EWAN MCGREGOR: How it all began - Exclusive video interview

ewan

In a 30 minute non-PR interview, Ewan McGregor talks with Netribution's Nicol Wistreich about his early days, the beginning of interest in drama at school, and travelling around Africa with Aids campaigners. He talks about his first ever play, practicing the lines to the sherif of Nottingham to himself, and overcoming the negative perceptions of people around him to get where he is now. The interview comes in four parts:

 

I - "I was nine when I absolutely knew I was going to become an actor" - early memories of theatre
II -  "There's music in everything" - performing at school
III - "My life changed that day" - starting work
IV - "You can do whatever you want if you're passionate about it" - the attitude

I'd kept myself eerily cool right up until the moment he walked in the room.

In those few brief seconds, it suddenly hit me. This is Renton. Sure there's Star Wars and Big Fish and Robots and Moulin Rouge and even Shallow Grave. But Trainspotting was the film that made me and everyone I knew at that time sit up and say 'hot shit that's good' - and Ewan was what made it. And before that I can still remember sitting down to watch my first Dennis Potter series and seeing McGregor in the opening scene, brylcreamed-back hair, calmly stirring a cup of tea in Lipstick on Your Collar and wondering - who is that person who make me  have to watch every move he makes?

There are some actors who you feel like you've become an adult with, and as he walked in the back room of the Soho club, hand thrust forward, I got sweaty shivers down my spine.

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More good ideas from the music industry : crowdfunding perks

josh-freeseFormer drummer of Nine Inch Nails' Josh Freese's offerings for his micro-presales / crowdfunded album has some great possibilities for filmmakers going the same route. "For £10,000, name film's villain after your high school bully, shoot tequillas on the beach on a full moon with Johnny Depp, get a song conposed and sung in your honour at the wrap party". [suggestions please..] (via IndieGoGo / Soundcheck)

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Go on tour with Josh for a few days
  • Have Josh write, record and release a 5-song EP about you and your life story
  • Take home any of his drum sets (only one, but you can choose which one)
  • Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while
  • Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.
  • If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
  • Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)
  • If you don’t live in Southern California (but are a U.S. resident) he’ll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks
  • Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robin's place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagne

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Groundbreaking web video project builds documentary bridge between Gaza and Sderot

"The day after the war we need a new beginning. Let's start planting seeds of humanity and trust now"
Hope Man, Jan 2nd 2009

The Israeli city of Sderot lies a few miles from Gaza and towards the end of 2008 the French TV Station Arté produced 80 short films/vlogs in both Sderot and the Gaza strip where Palestinians and Israelis talk about their hopes, dreams and fears. The last episode of Gaza Sderot : Life in Spite of Everything, was produced on 23rd December, four days before the bombardment started.

 

gaza_sderot_vlog.jpg

 

Films from both areas are presented side by side in a Flash interface letting you act as editor to decide which stories to watch and when to change perspective, with a scroll-bar in the middle to take you back in time through the 40 days the project ran for.

In a conflict where the abject suffering, mistrust, injustice and fear seems to blind clarity and reason, it's seems - tho I have only just begun to explore what is there - to be a vital illustration of the men, womena and children at the heart of it, whose lives are under threat from Israeli bombardments or Gazan rockets. There have been no updates since the 23rd December, and it looks unlikely that there will be more for a while - from the French producer, Serge Gordey on New Years Eve:

"After many attempts to communicate in every possible fashion, I finally managed to talk on the phone with our Palestinian colleague, Yousef Atwa. Yousef is the producer who has been leading the project in Gaza all these weeks.

Everyone’s concern is above all to find some shelter from the « collateral damages » of the air strikes, he explained to me : when you live in Gaza City, the odds are that some way or another you live close to a police center, administrative offices, military premises, government centers, cultural institutions that are headed or influenced by the current power, etc. And in that case, you might get hit, even if you are not the primary target. Therefore, our production team in Gaza is disbanded at the moment: all the members of the team have been trying to find shelter together with their dear ones, in other places, such as the countryside, with friends or relatives.

Moreover, communication lines are broken because of the electricity cuts that are more severe than ever. And on the top of that, people don’t move around the city so as to avoid being hit by unpredictable air force attacks.

From all this it was easy to understand that  getting into contact with our characters is proving to be very difficult."

gaza_map.pngIt's similar in concept to the Life Must Go on in Gaza and Sderot blog, written by “Peace Man” in Sajaia Refugee camp in Gaza and “Hope Man” in Sderot, which describes itself as:

This blog is written by 2 friends…  The media coverage on both sides has been extremely biased. Our Blog is written by 2 real people living and communicating on both sides of the border.

Of the current conflict, Hope Man said on Jan 2nd:

"For 5 months there was an almost complete cease fire. Instead of taking advantage of this long period of quiet to reach a long term agreement, both sides spent their time preparing for this war by planning and arming. No serious efforts were made to start a dialog...

The day after the war we want to start finding ways to work together and create a normality. We are only several kilometers apart and that will never change. It is extremely important to widen our dialog and create trust between those that are willing to talk. To share our stories, fears and hopes.
The day after the war we need a new beginning. Let's start planting seeds of humanity and trust now.

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New event and venue database on Netribution

add event graphicA new button at the end of our menu bar is for the increasing number of events mentioned here and in the forum. Click events above and you can see a listing of events (one at the mo!), and if you're logged in you can add one, because, like everything round here, it's user generated. So dive in, preferably using the format we've already created.

You can list events like training courses, film festivals, screenings, shoots (come and help!), workshops and wrap parties. And if you have a venue - a cinema, bar, pub, theatre, gallery, warehouse, etc - you can add your details and an image, regardless of whether you are already hosting film events or not.

We hope you like the interface - it's running on Schuh's EventList.

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US campaigning journalist 'instrumental' in exposing UK expenses scandal

"We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror."
Angelo, Measure for Measure

Because I don't read the papers everyday any more, I missed this story of the wonderwoman researcher/writer with dual US/UK citizenship, Heather Brooke, who battled for years to get hold of, through the Freedom of Information Act, the expenses details that were eventually leaked to the Telegraph.

She wrote a book with Ian Hislop on how to use the Freedom of Information Act just after it came into law, and runs a blog, Your Right to Know, and If I had bought last Friday's Guardian I would have learnt of her sooner, for she was on the cover of their G2 section (pictured). If any member of the public should have been able to get access to the expenses, it was her.

"She made a verbal request to Parliament in 2004 for records on members' expenses as an experiment in her research on the new FOIA law. She was told records would be released that October, and they weren't. Then promises were made to release information in aggregate, which proved worthless. She filed numerous FOIA requests after the law came into force in 2005. At least two other journalists did so, too.

Brooke and the other reporters were rebuffed with delays and refusals. Brooke obtained the free services of a prominent British lawyer. In a special court reserved for records cases, they won. But Parliament met that victory with more delay, and even an arrogant attempt to alter the law."
Seattle Pi

That MPs and the civil service fought so hard to keep the expense claims secret is a further shock after the events of recent weeks. Of course the public's indulgence is required that a fair share of these expense claims were made in error - as many doubtless were. And I hope that the public legislature in turn will provide similar indulgence for the sort of mistakes small business-people and freelancers make all the time. Tho I work from home, I've never tried to claim for house cleaning or renovation costs, but with every food or drink receipt I deduct from tax I worry if I've eaten too much. And there are countless more people who no doubt err on the side of caution with their Self Assessment form - the film writers who feel too guilty to claim for their cinema tickets, film books and DVDs because they also enjoyed them, or the bedroom entrepreneur who doesn't claim for a fair share of their rent or utilities. (Perhaps the government should make it easier by listing all the legitimate expenses by job-type that people would normally need an expensive accountant (or good wiki) to inform them of.)

But where there has been plain fraud, even exploitation of the system and its loopholes by the very folk who designed the loopholes yet would imprison any of us if we tried to rip of such significant sums, then the full criminal process is surely needed.

Yet this in turn should not distract from the far bigger and more urgent debate over why our political system in the UK is so embarrassingly antiquated to the point of being almost irrelevant, and certainly far less popular or debated publicly as reality TV. Compared to the US, with an elected upper house, full freedom of information and a president who can lead a house majority against him (kind of like the curious idea of Cameron leading a Labour majority in the commons) we are quite shockingly stuck in the 19th century and lazily blame the public for being disinterested, when every law in the country must pass through an unelected house from which no-one is allowed to retire.

As Heather Brooke told the Seatle Humble Pi "This is a very odd country. Although it likes to describe itself as the mother of parliament and the model of democracy, it is an amazing culture of secrecy." Just ask James Bond.

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Sony Pictures CEO 'doesn't see anything good having come from the Internet - period'. Question mark?

walkman_by_edvvcIt's kind of like a guy who grows his tomatoes in his kitchen complaining about never benefiting from all that lovely sunshine outside. Sony was the company who were five years behind Microsoft with web access for the Playstation, created the alliwantforxmasisapsp.com web hoax PR bomb, and resisted shipping an MP3 player in favor of their own proprietary DRM'd format for three years after the record breaking launch of the iPod (and which they've only just conceded was a mistake). Sony Pictures CEO Michael Linton's blaming of the web for his company's first loss in 14 years is - as we say round where I'm from - like a bad workman blaming his tools.

The film industry has had over 10 years to prepare for the web as it exists today. In an early life back then I wrote management reports that I know were sold to the media executives as did many people around me. The success of broadband, filesharing, youtube and the lack of central control or agreed-upon delivery standards is unsurprising, other than for being slightly slower to materialise than expected and - I suppose - for the film industry's failure to learn the lessons of the music industry and produce a legitimate service which competes with the piracy model, if not on price, at least on availability and ease of use.

To this day it is still near-impossible to rent or purchase some of Hollywood's greatest films online, forcing those too lazy to order a copy from Amazon an easy excuse to download it illegally. While some kind of penalty for major pirate filesharers may be only a matter of time, for as long as the industry resists providing a legitimate alternative, as the music industry finally has with Spotify, then at least the filesharers are keeping the pressure on the studio executives to resolve the licensing disputes and put their libraries online asap. It's not like they aren't already available illegally, taking away any argument about waiting until DRM/watermarking issues are resolved - if people want to rip these films, they probably already have. And if they couldn't grab them online, they'd just get it from their local DVD-wielding pub tout. For the majority of us who don't want to steal (but may like to sample from time to time when unsure if a film will be any good) we are just being encouraged to learn a new way to break the law. This is before we come onto the thousands of incredible films that aren't available - even on DVD or VHS - and are otherwise consigned to the dustbin of fading memories.

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Which video sharing sites offer the best filmmaker-friendly licenses? Not Vimeo

Apologies for the quiet around here lately - I've been completely emerged in a family health crisis. I hope to pick things up in the next few days. Meantime here's some suprising news (by way of BoingBoing) from Markus Weiland, who has compared the license agreements from the main video sharing sites. Netribution's (until now) prefered site Vimeo comes off the worst:

"By submitting your Submission to VIMEO, you hereby grant VIMEO [...] a worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, sub-licensable (through multiple tiers) and transferable license (with a right to create derivative works) to use, copy, transmit or otherwise distribute, perform, modify, incorporate into other works, publicly perform and display your Submission or any portion thereof, in or through any medium, [...]. VIMEO shall be entitled to unrestricted use of any Submission for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without compensation to the submitter."

YouTube doesn't come off much better - only Blip.tv, which we were pushing in the last funding book - has a filmmaker friendly End User License Agreement (EULA) that lets the producer choose the license under which their content appears. DailyMotion, which has been premiering some great indie features recently, also gets a thumbs up. The full list is at the Advancing Usability blog.

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Us Now - Watch the Acclaimed Documentary for Free Online

From PR Rachel Devenport:

Joining the Docs, the pioneering on-demand documentary channel, has today released UK documentary Us Now for free for a limited period via its new website www.joiningthedocs.tv.

Us Now is a UK documentary film about the power of mass collaboration, government and the Internet. It is a description of a world on the cusp of the greatest social change since the invention of the printing press. It confronts politicians George Osborne and Ed Milliband with the possibilities for participative government as described by Don Tapscott and Clay Shirky amongst others.

Joining the Docs features a wide range of films made by passionate, committed directors from Europe, North America and Asia. Titles released in recent months include the Oscar short-listed IOUSA, The Unwinking Gaze and The Putin System.

The film will be available for free download for a limited period at http://www.joiningthedocs.tv

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Ditto - a new film and music experience launches on 16th May

From PR Marek Steven:

Ditto is a new multi-platform collaboration between top names in music, film and writing. Individual, exclusive pieces inspired by classic works from various fields will come together live in an inspiring celebration of life - Creation, Joy, Love, Despair, Hope, Destruction and Farewell. The performance is broadcast live online for literally one time only; as all the work created will be erased forever at the finale. With events coming up at Latitude and The Big Chill, Ditto is always looking for new collaborators. With international musicians and producers influenced by dance, electronica and sonic landscapes composing, contributing and performing new works:

Sander Kleienberg, Rolando Rocha, Fluke / 2BIT, John Hendicott, Bruno DiasMieko Shimizu and James Gillespie (aka Scope). Including a piece created by Richard Norris (Beyond The Wizards Sleeve). Alongside these music pieces, newly created film and animation is being contributed by leading film and visual artists among whom are a mulitude of successful and talented visual artists.

The project brings together 23 newly commissioned pieces of visual art, with accompanying composed soundtracks delivered in a mixture of live and pre-recorded performance and a global broadcast. At the end of the event all the performance material is permanently erased and will never be replayed. This is a one-time event. For a full listing and how to get involved visit www.ditto.tvwww.twitter.com/dittotv and www.facebook.com/pages/Dittotv/174303660083?ref=ts

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After Secret Cinema, Future Cinema creates Secret Screenings in London, Brighton & Edinburgh

(Publicist Submission)

FUTURE CINEMA, the creators of SECRET CINEMA, are proud to announce the launch of SECRET SCREENINGS, a new monthly film club bringing surprise screenings to cinemas around the UK. The event launches on May 2nd in LONDON, BRIGHTON and EDINBURGH and a single mystery film will be shown simultaneously across these venues.

SECRET SCREENING films will be a mix of forgotten classics, cult favourites and exclusive previews. Similarly to the SECRET CINEMA concept the film will remain a secret until the opening credits roll and on the night guests will be entertained by special live performances and exclusive competitions.

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Trailers for most of the Cannes 2009 Competition selection

As Cannes Film Festival relaunches it website with a new service offering all films selected for the festival the chance to preview the first five minutes of their film, on release, on their site, and in a year bursting with the latest offerings from the festivals favourite auteurs, here's as many of the trailers as I could find. Starting with Lars von Trier's first return to horror since the Kingdom. It's a long time since a trailer scared the fluids out of me, and I can only hope it lives up to its promise. Full marks to Zentropa for having the only film in competition to shun YouTube's inferior quality streaming - in fact half the films don't even have websites or trailers ready, presumably because the films are still being finished, (or the producers are linktards). For more detailed write-up - Variety has a good run down.

Lars VON TRIER - ANTICHRIST -   1h44

More info from www.antichristthemovie.com

Jane CAMPION - BRIGHT STAR -  2h00

More info from www.brightstarthemovie.com

CLOSING FILM - Jan KOUNEN - COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY  - Out of Comp. - 2h00

No trailer yet. Photos available on the official site -  www.chanelstravinsky.com/

Pedro ALMODÓVAR - LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS  (Broken Embraces) -  2h09

Gaspar NOE  -  ENTER THE VOID -   2h30

No trailer yet. Photos available on the official site - www.soudainlevide.com

TSAI Ming-Liang - VISAGE (Face) - 2h18

Footage above of extracts from the film - no trailer yet. 

Andrea ARNOLD -  FISH TANK -  2h02

No trailer or website exists for this film (in fact BBC Films and Artifical Eye don't even give it a page on their sites. I've seen coffee mornings better promoted).

Alain RESNAIS -  LES HERBES FOLLES  - 1h36

No trailer or website for this yet either. Pah, publicity? Poo!

Quentin TARANTINO - INGLOURIOUS BASTARDS -  2h40

Yeah! Woo! War! Killing People! WOW! Cruelty! And not just people, but NAZIS! With Cruelty.
That Hitler guy, he so funny, he get so angry!

Can't Quentin just go into rehab or somewhere for a few years and come out to make one more masterpiece? Is it so much to ask?

Brillante MENDOZA - KINATAY -   1h45

Erm, no trailer or website for this film either. Which planet are these guys living in?

Ken LOACH - LOOKING FOR ERIC -  1h59

Ken Loach in feel good film shock?! And a stoner film at that? More info from lookingforericmovie.co.uk

Isabel COIXET - MAP OF THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO -  1h44

More info from www.mapofthesoundsoftokyo.com. The site has a video diary, but no trailer.

Xavier GIANNOLI -  A L’ORIGINE  - 2h30

No trailer or website either, as far as I can tell

Jacques AUDIARD  - UN PROPHÈTE  - 2h35

No website or trailer.

LOU Ye CHUN - FENG CHEN ZUI DE YE WAN (Spring Fever) -   1h55

No website or trailer.

Ang LEE - TAKING WOODSTOCK  -   1h50

PARK Chan-Wook - BAK-JWI (Thirst)  - 2h13

Elia SULEIMAN - THE TIME THAT REMAINS -   1h45

No website, no trailer.

OPENING FILM - Peter DOCTER - UP -  Out of Competition -  1h35

More info from website - www.pixar.com/featurefilms/up/

Johnnie TO - VENGEANCE  -   1h48

Marco BELLOCCHIO - VINCERE  -   2h08

Michael HANEKE - DAS WEISSE BAND (The White Ribbon)   - 2h24

Extract above, full trailer and website awaited.

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Hull lights up from tonight with shorts

hullfilm1The biggest British short film festival north of London, and Netribution partner, Glimmer (the 7th International Hull Film Festival), opens tonight with a packed program. I will be at the festival over the weekend for an interesting event on Saturday:

Pay to Play? 25th April, 3.30pm-5pm

This year GLIMMER allowed filmmakers to choose how much they paid in submission fees. This was not only to allow those who would normally be unable to afford to enter film festivals the chance of submitting their films but also to promote a debate about the ethics of charging for entry. From this Glimmer presents a panel discussion that looks at the current financial climate in which film festivals – and the entire film industry – find themselves in with a global recession and, in the UK at least, the Olympics threatening public money for the arts. It will also examine how the industry treats those who work within it: with low pay and many people working for virtually free. Just when should people be adequately rewarded for the work they do and when does the phrase “You should feel lucky that you’re working on something you enjoy,” start to become tiresome?"

Against the backdrop of Pirate Bay tweets, this should be a particularly interesting topic, especially given Netribution's DVD editor and Hull Film head, Laurence Boyce's history of inspiring debate at festivals. Netribution's first public discussion was the now infamous Who Shot British Film?, a provocative chat at Leeds Film Fest under Laurence's drive, then the Never Mind the Celluloid debate he conceived in 2005. This predated and foretold the 'garage filmmaker' renaisance YouTube/Vimeo/DailyMotion presents us with today (and even made it to the pages of Wikipedia!). Check www.hullfilm.co.uk for updated information on speakers and other events.

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Does Pirate Bay verdict threaten Google - and who has been funding them?

According to Engadget: "The Stockholm district court in Sweden found the defendants guilty not of hosting materially illegally, but of "providing a website with sophisticated search functions, simple download and storage capabilities, and a tracker linked to the website [that helped users commit copyright violations]."

Sounds like that could include anything from YouTube to Gmail to Google Search itself (type your favourite film title into Google search box with the word 'torrent' afterwards). This could get interesting.

"The court said we were organised. I can’t get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you’re going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime."

Actually if anything, the Swedish crew behind the Pirate Bay - Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde - seem to be most guilty of having an almost North Korean attitude to public relations, appearing as far as i can tell largely unconcerned about the consequnces of their position on independent, experimental, art house and political/issue-based filmmakers. [edit - 1 May 09 - actually it appears Pirate Bay is(was) a happy and active contributor to StealThisMovie's Jamie King's Vodo]. There's no sign I can see that P2P piracy hurts big and brash studio blockbusters, the Big Mac and fries of Entertaiment. Unlike music, it's the independent and art-house films that seem to have suffered the most, at least as the industry currently is structured.

How hard would it have been to add a tip jar on the site so users could put a couple of quid in an appreciation in a pot that gets sent to the filmmakers - turning the Bayen into a kind of try before you buy service, that at least gives back to the good films that people like and want to watch more of. OK, pretty hard, but I'm sure someone could have helped out. [Edit - 1/5/9 -  They are working on it - Vodo] But imagine the alternative - a world where the only big features made are funded by commercial brands - which is the only way a no-pay model works for feature films right now, (tho the Finnish open source propos  -  Wreck a Movie - seems to be going from strength to strength).

Nevertheless, a year in prison will serve elevate the founders from 'thorn in foot' status to martyrs and public heroes to the Swedish - an advanced, righteous, if somewhat surly nation - and downloaders worldwide. The film rights on their stories alone will doubtless far exceed the fine they've been chargefd with.

'Neo Nazi' funding for Pirate Bay?

It took a few moments to believe this twist on the tale, as it seems so close to the old 'your dodgy dvd funds terrorists' spin on the FACT adverts that it seemed like a bluff. But according to The Registrar, defendent Carl Lundstrom owns some 40% of the site, pays their bandwidth bills and is currently bankrolling 100 MPs from the Swedish equivalent of the BNP (which is quite a scary prospect.. click the link to see what the Swedish call chocolate truffels in every day parlance). But it's a fact that is eerily under-reported, and for the Hollywod PR machine not to pick up on it suggests that it might not be true. Either that or they're just not very good at using Google, which is also plausible. I would like to learn more, as it would be a paranoid way to explain their unconditional hatred of Hollywood, where in its aim to celebrate of cultural diversity, seven out of the eight studiio heads are Jewish. It's certainly an allegation that they need to clear up. Oh, Google tells me they actually did clear this up in 2007. Kind of.

At the same time, with or without them, if the early reports from Brendan Tate's survey of cinema going habits is anything to go by, 97% of the net-connected population download films 'illegally'. Interestingly this is the same percentage the FT found in the population who downloaded illegal music, which I wrote about here two years ago here. As I get more and more lost in Spotify - also from Stockholm's technical wizzards - the more I thank in my heart the P2P pioneers who created all those years ago a software and service that let you get any music you wanted, against the risk of prison - as it forced the industry to come to agreement on a legitimate way to have the same 'convenient user experience'. In the words of Disney co-chair Ann Sweeney piracy was a 'competing business model'. So without this pioneering, yet infringing, activity, I would not be at the point where I can pay to subscribe to a legit, near-all-you-can-eat music service, and discover more incredible recorded music than I've ever heard before. And it's so much more easy to use than the illegite alternatives.

(for the record I should say the last and only film I've tried (and failed) to torrent was Steal This Movie. I also downloaded a great mashup of the Wu Tang and New Orleans soul about three years ago. Actually I now feel more like the dorky geek who has been single for five years now, then the cool geek who has a hard drive of excellent films everyone likes to know). Tho I did just link to a list of search results for Torrents. On Google. Will I go to prison?)

That Sweden has resisted and struggled to prosecute the Bayen for so long is as much a sign of their refusal to be bossed around by foreign corporate interest, and seems quite admirable in a world where foreign (ie US) commercial interests have long been forced upon countries whose laws might just happen to be different. A quick look at the US's own history in relation to foreign copyrights is vital reading and eye-opening. Ask Louis Le Prince. But then that's in the past when different races sat on separate buses.

So will the ruling be used to Golliath Google? It seems unlikely for now, but the test case has been won. If the ruling was applied to the web majors, filtering illegitimate content would sweep up so much good content inacurately (around a million blog posts are posted daily, each of which could include or link to illegitimate work, as this blog post possibly does) it would finish the web off as a platform for free speech. It would also destroy any hope the film industry has of improving its deteriorating relationship with its current major funders - us and the rest of the paying public.

More interesting to me tho is how long the film industry will resist making the biopic about a very modern Pirate Boat (That Rocked).

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New government anti-piracy campaign finally takes the post-Cluetrain carrot

Communicating the message that films are generally very expensive to make, and that widespread piracy will directly affect the number and quality of films produced and released, should have been a straight forward pitch. However after years of, literally, demonising piracy as the sponsor of terrorism and child pornography (good round up of videos at the Guardian, my fave is at bottom of this page) a credibility gap has been created, leading otherwise intelligent and responsible people to argue that that the studios deserve piracy in response to the mountain of crap they've produced over the year - how many hours of lives can we not get back having forked out for a ticket to watch a lousy film that was marketed to be something far better?

This comes regardless of the inconvenient truth that big studio features tend to do well regardless of how much they are downloaded (The Dark Knight topped both the legitimate and illegitimate charts last year), but small indpendent films are the ones most likely to be hurt as they are hard enough to get hold of to begin with, and there is a higher consumer risk associated with them given their lack of known actors. For many people, given the choice between paying £10 or more to see a foreign arthouse film with no recongisable talent, or downloading a 'try-before-you-buy' version, piracy wins out on convenience and risk. And for a film on this scale, without the cushion of a large cinema release for marketing or income, every less DVD bought makes an impact.

The UK government's latest campaign, You Make the Movies, following the light hearted peer-pressure angle of 'knock off Nigel' in the last few years, thanks viewers for providing the money that lets great films be made. I could wax full of praise and relief for this new approach, but the main point, as should be the aim of any such marketing message, is it alienates no-one. If you've bought cinema tickets or DVDs recently, you can feel valued by the film industry. If you haven't, then like a child's quest for paternal approval you may subconsciously seek to earn that approval at some future point when you can join the big happy family of fans and filmmakers all cheering each other on. It's a post-Cluetrain approach, and I'll be very suprised if it doesn't work. My only gripe would be that it could focus more on the films that Britain makes (rather than Jaws and Lord of the Rings), to really hammer the point home about supporting our local industry. Perhaps there could be a follow up campaign where British indie filmmakers also voice and upload their thanks for buying their films - people like Chris Jones, Jan Dunn, Charlie Belville, Ben Hopkins and the thousands of others like us, to give the message that your local filmmaker is a bit like your hard-up local pub landlord, and doesn't live in a mansion in LA.

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The Edinburgh Pitch 2009 - Prizes up to £6000!

Following on from the success of the last two years, Scottish Documentary Institute is proud to again host the annual documentary pitching workshop: The Edinburgh Pitch. For the first time this year prizes will be awarded up to £6,000 for project development. Organized as part of the Bridging the Gap initiative, the pitch is backed by Scottish Screen, Skillset, BBC Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Edinburgh College of Art and runs concurrent to Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The Edinburgh Pitch is the only international pitching forum in Scotland, where documentary filmmakers can pitch their ideas to a select panel of commissioning editors from around the world, including BBC and Channel 4, and receive invaluable feedback for their projects, make industry contacts, and compete for the award for most promising project. The forum is open to industry observers.

This kind of event is a typical way for filmmakers to raise money all over the world, with one of the biggest forums happening in Amsterdam (IDFA) every year. Pitching in public is a risky strategy, but can be a great way to attract a lot of attention in a short period of time for a project in the development stage seeking financing.

Prizes include:

£6,000 for Most Promising Project

£2,000 for Best Scottish Project (project based in Scotland)

This is a fantastic opportunity for all filmmakers looking to produce a feature length documentary to attend a pitching and development workshop and to pitch formally in front of a carefully selected panel of International and UK commissioning editors, sales agents and producers.

The 3 day workshop covers a pitching practice day, the pitch itself, followed by one to one meetings with each member of the panel. Open to all filmmakers UK and abroad and is aimed at independent filmmakers and companies who are developing and raising finance for creative documentaries (52min – 90min) and who are thinking about international co-productions. (Please note that only UK filmmakers are eligible for the cash prizes.)

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Calling all budding actors and actresses: Star in a new film from the creators of Skins!

The makers of Skins need you! It's your chance to work with Company Pictures and the team of bright young things who were recruited on the Skins website at the end of last year (if you're a Skins regular, you might remember the big shout out we made for talented writers, directors and designers – well, this is them!).

The team will be creating a brand new short film in April to be shown exclusively online, and we're looking for people to star in it.

To find out all you need to know head to E4.

The closing date for applications will be Monday 13th April 2009 at 23:59 p

Good Luck!

 

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Salad Fingers' web legend David Firth has first retrospective at Hull International Film Festival

6 days, 5 masterclasses, 4 competitions, 3 days of industry events, 2 retrospectives and 1 Hull Short Film Festival.

starwarstheempirestrikesbackNow in it's seventh year, the Hull International Short Film Festival is cementing its position as the UK's number one short film event north of London, continuing to determinedly beat its cultural heart in a town much maligned and misunderstand - and a place where I've had some of the most memorable festival experiences anywhere. Standing besides a giant bonfire with Oscar nominated genius Virgil Widrich at a Hutt Street party in 2004, singing a spontaneous acoustic mashup of Blue Moon, Happiness is a Warm Gun and A Message to You Rudy (all use the same chord structure, btw) with the festival team last year, Hull's really quite like Glasgow, and if you've visited either you'll know what I mean.

This year sees the first Anthoney Minghella Memorial Awards, the highly anticipated retrospective of one of the UK's leading web filmmakers -  local-boy / bedroom animator wizard David 'Salad Fingers' Firth - (the "creepiest and best flash animation online" San Francisco Chronicle) who regularly chalks up millions of viewers for his films on YouTube (see below), as well as an astonishingly good exhibition of Polish film posters (featured) and more than 50 World, International, European and UK Premieres in a programme almost as full as programmer Laurence Boyce's DVD collection.

Full details of the 200+ films and the rest of the programme are at www.hullfilm.co.uk. Sponsored by the University of Hull, the Anthony Minghella Awards for Best International and UK Short will see movies from intense drama to hilarious animation, all compete for the award that commemorates one of the UK’s most talented – and missed – directors. The GLIMMER Award for Best Yorkshire Short will shine the spotlight on the talent from our own region whilst Hull City Council will support the GLIMMER Award for Best Hull Short.

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