Ella Christiansen's Posts (29)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, according to a new suit, has monopolized the foreign entertainment reporting market and is excluding qualified applicants.

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Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian living in Los Angeles who has written about entertainment for a variety of publications, has filed a rather unusual but provocative antitrust lawsuit against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that conducts the annual Golden Globe Awards.

 According to a complaint filed on Monday in California federal court, the HFPA has adopted membership rules that exclude qualified applicants who compete with existing members. The suit further alleges that foreign markets are allocated, and that applicants must execute agreements pledging not to write for any rival publication claimed by a HFPA member. It's also reported in the complaint that HFPA's 87 members are using the Golden Globes as a way to monopolize opportunities to attend industry events or interview "hot" movie stars to the exclusion of other foreign journalists. 

Flaa, states the complaint, "seeks to enforce the right of fair procedure long applied by California to private organizations that affect a person’s ability to earn a lawful living; declare unlawful the provisions of the HFPA’s Bylaws used unfairly to deny admission to qualified applicants; and recover under applicable antitrust laws for the economic harm she has suffered as the result of defendants’ unlawful conduct."

She's represented by David Quinto, who notably was a longtime lawyer for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, the outfit that puts on the Oscars. Now at the firm of One LLP, Quinto has returned to being an outside lawyer after a stint as general counsel at VidAngel.

Flaa, who most recently has been a celebrity interviewer for Norway's TV show God Kveld Norge ("Good Evening Norway") and also posted work on YouTube, alleges that she was sponsored for membership by French and Tunisian members before other HFPA members raised concern about competition in Scandinavia. The journalist says that at one point, she was presented with an agreement committing to never compete with others in the markets of Norway and Denmark. The lawsuit details more behind-the-scenes lobbying and posturing at the organization, which the complaint emphasizes enjoys tax-exempt status. Flaa says her rejection was unrelated to her achievements but rather the result of a conspiracy within the organization, which derives a great deal of power by voting on Golden Globes winners each year.

"The HFPA not only fails to offer a fair procedure for seeking membership, it does not even make a pretense of doing so," states the complaint. "It also requires two votes of approval by the membership without providing any guidelines or standards for approving or rejecting applicants. It places no emphasis whatever on evaluating the quality of an applicant’s work. Instead, it freely allows its members to base their admissions decisions on whether an applicant might become a competitive threat to an existing member."

In a statement, the HFPA said, "While the HFPA has not yet been served with this complaint, it seems consistent with Ms. Flaa’s ongoing attempts to shake down the HFPA, demanding that the HFPA pay her off and immediately admit her prior to the conclusion of the usual annual election process applied to every other HFPA applicant. The HFPA has refused to pay ransom, telling Ms. Flaa that membership was not gained through intimidation. Ms. Flaa and her attorney are now asking a court to order her into the organization and pay her."

Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes, is a division of MRC Media, which also owns The Hollywood Reporter. DCP is not a party to the latest action.

 

Article by: Eriq Gardener for the Hollywood Reporter.

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Michelle Rodriguez narrates the documentary that details the work and fights of stuntwomen on 'Wonder Woman,' 'John Wick,' 'Black Panther,' 'Total Recall' and more.

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In the opening moments of the trailer for director April Wright and Shout! Studios' Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story, one stuntwoman boldly declares, "I wanted to be respected, and I didn't want to be respected for a girl."

Wright's latest inside look at the movie business tackles the on- and offscreen battles of the women who do one of Hollywood's most dangerous jobs. Based on Mollie Gregory's book of the same name, the documentary mixes interviews and archival footage as it follows the film's narrator, actress Michelle Rodriguez, as well as numerous veteran and high-profile stuntwomen, through their daily lives on and off the set.

In addition to capturing the experiences of those working in the present stunt industry, the trailer also gives viewers an inside and intimate look at the long history of stuntwomen in Hollywood, dating back to the silent film period.

"They fought so hard for us to get here, that now we don't have that luxury of not being able to do something," says one stuntwoman.

Directors like Paul Feig and Anne Fletcher talk about the significance of stuntwomen on their own films, while film historian and host of Turner Classic Movies Ben Mankiewicz dissects clips of stunt work in early cinema. Sequences of the stuntwomen, their training and projects visually detail the intense and often dangerous conditions they return to day after day. In one scene, a stuntwoman relays that "there's no way to practice a car hit besides getting hit by a car," before a clip shows one stuntwoman practicing it.

Alongside stars like Rodriguez, the more-than-two-minute trailer sees a host of female stuntpeople unpacking how they make movie magic possible on a host of projects, including Kill Bill, John Wick, Charlie’s Angels and The Fast & the Furious franchise.

The thrill, talent, and dedication of stuntwomen is on full display as they recount their numerous injuries, and touch on their fight not just for space in the stunt community but for a chance to be seen as equals and leaders.

Wright has previously directed movie-business documentaries Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace and Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie. The documentary is produced by Stephanie Austin, Michael Gruskoff and Marion Rosenberg, with Rodriguez, Alex Hamilton, Jay Strommen, Larry Nealy, Robert Hickman, Lynwood Spinks, Ryan Bury, and James Andrew Felts all attached as executive producers.

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Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story debuts on digital platforms on Sept. 22.

 

Article by: Abbey White for the Hollywood Reporter.

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A COVID-wrought content drought is coming. It might be the best thing to happen to entertainment in ages.

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Christopher Nolan has made so many movies about how time is weird, he no longer seems to understand what “two weeks” means.

How else to explain the repeated pushing back of Tenet, his latest movie about time being weird, by a mere fortnight—as though movie theaters might somehow seem less like COVID incubators between July and August of 2020. Last week, however, Warner Bros finally caved and delayed Tenet’s release for the foreseeable future. Probably because very few people seem comfortable with the idea of going back in theaters until vaccines are as easy to obtain as movie tickets.

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Tenet has now joined a rising glut of fully finished major movies we won’t be seeing for some time. White-hot properties like Halloween Kills, The Conjuring 3, and the new Wonder Woman are all currently just sitting on a shelf somewhere, going unfought about online. Meanwhile, a lot of TV shows that should be returning this fall or next spring are experiencing similar delays in even getting off the ground, their productions complicated by COVID. (Where art thou, Succession S3, Russian Doll S2, and the continued adventures of The Mandalorian?) Studios keep green-lighting cool new series and movies all the time, but these announcements seem impossibly optimistic in a world where it’s unsafe to go to a theater.

As the finished and in-process projects continue to pile up and streamers like Netflix clear out their reservoirs of finished movies and shows, we are fast-approaching a drought of fresh content.

It can’t come fast enough.

Not that it’s going to be an actual drought. We’ll be seeing brand new Zoom-centered projects like Shudder’s Host and HBO’s Coastal Elites, more pandemic-themed episodes of existing shows, a lot of talking head-based TV, and a whole Spider-verse’s worth of animated movies the entire time—but not much else.

And that’s a good thing!

Every fool like me, trying in vain to keep up with pop culture, could stand to take a break from the forever-cresting tidal waves of newness.

Ever since Netflix became an original content behemoth, the explosion of streaming platforms has been downright oppressive. Their constant hyper-churn accounts for why, without hesitation, we now refer to material that often approaches art as “content” in the first place. On some level, our precious movies and shows have always been commodities—the crap between commercials—but in an era where every conglomerate wants to build out its own branded video library, they’ve never felt more like it.

After years of attempting to sop up every juicy droplet from a gushing content-geyser, a drought seems like a vacation. It’s a mandatory order to slow down for a beat and actually separate the content from the art.

It’s impossible to catch every show as it rolls off the assembly line, but lately it’s been hard even to know when to bother. For many years, I was aware that Eugene Levy and Catherine “The Great” O’Hara had a sitcom together, but never actually tuned in. What if it was just okay, or worse? It wasn’t until a groundswell of support for Schitt’s Creek’s erupted during its fifth season that I paid it proper attention. Because there are just that many shows.

Schitt’s Creek was where I realized that, statistically speaking, a significant number of “promising but who has the time?” TV shows must be quietly delivering the goods. In a semi-quarantined world with no new movies and shows, the person who finally has time for “promising but who has the time?” is you.

(Well, unless you have kids.)

It’s time to put a canyon-size dent in that Meaning to Check Out file. All those classic movies you never got around to watching. Every show not enough people talked about fondly and thus passed you by. Those animated shows everyone said weren’t just for kids. It might not be “fresh content” for the world, but if it’s new to you, it’s still new.

Not only is the content drought a perfect time for discovery, it’s also a moment for second chances and “completioning” (i.e. finishing a show you stop watching for no real reason). The need to explore every shiny new object you could potentially love makes it hard to stick with shows you merely like a whole lot.

There are so many sitcoms I haven’t seen all the way through, for instance, because they have no overarching story that requires having seen every episode. While Brooklyn Nine-Nine revamps its planned eighth season for Black Lives Matter reasons, I might finally check out the several seasons I haven’t seen yet. Maybe I’ll watch the second season of Barry, a show whose first outing I adored but which simply slipped from my mind upon its return a year later. Maybe I’ll binge on every show like Pen15 that I saw enough of to know I liked it but never explored any further.

The entertainment world is my oyster, and the quarantine is my super-shucker.

The coming content drought is also an invitation to rewatch movies and shows you already love. Remember watching things a second time? Picking up on little details you missed before and deepening your overall appreciation? It became harder to do once everyone adopted a mile-long Netflix queue and a surplus of must-watches. Having fewer hot new movies to check out makes it easier to find out that Ex Machina holds up, or determining once and for all that the second season of The Wire is criminally underrated.

And why not rewatch old movies when there are more fun ways than ever to do so? You can either throw a Watch Party with your friends on Zoom, go to one of the newly thriving drive-in theaters, or possibly watch Jaws at sea.

Options like these make the temporary loss of Tenet feel like not much of a loss at all.

When we finally conquer the coronavirus, and new movies and shows return, they might be all the better because of the wait. For one thing, whenever a tight turnaround is prized over quality control, movies and shows often suffer. SNL overlord Lorne Michaels famously said, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready, it goes on because it’s 11:30,” but that mentality need not apply to every project. A lot of movies and series get better when they have a little space and breathing room; when the creators took the time to make exactly what they wanted. (Mad Max: Fury Road, Titanic, Game of Thrones, and The Sopranos come to mind.) Maybe under quarantine, the editing of already-filmed movies and shows will be more cohesive in the absence of a ticking clock. Maybe some thwarted filmmakers will take the time to get their screenplay just right, unbeholden to a schedule. Maybe all the pop-culture junkies, insatiable gluttons that we are, will finally rediscover our sense of anticipation.

It sucks that Halloween Kills, The Conjuring 3, and Tenet are collecting dust and we can’t watch them. But imagine how much more excited we’ll be when we finally can.

 

Article by: Joe Berkowitz for Fast Company.

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Tendo Nagenda also opens up about his dream projects, whether moviegoers will return to theaters post-COVID, the next stage of the streamer's evolution, and why diversity in Hollywood needs to begin "in the rooms where the decisions are made."

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Netflix finds itself in an unprecedented position in an unprecedented time. The streaming giant added 10.09 million subscribers during its second quarter, raising its global base to nearly 193 million. And as the studios push back movie release dates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the streamer finds itself virtually the only game in town when it comes to delivering movies to a (literally) captive audience on lockdown.

Helping lead that charge is Tendo Nagenda, vp original films, who took the position in August 2018 after nearly nine years at Disney. It was this spring that the earliest seeds of his labor bore fruit: Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, the first project given the green light under his reign, generated all-important social media buzz and already is in the awards-season conversation. More high-profile features followed, including the Mark Wahlberg starrer Spenser Confidential ("action-comedy is an area that audiences have been starved of and respond to," he says) and the very recent Charlize Theron action vehicle The Old Guard, which drew rave reviews and has audiences clamoring for a sequel ("It's a high possibility," is all he's willing to say).

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During the pandemic, Nagenda, 45, is working from the home he shares with his partner, Chelina Odbert, the co-founder and executive director of nonprofit design firm Kounkuey Design Initiative. While on lockdown, Nagenda says he tries to draw a hard line separating work and home life, setting aside time to cook and learn guitar, even as the days are filled with the noise of the renovation crew working on their home, nestled in the hills between Beachwood Canyon and Los Feliz.

As workers drilled and hammered, Nagenda spoke to THR — from a distance — about the streamer's willingness to take risks, his dream directors and why big-budget, family-oriented fare is "the next frontier."

When things go back to "normal," can theaters make a full recovery after audiences have been streaming so much content?

There are still going to be plenty of movies that people will want to see in the theater. I just think that there is also going to be an awareness that there is a super-high-quality film available that might or might not be in theaters. The choice is not going to be, "Do I go to the theater or do I watch something in the comfort of my own home?" It's going to be, "What do I want to watch and where can I find it?" If that answer is on Netflix, and not in a theater, then people will be a lot more used to, and happy about, watching it at home.

How much runway does Netflix have contentwise in the film division?

We have a lot of runway, definitely through 2020 and part of 2021.

We want to get to work and back into production just like everybody else, and we want to get through this year. We're still in pretty good shape.

We're at a stage where studios can't make anything that isn't a big brand or a remake or a sequel. Netflix doesn't have that kind of IP, but it doesn't seem to be held back by that. Why do you think that is?

People want to be entertained, and they don't necessarily need a preexisting brand or a sequel of something they've already seen for that to be the case. They are showing that they are hungry for new stories and new IP. Netflix is a good place to find those things and discover. The idea of discovery is a lot more baked into Netflix than, "What am I going to go see in a theater that is on opening weekend?" [It's] a big risk to make something two years in advance, predicting there will be a big audience. We know there will be a big audience on Netflix all the time, and so our willingness to make new things and build IP is very strong in that regard.

With so much conversation now about how to make Hollywood more inclusive, what is something that you would like to see done that can move the needle?

The facts and the data will tell you that representation behind the camera leads to an inclusion and representation in front of the camera. And that's in the executive suites and in the directing, producing, writing and filmmaking and the below-the-line elements. What I'd like to see is representation increase in the rooms where the decisions are being made.

People talk about the hits, but you never hear about Netflix bombs. What is considered a bomb by Netflix standards?

We don't really think in those terms, which I think is refreshing. There are a lot of metrics that go into determining what is successful for us. Not just viewing but quality, awards, representation. Did it service a particular audience that we value at Netflix, in a particular region, or demographic, or viewing habit? Any movie that we make, regardless of how it does in the first month on Netflix, will be on Netflix forever. So it's possible that something gets more attention and viewing two years after it's released. You don't have to think in terms of hits and bombs.

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You guys chase a lot of big packages. At what point does a budget become unreasonable?

We don’t have a set number. There are a lot of inputs and factors that go into it. How big do we think the audience is based on films that have performed on Netflix, or other places successfully? How much library value, how much of a pioneering piece of content it is from a filmmaker or talent or storytelling standpoint?

So on something like The Gray Man, with the Russo brothers, Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, which was over $200 million, it checks those boxes?

Well you look at that as a potential investment in a franchise if successful. You also are doing so with the most successful franchise producers of all time in terms of theatrical box office, and there you’re pioneering talent on Netflix since it will be our first film with Ryan Gosling as well as other people we will hopefully put in the movie. So we look at it as an investment in the long-term and not just a per picture amount.

Who is your dream filmmaker with whom you'd love to work?

I've love to get Jordan Peele to make a Netflix film. We love Chris Nolan, we love Quentin Tarantino. We have to concentrate our efforts on finding people of that talent level that we can work with as early as possible and then get them to make movies only for Netflix.

What's on your list of dream projects?

We're looking at big, broad-audience, PG-level adventure films as something that we want to get into. Something along the lines of the first Star Wars, or Harry Potter 1 and 2. A lot of family live action, fantasy, spectacle movies that we think are big and can play great. A Jumanji-type of story. That is the next frontier.

That’ll put you even more in competition with studios.

Well, we look at it as what aren’t the studios focused on. New ideas. We want to encourage great talent to think that way. George Lucas created Star Wars — it wasn’t based on a book. If you have that kind of imagination — like the Wachowskis with The Matrix — we feel like we’re the place to take the chance on those types of innovative ideas and filmmakers.

You guys chase a lot of big packages. At what point does a budget become unreasonable? 

We don’t have a set number. There are a lot of inputs and factors that go into it. How big do we think the audience is based on films that have performed on Netflix, or other places successfully? How much library value, how much of a pioneering piece of content it is from a filmmaker or talent or storytelling standpoint?

So on something like The Gray Man, with the Russo brothers, Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, which was over $200 million, it checks those boxes?

Well you look at that as a potential investment in a franchise if successful. You also are doing so with the most successful franchise producers of all time in terms of theatrical box office, and there you’re pioneering talent on Netflix since it will be our first film with Ryan Gosling as well as other people we will hopefully put in the movie. So we look at it as an investment in the long-term and not just a per picture amount.

Who is your dream filmmaker with whom you'd love to work?

I've love to get Jordan Peele to make a Netflix film. We love Chris Nolan, we love Quentin Tarantino. We have to concentrate our efforts on finding people of that talent level that we can work with as early as possible and then get them to make movies only for Netflix.

What's on your list of dream projects?

We're looking at big, broad-audience, PG-level adventure films as something that we want to get into. Something along the lines of the first Star Wars, or Harry Potter 1 and 2. A lot of family live action, fantasy, spectacle movies that we think are big and can play great. A Jumanji-type of story. That is the next frontier.

That’ll put you even more in competition with studios.

Well, we look at it as what aren’t the studios focused on. New ideas. We want to encourage great talent to think that way. George Lucas created Star Wars — it wasn’t based on a book. If you have that kind of imagination — like the Wachowskis with The Matrix — we feel like we’re the place to take the chance on those types of innovative ideas and filmmakers. 

Article by: Borys Kit for the Hollywood Reporter.

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The in-theater advertising firm swung to a second quarter loss as it faces continuing theater closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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In-theater advertising firm National CineMedia has swung to a second quarter loss, on sharply lower revenues, after major cinema chains face an uncertain reopening amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The company recorded a net loss of $13.8 million, or 18 cents per share, against a year-earlier profit of $8.9 million, or 11 cent per share. Revenue for the quarter was $4 million, down 96 percent against a year-earlier $110.2 million, after theater circuits in mid-March shuttered their venues and face an uncertain reopening across the U.S.

"Almost all of these closures continued throughout the entirety of the company’s second quarter of 2020 and remain closed as of the date of this press release. Due to these closures, the company was unable to advertise in the theaters and did not generate any in-theater revenue during the three months ended June 25, 2020," National Cinemedia reported on Monday.

The reopening of movie theaters has been complicated by the Hollywood studios' release schedule being thrown into disarray by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, pushing back such tentpoles as Disney's Mulan and Warner Bros.' Tenet.

National Cinemedia CEO Tom Lesinski in a statement said his company has sufficient liquidity to withstand prolonged closures of the local multiplex, but the same cannot be said of all the major circuits in which the company advertises.

"We believe that the exhibition industry has historically fared well during recessions, and management remains optimistic, though cannot guarantee, that the founding members and network affiliates will rebound and attendance figures will benefit from pent-up social demand as state and local restrictions and other social distancing orders subside and people seek togetherness with a return to normalcy," National Cinemedia said in a statement.

Article by: Etan Vlessing for the Hollywood Reporter.

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SAG-AFTRA Reaches New TV Animation Deal

SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a three-year deal covering TV animation.

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The deal, announced on Monday, covers animated programs produced for television, including network TV, basic cable and streaming platforms.

The new three-year agreement, which will need to be approved by the SAG-AFTRA executive committee, will apply retroactively to July 1 and extend through June 30, 2023. The performers union said terms of the deal include gains in its recently ratified master contract covering feature film and primetime TV. If approved by the committee, the deal will be submitted for ratification to “affected members” — those who have worked on the contract.

Those gains include wage increases of 2.5% in the first year, 3% in the second year and 3% in the third year; a 1% increase in the contribution rate to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and optional wage diversions in years two and three that allow the union to shift .5% from the wage increase to the contribution rate for the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan or the SAG Pension Plan/AFTRA Retirement Fund.

The new deal includes a 26% improvement in residuals for high-budget animated programs made for subscription streaming services like Amazon and Hulu, and reduction of the budget threshold that triggers high-budget coverage for half-hour animated programs made for subscription streaming services from $550,000 to $500,000.

The union said it needed to make a concession to the AMPTP by changing the broadcast syndication residual from a fixed residual to a revenue-based residual at 6% of distributor’s gross ​receipts — the same formula that applies to content moving to basic cable.

“The new formula was the key concession that paid for the increase in streaming residuals, an exchange that positions SAG-AFTRA animation voice actors to grow their residuals in the fastest growing area of their work while increasing opportunities for animated programs to be exhibited in broadcast syndication, which is a declining market,” the union said.

“This is a future-focused deal that builds off our successful television and film contract negotiations and even breaks new ground in the application of scale minimums to animated programs made for subscription streaming services, a very important bread-and-butter issue for our members and a strategic breakthrough that is unique to this contract,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said.

Article by: Dave McNary for Variety.

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An appeals court on Wednesday ruled that Ashley Judd can pursue a sexual harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein, finding that he held power over her career when he invited her to his room at the Peninsula Hotel in the mid-1990s.

The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court, which had thrown out the claim on the grounds that Judd was not Weinstein’s employee at the time of the meeting.

“(T)heir relationship consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood,” wrote Judge Mary H. Murguia, for the panel. “Therefore, the district court erred when it dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment claim.”

Judd sued Weinstein in April 2018. She alleged that Weinstein had lured her to his hotel room, asked her to watch him shower and tried to give her a massage. She also sued for defamation and retaliation, claiming that after she rebuffed his advances, Weinstein effectively blacklisted her in the film industry. 

She brought the suit after “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson revealed in an interview that Miramax had discouraged him from casting Judd and Mira Sorvino, saying they could be a “nightmare to work with.”

Judge Philip Gutierrez allowed Judd to proceed with the retaliation and defamation claims, but threw out the harassment claim on the grounds that California law did not cover a producer and an actress who did not have an active employment relationship. The law has since been amended to explicitly cover producers and actors. 

But in its ruling, the three-judge panel held that the producer-actor relationship has a similar power imbalance to the relationships that were enumerated in the statute at the time, such as teacher-student and landlord-tenant relationships.

“That is, by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood, Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercive power or leverage over Judd, who was a young actor at the beginning of her career at the time of the alleged harassment,” Murguia wrote. “Moreover, given Weinstein’s highly influential and ‘unavoidable’ presence in the film industry, the relationship was one that would have been difficult to terminate ‘without tangible hardship’ to Judd, whose livelihood as an actor depended on being cast for roles.”

The case will now head back to the lower court and proceed on all claims.

Theodore Boutrous, who represents Judd in the case, praised the ruling.

“This is an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships,” Boutrous said in a statement. “The court correctly holds that California law forbids sexual harassment and retaliation by film producers and others in powerful positions, even outside the employment context, and we look forward to pursuing this claim against Mr Weinstein at trial.”

Update, 1 p.m.: Weinstein’s attorney, Phyllis Kupferstein, says she too looks forward to a trial, “where we expect the truth will come to light.”

“The most minimal investigation of the events will show that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd, nor hindered or interfered with her career, and certainly never retaliated against her,” Kupferstein said in a statement. “Instead, Mr. Weinstein championed her work and approved her casting for two of his movies. Mr. Weinstein fought for Ms. Judd as his first choice for the lead role in ‘Good Will Hunting’ and, in fact, arranged for Ms. Judd to fly to New York to be considered for the part. Thereafter, Ms. Judd was hired for two of Mr. Weinstein’s movies, ‘Frida’ in 2002 and ‘Crossing Over’ with Harrison Ford in 2009. In addition, the record on ‘Lord of the Rings’ will finally be made absolutely clear – that Mr. Weinstein had no authority over the project as it belonged to a different production company that had full staffing control of the film.”

SAG-AFTRA also issued a statement applauding the ruling.

“The California Legislature took action to make sure that individuals like Ashley Judd, who may not be traditional employees, would have remedies against abusers, and that those abusers couldn’t escape responsibility based on technicalities related to employee status,” the actors guild said in a statement. The Ninth Circuit has rightly determined that statute means what it says, and that victims of harassment, abuse, and assault will not be cut off from justice based on technical details of employee status.”

Article By: Gene Maddaus for Variety.

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Lack of insurance had been considered the biggest issue facing the U.K. industry as it attempts to get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The U.K. government has launched an emergency £500 million ($647 million) film and TV production insurance fund, a move expected to help give a much-needed boost to the indie sector as it attempts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and get cameras rolling on numerous stalled productions.

The decision comes after months of discussions with the industry, spearheaded by trade body Pact, working alongside the British Film Institute and several other groups and production companies. Insurance has been considered the most pressing factor for the industry coming out of the crisis, with many projects unable to get the necessary cover due to coronavirus fears and under threat of moving overseas or being canceled altogether. 

The Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, the government claims, will help to get TV and film productions across the country that have been halted or delayed by a lack of insurance to get back up and running, and "filling the gap left by the lack of available insurance and cover coronavirus-related losses for cast member and crew illnesses and filming delays or disruptions caused by the ongoing battle against the virus."

"This very welcome news shows that the UK Government has listened to one of our key industries and has taken unprecedented steps to support our highly successful indigenous film and TV production and broadcasting industry to get back to what we love most - making TV programmes and films enjoyed by U.K. audiences and many more millions around the globe," said Pact chief executive John McVay.

"This will not only help many hundreds of small companies across the U.K., but also the many thousands of freelancers who have been furloughed to get back to work along with those who sadly weren’t able to benefit from the Government's interventions."

Sara Geater, Chair of Pact and COO of All3Media, said: "The UK indie sector had a very strong 2019, making award winning series for both the UK and US markets. We have been very badly hit by COVID-19 and the support of the Government at this time is critical and hugely appreciated. Our sector now has every chance of a return to being the successful global industry that we are renowned for."

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said: “Given the significant contribution of film and TV production to the UK economy, there has been a huge joint effort on the part of government and industry to get production restarted. The issue of securing coronavirus-related insurance quickly emerged as the biggest hurdle for independent producers - and a major priority for the Screen Sector Taskforce - so the Government’s £500 million scheme is really great news for our production business, jobs and for the economy.:

Along with U.K. broadcasters, Pact involved many leading production companies in the negotiations including the following senior executives from scripted and factual production.

See-Saw Films COO Hakan Kousetta, , who also sits on the industry working group, said: “This is exactly the shot in the arm the TV and film industry has been waiting for. This intervention will allow production companies to get going again and thereby ensure that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of production spend can be applied to British jobs and services."

Martin Haines, md of, Kudos, who has also been part of the negotiations, said: "This is a decisive and timely intervention which turns the lights back on and is an absolute gamechanger for recovery of the TV and film industries and the thousands of people who work in them."

Comcast-backed Sky Studios, which has invested heavily in U.K. productions, also welcomed the news.

 "This is the greenlight the industry needs to get back into production," said CEO Gary Davey. "The Government has taken a significant step to support the U.K.'s world-leading indie sector, helping to get cameras rolling again on the nation's favourite TV programmes."

Article By Alex Ritman for the Hollywood Reporter.

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While there was no formal specifics offered on projects, the announcement noted 
that several titles were in development.

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In the latest attempt to become a Hollywood player, digital media company Buzzfeed will partner with Lionsgate on a slate of narrative feature films.

The slate of full-length feature films, which were described as "socially relevant and high-concept" that would attract millennials and Gen Z, will be produced with BuzzFeed for primarily distribution strategies.

While there was no formal specifics offered on projects, the announcement noted 
that several titles were in development, with Lionsgate and BuzzFeed planning to launch their first co-production in 2021. The films will be based on original BuzzFeed IP, as well as projects designed to tap into BuzzFeed’s established readership.


Jason Moring and Michael Philip of production company CR8IV DNA will act as consultants on the slate of features.

Said Lauren Bixby, Lionsgate vp acquisitions and co-productions. “With our innovative marketing strategy and agile distribution teams, combined with BuzzFeed’s impressive and extensive global reach, the partnership will allow two entrepreneurial companies to work together to develop some great IP.”

“This exciting partnership with Lionsgate marks a new chapter for BuzzFeed and our studio endeavors,” said Richard Alan Reid, svp of global content and film at BuzzFeed. "We are expanding our strategy to include long-form content, with a slate that celebrates identity, diversity and youth culture, and concepts that highlight themes and characters not typically at the center of pop movies."

Buzzfeed has long-aspired to be a producer of film and television, with CEO Jonah Peretti first announcing plans to break into entertainment in 2014 with the launch of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures (later renamed BuzzFeed Studios).  

Peretti told THR back in 2019 that Buzzfeed Studios' focus would be on new formats, saying, "I think you're going to see a whole explosion of new formats and new models in programming that will go beyond just taking traditional TV and sticking it on the internet."

At the time, the co-founder and CEO also noted that they would not abandon their hopes to develop projects for more traditional avenues, adding that they would likely be bringing in an established Hollywood partner to assist. It appears the Lionsgate deal is Buzzfeed doing exactly that.  

Article By: Mia Galuppo for the Hollywood Reporter.

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Female filmmakers are behind nearly half of the films that will screen at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, representing a high-water mark for the annual celebration of the best in movies and pushing the gathering tantalizingly close to achieving gender parity.

The lineup includes new works by ​Roseanne Liang​ (“Shadow In The Cloud​”), Tracey Deer​ (“Beans”), Sonia Kennebeck​ (“Enemies of the State”), Chloé Zhao​ (“Nomadland”), as well as the feature directorial debuts of Oscar-winning actresses Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) and Halle Berry (“Bruised”). Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy,” a BBC drama series about a university student’s coming-of-age, will be the closing night film, a sign of the continued blurring of the lines between film and television. All told 46% of the films were directed or co-directed by women, an improvement on last year, when 36% of entries were from female filmmakers.

“We’ve reached a watershed moment where the entire film world is embracing the fact that women’s voices have been underrepresented for too long,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s co-head and artistic director. ” Now is the time where we can bring more of these films to the fore.”

This year’s Venice Film Festival lineup also came close to achieving gender parity, with women directors making up 44% of the competition — a huge step forward from 2019 when only two films at the Italian festival were made by female filmmakers. TIFF did not provide data about the numbers of Black, Latino, or other historically underrepresented filmmakers.

TIFF, now in its 45th year, usually serves as a kickoff to awards season, the time of year from September to February when studios pull out all the stops to win a date with the Oscars. Because of the coronavirus, this year’s edition will look dramatically different. It will rely on a mixture of physical events and virtual screenings, and will showcase many movies in drive-ins as a way to prevent people from spreading the disease.

Many studios, such as Netflix, Warner Bros., and Focus, which have used the film festival to launch Oscar campaigns in the past, are sitting this one out. Upcoming awards contenders such as David Fincher’s “Mank,” Tom McCarthy’s “Stillwater,” Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” are not among the films being showcased. In some cases, it’s unclear if those films will even debut this year. Privately, distributors have said that the logistics are too complicated to launch movies in Toronto this year — A-list movie stars are wary of traveling during a pandemic and would have to quarantine, and there are questions about the value of having a “virtual” premiere.

Despite those challenges, some studios, such as the indie labels Sony Pictures Classics and Neon, will screen films such as “The Father” and “Ammonite,” both of which are expected to vie for awards. Joana Vicente, TIFF’s executive director and co-head, acknowledged that it was hard to convince certain filmmakers to get on board with the new plans.

 “It was all over the map,” she said. “There’s obviously a need for filmmakers to have this platform to show their films, to connect with audiences, to sell their films. And there were films that decided to wait until next year.  Sometimes not having the films that we would usually have access to, made the team look deeper. And that enabled us to curate a fresh, diverse, really exciting slate of films.”

Vicente said Toronto is expected to begin opening movie theaters on Friday and stressed that the festival will follow public health guidelines. Despite the challenges of mounting the festival, Bailey and Vicente said that the felt that TIFF’s mission of showcasing cinema from around the world has never been more urgent.

“When the lockdown happened so many people found so much comfort in watching favorite films and trying to find new films,” said Bailey. “We knew that there was a whole crop of films that were still being made. Those movies deserve to have a great launch. We felt that we couldn’t just let them fall into the void.”

The festival also unfolds as the movie theater business has been hit hard by coronavirus closures. Both major chains and smaller, family-run venues could face financial ruin if people can’t go back to theaters soon.

“We need to carry the flag for the theatrical experience,” said Vicente. “We need to help preserve this communal art form that we all love.”

As previously announced, Spike Lee’s filmed version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway show “American Utopia” will open this year’s festival. The 45th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 10–19, 2020.

Here’s the lineup:

  • 180 Degree Rule (Farnoosh Samadi |​ Iran)
  • 76 Days (H​ao Wu​, Anonymous, ​Weixi Chen​ | USA)
  • Ammonite​ (Francis Lee​ | United Kingdom)
  • Another Round​ (Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark)
  • Bandar Band (M​anijeh Hekmat |​ Iran/Germany)
  • Beans​ ​ (Tracey Deer​ | Canada)
  • Beginning ​(Dasatskisi)​ ​(Dea Kulumbegashvili​ | ​Georgia/France)
  • The Best is Yet to Come (Bu zhi bu xiu) (​Wang Jing | China)
  • Bruised​ (Halle Berry | USA)
  • City Hall​ (Frederick Wiseman | USA)
  • Concrete Cowboy​ (Ricky Staub | USA)
  • David Byrne’s American Utopia ​ (Spike Lee | USA)
  • The Disciple ​(Chaitanya Tamhane | India)
  • Enemies of the State​ (S​onia Kennebeck​ ​| USA)
  • Falling​ (Viggo Mortensen | Canada/United Kingdom)
  • The Father​ (Florian Zeller | United Kingdom/France)
  • Fauna​ (N​icolás Pereda​ | Mexico/Canada)
  • Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds (W​erner Herzog, C​live Oppenheimer​ | United Kingdom/USA)
  • Gaza mon amour​ ​(Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser​ |France /Germany/Portugal/Palestine/Qatar)
  • Get the Hell Out​ (​Taochulifayuan)​ (I-FanWang ​| Taiwan)
  • Good Joe Bell​ (Reinaldo Marcus Green | USA)
  • I Care A Lot (J​ Blakeson | United Kingdom)
  • Inconvenient Indian (M​ichelle Latimer |​ C​anada)
  • The Inheritance​ (Ephraim Asili | USA)
  • Lift Like a Girl (​​Ashya Captain)​​ (Mayye Zayed | E​gypt/Germany/Denmark)
  • Limbo ​(Ben Sharrock | United Kingdom)
  • Memory House​ (​Casade Antiguidades)​ ​(João Paulo Miranda Maria​ | Brazil/France)
  • MLK/FBI​ (Sam Pollard | USA)
  • The New Corporation: An Unfortunately Necessary Sequel​ ​(Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott |​ Canada)
  • New Order​ (​Nuevo orden​) (Michel Franco​ | Mexico)
  • Night of the Kings​ (L​a Nuit des rois​) (P​hilippe Lacôte ​| C​ôte d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal)
  • Nomadland​ (Chloé Zhao​ | USA)
  • No Ordinary Man​ (A​isling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt​ | Canada)
  • Notturno (G​ianfranco Rosi​ |​ Italy / France / Germany)
  • One Night in Miami (R​egina King | USA)
  • Penguin Bloom​ ​(Glendyn Ivin​ | Australia)
  • Pieces of a Woman (K​ornél Mundruczó ​| USA/Canada/Hungary)
  • Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time​ (F​elkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre​) (​Lili Horvát​ | Hungary)
  • Quo Vadis, Aïda? (J​asmila Žbanić ​| B​osnia and Herzegovina/N​orway/The Netherlands/Austria/Romania/France/Germany/Poland/Turkey)
  • Shadow In The Cloud​ (R​oseanne Liang​ | USA/NewZealand)
  • Shiva Baby​ (Emma Seligman​ | USA/Canada)
  • Spring Blossom​ (Suzanne Lindon | France)
  • A Suitable Boy​ ​Mira Nair​ | United Kingdom/India
  • Summer of 85​ ​(​Été​ 85​) ​(François Ozon​ | France)
  • The Third Day​ (Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly ​| United Kingdom)
  • Trickster ​(Michelle Latimer | Canada)
  • True Mothers​ (​Asagakuru)​ (Naomi Kawase|Japan)
  • Under the Open Sky​ (S​ubarashikisekai)​ ​(Miwa Nishikawa​|Japan)
  • Violation​ Madeleine (Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli ​| Canada)
  • Wildfire ​(Cathy Brady​ | United Kingdom/Ireland) 

Article By: Brent Wang for Variety.

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“The First Degree” is listed in the Library of Congress’ records of Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films from 1912-1929.

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EAST PILSEN — The Chicago Film Archives recently uncovered a lost silent film from 1923 in its collection.

“The First Degree” is listed in the Library of Congress’ records of Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films from 1912-1929. There are no surviving elements of the film beyond the one maintained in the Chicago Film Archives, according to a press release.

“The First Degree” is a “rural melodrama” directed by Edward Sedgwick, produced by Universal, and released Feb. 5, 1923. 

Frank Mayo, an American actor, had the starring role in the movie as Sam Purdy, a “banker-turned-politician-turned-sheep farmer who is repeatedly blackmailed” by his half-brother because of their love for a woman named Mary.

Olivia Babler, the archives’ director of film transfer operations, identified the print, which has deteriorated very little in 97 years. 

C.L. Productions in Peoria produced and distributed the film. The Chicago Film Archives’ print of the film was a part of the Charles E. Krosse Collection, which maintained films from the Peoria production company.

“Given the abysmal survival rate of American silent films, the emergence of a previously lost complete feature — especially one from Universal — is cause for rejoicing,” said Mike Mashon, head of the Library of Congress’s Moving Image Section.

“The CFA’s discovery of ‘The First Degree’ also renews our collective hope of uncovering similar treasures in other archives and collections and underscores the importance of preserving these precious pieces of our cinematic legacy.”

Around 75 percent of American feature films between 1912-1929 are considered “lost,” according to a 2013 study from the Library of Congress.

“The First Degree” — based on George Pattullo’s short story “The Summons” — opened to good reviews from critics in the 1920s.

“There are five reels of bully entertainment in this picture, with no waste material clogging up the action, and a surprise finish that gets across with tremendous effect,” an article from Exhibitor’s Trade Review in 1923 read.

Article By: Alexandria Chadez for Block Club Chicago.

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7157269693?profile=RESIZE_584x Following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Netflix recently released the new documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen to a global audience. Directed by Sam Feder, this in-depth look at the media's long, typically troubled history with trans representation in Hollywood and abroad.

The film features interviews from Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Brian Michael Smith, Sandra Cladwell, Jazzmun, Chaz Bono, Candis Cayne, and several more famous trans/non-binary celebrities.  Disclosure is an informative, engaging, and often critical look and exploration at how our media has portrayed transgender individuals for decades, typically providing flawed, clumsy, problematic, or outright dangerous representations since the dawn of cinema. It's a thoughtful and immersive piece of film study, providing both personal and academic examinations of several prominent films and shows throughout our not-too-distant past. It's well-worth watching. Here are just five reasons why.

7157270272?profile=RESIZE_584xGreat Interviews With Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Brian Michael Smith, And More

As mentioned above, Disclosure is given great perspective and reflection through its impressive roster of interview subjects, all of whom are trans, queer and/or non-binary. Laverne Cox, who also serves as an executive producer, is one of the most prominent celebrities seen throughout this film, though we also see and hear from Lilly Wachowski, Brian Michael Smith, Susan Stryker, Alexandra Billings, Jamie Clayton, Chaz Bono, Alexandra Grey, Yance Ford, Trace Lysette, Jazzmun, Mj Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, Elliot Fletcher, Sandra Caldwell, Candis Cayne, Zackary Drucker, Ser Anzoategui, Zeke Smith, and Leo Sheng.

All these artists bring meaningful and emotional commentary to the film, exploring their own relationships with the media discussed and their own often-conflicted feelings towards several prominent pieces of media seen throughout the years. Everyone brings compelling and investing information and experience into the documentary.

 7157269895?profile=RESIZE_584xA Vital And Informative Look At Trans/Queer/Non-Binary Representation In The Media With Valuable Insight

While movies and TV shows are often described as shallow or maybe "frivolous" things, as a way to "pass the time" or "kill a couple hours," the truth is that the media we consume — whether it's a movie, a TV show, a video game, music, magazines, or anything else — plays an incredible role in how we perceive the world, especially other people. Either consciously or not, media has directly or indirectly shaped the way we view history, politics, society-at-large (particularly outside some people's viewpoints), and the people around us (or maybe the people who sometimes aren't around us). The images we see from the media — either directly or in passing — informs or even misinforms our broader understanding of the world we live in. That's certainly been the case for the trans community.

As Disclosure reveals, many Americans haven't had many personal relationships with people inside the trans community. Therefore, as a result, their broader perceptions (or lack thereof) of trans individuals come from various forms of media. As the documentary explores in vivid detail, the movies and shows we watch — even seemingly lighthearted comedies — have negatively impacted trans people (including their own self-esteem and sense of self-worth) through their shallow, demoralizing, inaccurate, and/or sensationalized representations. As the celebrities interviewed throughout this documentary explain, without a broader context or more honest or nuanced portrayals being made available in the media, many trans people have negatively been affected by various prominent characterizations over the years. Therefore, this documentary provides valuable insight and perspective.

7157270101?profile=RESIZE_584xAn Essential Look And Study At Some Popular Movies And TV Shows Through Trans Representation

Through the wealth of insight, reflection, and life experience provided by our interview subjects, we gain fascinating and essential perspectives into a variety of movies and shows throughout the past century of media. Whether it's look at lowbrow comedies or highbrow prestige dramas, every piece of media explored in Netflix's Disclosure is given keen perception and pensive critical analysis. As a result, many viewers will hopefully get some very informative and crucial breakdowns of how trans characters are represented — both poorly and not — throughout many different movies and TV shows.

It'll allow audiences to look at movies like Silence of the Lambs, Boys Don't Cry, Dallas Buyers Club, Ace Ventura, and many more from a vital social perspective, exploring some triumphs but mostly the disappointing and harmful shortcomings of these pop culture articles. 

7157270496?profile=RESIZE_584xIts Thoughtful Commentary On Representation From A Number Of Voices

Through the variety of voices heard and seen throughout the streaming documentary, Disclosure creates a great platform for a number of individuals of various races, identities, and backgrounds to provide their ideas and life stories to the film's thesis — providing incredibly meaningful observations and nuanced opinions about the media explored throughout the film.

For film fans and TV lovers alike, this new documentary allows viewers to reckon with many of failures and a few of the successes that have been seen throughout these mediums. For every positive step forward, there were several steps back, particularly in how the media often used trans representation to explore horrific violence and telecast broader misconceptions that ultimately do more harm than good. Every interview is passionate but thoughtful, allowing us to see many shades of grey that come with prominent-but-problematic portrayals in popular media.

7157270888?profile=RESIZE_584xIt Brings Trans Awareness And Representation To The Center Stage In An Engaging, Academic, And Worthwhile Fashion

While Disclosure is very studious and respectful in its examination of trans representation throughout the media's long and deeply complicated history, it should be noted that this Netflix documentary is never homework. The personalities on-screen are engaging, charismatic, and compelling; the editing is quick and sharp but never to the point of overly-simplifying the subject matter (at least when it comes to a two-hour documentary); many clips shown are related to different pieces of media that its audience might know or at least be familiar with, allowing them to look at it or revisit it through this keen perspective.

Thus, Disclosure becomes an academic-but-never-boring slice of film school, providing intelligent, sensitive, and worthwhile assessments, criticisms, interpretations, and theories into the media we consume. It also a reminder that there's still lots of work ahead.

 

Article by Will Ashton for Cinema Bland.

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Director Ron Howard may be a Hollywood icon, but it was his ties to Northern California that convinced him to make “Rebuilding Paradise,” a documentary detailing the 2018 Camp Fire and the recovery process that followed. The movie – distributed by National Geographic Documentary Films – will be available to stream beginning Friday, July 31.

“I followed the Carr Fire in Redding,” Howard said during a phone interview this week. “I have a lot of relatives up there, and then the Camp Fire hit Paradise. That’s a place I’ve been also. … Like many things, once you relate to the horrific images you’re seeing, it just resonates more deeply and it really stirred my curiosity.”

“Rebuilding Paradise” spends significant time detailing the events of Nov. 8, when the Camp Fire swept through Paradise, destroying much of the town and becoming the most destructive wildfire in California history, but Howard said he was most interested in what came after.

“How is that beautiful, small community going to come back from this?” he asked himself. “They’re not the seat of industry. They don’t have a big tourist business going on. What’s going to happen to that terrific little town?”

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Howard took these questions to the documentary team at Imagine Entertainment, a company he and producer Brian Grazer founded in 1985, and everyone agreed there was a film to be made.

“We sent a team immediately, and I followed a few days after that,” Howard said. “Within a couple of weeks, we were engaged in making this movie, just as big media was moving out. It was no longer a headline story, but we began tackling the story I was curious about, which is ‘What happens after the cameras leave.’”

“Rebuilding Paradise” achieves Howard’s goal using footage gathered from a variety of sources. His crews frequently visited the area, covering key events and gathering interviews. They also acquired footage from residents and local documentarians, trying to cast a wide net.

“We weren’t fully embedded,” Howard said, “but we were coming in – myself, the producers – on a regular basis two or three times a month.”

Howard said he believes it was this long-term commitment that convinced the citizenry he could be trusted. At first, he said, there were people who – numbed by the experience – didn’t want to talk, but he and his crews received a mostly warm welcome.

“This is not made with an agenda in mind or a premise to be proven,” Howard said. “It’s really just about observing and sharing and letting people take from the film that which resonates with them. Fortunately, and legitimately, it turned out to be a very positive, inspiring story in a lot of ways.”

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Howard chose to present the film in cinema verité style. Although linear in nature, the progression of events is related solely through gathered footage and interviews. There is no narrator who ties the pieces together, in part because Howard believes that belongs in films trying to prove a thesis. He acknowledges that the recovery process has been heavily politicized, but he doesn’t consider his film political.

“It certainly deals with politics because everybody involved in something like this suddenly finds themselves face to face with the government and very likely needing the government in ways they never imagined they would,” Howard said. “I wasn’t interested in commenting on any of this. I just wanted to let people know and understand and empathize with the aftermath of one of these things.”

Howard is best known for his feature films, including “Backdraft” (1991), “Apollo 13” (1995), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “Frost/Nixon” (2008) and “Rush” (2013). But – increasingly – he has been drawn to documentaries, including pieces he has created that look at The Beatles and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. When the Camp Fire struck, Howard said, he saw the opportunity to make something more personal. He says documentary filmmaking is different than a carefully planned, scripted feature, but he also sees overlap.

“Once you get to the editing room, the process is very similar,” he said. “Part of the promise for audiences is that you are going to really fully explore this. You want it to be entertaining, you want it to be engrossing, funny when it can be funny, emotional when it is emotional, all of those things.”

One of the most impactful moments of “Rebuilding Paradise” comes at the beginning, as Howard and his crew detail the fire and evacuation process. In this segment, viewers watch as everyone from first responders to citizens come face to face with the flames.

“It wound up being very cinematic and very, very powerful,” Howard said. “I don’t think we would have guessed quite how potent it would be or that it would be eight and a half minutes long, but it’s a sequence that I think means a lot to the movie.”

“Rebuilding Paradise” arrives with built-in interest for those who live in Northern California and watched the Camp Fire unfold, but Howard believes his film will also appeal to people far outside the region.

“I think that we all know somebody … who has endured a storm or a fire or an illness or injuries or death or social upheaval of some sort,” he said. “I think this is a period of struggle and transformation, and a lot of people are feeling that the rug is getting pulled out from under them. I think that there’s a lot to learn by following the stories of these individuals in Paradise.”

 

Article by: Forrest Hartman for the Sacramento Bee.

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Last year’s drama and comedy series winners (HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Amazon Prime Video’s “Fleabag”) ended their runs and therefore their awards plays in 2019, leaving some key ballot spots open for the 2020 Emmy Awards. But that’s not all that stood to shake up the nominations this time around: The coronavirus pandemic shifted the awards calendar, leaving the voting members of the Television Academy fewer than two weeks to sort through record-length program, performer and artisans ballots and make their selections.

And those selections were far from ordinary! While a number of repeat nominees (and winners) still made the ballot — from Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — almost every major category came with a surprise.

Here, Variety breaks down the snubs and surprises of the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.

SNUB: "Pose"

The second season of the ballroom-culture drama did not score a second consecutive nomination this year. Lead actor (and last year’s Emmy winner) Billy Porter did, however, and the series nabbed some key Creative Award nominations as well. Unfortunately, though, it looks like airing its second season a year ago hurt the show’s visibility with the voting members of the Academy, especially considering its third season could not finish production and air this summer as planned, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

SURPRISE: "The Mandalorian"

Disney Plus has broken into the Emmy race in a bigger way than many thought possible: with a drama series nomination for its “Star Wars” universe show. It must be the power of the Force because while it was expected to nab many Creative Arts noms, it beat out some heavy hitters and much longer-running series for this coveted spot.

SNUB: Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn, "Better Call Saul"

Seehorn has never been nominated at the Emmys, but this seemed like it was sure to be her year after a season of the AMC “Breaking Bad” prequel that put her on even more equal ground with Odenkirk’s titular Jimmy/Saul. She navigated tough emotional material, and Odenkirk himself spent much of his Emmy For Your Consideration interviews and campaigns chatting her up. He was nominated four time previously.

SURPRISE: Zendaya, "Euphoria"

The star of the HBO teen drama is some serious fresh new talent for the Television Academy voters. Playing the drug-addicted Rue showed off the former Disney star’s range like no other role could, and she was rewarded, securing a coveted lead drama actress nom, even over previous Emmy winners such as Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss.

SNUB: Reese Witherspoon

Witherspoon had a trio of opportunities to be nominated this year (in lead drama actress for both “Big Little Lies” and “The Morning Show,” as well as in lead limited series/TV movie actress for “Little Fires Everywhere”), but she failed to score any acting Emmy noms. (As an executive producer on “Little Fires Everywhere,” she did get nominated.)

SURPRISE: Linda Cardellini, "Dead To Me"

For her work on the Netflix comedy series, Cardellini nabbed her second-ever nomination. It came as a surprise mostly because last year the Academy only nominated her costar Christina Applegate. Although the show is the definition of a two-hander, there were concerns they could cancel each other out among voters. Luckily that turned out not to be the case and both leading ladies scored nods this time around. 

SNUB/SURPRISE: "The Morning Show"

The Apple TV Plus drama scored a few coveted Emmy noms, including lead drama actress for Jennifer Aniston, lead drama actor for Steve Carell and supporting drama actor for Billy Crudup. But it did not pick up a drama series nom. Carell’s nom also came as something of a surprise: Prognosticators thought he had a better chance at the lead comedy actor Emmy for Netflix’s “Space Force,” which he co-created with Greg Daniels.

SURPRISE: "What We Do in the Shadows"

The FX vampire comedy broke into the comedy series race for the first time with its second season. Although beloved by the audience and most critics, it seemed like a longer shot for a nomination, given the stacked race of returning nominees still eligible.

SNUB: Russell Crowe, "The Loudest Voice"

The Golden Globe winner was completely unrecognizable when playing Roger Ailes in the Showtime limited series. Unfortunately, though, that proved not to be enough to follow the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. love with an Emmy nom.

SURPRISE: Paul Mescal, "Normal People"

The newcomer won the hearts of audiences after bringing the role of Connell from Sally Rooney’s novel “Normal People” to life for Hulu’s limited series, and it turned out much of that audience were Emmy voters. He scored a freshman nomination in the extremely competitive lead actor category this year.

SNUB: Aaron Paul

Like Witherspoon, Paul had multiple opportunities where he could have been nominated, and he was favored for one: lead limited series/TV movie actor for “El Camino,” for which he returned to the beloved role of “Breaking Bad’s” Jesse Pinkman (and for which the Academy lauded him before). But it did not happen for him this year — not for that role, nor for his work in HBO’s “Westworld” or Apple TV Plus’ “Truth Be Told.”

SNUB: The leading ladies of "Unbelievable"

Though the Netflix limited series received a nomination, Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Wever did not. They may have canceled each other out, because Toni Collette did pick up a nom in supporting. Despite garnering love during the winter awards season, and a timely tale that elicited extremely emotional performances, Emmy voters did not follow the trend.

Article By: Danielle Turchiano for Variety.

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The feud between AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures, which started over the video on-demand release of “Trolls: World Tour” in March, is over.

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On Tuesday, the two companies announced an agreement that would see AMC show Universal films on the big screen once more and grant Universal a smaller theatrical window so it could make its titles available on-demand sooner.

As part of the deal, Universal and Focus Features must play movies in cinemas for at least three weekends, or 17 days, before releasing those films on premium video on-demand platforms. Previously, theaters would have the exclusive rights to films for 90 days.

“AMC will also share in these new revenue streams that will come to the movie ecosystem from premium video on demand,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, said in a statement. 

Neither company disclosed the full terms of the deal, stating that it was confidential.

“The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,” Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, in a statement Tuesday. “The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”

The quarrel between AMC and Universal started in March. Due to growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, Universal released “Trolls: World Tour” in theaters and on-demand on the same day. 

On April 10, the “Trolls” sequel became available as a digital rental for $19.99. With the majority of theaters closed, save for some drive-in locations, the film was primarily watched on-demand by an audience that found itself hunkered down at home during the early days of the U.S. coronavirus lockdown.

Three weeks later, NBCUniversal’s CEO Jeff Shell touted the digital success of the film, which had racked up nearly $100 million in rentals, and suggested the company would do more simultaneous releases in the future.

While this figure was smaller than the $153.7 million that the first “Trolls” film collected at the domestic box office, the revenue that Universal has secured was about the same for the two films because digital sales take less of a percentage from studios’ earnings.

Theater owners will typically take about half of a film’s gross, while 80% of the digital rental fee goes directly to the studio.

Exhibitors were already feeling antagonized by the initial simultaneous “Trolls” release, leading AMC to announce it would no longer showcase Universal’s film slate at its more than 1,000 locations.7152202094?profile=RESIZE_584x

After prolonged theater closures in the U.S., the result of rising coronavirus cases, and the constant push of Hollywood blockbusters from the release calendar, AMC’s stance has softened and it was able to strike a deal with Universal.

“AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies,” Aron said.

Article By: Sarah Whitten for CNBC Entertainment.

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Management at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento managed to raise nearly $30,000 in three days in order to make repairs after vandals targeted the iconic city landmark.

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Robert Alvis, general manager of Crest Sacramento, launched a GoFundMe campaign on Thursday after several glass panels on front doors of the theater were shattered, security gates were broken and graffiti was painted onto the historic K Street building. A large red hammer and sickle and the words “free everything” were sprayed onto a brick wall, along with other smaller tags elsewhere on the theater.

“We would typically be able to afford these unexpected expenditures but have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alvis wrote on the fundraising site. “We are relying on your donations to help get through these uncertain times, so you can continue to depend on us to keep bringing Sacramento rich and diverse entertainment.”

Alvis set a modest goal of $20,000, which was met within 24 hours.

Citizens of Sacramento such as David and Linda Brown stepped up to meet the need.

“The Crest is truly a jewel to the Sacramento and surrounding areas,” they wrote in a note attached to their donation via GoFundMe. “Thank you for the blessing you’ve been to us over the years and hopefully you will be able to resume your livelihood again soon!”

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One patron of the arts, Gabriel Aguilar, even volunteered to wash away the hammer and sickle graffiti from Crest.

“Wow, just wow! Sacramento, we love you,” Alvis wrote. “We are going to be able to complete the repairs on the Crest Sacramento and get ready for you to join us once again.”

The excess of contributions generated by the fundraiser turned out to be a windfall for the theater, which still faces an uncertain future due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic restrictions that come with it. Alvis predicted that the theater will not be able to open until next year. All funds raised above the $20,000 goal will be used to keep the business afloat until that time.

“We have a long ways to go — a lot of days where we’re not going to be open — but we will get through this, and it’s going to be because of you guys that we do,” Alvis said in a video posted to GoFundMe. “You guys blew us away.”

Article by: Vincent Moleski for the Sacramento Bee.

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Moviegoers take part in a #SaveYourCinema campaign, sending over 200,000 letters asking Congress to aid theaters with loans and other relief measures.

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Movie fans are participating in a #SaveYourCinema campaign, resulting in over 200,000 letters sent to Congress requesting aid for theaters. The film industry is struggling right now as a result of the coronavirus. Theaters have been closed since March, with few movies having resumed production at this point. Studios have announced countless movie delays in the last few months, as well as this past week. Due to rising case numbers, movies once planned for July releases were pushed to August and then taken off the schedule all together. As a result, many theaters haven't been able to justify reopening, as moviegoers will be less likely to attend without new films.

Understandably, theater owners have grown desperate to keep their industry afloat during these challenging times. In addition to prolonged closures, chains have dealt with a pivot to VOD by some studios, at least for select films. Just last week, Orion Pictures announced Bill & Ted Face the Music, a relatively high-profile movie, will release both On Demand and in theaters September 1. AMC and Universal Pictures also had a very public argument over VOD after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell revealed the company planned on releasing movies both theatrically and digitally going forward. All told, theaters are feeling the pinch right now, evidenced by the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners' recent remark that "Distributors should stick with their dates and release their movies because there’s no guarantee that more markets will be open later this year."

In an effort to ease the current financial burden on movie theaters, NATO launched a #SaveYourCinema campaign, with the association now revealing over 200,000 letters have been sent to Congress. NATO is seeking "more relief measures for cinemas of all sizes," as well as asking Congress "to enact the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), which will give movie theaters access to partially forgivable seven-year loans covering six months of expenses." NATO also notes over 150,000 people work in U.S. theaters, many of whom are especially vulnerable to financial hardship.

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Many have found the behavior of some theater chains problematic during this time, particularly AMC, which originally announced moviegoers wouldn't be required to wear masks upon theaters reopening. However, after intense backlash, the company reversed its stance a day later. Despite mixed feelings toward some movie theaters, there's no doubt the theater industry is in a tough spot right now. It also doesn't help that movie fans have become accustomed to watching content at home in the last few months, perhaps making them less likely to head to theaters in the future.

However, with this news, it's clear many still feel passionately about the movie theater experience. The sheer number of letters suggests theatergoers are committed to helping theater chains survive the pandemic. At this point, immediate action needs to be taken, or the industry may not be around by the time it's safe for theaters to reopen their doors. It will be interesting to see if the campaign has any impact or if NATO will have to try another strategy. 

Article by Rebecca Vanacker for ScreenRant.

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Councilman Steven Hansen votes for the Creative Economy Recovery Program during Tuesday’s Sacramento City Council meeting held online. 

The Sacramento City Council approved a $7.5 million program to provide relief to artists, creative businesses and arts organizations. The Creative Economy Relief Program will use federal funding Sacramento received from the CARES Act to aid creative community members who have struggled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

City council members voted unanimously to approve the plan on their virtual meeting Tuesday.

The money will be dispersed through grants in six categories: cultural asset, emergency general operating support, cultural equity investment, arts education, arts and cultural equipment, and creative economy. Artists, businesses and organizations will have to apply for the money and demonstrate the effect of the pandemic for their creative enterprises.

Grants will be used by recipients to pay rent, buy necessary personal protective equipment, move to a virtual setting or just stay afloat.

The Creative Economy Recovery Program was designed to reflect the Creative Edge cultural plan designed by the city’s Arts Culture and Creative Economy Commission, which recently split from a county-wide commission to serve Sacramento specifically.

“Part of the reason we reconstituted as a city commission is to get deeper and more effectively into the under-served communities,” said councilman Steven Hansen, whose District 4 includes the Land Park and River Oaks neighborhoods.

The commission passed an arts equity policy that is reflected in the new Creative Economy Recovery Program through the cultural equity investment grant. Hansen views that grant as an opportunity to “make good on our commitment to underrepresented arts organizations and artists.”

The program could also financially aid the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town. Ray Gargano, the Grants & Cultural Programs Coordinator for the Office of Arts and Culture, believes that such tourism attractions are a big part of the city.

Hansen explained the creative economy is reliant on events, which haven’t been able to happen.

“Most of the creative endeavors rely on people coming together. Art is really healing and catharsis and inspiration. It’s about a connection with others,” Hansen said.

Without the public being able to see a band perform or visit an art gallery, artists and those active in the creative economy have struggled.

Hansen believes that art is important to all of Sacramento, especially in his district, due to the prevalence of theaters, venues and studios.

“We want people to go to their own neighborhood organizations and as a city, I think we have a duty to support organizations,” Hansen said.

By Molly Burke for the Sacramento Bee.

 

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Directed by Sean Baker, the much-buzzed-about Sundance film Tangerine is now in select theaters, and No Film School spoke with co-Director of Photography Radium Cheung, about how the film was shot only with the iPhone 5s, and why that worked for this film:

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Shooting with only iPhones on the Sundance hit film 'Tangerine.'

If you haven't seen it, here's the Red band trailer:

Tangerine-Red Band Trailer

Shooting on the iPhone

By utilizing the iPhone 5s and anamorphic adapters, the Director/co-DP Sean Baker and co-DP Radium Cheung (who was shooting FX's The Americans when he got the call to shoot this film) were able to capture the film in a way that gave them maximum mobility, a unique look, and quite a bit more stealth than if they were using larger cameras. The anamorphic adapter is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle here, and it certainly helps take the footage to another place compared to regular old mobile video (especially with the lens flares).

By using the FiLMiC Pro app, they were also able to avoid the constantly changing exposure that normally comes with shooting on a phone (though there were times in the film that focus was not locked). If you can see the film on the big screen, it's absolutely worth it not only because it's both funny and heartbreaking (and just a good film), but because it shows just how far these tools have come. The footage reminded me of digital films from the early and mid-200s, but it completely worked for the subject matter. Due to the small physical size of the iPhone, they were able to do some camera movements that were amazingly electric and would have been much harder to do with larger cameras — and it gave their characters even more energy at times.

Here are the tools they utilized to capture the images:

  • Moondog Labs33x Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 5s (this gave them around a 2.40:1 aspect ratio from the original 16:9)
  • FiLMiC ProApp (this helped lock exposure, focus, white balance, but also gave them better compression)
  • Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 5/5s
  • The anamorphic footage had to be de-squeezed in post (though newer versions of the app can show you de-squeezed footage in-camera). Needing to look at the squeezed 16:9 footage proved a bit difficult for them at first, but they eventually got used to shooting with an incorrect image, and framing their actors in a way that made sense once the image was corrected in post. 

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Lighting

  • From ASC Magazine here is a little bit more about the lighting used on the film, which was almost non-existent:
  • For the 22-day shoot, Cheung brought only three battery-operated Rosco LitePads — 1’x1’, 6”x12” and 3”x12” — “just to be able to fill in and add some eyelight every now and then,” he says. Bounce material picked up at a 99-Cents Only Store was used occasionally. “We had no C-stands, no conventional movie lights,” says Cheung. “We staged our actors with existing light on locations, to some degree, and I turned those existing lights on and off selectively.”
  • By being smart about the places they shot, they were able to avoid using traditional lighting for the most part, and not only did this help them shoot faster, but it also made sure that less attention was brought to them when they were shooting on busy public sidewalks that they didn't have the budget to close down. The only time a scene was traditionally lit was in the bar, but Cheung simply used the Par Cans that were already hanging overheard, focused them, and gelled them to his liking. 

The Look

  • Here's more from that same ASC article about how they decided on the look for the film, which pops with energy the way its colorful characters do:
  • It was during prep that Baker discovered another key component of the movie's look: its amped-up color. Again, this was a 180-degree turn. “The sort of films I make have this urban social-realist thing,” Baker says. “What I normally do is drain the color because for some reason, that adds to the reality.” But after trying that with test footage in Final Cut Pro, he pondered other options. “Because these women are so colorful, I decided to try going the other way, and I tried pumping up the saturation instead. Almost immediately, I was sold. One movie critic called it ‘pop vérité,’ and that was exactly the combination I was looking for.”
  • It's also mentioned in that same post that they added grain throughout the whole film, to try to get this camera and the footage looking as cinematic as possible. 

The Sound

  • While they utilized relatively inexpensive gear to shoot the film, they did not skimp on the sound gear. Veteran sound mixer Irin Strauss used the Sound Devices 664 mixer/recorder along with some other high-end stuff to capture the best audio possible. 
  • In addition to his 664, Strauss used a Lectrosonics SMV wireless system for his transmitters, along with Sanken COS-11D lavaliers. He employed a Schoeps CMIT5U shotgun microphone and, occasionally, a T-powered Schoeps CMC 4U for locations with low ceilings and little head room. 
  • As has been said a million times, audiences are more willing to forgive image than they are sound, so if you're deciding to go with a lower-end camera, if you skip good sound the whole thing is going to suffer.

Interviews with Sean Baker

Sean recently spoke with Film Courage, and here are the first two videos in that series that go a little deeper into the conversation about shooting the film and what advantages the filmmakers had choosing the iPhone format:

Why I decided to shoot my 5th Feature on an iPhone.

iPhone Filmmaking Advice

If you're wondering, no, this was not a marketing ploy on the part of the filmmakers, especially since they kept it secret until after the film premiered:

Nobody knew we filmed 'Tangerine' on an iPhone

Should You Shoot Your Next Film on the iPhone?

This film, like most movies, could have been shot on any number of cameras that could have fulfilled a similar purpose, but the filmmakers chose a format that allowed them to not only put the cameras anywhere they wanted, but also let them blend into busy city sidewalks and easily shoot inside vehicles. There are a number of cameras that can accomplish this task now, but plenty of you out there probably already have an iPhone or similar camera in your pocket. That's the biggest advantage in my opinion to what they did, is that not only could their camera actually fit into a pocket, but this also let them use super small support gear.

If you're thinking of shooting on a small camera to avoid permits, that's one strategy, but the filmmakers had the correct permits, and were allowed to shoot on these locations (though if you're trying not to draw attention to yourself, a small camera like a smartphone is a great way to do that). There are definitely more forgiving cities than Los Angeles to try to shoot a movie guerilla-style, so that's something else to keep in mind. 

As Baker has said, the idea for this film came a long time before they decided to shoot on the iPhone. If you're choosing a smartphone as your main camera, you should be doing it because you actually want that look for your film and for your story. It will become less novel as we see more films shot on smartphones, so it not only has to fit the specific aesthetic quality that you're going for, but it also has to be a better choice than some of the small and cheap cameras out there — both in terms of controlling the image on set, but also making it easier on yourself in post. As Baker says in the interview above, he likely wouldn't shoot on a phone again. It seems like shooting on a phone would make your life easier, but there are plenty of complications that come from choosing this format, especially not being able to change focus during the shot (and if you don't lock focus, you're bound to get the camera hunting for focus in the middle of the shot).

Article By: Joe Marine for NoFilmSchool.

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Christmas TV movies are among the first productions to shoot locally with scaled-back sets and social distancing to end a four-month industry shutdown.

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After months of dark studios, there's Christmas lights at the end of the Canadian industry's shutdown tunnel.

American TV director Marita Grabiak had to quarantine for 14 days after crossing a closed U.S.-Canadian border in order to return to work on the TV movie Christmas on Wheels shooting in Ottawa. "It was a fairly sad day on March 16 when I was last here, and after (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau gave his speech that led to shutting down our production," she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

In March, Grabiak and her producers abruptly stopped work on Ice Hotel Holiday, the sequel to Hallmark's 2019 TV movie Winter Castle, to allow American cast and creative to swiftly return to the U.S. for shelter. "The movie meant a lot to me as I had done the original," the frequent holiday movie director adds.

So when the script for Christmas on Wheels came her way, Grabiak pushed for the project to be shot in Ottawa. In order to do so, props like candy canes, red ribbons and Santa hats were now complemented on set with compulsory masks, gloves and quarantine pods.

Pandemic-era production amid strict safety and hygiene protocols has proven to be tricky. Grabiak's first assistant is charged with ensuring dedicated pods for the cast, director and craft teams separately enter and exit the set safely.

"I have noticed that within a few days we fell into a routine that felt comfortable, if not seamless," Grabiak says. "Given a strong and adaptable crew, as I have here in Ottawa, in combination with actors who know what their intentions are when they walk onto set, because of our advance rehearsals, we simply have been working quite well under these conditions." Principal photography for Christmas on Wheels continues through to July 24.

Meanwhile, it's beginning to look like Christmas elsewhere in the Canadian production sector, as Vancouver-based Studio BRB, Service Street Pictures and LA-based Principle Productions as part of a BRB Pictures collaboration just completed shooting in British Columbia on Christmas Forgiveness, with Lucie Guest directing and Stephanie Bennett, Lina Renna, Emma Oliver and Marco Grazzini starring.

"I can't tell you my relief that we got through a three-week shoot with no one getting sick. Safety has been on our minds 24/7," executive producer Jenni Baynham tells THR. She adds that in order to keep a minimum number of cast and crew on set, a no visitor policy was key. She also says open communication on how safety measures, including the use of masks and other protective medical gear, was imperative. 

"Even when the unions do their spot-checks, they report to our COVID safety tent, have their temperature taken, and if they want to speak to any of their members, we bring them out for a socially distant conversation outside," Baynham explains.

Further north in the British Columbia interior near Kamloops, the cameras are also rolling on the Discovery factual series Mud Mountain. The series is centered on two brothers, Craig and Brent Lebeau, battling sibling rivalry and steep, muddy mountains to survive as forest loggers. Mark Miller, president of Vancouver-based Thunderbird Entertainment, said the series, expected to create around 300 jobs, is a spin-off of other Discovery shows like Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue: 401.

His company is used to protecting cast and crew against workplace dangers. "We introduced masks and gloves immediately. And we try to give everyone a vehicle so crews can travel to locations in their own cars," Miller explains. Earlier, a crew member that was part of a three-person team pod on another Thunderbird factual series did get infected with the novel coronavirus.

Miller says his company provided the pod team with full accommodation and meals for two weeks to allow the crew members to safely quarantine. The goal was to let everyone in the company know they wouldn't be penalized if they fell ill with COVID-19 and would be compensated for all days of work missed.

"We've had an open discussion about the risks. If people don't want to work, we understand. If they want to work, we tell them about the precautions we're taking," Miller adds.

Meanwhile, U.S. producers that in better times routinely commuted between Los Angeles, Vancouver or Toronto face a slower return to film and TV production in Canada as they navigate a closed U.S.- Canadian border and strict quarantine orders amid the pandemic.

Shawn Williamson, president of Brightlight Pictures and producer of ABC's The Good Doctor, has a full crew in Vancouver prepping the American medical drama for a restart in production in a few weeks, with a 60-page safety plan in hand and a nurse hired on as a full-time COVID advisor. Until then, Brightlight is at work on a couple Canadian TV movies shooting locally, including Lifetime's Practice to Deceive.

"The protocols (for Canadian shows) are less complicated than sorting out the large U.S. studio protocols, which largely need to work internationally. And the Hallmark movies and Canadian content shows will meet the work-safe requirements for whatever jurisidiction they're in," Williamson explains.

He adds that thus far there is no way for Americans to get round the 14-day self-isolation required of them when they cross the border into Canada, although some of The Good Doctor cast and crew are opting to drive up to Vancouver rather than risk an airplane flight.

Of course, Hollywood talent weary of flying to Canada is good news for Canadian talent, which suddenly is more in demand for cross-border shoots. With adversity comes opportunity, says Toronto-based Randy Thomas, a lead actor on Christmas on Wheels, alongside American actress Tiya Sircar.

"I am very grateful that Marita (Grabiak) and the Lifetime Network for inviting me to audition via self-tape and cast me in this role. I am going to make the most of this opportunity," he tells THR.

North American producers preparing for the new norm amid the pandemic are getting their heads around an increasingly touchless workplace on Canadian film sets. Alex Bailey, co-founder of Montreal-based Crew sync, has digitized many production steps like time sheets, contracts, production reports and protocol tracking for temperature checks and PPE needs that in the past would have been completed by hand or required physical interactions.

"Crew sync allows teams to focus on the data they are receiving on contactless sets, instead of organizing stacks of paper in a COVID world. That's peace of mind for producers, talent, cast and background, while ensuring the collection of required paperwork," Bailey explains.

But for all the costly measures taken to mitigate COVID-19-related risks on Canadian film sets, getting insurance companies to cover losses incurred by companies forced to shut down or cancel shoots due to a coronavirus infection remains an insurmountable obstacle, at least for now.

"It's impossible to get insurance in a traditional way right now. All insurers are excluding COVID, and using more broad language to exclude communicable diseases," Jonathan Bronfman, president of Toronto-based film financier Jobro Productions, tells THR. Bronfman has an untitled indie feature set to start principal photography at the end of August, with the private equity fund financing the picture also taking on the COVID-19 risk.

He adds other Canadian feature films are in the pipeline for fall 2020 shoots, when Bronfman is hoping COVID-19 insurance coverage will become available. Mud Mountain executive producer Miller says his series started pre-production before insurance companies introduced COVID-19 exclusions, so his factual series is covered. The same holds true for Brightlight Pictures' TV movies currently shooting.

The insurance premiums for Christmas Forgiveness were higher, adds exec producer Baynham, but that was due more to protect against delays in receiving production financing in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. "If someone got sick, we wouldn't be claiming against the insurance, unless it was a private lawsuit for negligence if it was deemed the company wasn't adhering to workplace policies," she explains.

A COVID-19 infection, as with any other workplace sickness, would be covered by British Columbia's public health care system. But back in Ottawa, Christmas on Wheels is without a safety net. "There is no insurance. That doesn't exist. It's a risk," Grabiak says.

Articly By: Etan Vlessing for the Hollywood Reporter.

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