“Film Noir”: The Elusive Genre

“The Maltese Falcon”

“The Maltese Falcon”

There are two terrific film-noir series taking place in New York right now, one at Film Forum, “Femmes Noir,” the other, at the Museum of Modern Art, “Lady in the Dark: Crime Films from Columbia Pictures, 1932-1957.” But only the Film Forum series uses the word “noir,” and MOMA’s avoidance of the term makes perfect sense.

Film noir is a peculiar genre. A Western is identifiable by people on horseback in the West; a musical involves singing and dancing; a war movie shows war. Even the so-called women’s picture was a movie that featured women prominently. But the directors who worked in film noir didn’t use that term to describe their work. One searches in vain for the term in the interviews with some of the genre’s crucial creators—Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Fritz Lang, Robert Aldrich, and Edgar G. Ulmer—by Peter Bogdanovich in his great collection “Who the Devil Made It.” The first appearance of the term “film noir” in this magazine is from 1971; the first in the New York Times is from 1973.

For that matter, the term wasn’t even endemic in French cinephilic circles. When François Truffaut discussed his film “Shoot the Piano Player” soon after its release, he spoke of it in terms of “B movies” and “gangster films”; when Jean-Luc Godard talked about “Breathless,” he said that he wanted to make a “gangster film” and also referred to “films policiers.”

The documentation on the subject is ample and fascinating, as provided in a richly detailed historical post by M. E. Holmes at a Web site devoted to the French critic Nino Frank, who coined the term in 1946. Holmes’s meticulous discussion of the use and rise of the term cites Frank’s work liberally, and highlights what he found so remarkable in the films in question.

Read the rest at the NewYorker.com –>

Your Movie’s Been Accepted to a Festival – Now What?

By Mara Lesemann: I’ve spent the past year taking my first feature (Surviving Family – www.survivingfamily.us) to 18 film festivals in the US and Canada; we also had 2 invitation-only screenings for family and friends. While we didn’t hit the festival home run that everyone dreams of (Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, etc.), we did get into several that have made the Movie Maker Magazine list of 25 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee (Central Florida Film Festival and Manhattan Film Festival) as well as their list of Coolest Film Festivals (Woods Hole and Trail
Dance). We also screened at an amazing array of small and mid-sized
festivals, each of which was fun and worthwhile in its own way.

After all of this, plus my experience over the previous 5 years or so with taking shorts to a range of festivals, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned (or at least, what I think) about what filmmakers should do before, during, and after a festival. I’m a big believer in attending festivals where your movie is screening if it’s at all possible. But even if you can’t, many of the points below still apply.

Read the rest on FilmmakerForum.org –>

15 Tips On Making Your First Micro-Budget Feature

“As It Is In Heaven”

“As It Is In Heaven” is a feature film directed by Joshua Overbay in Kentucky around a small college film department. Shot in Scope digital video, the film is opening in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Lexington, L.A., New Orleans and other cities in July and August. Below, Overbay writes about how, as a first-time director, he managed to make a micro-budget film and get it released. Find out more about the film at the web site: http://asitisinheaventhemovie.com.

Like every other young, ambitious directing student, I graduated film school with two goals in mind: making a feature film and making it as soon as humanly possible. I had a solid script two years in the making, a business plan, a team of committed filmmakers, a “reasonably” low budget ($900,000), some industry connections and a degree of momentum from a year on the festival circuit. According to the textbooks, we were set for success. Even our script was built on the practical wisdom that we should suspend our desire to make personal films and instead focus on something that could start our careers: a successful genre film. And yet, after two years of numerous meetings, false starts, trips to Nashville and LA, phone calls, thousands of emails, multiple rewrites, and various “attachments” from cast and crew members, we hadn’t raised a dime.

Suddenly, my young idealism was challenged: Were the many sacrifices my wife made to get me through film school worthless? Had I put us into decades of debt for a ridiculous dream? “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Maybe I’m not “chosen.”

It all came to a head via a trip home for Thanksgiving. As I was driving, I turned to my wife and said, “It’s over. It’s not going to happen.” And as soon as I said it out loud, I knew it was true.

I don’t believe in fate. Nor do I believe in quitting, which is why it’s hard for me to accept defeat. After about an hour of sadness, I came up with a new plan: I would make a micro-budget film. Screw placing marketability above artistry. I would make something I care about.

Read the rest on IndieWire –>

2014 WFA Best Director/Best Actor Winner “Found” acquired for North American Distribution


LOS ANGELES (July 16, 2014) – XLrator Media has acquired North American distribution rights to the award-winning horror film FOUND by first-time director Scott Schirmer. The film has played more than 40 horror film festivals across the globe where it won 15 Best Feature Film awards and multiple Best Actor awards for both of its young stars, Gavin Brown and Ethan Philbeck.  XLrator Media will release the film on August 15, 2014 in theaters, VOD and iTunes on its acclaimed “MACABRE” genre label.

“FOUND is a profoundly shocking and moving horror vision from a talented new director working outside the Hollywood system. The film has been endorsed by genre icons Elvira ‘Mistress of the Dark,’ Sybil Danning and Joe Bob Briggs and has created a sensation wherever it has played,” said XLrator Media president Mike Radiloff.

FOUND was produced by Leya Taylor and Damien Wesner. It is based on the novel by Todd Rigney, who co-wrote the screenplay with Schirmer.

Marty (Gavin Brown) is the ideal fifth grader. He gets good grades, listens to his teachers, and doesn’t start trouble in class. But a darkness is beginning to fall over Marty’s life. The kids at school won’t stop picking on him, his parents just don’t seem to understand him, and now Marty must grapple with a terrible secret that threatens to destroy life as he knows it — his big brother (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer! Brotherly love is put to the ultimate test in this emotional coming-of-age story that descends into full-blown horror.

The deal was negotiated by Mike Radiloff and Barry Gordon on behalf of XLrator Media and Matt Medisch of The October People on behalf of the filmmakers.

# # #


XLrator Media, LLC (XLratorMedia.com) is a multi-platform releasing company founded by industry veteran Barry Gordon. It is focused on acquiring feature films, event programming and libraries, in addition to producing programming for enthusiast genres and categories that are under-served by the major studios and most independents. Recent XLrator Media releases include Ironclad, John Carpenter’s The Ward, Bunraku, Killing Bono, Knuckle, We The Party, 96 Minutes, Assassin’s Bullet, Blood Money, Brawler, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, Outpost: Black Sun, The Thompsons, Allegiance, Thale, American Mary, Storm Surfers 3D, CBGB, Banshee Chapter, The Machine, Don Peyote, and the upcoming Ironclad: Battle For Blood and Jimi: All Is By My Side.

Russia’s Obscenity Law Will Crush Independent Film

New legislation is being so quickly adopted in Russia today that anyone tracking it is bound to be suffering from a case of whiplash. Hundreds of new legal initiatives have already been ratified this year alone.

Among the more frustrating and misguided laws to be adopted is the law that bans swearing in films, books and music. Although the swearing legislation technically only bans four obscene words and their various derivatives, it is more problematic than initially meets the eye.

First, there is the tiny question of the Russian Constitution, which forbids censorship. Of course, that begs the question of who among Russia’s Duma deputies has bothered to actually read the Constitution at all. The previous ratings system, which allowed Russian adults to decide whether they wanted to see, for example, a play with mature themes, did not go against the Constitution. It allowed adults to decide for themselves whether or not they could handle a bad word.

But the obscenity law has created a second, not immediately obvious problem in the movie industry. As it is now, the law stipulates that films that use these swearwords will not receive a distribution certificate.

This means that every single public screening in Russia will now only take films with a distribution certificate certifying that they do not contain the four banned swearwords. This includes art-house films that were never meant for commercial distribution to begin with and that typically lack the funds or know-how to get it.

You can forget about experimental, art-house and upstart independent films meant for the festival circuit and produced by Russia’s small but vibrant film culture.

Read the rest on the MoscowTimes.com –>

Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film

  Series  25 New Faces of 2014Welcome to our 2014 25 New Faces.

Started almost on a whim back in 1998, as a way to generate content during the independent film doldrums of summer, the 25 has grown to be the feature we devote our most time and attention to. Year round we note new work by young (as in careers, not age) filmmakers that inspires us, we reach out to members of our community for suggestions, and we challenge ourselves to both fall in love and make bets. We keep tracking lists, making sure to check back in with some early-stage filmmakers the following year, and we try not to be too clever about the whole thing. In other words, when we make our selections, we’re not trying to predict next year’s Sundance Grand Prize winners – although with recent 25s Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and Andrew Droz Palermo (Rich Hill) we wound up doing just that.

The 25 New Faces is a list based not around consensus but passion. One person’s enthusiastic “yes” trumps a committee’s worth of “okay”’s. On this year’s list you’ll find globe-trotting directors and an adventurous sushi-maker; an 8-bit composer and a train-riding experimentalist; a veteran screenwriter and 17 directors who have yet to premiere their first feature. You’ll find filmmakers doubling down on long-form narrative work both within the independent sphere and in the studio world. And you’ll read about those who are rethinking their forms for a world in which people are watching and loving media in entirely new ways. There is work that represents entire communities as well as visions emanating from idiosyncratically thrilling points of view. Mostly, there is promise. We can’t wait to see what these filmmakers will do in the years ahead, and we’re excited for you to discover them now.

Click here to read the rest on FilmmakerMagazine.com –>

Catapult Film Fund Summer 2014 Grant Application Round Now Open

Summer 2014 Grant Application Round Now Open

The Catapult Summer 2014 funding round opens today, July 14. We will be accepting applications through August 25, 2014. Decisions are expected to be announced by December. Please check the Catapult website for information on how to apply and for the online application. Feel free to spread the word and contact us if you have any questions.


Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to documentary filmmakers who have a compelling story story to tell, have secured access to their story and are ready to create a piece for fundraising purposes. Catapult has two application rounds per year and provides individual grants of up to $20,000.

Catapult gives early support in order to propel projects forward that hold the promise of a unique story that should be told in film. We support powerful and artful storytelling across a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives.

Catapult grants allow filmmakers to take crucial next steps in the development of their films, such as enabling a first shoot and editing pieces for production fundraising. In addition to the initial development grant, recipients have access to an informal mentorship program with Catapult’s co-founders, Bonni Cohen and Lisa Kleiner Chanoff, in areas including story development, production process, fundraising and distribution strategy.

Read the rest at CatapultFilmFund.org –>

Animation Goes 3D – Free Special Event at Made In NY Media Center

Free Special Event at Made In NY Media Center
Click here to Register
August 14 2015, 6:30-8:30pm

As animation, 3D modeling, and 3D printing software and technology evolves, animators and filmmakers are finding new ways to incorporate 3D printing into their work. Whether it’s custom modeling and printing characters for a stop-motion animation, creating custom merchandise for your film, or translating animation software skills into 3D modeling, 3D printing is creating new opportunities for animators.

Join other animators, 3D design enthusiasts, filmmakers and creatives for an evening of discussion and networking co-hosted by  Shapeways & the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. The evening will include a panel discussion featuring Shapeways designer and filmmaker, media artist, and tech guru Raymond McCarthy Bergeron (and more panelists to be announced), who discuss how they bring together animation and 3D printing in their work.

We invite you to come to learn and share about how you can use 3D printing and design to push the boundaries of your animation and imagination. Light refreshments will be served following the discussion. Continue reading

The most important bit of advice for Indie Filmmakers!

As Film Festival programmers, we spend quite a lot of time looking for interesting films to invite for submission to our Festival.

The number one bit of advice we have for any Indie Filmmaker is …


We read about awesome sounding films all the time, and then start googling away. For about 25% of the films we seek, we cannot find any contact information at all – nothing on Facebook, no website, no email address. We cannot invite your film if we cannot find you!

Always create a Facebook page for your film!  You can also create a website using WordPress or other similar sites for free.   And, once you have a way to be contacted, be sure to monitor that email address regularly.

Can you be found?  Google your film’s name and director’s name — if nothing comes up in the first two Google pages, you may be missing out!

‘We Believe What We Can See.’ Watch This Tedx Talk on the Mystery of Story

unproduced-screenplaysBy , NoFilmSchool:  n the 80s, the joke was that everyone, no matter what they did during the day, had a screenplay to hawk. With Joe Eszterhas getting millions for scribbling the plot of One Night Stand on a cocktail napkin, and Shane Black writing Lethal Weapon at the age of 26, what didn’t look like hard work looked good to lots of people. Much of this can be laid at the feet of one Syd Field, whose Screenplay took thousands of years of dramaturgical what have you and condensed it into a friendly set of easy-to-follow rules that helped spark the screenplay goldrush of the 80s. Yet the number of working Hollywood screenwriters stays the same, roughly, from year to year. So what, then is the secret? Is there even a secret? You’ll have to read until the end to find out. (Suspense!)

After college, my friend moved to LA and wrote coverage (essentially, memos that said whether or not a given submission was worth considering further) for a mid-size production company. Most spec screenplays do not pass the reader. From time to time, my friend would send me some of the more out there scripts he read, along with his dumbfounded coverage, and both were always amazing to me.

It seemed that most of these potential movies had been designed by writers with a sort of narrative tone deafness, an insensitivity to story, or even how people talked to each other; this, combined with a lack of awareness of their deficiencies (the Dunning Kruger effect has shown that the worse you are at a given task, the more likely you are to rate yourself as being totally great at this task, which is why I will arm wrestle any of you, anytime) led to pages of contraction-less, expository dialogue about what was going on on-screen. In this TEDx talk, agent Julian Friedman addresses issues related to why good story is such a rare metal, and also, why America is story’s chief exporter around the world.

Read the rest on NoFilmSchool.com –>