Martin Anaya's Posts (24)




Joker,” an R-rated blockbuster, topped the list of Oscar nominations on Monday, becoming the rare comic book film to resonate with awards voters. The best picture contender earned a leading 11 nominations, but the story of the morning will be the lack of diversity among the leading nominees and the exclusion of female filmmakers.

Joker” will vie for top honors at the 92nd Academy Awards with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Irishman,” and “1917,” all of which earned 10 nominations. There are nine best picture contenders in total — a group that also includes “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” and “Parasite.”


In the major categories, it was a list of mostly white nominees, one that will likely inspire outrage, frustration, and pushback. Only one person of color, Cynthia Erivo for “Harriet,” was nominated in the acting categories. Female directors such as Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”), and Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) were also overlooked. Only five women have ever been nominated for director, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) has ever won the prize. Issa Rae, who had been enlisted to read off the nominees, made a biting nod to their exclusion after the directing contenders were unveiled. “Congratulations to those men,” she said. Perhaps anticipating the storm to come, press notes shared by the Oscars took pains to note that “a record 62 women were nominated, [representing] almost one third of this year’s nominees.”


“Joker,” which has earned over $1 billion at the global box office, was recognized for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as a failed comic who turns to crime and for Todd Phillips’ directing. It is only the second comic-book movie to ever score a best picture nod, joining “Black Panther.” Though superhero movies have dominated the box office for over a decade, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, has been slower to embrace the genre. In 2009, it snubbed “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan’s hugely influential Batman epic. The controversy over that move influenced the Oscars to expand the list of best picture nominees from five to a possible 10, with the goal of introducing more populist fare into the proceedings.

“Joker’s” dominance is also notable because comic book and superhero movies have been a subject of fierce debate this awards season. In a series of interviews, Martin Scorsese decried their cinematic merits, dismissing Marvel films as “theme park rides” and admitting he only saw “clips” of “Joker,” a film that plays like a homage to “Taxi Driver.”

Among the other major contenders, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s look at the last gasp of the golden age of movies, earned nominations for its screenplay, direction, and for the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film, had a very robust showing, picking up 20 nominations in total, including nods for “Little Women,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “Pain and Glory.”


1917,” a searing World War I drama that unfolds in one continuous shot, picked up nods for Sam Mendes’ direction and screenplay, as well as for Roger Deakins’ cinematography. The film is riding high after winning the Golden Globe for best drama and debuting in wide release to a mighty $36.5 million over the weekend.

“The Irishman,” Scorsese’s crackling gangster epic, earned nods for direction, screenplay, and for the supporting performances of Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. However, Robert De Niro, the star of the film, was shut out. With Monday’s nod, Scorsese is now the second-most honored director with nine nominations, behind only William Wyler.

“Parasite,” the critically acclaimed thriller about a family of grifters, made history, becoming the first South Korean movie to earn a best picture and best international feature film nomination. Bong Joon Ho also nabbed director and original screenplay nods and the film picked up six nominations in total. “Parasite’s” strong showing is a significant achievement for Neon, the upstart distributor behind the film. At a time when many indie studios are faltering, Neon, which was only founded three years ago, picked up an impressive eight Oscar nominations. It also scored best international feature and best documentary feature nods for “Honeyland,” the story of a Macedonian beekeeper.

Netflix has invested considerable resources into generating awards buzz in recent years, hiring awards sage Lisa Taback and backing films from auteurs such as Scorsese and Alfonso Cuaron. Last year, the streaming giant fell just short of its goal of nabbing a best picture statue, though it did earn a best director prize for “Roma’s” Cuaron.” This year, the bet appeared to pay off. Netflix picked up 24 nominations, the most of any entertainment company, and fielded best picture contenders such as “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.”

Phoenix, having picked up a Golden Globe, is widely seen as the front-runner in the lead actor category. He will face off against DiCaprio’s aging TV star in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Jonathan Pryce’s chameleonic work as Pope Francis in “The Two Popes,” Antonio Banderas as a director in decline in “Pain and Glory” and Adam Driver as a man entangled in a messy divorce in “Marriage Story.”


In a bit of self-promotion, John Cho and Rae announced the nominations from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a costly, oft-delayed look at movie history that is still under construction and carries a reported $388 million budget. It is scheduled to open to the public this year, three years after it was originally supposed to be unveiled.

It’s unclear what the fallout will be from the lack of diversity among top acting nominees. In 2015 and 2016, the Academy fielded back-to-back years of all-white acting nominees, triggering viral  #OscarsSoWhite protests. In response, then-Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced sweeping changes to membership and voting rules, in a push to get more women and people of color into Academy membership. In the process, the number of people of color within the group doubled from 8% in 2015 to 16% in 2019.

The 2020 Oscars will go host-less for the second time in a row. That may be partly out of necessity. It’s become increasingly difficult to attract A-list emcees. Social media reactions have made the gig a thankless task. In 2019, the Academy tapped Kevin Hart to host, but he stepped down after his past homophobic jokes on Twitter inspired a backlash. ABC will air the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020.

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The film is called Apparition. It opens wide Friday, Dec. 27th and only CFF has the exclusive interview with one of the film's producers. For years many Northern Californians have know Mark S. Allen as a beloved DJ and TV host. What many do NOT know is that Mark has become quite an accomplished filmmaker with at least 4 titles under his belt and a newly minted membership in theProducer's Guild of America. A few years ago CFF honored Mark as a member of our California Film Hall of Fame. The following year we honored his co-producer, Howard Burd.
Now, with their latest production, Apparition set to open wide today (December 27th), we caught up with Mark to talk about his amazing journey.
CFF: Mark, watching your transformation from accomplished TV host to accomplished producer has been truly awe-inspiring. When did you 1st become interested in filmmaking and how?
MARK: When I was 7 years old I saw a news segment on how stop-go-animation was created and immediately grabbed my dad’s 8mm camera (yes this was even before super8mm) and began making movies.  One frame at a time.  Countless hours to get 50 feet, three minutes of film.  At 12 I made a friend who was also making stop-go and we transitioned to live action.   I landed a job in radio while I was in high school and ended up launching that direction....never dreaming that my love of making movies would be on the table again.My broadcast career interestingly enough always leaned toward movies.   Most of my syndicated coverage was about movies, and I’d have none of the Emmy Awards- if not for movie based tv shows.

CFF: This looks like a truly thrilling film for horror fans. Tell us How this film came to be? We at CFF know Howard Burd as an amazing Producer. What was the genesis of your producing relationship?  
MARK: Howard was on the roll out of MOTHERS DAY with Jennifer Aniston/Julia Roberts (and what ended up being the late Gary Marshall’s final film.).  At the time he was in early pre-production with another producer on a really great MMA inspirational drama called Notorious Nick (based on the true story of Nick Newell) but the film was tremendously ambitious and taking its time to go green, so I pitched the idea of a smaller, almost single location shoot, at the site of a spectacular single location: THE PRESTON SCHOOL of industry.  This is one of the supposed most haunted places in America.  A 19th century castle in Ione with a built in story.   I pitched Howard with a call from the castle and before I reached his house he called me back to say WE ARE DOING THIS!!! Less than a year later we were wrapped, in post production and Notorious Nick was now green lit.   Fast forward to now, we have 6 films, one released two secured into distribution and 3 in final post.   I’m so grateful for the friendship and producing  partnership I have with Howard- he is a driving force of nature. 
CFF: That is amazing how things can go from red to GREEN in the blink of an eye. There are some truly big talents associated with this project. Kevin Pollak. Mena Suvari. How were you able to procure these amazing people and how do you feel their specific talents were uniquely suited to this film?
MARK: We had the dream cast, from Mena and Kevin all the way down to the smallest role.  Our locals were wrangled by Sally Forcier who also acted as  co-producer the film with Kelly Benedict and our primary casting agent was Gary Zuckerbrod- fantastic casting director of Pulp Fiction and a long list of what I’m sure are your favorite movies.    The young millennial cast he pulled together were amazing Annalisa Cochrane (Cobra-Kai Karate Kid), Grayson Russell (Diary Of A Wimpy Kid/Taladega Nights) addition to Kevin Pollak and Mena Suvari made for a perfect ensemble.   Kevin actually replaced other names of complexity opposite types that kept falling out because of scheduling conflicts and in fact didn’t lock until 8 days before filming.   Howard had to talk me in off the ledge many times that week.  “We didn’t lock Julia Roberts until 2 days before we began shooting Mothers Day,” he would tell me as comfort.
              CFF: Wow! What are your hopes going forward? For this film? Future projects? 
              MARK: 2020 will be a great year as we have BALLBUSTER the Jerry O Connel basketball comedy headed to theaters as                well as the VERY original horror comedy FearPharm.   It’s sequel is in post and Notorious Nick and a high concept thriller                  616 WIlford Lane (that i co-directed) are 99.9% compete.    This year Howard and his wife have a really hot Hollywood                      commodity script that we’ll be producing together (unless it gets made as a studio film) and we have another suspense                      serial killer  thriller in early pre right now.  I really enjoyed directing on 616, and am 100% that I’ll be back at that within the                next 18 months.   
CFF: Mark, thank you KINDLY for sitting down with us. Folks at home, Don't miss Apparition playing Nationwide at select theaters and EVERY streaming and VOD carrier “now showing!” 
Support Northern California filmmakers and don't spill that popcorn.
You're going to be jumping out of your seat a lot!
Charter / Time Warner
Apple TV
Amazon Video
Google Play
Microsoft Movies & TV
Redbox On Demand
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Sac Film Apparition takes Flight



Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights from Voltage Pictures for the upcoming horror film Apparition, starring Mena Suvari (American BeautyAmerican Horror Story) and Kevin Pollak (The Usual SuspectsThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

The film — based on true events about former correctional facility the Preston School of Industry — follows a group of millennials who find themselves at an abandoned castle, experimenting with a spiritually guided app that connects the living with the dead. This ominous, historic site of murder and torture is linked to each of them in ways they will soon discover.

Produced by Howard Burd (Mother's DayCriminal Activities) and Mark S. Allen (Notorious NickBallbuster), Apparition was directed by Waymon Boone from a script by Rob Rose, Allen, Burd and Boone. Mike Baddley, Howard Gilden, James Hanzalik and Jim Hanzalik executive produced the film, which was produced by Make the Movie. Dante Yore served as cinematographer, with Jean Fox as production designer, Boone and Yore as editors and Ben Worley as composer.

The deal was negotiated by Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector from Vertical with Jonathan Deckter, president and COO for Voltage Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.

Suvari is repped by Innovative Artists, Management Production Entertainment and 42West. Pollak is repped by The Gersh Agency.

Vertical plans to release the pic in U.S. theaters and on VOD on Dec. 27.

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Seeking Woman editor for serious art film.

Well known Art Film Maker seeking a woman editor in the Sacramento area. We're working on the cut of the "Yellow Wallpaper" and trying to decide if we want to bring on an outside editor or handle in house. Let me know if you know of anyone. Pay will be low (D.O.E.) but experience priceless. Contact CFF for details: 916.524.5138

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Lady Bird Casting Director visits CFF

Once in awhile a person stops in and gives of themselves in a way that you can tell is GENUINE and sincere. Going into today's ACTORS INITIATIVE session, I had a lot of questions. The type of questions that deal with process, technicalities and "how-tos". And certainly, Toni addressed those.



CFF's Celestial starts the meeting with introductions of all attendees.


The biggest take-away that I got from today had NOTHING, however, to do with any technique or process. Is it important to understand HOW to audition? Of course. Is it important to understand WHAT to do? Certainly. But here is the nugget, the single nugget that Toni spent MOST of her time addressing: being of service...Having an attitude of gratitude...doing WHATEVER it takes to support the production. You see, Toni broke it down from the Producer's perspective. She indicated that EVERY moment on a set was costing SOMEONE a bunch of money. She indicated that spending days on a set with folks would be a LOT easier of, at the end of it, you STILL wanted to spend time with those people. So she spent the bulk of her talk today, discussing attitude and helpfulness.

3432615296?profile=RESIZE_710xToni addresses a packed house at the CFF meeting

As Toni put it, you may not know how to do everything exactly right. But the people who do the little things, who offer their help, who stay late..THOSE folks are the ones that will be remembered. THOSE folks are the ones who will be asked BACK to the NEXT shoot! I for one was glad to have the reminder: Ask NOT what your production can do for you. Ask what YOU can do for your production. THAT is the way! That is the SECRET sauce. Thank you, Toni, for exemplifying that! Thank you for showing us how an attitude of gratitude can go such a long way in this industry.

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Sacramento Film Festival 2019


The Sacramento International Film Festival just came off of our MOST amazing year to date! More films, more celebrity participants and more excitement than ever!


































In Memorial To Stan Lee













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Good bye Stan-the-man, We will miss you!

By Martin Anaya

Who would have ever thought that a guy who published comic books would ever preside over a movie empire? Well, I'd be lying if I said me, but I can say this: Both me and all my comic head friends wished for it.

Yes, in 1975 when I 1st started buying comic books, we'd thrill to the adventures of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. We always imagined them as movies. of course in those days, very few of the screen (big or small) adaptations were ever satisfactory. They were usually vey cheaply made groaners that were less than impressive. Still, we lapped them up, hoping one day, a big screen adaptation would finally come around and change the game.

That day finally happened, when, in 1978, Warner Brothers made Superman, the Movie. Now, of course, we know Stan the man had nothing to do with that film but, he did have a LOT to do with the creation of many of the most iconic comic book characters ever seen, including the aforementioned Spidey and the Hulkster. And when Superman hit, it ushered in a whole new era for Hollywood. It wouldn't be long before another  DC character, Batman, broke through and then eventually a slew of Marvel characters, most created by our guy, Stan.  Now we have huge summer, winter and fall films devoted to characters like Venom, The Guardians of The Galaxy and a whole host of Marvel creations, many of them, Stan's.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stan at Comiccon about 7 years ago for an interview. You knew he was, even in his late 80s still a kid. He still had that wonderment in his eyes..most specifically because my female companion wore a period piece costume that was quite, shall we say, prodigious in the upper half. Stan, CLEARLY took delight in that interview! But he also took delight in the comic-turned-movie empire he had created.

As one little kid who grew up loving those creations, I must say thank you. Thanks Stan-the-man for Black Panther, the Fantastic 4, Spiderman, the Avengers and SOOO many other comics that eventually lept to life on the big screen. I hope I can have half the fun in my creative life that you clearly had in yours!

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Meet Major Film Director, Aaron Leong Dec 1st

Saturday December 1st, CFF features director and a cinematographer Aaron Leong at our FREE Urban Film Summit.

Originally designed to cater to the needs of minority and underserved film communities, the annual, daylong event has become a staple of the local scene in educating filmmakers from all backgrounds. Based in Sacramento California, Aaron has just completed his 2nd major feature, Notorious Nick, starring Kevin Pollack and produced by Sacramento's Mark S. Allen and Howard Burd.

As a director, Aaron guides stories from pre-production through post, allowing them to be told thoroughly with the audience in mind. A graduate of the Arts Institute, Aaron has produced numerous shorts and another indie feature, Mamma Boy. His latest feature appears to be fast-tracked for distribution as its producer, Howard Burd has several big screen credits already including the Rom-Com hit, Mother's Day with Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston.  Mr Burd incidentally, won the Visionary Spirit Award in 2017 at the Sacramento International Film Festival.

When asked about his directorial style, Aaron said, "I believe this to be a collaborative process in working with other departments such as camera, production design, lighting, audio, and so on into post. With my theatre training and film school backgrounds, I find communication a very valuable tool. Being able to communicate to actors and another talent the needs for any given scene is as important as it is to communicate clearly to my crew the technical aspects of filmmaking."

As a director of photography, Aaron designs lighting schemes along with camera work to create an aesthetic custom suited for the project at hand. Again, with audience in mind, he creates emotions specific for each scene of each production. 

If you are an actor or filmmaker wishing to further your craft, please join us on November 3rd at 12:30pm and meet Mr. Leong. The event is free and features SEVERAL noted film talents and a FASHION ON FILM castin/Crew call at 6pm. There is even outside entertainment and food

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Pow! Film & Comic Art Collide @ CrockerCon


Amazing Illustrators, Artists Populate Crocker-Con

There were some amazing artists, illustrators and musicians on display at the recent Crocker-con event, held at the Iconic Crocker Art Museum...Forgive! I kept calling it "Crocker-Tron" (Confusing the mascot with the event).

But film makers, take note! As you search for visual cues and iconography for your films you need look no further than your own back-yard. In the video above we interview just a couple of the amazing artists and give you contact info for them. CFF has been working hard to marry the worlds of film, art and fashion for the betterment of all. We call it "Trans-media", or Media-Convergence, this notion that your work product isn't just a film or TV show but a creative universe that takes many forms to inter-act with your audience. (The "collide" term, while normally too violent a description did have its use for our headline here, however ;).


For that reason alone you should attend the next Crocker-Con, Comic-Con, art show, etc. You may find your film project expanding in new and exciting ways and/or you may just find your next storyboard artist or concept artist. 

In the brief time I spent at the show I met Michael Calero, a Sacramento based artist whose work has traveled far. I also re-met SPACE WALKER, a musical artist, who had previously collaborated with CFF filmmaker Matthew Gilliam for a music video in our 2016 FASHION ON FILM show.

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Martin Landau, Personal thoughts

There will undoubtedly be numerous tributes to Martin Landau, the actor. I will leave that for the pros who study such things. I'd rather reminisce on Martin Landau, the guy. You see, I was fortunate enough to know Martin and share time with him. He was, to my recollection, a guy's guy, a real friend.

As a child of the 70's my first introduction to the considerable skills of Mr. Landau was through a funky, British Sci-Fi Tv show called Space 1999. Every week, Martin's character, John Koenig, and a rag tag band of wayward space travelers met new threats and tried valiantly to stay alive. 

Of course, at this time I knew nothing of Mr. Landau's roles in Mission Impossible, the Greatest Story ever Told and Cleopatra to name a few. It wouldn't be until the landmark, Ed Wood that I would again come to appreciate Mr. Landau. His poignant portrayal of horror star Bela Lugosi won Landau the Oscar and the adoration of millions, including myself. So when Mr. Lobo, the Church of Ed Wood and my film festival teamed up to screen Ed Wood I was, needless to say, over the moon. 

And when the Sacramento Film Festival got the chance to screen John Daly's, The Aryan Couple, starring Mr. Landau, I was doubly excited! It was just during this time that I got the opportunity to meet Mr. Landau. The first encounter was somewhat face-to-teeth...I was rounding a corner in an office building on Santa Monica avenue when I nearly bumped into Martin. His being so much taller than me meant I was starring literally right into his grill!! I didn't immediately recognize him, despite the up-close introduction. Later though, after spending some time in Mr. Daly's office, I came to learn they were neighbors in the building and I came to know Martin as a caring, hilarious guy who would tell stories of old Hollywood till the cows came home if you let him. 

We got to be SUCH pals that I even went back to LA to see him and John as their film was in competition at the Beverly Hills Film Fest. Of course, they swept every category, including best actor for Landau. The most hilarious part of the several days I spent with these glorious fellows was that Martin, now in his eighties, had fallen in love with one of his co-stars, a woman literally half his age. He was so proud of her and she him that it became a running gag to see what new pet name they had for each other. I gotta say, his prowess with the ladies was legendary around Hollywood and I got a first-hand education as to why.

Put simply, Martin Landau was a caring man. He was just as interested in you and your career as his own. He would share tales of a time in Hollywood when stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton seemed larger than life and anything seemed possible. I never lived through the glory years of Hollywood but calling myself a friend of Mr. Landau (and everyone he met was) made me feel as though I had. Rest in peace brotherl! You earned it.

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2nd Saturday Art Walk June 2016

Your friends at California Film Foundation are always seeking the greatest entertainment opportunities. With our upcoming TAPPED and FASHION ON FILM competitions,  we are also seeking filmmakers to chronicle some of these experiences.

If you or someone you know is a filmmaker wanting to get TAPPED or wanting to be a part of FASHION ON FILM, please read more and contact us. 916.524.5138 for questions.

Is there an event in California we should be covering? It could be film or media related. Drop us a note here. Let us know in the comments section below. As always THANKS for being a part of CFF!

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Here at CFF we've always considered Community Media (including community radio) a very important part of a trans-media landscape and an informed and interconnected world. On July 9th CFF paid a visit to Access Sacramento's radio operation and chatted with Mike Lidskin of Twirl Radio. 

CFF's Martin Anaya goes way back with Community Radio. Here, he and Mike take a stroll down memory lane.  Mike's show is billed as the finest music from the rock era. If you like having a great time listening to hard to find gems or local banter like this Find Mike Lidskin and his show TWIRL Saturday's from 4 to 6pm at KUBU 95.5 fm in Sacramento or online at

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Mark S Allen talks to CFF

With the recent I Love Film Mixer, we had an occasion to see Mark S Allen at probably one of the lowest points in his professional life. Still, his style and grace proved what we already knew: He'd be back!

Now Mark has a new gig, a new attitude and some new goodies for YOU! Here he is in a CFF exclusive to talk about it:

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