Thursday, January 28, 2010

Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal Opens

"Hand the Oscar to Jeff Bridges right now,and let's be done with it."
- Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

All About the Music
...Jeff Bridges originally passed on the movie; it was only after his old friend T Bone Burnett signed on that he agreed to play busted-up country singer Bad Blake. “When T Bone got involved, I knew it was a pretty safe bet the music would be good,” Bridges said.Read More Here.

From an Interview with the Director

How many liberties did you take with the book [source material]?
Oh, many. It was great source material, but it really only served as a blueprint and I then I added my personal touches to it, for better or worse. It really is a fantastic book and it gave me a wonderful place to start.

Not being very familiar with the source material—is the story set in New Mexico?
Yeah, it takes place in the southwest. It's a very obscure and fine novel. It's out of print but it's being re-released in February—as it should, because it's a lovely piece of work.

Has Crazy Heart novelist Thomas Cobb written anything else?
He has written some stories and a book that came out last year called Shavetail. He's a very talented writer.

How long ago did you start adapting this?
I started in 2005 or '06, and it didn't take long to adapt—maybe six weeks to have a first draft ready. Then I sent it off to Robert Duvall and said, "Yeah, I love it, let's make this." It took a while to get Jeff attached, took a while to find financing, took a while to find the right time and to get everyone's schedules to align.

Read the whole article here.

Crazy Heart opens Friday, January 29th

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Messenger is coming

The Messenger opens Friday, January 29th.

Excerpt from an interview with the director:
How did your own experiences in the military affect the making of this film?

To tell you the truth, I think it had an impact on directing the film, much more than in writing it. There's nothing in the movie that I can say is my own experience. But what I think my experience allowed me to do was to understand the emotional landscape of a combat soldier. I could then communicate to the actors what the characters they're portraying are going through and what kind of experiences they're having and how they're feeling about it. The problem was projecting my own personal biases of how I felt about being in a combat zone, or what we call in the movie "the other planet," and then coming back from that. Read the full interview here.

Since a big part of the movie took place on the home front, it was all about what kind of emotions the combat vet was experiencing, and I think I was able to communicate that by telling stories and by talking with them about my feelings.

Woody Harrleson Doesn't Like to Cry
Find out more about why he cried in The Messenger.

From the NY Times Review
"No movie can convey the truth of war to those of us who have not lived through it, but “The Messenger,” precisely by acknowledging just how hard it is to live with that truth, manages to bring it at least partway home."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Closed tonight from 9 on

It's our staff holiday party tonight. So we're a little late..

Monday, January 25, 2010

Indie filmmaker interview-Jennifer Grausman

Jennifer's film, Pressure Cooker, will be screening at The Little as part of our Spotlight on Black History Month Series.

Here's a bit about the film:
Three seniors at Philadelphia's Frankford High School find an unlikely champion in the kitchen of Wilma Stephenson. A legend in the school system, Mrs. Stephenson's hilariously blunt boot-camp method of teaching Culinary Arts is validated by years of scholarship success. Against the backdrop of the row homes of working-class Philadelphia, she has helped countless students reach the top culinary schools in the country. And under her fierce direction, the usual distractions of high school are swept aside as Erica, Dudley and Fatoumata prepare to achieve beyond what anyone else expects from them.

And now for Jennifer's interview:

1. Jennifer, how did you first hear about Wilma Stephenson?
In 2005-2006, I researched several public high school culinary programs in NYC for a possible documentary, and kept hearing about Wilma Stephenson from teachers who had met her, as well from personnel at the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), which runs the scholarship competition in the film, and was founded by my father, Richard Grausman. I finally went down to Frankford to meet her in June 2006. We had a three hour conversation and I knew right away from her passion and charisma that she was a character. It was clear how much she loved her students and that there was something special going on in her kitchen classroom.

2. What was it like to record the class and kids over time?
It was really wonderful to be able to film the kids throughout the whole year - we were able to watch them grow and change immensely. But filming in the kitchen was definitely a challenge. It's a tight space, with challenging sound issues, and we always had to be careful to stay out of the way - especially Mrs. Stephenson's way - since nothing was more important to her than teaching her students.

Spending so much time in the classroom was also valuable in that it made us a part of the class. This led to the naturalism and candid behavior of Wilma and the kids when we were around, which became a true strength of the film and allowed us to use primarily verite footage.

3. Tell us about your upcoming trip to Sundance?
I am going to Sundance for the premiere of a fiction feature film that I co-produced, 3 BACKYARDS. It was written and directed by Eric Mendelsohn and stars Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Embeth Davidtz, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe and Danai Gurira.

4. What's the biggest thing you learned from the kids?
The kids were incredibly inspiring. They handled the stress of the competition, school, jobs and family issues with grace, maturity and a sense of humor.

5. Tell us about the Take Part campaign.
Participant Media executive produced the film and they run a social action campaign associated with PRESSURE COOKER. If you go to the website: you can learn more about C-CAP and donate to their efforts, as well as sign a petition to support the the Perkins Act, learn about ACTE - the Association of Career and Technical Education and support such programs in your own community.

6. How have you approached your participation in film festivals?
Mark and I were lucky to get to travel with the film to many film festivals all over the US and abroad. It was great to see the film with different audiences, do Q&As after screenings and especially participate in educational screenings with middle, high school, and college or culinary students.

Our very first screening was a special screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival for 1200 public high school students. They loved the film and we were lucky to have Wilma, Erica, Fatoumata and Dudley with us for the Q&A. The LA students treated them all like rock stars - asking for autographs - and also asking Mrs. Stephenson if she would move to LA and teach them! Many students said they could relate to PRESSURE COOKER because it told their story - and not many films do. It was an incredible experience.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crib Sheet for Sundance

So, you aren't an indie filmmaker and your company sure didn't pay for you to's how to keep track of Sundance from your own home.

2. iPhone app--Sundance iPhone App
3. Filmmaker interviews on YouTube (


Friday, January 22, 2010

MovieGeek covers the Golden Globes

Hi, I'm Kelly Foster. I handle all of the Special Events at The Little; and I've been dubbed MovieGeek when I guest write blog columns.

I will be offering my personal coverage and opinions as we move through the awards season. I've been involved in theatre and film since I was a youngster--no trivia is too arcane for me! Here's my take on the Golden Globes. Sorry it's a few days late, but I had to calm down after the whole Avatar thing. I hope you enjoy reading. I look forward to hearing your comments!

I think Warren Beatty put it best when he commented "The Golden Globes are fun, the Oscars are business."

If the Academy Awards are The New York Times, then the Globes are The Weekly World News. This year's show had one recurring theme - "NBC Sucks", starting with Julia Roberts on the red carpet proclaiming "NBC is in the toilet right now!", followed by Tom Hanks chiming in "NBC said it was going to rain at 10, but they moved it to 11:30". That pretty much set the tone for the night.

Here are a few standout moments to begin with…
Mo'Nique winning Best Supporting Actress for Precious and gave a teary, emotional thank-you speech. Mo'Nique has not endeared herself to voters this awards season (by skipping most of the awards show and not campaigning for votes), so this was the perfect way to show that she's serious ... about winning an Oscar.

Meryl Streep winning Best Actress (Comedy) for Julie and Julia, and gave what can only be described as a very "Streep-ian" speech. If I didn't know better, I'd say she was mocking the Saturday Night Live bit that mocked her the night before.

Ricky Gervais was fine as host (although I do think there is such a thing as being too self-deprecating), and he had the biggest "oh no he didn't!" moment of the night when he introduced Mel Gibson saying, “I like to drink as much as the next bloke, unless the next bloke is Mel Gibson.”

Sandra Bullock wins Best Dramatic Actress for The Blind Side. You've got to be kidding me. Let’s wait a few more years till she actually gets the right role to warrant an award. And I say this as a HUGE SB fan.

Now let me delve into the turbulent waters of the Best Picture and Best Director races and I will try and restrain myself.

The 100 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association must have really loved James Cameron's “Avatar” to keep from voting for his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director for “The Hurt Locker”. Ask yourself: Given the chance to honor the maker of what may become the biggest box office hit of all time with a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Motion Picture and take the rare opportunity to acknowledge a woman for besting men in a man's world, shouldn't you take the double?

I like “Avatar”, but Cameron is a technological master, not a master director. He's certainly not a writer, not of scripts and not of speeches. On Sunday, the ‘King of the World’ was a bag of wind, and his ex-wife -- his better on this night -- was nowhere in sight.

In the turnaround time between their nominating and casting their final ballots, the foreign press drop-kicked both their drama favorite 'Up in the Air' and their comedy/musical favorite 'Nine' to the curb. 'Up in the Air' cashed in only one of its six nominations -- the best screenplay award to 'Up in the Air' -- and 'Nine' went oh-for-four. Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds,' which also had four nominations, felt the love just once, for Christophe Waltz's supporting actor performance.

The foreign press spread their awards with apparent equanimity. No movie got more than two Globes and only three -- 'Avatar,' 'Up,' and 'Crazy Heart' -- got that many. But neither 'Up' nor 'Crazy Heart' is in the running for a Best Picture Oscar. 'The Hurt Locker' was, but, after it was shut out at the Globes, may no longer be. Certainly, unnecessary damage has been done to Bigelow.

OK, the foreign press, as someone noted during Sunday's Globe broadcast, is a strange bunch. They're not driven by logic or even by taste; they're driven by their need for writing assignments. And they are going to get a lot more assignments for a movie that's about to gross more than $1 billion overseas than for one that has already run its course in foreign markets with barely $3 million in ticket sales.

People often overstate the predictive power of the Golden Globes when it comes to the eventual Academy Award winners. After all, there’s no overlap between the voting bodies. But after Sunday night I can’t help but feel several races beginning to shift, for better or worse. For instance:

Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique were locks before last night, and they’re even stronger locks now.

Best Actor

It was certainly a race between George Clooney and Jeff Bridges. That Bridges received the heartiest standing ovation for any Globe winner means the Hollywood community isn’t just loving his touching performance in Crazy Heart, but that they’re also looking at this like a career-achievement award. The foreign press can take pride in the Globe they gave to Jeff Bridges as Best Dramatic Actor for 'Crazy Heart.' It was a career-capping performance, and Bridges' humble acceptance speech is one that Oscar voters will want to hear in their own hall. After four losses at the Oscars, he may just get the big trophy after all.

Best Actress
They tied at the BFCAs, and now Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock picked up Globe wins. Everyone will now say it’s between the two of them for the win, and they’ll be right. The Globes were Carey Mulligan’s best shot at a victory; she and Gabourey Sidibe will now need to be content with a nomination. (And I hope they will be!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movies and music this week

A Single Man
Broken Embraces
The Young Victoria
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
Up in the Air

Monday: Annie Wells

Wednesday: The Margaret Explosion

Thursday: Deborah Magone

Friday: Don Mancuso & Regi Hendrix

Saturday: Steve Greene Trio

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bob Russell Takes on the Critics Choice and the Golden Globes

Our Executive Director, Bob Russell shares a few of his personal reactions as the awards season begins. Hit it, Bob...

The televised film awards season has officially kicked-off with the announcements of both the Critics Choice and Golden Globe winners. It was a great weekend for a few folks, especially those who scored “a double”—walking home with awards from each ceremony. Jeff Bridges was honored as Best Actor for his performance in “Crazy Heart” (which opens at The Little on February 29), Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor as the “Want to Hate Him but Secretly Love Him” Col. Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds” and Mo'Nique was recognized for her strong, breakout dramatic performance in “Precious”.

I felt the Critics Choice Movie Awards deserved a better production than bad jokes and bland presenters. I was very disappointed that the Best Foreign Language Film award, which was given to “Broken Embraces” (now at The Little), was not presented live, but in a pre-announcement.

I was thrilled to see Kathryn Bigelow become the first female ever to be honored with the Best Directing award for her amazing film “The Hurt Locker”, which was also named Best Picture.

And I’m wondering if the Meryl Streep/Sandra Bullock kiss will receive as much media attention as the Madonna/Britney kiss did?

The Golden Globes had its share of memorable moments, as usual. Though I must ask – was it necessary for the Red Carpet “reporters” to ask every star about the rain?

  • Best Acceptance Speech: Robert Downey Jr. “refusing” to thank anyone, especially…
  • Most Heartfelt Acceptance Speech: Mo'Nique
  • Most Glamorous Presenter: Sophia Loren
  • Best Foreign Language Film Award: “The White Ribbon” (opens at The Little on February 19).
  • Best Drama: “Avatar”—Really? Best Drama winner over “The Hurt Locker” or “Precious”? Really?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Indie Filmmaker Interview--Seattle's Own 4D4Films

Will and Valerie, tell us about why you established a film company?

We are fans of great stories and characters. Whether it is books, TV, or the movies, there is nothing like a well-crafted story based on interesting characters. I (Will) had been complaining about movies and “if we had their budget we could do something better” for many years. Finally one day, Valerie said “let’s do it, let’s make a movie.” I (Will) had done some video production stuff back in the day, real basic stuff, but Valerie hadn’t been on a set, so we volunteered behind the scenes on a couple of local films to get some much needed experience. We asked as many questions as we could and walked away with a better understanding of the process. While we were getting our “real education”, we formed 4D4Films with the primary goal of producing the best no-budget films we could utilizing the talent, locations and resources of the Pacific Northwest.

What is it like trying to get films made?

Aside from finding and making time, it’s been a fairly easy process. Locations have been pretty easy to find, it’s amazing how excited people are just to be a part of the process and willing to welcome you into their home. As far as casting goes, there are plenty of talented people in the area who are willing and interested in participating in local films. We like to keep things pretty simple on set and usually shoot with only a couple of crew members and have our cast help out when they aren’t in a scene. They like being a part of things behind the scenes as well and it makes it much easier to manage the set.

What's your take on the filmmaking community out near Seattle?

There are far more productions going on at any given time in the area than most people realize. It’s a very active area, with a wide variety of subjects and styles. I think the Seattle area attracts artistic people and this really shows in the films that getting made. There are also some great festivals in the area that treat everyone very well, even those of us that aren’t trying to make a career out of filmmaking. There are also a lot of resources for those pursuing it as a career and some great indie screening venues as well.

Tell us about your documentary. How did you select your subject?

It’s a story of one man’s 20 year journey as an independent record store owner. He’s seen and survived it all from CD’s, to illegal music sharing, big box stores selling CD’s for less than cost (a common practice most people don’t know about), and the economic collapse of the last couple years. I (Will) have known him since college and he’s always been an interesting character and a great human being, a real stand-up kind of guy. We’ve been talking about doing a documentary on his story and with his 20th anniversary coming up next summer; it seemed like the perfect time.

What's the most difficult part of being an indie filmmaker? The most rewarding?

The biggest challenge is time – shooting, editing, marketing, and promoting our films. We’ve been really fortunate in having the creative material, talent, and locations, but time is always a challenge. We are huge Vancouver Canucks hockey fans so we try to shoot during the summer and edit in the fall/winter.

The most rewarding part is seeing it play on the big screen at festivals. Sitting there watching along with the audience and getting their feedback when it is over is a truly amazing feeling. To get to share that experience with people in those settings is great. When they watch it and get what you were trying to do, nothing can beat that feeling. Winning awards are fun too, but that is really icing on the cake – the screening is where it’s at.

You can reach Will and Valerie at:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Broken Embraces-Opening Friday, Jan. 15th

About the Film

Broken Embraces (Spanish: Los abrazos rotos) is a 2009 Spanish film by Pedro Almodóvar set in the 1990s and present day. The film centers on a four-way tale of dangerous love, and was shot in the style of a hard-boiled 1950s American film noir[2], more themed to the neo-noir genre. However, it is filmed in bright color, as most of Almodovar's films are, rather than black-and-white. The cast includes many Almodóvar regulars such as Ángela Molina, Lola Dueñas and Penélope Cruz (her fourth film with the director). The film's soundtrack includes Cat Power, Uffie, and Can.

Many themes include noir references such as posters in sets, the lighting and the characters themselves.

The film was accepted into the main selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or,[3] his third film to do so and fourth to screen at the festival.

The film has also been nominated for the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Almodóvar's sixth film to be nominated in this category. It has also been nominated for the Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as the Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for Penélope Cruz's performance.


A man writes, lives and loves in darkness. Fourteen years before, he was in a brutal car crash on the island of Lanzarote. In the accident, he didn’t lose only his sight, he also lost Lena, the love of his life.

This man uses two names: Harry Caine, a playful pseudonym with which he signs his literary works, stories and scripts, and Mateo Blanco, his real name, with which he lives and signs the film he directs. After the accident, Mateo Blanco reduces himself to his pseudonym, Harry Caine. If he can’t direct films he can only survive with the idea that Mateo Blanco died on Lanzarote with his beloved Lena.

In the present day, Harry Caine lives thanks to the scripts he writes and to the help he gets from his faithful former production manager, Judit García, and from Diego, her son, his secretary, typist and guide. When Diego has an accident and circumstances are such that Harry is left to take care of him, Diego asks Harry about the time when he answered to the name of Mateo Blanco.

With the idea of entertaining the him, Harry tells Diego what happened fourteen years just as a father tells his little child a story so that he’ll fall asleep.

What's being said about the film
"Can there be such a thing as exuberant melancholy? I can’t think of another way to describe the spirit of “Broken Embraces,” Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, the title of which carries a telling hint of paradox. It is grave and effervescent, tender and cruel."--The NY Times

"You may get whiplash following the twists and turns in the latest wild ride from Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar. But it hurts so good. Broken Embraces is the fourth film in which Almodóvar has directed his muse, Penélope Cruz. They bring out something elemental in each other..."--Rolling Stone

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Little Theatre LOVES Christopher Plummer!

We have asked roughly a dozen indie film stars to show their support for us by providing signed photos.

Our first respondent is Mr. Plummer. We are very grateful to him. Look for him in the upcoming film The Last Station which opens here Feb. 26th.

Film and music this week

A Single Man
Broken Embraces
Falstaff (Opera Series--Tuesday, 19th at 7pm, Sunday 24th at noon)

The Young Victoria
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
Up in the Air

Monday: Annie Wells

Wednesday: The Margaret Explosion

Thursday: Deborah Magone

Friday: Don Mancuso & Regi Hendrix

Saturday: Steve Greene Trio

A Single Man--Opening Friday, Jan. 15th

A Single Man is based on the book by Christopher Isherwood.Here's a little history...When A Single Man was originally published in 1964, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life; the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness.

About the film
'A Single Man' is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it is the story of a British college professor (Colin Firth) who is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner. The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Jon Kortajarena

Excerpt from an interesting interview with the film's Director, Tom Ford.
(yes, he's the famous fashion designer)
Question: Now that you’ve started this second profession while keeping at the fashion, I’m curious about what you saw yourself doing as a child?

Ford: God. I thought that I was going to be an actor. I actually studied acting at NYU and I made a lot of television commercials which is how I put myself through college. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to be an actor because I didn’t feel secure enough at that time. I remember doing a Purell shampoo commercial when I was nineteen and this kind of bitchy hairdresser said, ‘You’re losing your hair. It’s all going to fall out.’ I just remember becoming so paranoid about my appearance that I wasn’t a good actor because I was too self-absorbed and nervous. I realized that wasn’t going to happen for me so I went back to school and studied architecture and fashion and now I’ve sort of ended up here. But when I was a kid I thought that I was going to be an actor.

Read the entire interview here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Indie Filmmaker Interview-Zoje Stage

Zoje, tell us about your background in filmmaking and screenwriting.

I am primarily a self-taught writer and filmmaker - although I did take a screenwriting class and a couple of Super-8 filmmaking classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in the late 80's. I knew as a teenager that I wanted to be a filmmaker - it was an art form that seemed to encompass all of my creative interests. However, my path has been very circuitous, which has allowed me to pick up a diverse set of skills along the way. I've been a very disciplined writer for a long time, and my method and style has evolved in a very intuitive way. Also, I have a deep background in theatre. Theatre was accessible in a way that filmmaking opportunities often weren't (especially before digital video became ubiquitous) - so via theatre I had the chance to work in a collaborative environment, get my writing up on its feet, and experience the art of "live production" both behind the scenes and on stage. (The one area where I am trained is as an actor.) All of these things have contributed to my ability to be an effective storyteller as a filmmaker. Once I got my own DV equipment I had a chance to experiment and refine my skills, and learning to edit was a vital step in understanding the complete process of filmmaking = preproduction (writing), production (directing), post-production (editing).

What's it like trying to attach creatives to a script in production?

I am glad this is not my main responsibility! But seriously, this is where an experienced producer can make a big difference. I'm in the process of getting my award-winning script "The Machine Who Loved" into production, and after more than a year of false starts former-Rochesterian Richard Bosner has come on board as producer. Rick lives and works in California and is very experienced . I've said for a long time that the key person on any set is the Production Manager, because that's the person who knows everything about the logistics of getting a film made, and that's Rick's background - and in the last two years he's produced two other feature films. He has developed relationships with people in many different areas of the business and we're drawing on his contacts to attract our initial key people. A project like this builds incrementally, and given the enthusiasm that people have shown for the script we anticipate being able to put together a great, professional crew and cast. Getting people attached, especially to a low-budget film, is a matter of having a project that people get excited about and believe in - and this script has dynamic roles for actors so, in addition to Rick's contacts, we know we'll be able to attract great talent.

What's your take on the filmmaking community here in Rochester?

On the one hand it seems obvious that Rochester has a very active indie filmmaking community, since it is the home of Eastman Kodak. But on the other hand, when non-artists ask me what the filmmaking community here is like they seem shocked when I say that it is thriving - so obviously there is not great awareness about what's going on. Not to kiss your ass or anything, but I think to have a blog like this affiliated with the Little Theatre is a great idea, because the people here who love and support independent film might not be aware that there are a ton of filmmakers here, dashing around with their cameras, cooped up in their rooms editing, and screening their stuff around the country - and locally at Emerging Filmmakers and other fests. To a lot of people, a "film" is a multi-million dollar extravaganza - but long before any filmmaker is allowed to helm something with that big of a budget, she makes what she can with almost no money, honing her skills until she gets a bigger opportunity. There are a lot of people here working toward that bigger opportunity.

What is it like having a screenplay staged compared to what it would be like watching a film?

After winning the 2009 Screenplay Live! screenwriting competition, I had the opportunity to direct my script "The Machine Who Loved" as a staged reading for the High Falls Films Festival (now the 360/365 George Eastman House Film Festival). The short answer to your question is a staged reading bears absolutely no resemblance to a film. I was well aware of this while I was directing the reading, and my singular goal was to keep the audience engaged: in a film, you are surrounded by dynamic moving images; at a reading, you see actors sitting on a stage, reading from a script for ninety minutes. And all the descriptive stuff - what should be imagery - is read aloud by a narrator. It's a pretty boring proposition. As part of my work with the actors I continually found myself explaining how their intention might be rendered on film in one simple close-up, whereas on the stage you need to create something broader that a live audience can see, while still trying to maintain realism and naturalism. It was a really great experience getting the script on its feet, and the audience enjoyed it - it's a chance for them to appreciate a movie's unheralded origins: the screenplay. But ultimately, a screenplay fulfills its purpose only when it becomes a film.

What's the most difficult part of being an indie filmmaker? The most rewarding?

Many years ago I spent a couple of months in Los Angeles and when people found out I wanted to be an independent filmmaker they looked at me with pity and asked "Why?" Their idea of success in filmmaking had everything to do with money and power. My only vision for success is as an independent filmmaker, because at heart I am a person who thinks too much, dreams too much, feels too much, and likes to make stuff. I think it's fine that there's an avenue of cinema that's just about entertainment, but the body of work I hope to make has more to say.

At some level, the difference between a studio film and an independent film begins to blur, because the films are seeking the same exposure and distribution opportunities. Let's face it, whether you make a feature for $1 million or $100 million, your goal is for people to see it. Things get difficult for someone shopping around an indie project when their work is perceived as being not commercial enough - for whatever reasons. The real challenge is to get the exposure opportunities, because I fervently believe that humans are moved by things in a similar way - whether they are laughing, crying, hiding in fright, or cheering on a protagonist. I think smaller budget films tend to actually be better at connecting human beings with other human beings, precisely because there are fewer whistles-and-bells. But in a world where big studio films can make $200 million dollars, people don't appreciate that the profit margin for a smaller film can be just as great. So in part, being an independent filmmaker is a battle of perceptions. I think the ultimate reward is being able to say "I did it my way" - because of course artistically, I'm not functioning as part of a corporate committee.

Zoje's Contact Info.:

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Member Perk-Nationwide Arthouse Theatre Discounts

If you are a Little member (if you aren't follow this link), we have a new perk for you.

The Little has joined forces with independent arthouse theatres across the country to extend special membership discounts at the following theatres:

Cinema Paradiso (Ft. Lauderdale)

Tampa Theatre (Tampa)

Robinson Film Center (Shreveport)

Cape Ann Community Cinema (Gloucester)

Coolidge Corner Theatre (Brookline)

New Hampshire
Red River Theatres (Concord)

New York
ART Mission and Theater (Binghamton)

North Dakota
The Fargo Theatre (Fargo)

Circle Cinema (Tulsa)

Hollywood Theatre (Portland)

South Carolina
Nickelodeon Theatre (Columbia)

Olympia Film Society (Olympia)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos Film Information

One Showing Only! Monday, January 11 at 6:30
Part of the Harvesting Justice Film Festival, a collaboration between Rural & Migrant Ministry and The Little Theatre

“Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos” chronicles the human interchange over the last quarter century between two towns: Jacaltenango, Guatemala and Jupiter, Florida. During the Guatemalan violence of the 1980s refugees began heading north to save their lives. Some three thousand indigenous migrants from the highlands of Guatemala have made their way to the coastal resort town of Jupiter. Jupiter and Jacaltenango have signed a sister city agreement, and try to face head on the challenges presented by change. The film raises many questions about the new immigrants in small communities across the country. It underlines the challenges in the U.S. as well as the tremendous pressures on Guatemalan families, whose members must decide whether to leave to provide for them or stay behind to keep the family together.

Following the film will be a talkback with the films director, Charles Thompson.

Sponsored by the Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School

Tickets: $10

Film and music this week

Opening this week:
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos (one showing Mon. Jan. 11 @6:30-Harvesting Justice Film Festival)

Up in the Air, Nine, The Young Victoria, Sherlock Holmes

Music in the Cafe:
Monday, 7:30-9:30 Annie Wells
Wednesday, 7:30-9:30 The Margaret Explosion
Thursday, 7:30-9:30 Deborah Magone
Friday, 8:30-10:30 Don Mancuso & Regi Hendrix
Saturday, 8:30-10:30 Steve Greene Trio

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Indie Filmmaker Interview, Scott Coblio

Scott, tell us about your background in filmmaking.

I was a film minor in college--we shot everything on 16mm film and edited it on a Moviola. The sound had to be recorded separately on a reel to reel tape machine called a Nagra and the two tracks unified later in editing. It was all very old school, but in hindsight I'm glad I learned that way. I love old movies and I felt a connection to them using their technology.

After college, around 1990, I bought a VHS movie camera--they cost about $1,000 then, so not many people had them. I started making what I called "Media Whore Movies"--basically short funny films starring me and my friends. Sometimes they would be parodies of popular movies that were out at the time. A lot of them were pure nonsense. I was very into Dadaism or absurdism then. I thought a movie with no plot and one joke played out incessantly was a hilarious idea. But there was really no place to show them. We use to sell compilations of them at Godiva's (vintage clothing shop on Monroe Ave) and I think we sold one at the Pyramid Art Auction one year. But it was not a really serious film making endeavor, it was more just a way to keep my creative juices flowing, and a fun way to spend weekends!

There was also no youtube then. All we had was Cable Access, which nobody wanted to watch or be seen on. Now everyone's a film maker. It's not quite so novel as it was then. The technology is cheap and kids are growing up with iMovie or whatever on their computer and it's nothing for them to make a movie just for fun. There's no heavy financial investment or technology to learn any more, which in a way is bad, because it means that you might have to weed through a lot of stuff to get to a movie that was made by someone with a serious interest in film making. The flipside, I guess, is that you can reach a much broader audience now. If my youtube video gets 6,000 hits for example, that probably beats the number of people who saw our Media Whore movies by quite a bit.

Eventually the group of friends I had been making movies with kind of dissipated and moved away to different places, and I got some work making training and instructional videos for banks and other businesses for extra money. It wasn't creative but at least I learned video editing technology, since the Media Whore stuff was all edited "in-camera". You just had to shoot them in order and rewind and re-film a take if something went wrong. So I was learning the ropes.

I got much more into my music and photography at this point. I found that I only loved film making when I had people around me that were fun to make movies with. It was really about the collaboration for me. I also found that I'm basically a storyteller who can work in different mediums. Some stories are film ideas, some are songs, and some are photographs. And it's okay to bop back and forth and tell stories in different mediums. It's just that collaboration is more important to some mediums than others. So I put film on the back burner until I was with people that made me want to make movies again.

In 1997, I moved from Rochester to L.A. and got a job as a video editor, which got me back into film, and I started to make little videos again. Then I decided to bite the bullet and make a "real" movie, and started my first feature "Murderess" in 2004 and finished in 2007. It was a historical murder mystery based on a true story that happened in 1931, and I shot it on mini DV, although I tried to give it a film-look to match the feel of a 1930's or 40's film noir. I very much wanted it to look NOT like a contemporary film.

What is it like trying to get films on the festival circuit?

Expensive! There's an entry fee for most of them, and it can add up--$25 here, $50 there, you can end up spending thousands just to enter festivals--maybe more than you spent on your film! I entered the festivals for about a year and then ran out of money. Also, as in any other field, there is a certain amount of nepotism going on--it helps to know people on the inside if you want your film get that extra consideration. Not that you can't enter "cold" and be accepted, but knowing people sure doesn't hurt!

"Murderess" eventually went on to win something--"Best Animated Feature" in the 2008 DIY (Do It Yourself) festival in Los Angeles, which was funny because it's really not an animated film. It's a live-action film using marionettes. But I'll take what I can get! Jack Garner (columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle) called my movie "by far the weirdest entry" when it showed in the ImageOut Festival at the Little and that amused me.

What's your take on the filmmaking community here in Rochester?

I wish it was more of a "scene"--that is, a kind of art fraternity where more film makers get involved in each other's projects. Like Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel and the other surrealists of the avant-garde movement in the 1920's, or Pabst (Pandora's Box) and the Neo-Realists in Germany. Something where everybody gets involved in the same area of interest can be really exciting, more than just a bunch of isolated film makers all doing separate things. But I'm glad people are picking up cameras and shooting. The most important thing is to hold on to the importance of storytelling. It's vital on a basic human level. We need to tell stories and we need to hear them--in any medium. It's unifying and healing.

Any upcoming projects?

I'm writing a melodrama where every character looks like Joan Crawford. It's called Confessions of a Passion-Fruit Moose. I guess I'm back to Dadaism!

What's the most difficult part of being an indie filmmaker? The most rewarding?

The most difficult is money, or lack of it. The more money you have, the better equipment you can afford, the better costumes and sets you can create, the more people who's talent you can access. Obviously, when there's no budget, you have to make do and it can be frustrating making something out of nothing.

However, this also accounts for the most rewarding aspect. You really have to have a good story to make an arresting film with no budget. So you can't rely on bells and whistles--there has to be a good story--and there has to be heart--or it won't work.

I keep saying that now that everyone can make movies and everyone can afford the bells and whistles, the most radical thing anyone's going to be able to do is just tell a good, simple story. Maybe the technological boom--by creating so many filmmakers-- will ultimately signal a return to basic storytelling. The criteria will be, not who can make the fanciest movie, but who can tell the best story; which would be a good thing.

Thanks for sharing your insight, Scott! If you enjoyed our inaugural filmmaker interview, let us know. It's our goal to provide insight into all parts of the filmmaking process here on our blog!

You can reach Scott at:
Scott Coblio
7718 W. Norton Avenue, Apt. 18
W. Hollywood, CA 90046

323-252-6512 cell