, Hungarygenre: character-driven documentarycurrently not in distributionI actually prefer the original title of this film, Besence Open, which captures the ironic juxtaposition of the conceit: a largely Roma and largely unemployed village in Southwest Hungary receives a grant to built a tennis court. A town with no tennis experience and a largely dispirited...
Category D 03/02/15
For his next semi-unlikely move, Errol Morris is making six shorts for ESPN Films. This first installment, The Subterranean Stadium, delves into the world of electric football. With guidance from “commissioner” John “Larue” DiCarlo, Morris uses his typically on-point interview skills (and offscreen, typically astonished-sounded questions) to guide us through a game whose...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/02/15
Initially unable to raise the $3 million budget for Whiplash, Damien Chazelle made a proof of concept, 18-minute short film that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Now available online, the short looks to be more or less an exact excerpt of the feature script, distilling Fletcher’s emotional manipulation, rage, and abuse into three consecutive scenes. The precise editing, gliding...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/02/15
The Hunting Ground When: Now Playing Where: Theaters Directors: Kirby Dick Why We’re Excited: Spirit Award Winning filmmaker Kirby Dick, who delivered the powerful documentary, The Invisible War, tackles another controversial and gritty subject for his latest expose. This startling examination of rape crimes on college campuses features a heart-wrenching look inside the homes of the victims and...
Film Independent 03/02/15
From filmmaker and Davey Foundation board member Dustin Guy Defa comes word of the upcoming deadline for the Davey Foundation, which will give three grants to filmmakers 35 years and younger for the production of short films. Ben Kegan’s The First Men won the Davey’s single grant last year. This year, two grants have been added, and the awards mix cash with in-kind services and...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/02/15
When, in 2013, I spoke to Dean Fleischer Camp about his exquisitely deadpan web series, Catherine, created with Jenny Slate, I immediately wanted to know about its production design. How did he come up with its uncannily bland, generically discomforting visual spaces? The director told me that his inspirations included the ’90s TV show Kids in the Hall as well as Lars von Trier’s The...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 03/02/15
Not to go overboard with the Paul Thomas Anderson supercuts (but to go a little overboard with the Paul Thomas Anderson supercuts), here is a nice essay from Jacob T. Swinney that strings together a selection of long shots from the director’s first six films — a nice contrast to his application of close-ups in Boogie Nights. Emphasizing the unmoored nature of Anderson’s...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/27/15
As Charles Dickens aptly stated: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The global content business is booming in spite of US box office admissions not living up to expectations. Given the developing tastes of audiences and changing demographics, media today is inhabited now, not merely consumed. The recession forced innovation in funding and creativity, leading to an influx of...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/27/15
American Crime, the new TV project by Film Independent Spirit Award and Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) puts an indie spin on the ubiquitous crime serial, creating a kind of fluorescent film noir. The series, which premieres next week on ABC, combines noir conventions (middle-of-the-night phone call, horrific off-screen “visuals,” moody close-ups) with cold-...
Film Independent 02/27/15
No matter the genre, you discover the imprimatur of the best classical Hollywood studio directors in all of their films—so posits the Auteur Theory. I accept the premise, with the proviso that it be applied, a bit differently, to the more distinctive non-Hollywood filmmakers, American or not. There’s a kernel of truth in the old saw that a director makes the same movie over and over. Robin...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/27/15
A frosty night alone inside an unheated school bus puts a hypothermic gradeschooler at death’s door. The multiple protagonists in model ensemble Bluebird milk the mishap, each in their own way. In an oddly similar fashion, director Lance Edmands works — let’s say plays — his audience. He short-circuits a chilling overview of the mishap’s immediate impact in favor of charging a...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/27/15
Making sandwiches may not seem to make for compelling cinema, but that’s exactly the activity around which documentarian Erik Greenberg Anjou (above right, not left) sets his newest film Deli Man. The film goes beyond that, of course, exploring the ways in which deli food and deli culture are a fundamental aspect of American Judaism. Anjou’s previous two films, A Cantor’s Tale ...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/27/15
You can’t say that Rishi Kaneria doesn’t know what he’s interested in when he makes his supercuts. Following logically on the heels of “Stanley Kubrick: Red,” which looked at that director’s use of the color, now we have “Red & Yellow: A Wes Anderson Supercut.” Red’s on the left, yellow’s on the right, and there’s an oddly...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/26/15
Directors Close-Up 2015: Night 5 (March 4) Justin Simien: Storytelling Across Platforms Individual tickets for Night 5 are available now. View complete details and previous nights. Justin Simien With Dear White People, a story deeply rooted in personal experiences, Justin Simien has not only put a spotlight on the latent racism that still permeates most social interactions in the US, but...
Film Independent 02/26/15
The advice that Dan Gilroy, writer and director of Nightcrawler, has for aspiring screenwriters is to “look at it like becoming a doctor. It takes ten years to really learn how.” Gilroy was on the panel for last night’s Directors Close-Up, which focused this week on screenwriting. Joining him at the Landmark Theatre were Big Eyes co-writer Larry Karaszewski and Beyond the Lights writer-director...
Film Independent 02/26/15
Lance Edmands’ ensemble drama Bluebird sets its story in a blue collar, hardworking industrialized town. The screenplay uses a tragic instance of negligence to connect age-defining experiences (first love, job frustration, potential loss of a family member) in the complex lives of its multitude of characters. Distracted by the title bird, driver Leslie (played by Amy Morton) fails to see an...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/26/15
You would think that the filmmaker behind such razor-sharp, atmospheric satires as Erica Wexler is Online and Perfect Thoughts would go for broke with an unsuspecting subject like Monica Lewinsky, but Doron Max Hagay had other plans when it came to designing his amusing new web series, Monica. “From the outset, I was dogged about not representing Monica’s story merely as satire,” says...
Filmmaker Magazine, editor Scott MacCaulay 02/26/15