February 2015 - Posts

9 Tips for Getting the Best Performances in Micro-Budget Features

I've been on both sides of the casting process, and I regretfully report that most auditions I've experienced are not staged in a way that benefits either filmmakers or actors. Many filmmakers are taught casting techniques which don't effectively measure acting skill, and instead, gauge how good an actor is at auditioning. While auditioning is part of the job of the actor, it's your job to get the best performance possible out of each role in your film, so it's worth re-thinking the process. Throughout the process of making my debut feature, "The Happiest Place on Earth," set to premiere in competition at Cinequest this month, I discovered a number of techniques which can help filmmakers tap undiscovered talent and maximize performances: 1. Provide more pages, not fewer. I've heard acting teachers say that "the audition starts when you walk into the casting room," but as a director, I want to see that it started even earlier than that. I want to know how well...
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7 New Netflix Shows to Binge Watch in March 2015 (And the Best Episodes of Each)

1) "Mad Men" Season 7 (available March 22)Why Should I Watch It? "Mad Men" is the best show on TV. I know, I know. Plenty of people like to argue other great shows are the best thing on television, for a variety of inauthentic reasons (clickbait, unawareness, sheer stupidity). But the only show you absolutely should be watching no matter what — assuming you care about silly things like "culture" and "art" — is "Mad Men." No other series provides such depth of context combined with formal beauty. Oh, and Season 7 is a helluva good time thanks to moments like this and this (slight spoilers). But for more on the specifics... Best Episode: Season 7a featured a number of terrific entries to the series' canon, even with significantly fewer episodes than "seasons" past. But one segment reigned supreme. Episode 6, the penultimate episode of the half-season, features theeeeee moment fans have been waiting this whole time to...
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Indiewire Podcast: The Oscars Are Over. Now What?

With awards season finally over, Kohn and Thompson look back on the outcome of last week's ceremony before contemplating the rest of the year. They also share their memories of Leonard Nimoy and recommend several new releases. READ MORE: 'Birdman' Wins Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards Screen Talk is now available on iTunes. You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with Thompson and Kohn on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Browse previous installments here, review the show on iTunes and be sure to let us know if you'd like to hear the hosts address specific issues in upcoming editions of Screen Talk.
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Review: 'House of Cards' Season 3 Eases Up On the Sex, Amps Up the Politics — and Claire

As a Netflix series, each episode of "House of Cards" opens with the network's logo, reminding you where you happen to be watching the award-winning drama. But Season 3 introduces a fun tweak to that opening card: A sharp "tap-tap," echoing the final seconds of the Season 2 finale, in which Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) leans into his hard-won position of authority by rapping his brand new ring on his brand new desk.  While the show tries to grab your attention right away in this fashion, the third season of the series actually proves to be a slightly quieter affair than the seasons which have come before. And this works both for and against "House of Cards" in its return.  In many instances, the third season of a show offers an opportunity for fans to truly consider a series; to re-evaluate whether or not they're still truly engaged. And a lot of times, it comes down to character. There are no shortage of programs that have held my...
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Watch: 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 Takes Flight with New Clips & Official Poster

"Game of Thrones" doesn't mess around when it comes to...well, pretty much anything, but certainly not with their marketing campaign. As the audience grows for HBO's medieval epic, so do the promotional endeavors. This year, we've seen an unprecedented trailer release via the first television series ever to screen in IMAX, clips, obscure online teases and now we've just received the official poster. The image below combines two of the series' biggest draws: dragons and Peter Dinklage. Tyrion looks into the eyes of Daenerys' dragon, and we sure hope he has a plan to get out of this one (not that the poster should be taken as a literal representation of what's to come). It's nevertheless a striking image, and one that many fans will have plastered in their dorm rooms or man caves. In case that wasn't enough for you, HBO also released two new clips from Season 5. All of this content on a Friday in February, more than a month away from the premiere, makes you think the premium...
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SyFy to Honor Leonard Nimoy with 5-Hour Marathon of Career Highlights

This Sunday, SyFy will be honoring sci-fi icon Leonard Nimoy by airing quite the sampler of some of his most well-loved appearances.  SyFy will kick off the morning with Nimoy's pre-"Star Trek" appearance in "A Quality of Mercy" (a popular, World War II-set episode of "The Twilight Zone"), before moving on to showcase his two-episode crossover stint on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and then wrapping up the proceedings with "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," a fitting end for the celebration of Nimoy's sci-fi career as it's the last "Star Trek" film to feature the original cast. The airing schedule for Sunday's five-hour tribute is as follows: 9am - "The Twilight Zone" - A Quality of Mercy 9:30am - "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - Unification: Part I 10:30am - "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - Unification: Part 2 11:30am - "Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country" READ...
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How to Improve the Independent Spirit Awards: Top Producers Weigh In

The latest awards season is now officially over -- and with it, the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards' stunning decision to honor the higher-budgeted "Birdman" over "Boyhood" for Best Feature. The nonprofit organization's choice for best picture fell in lockstep with the Academy Awards the following night, a choice that left a bad taste with many in the industry, including Indiewire's Eric Kohn.  "Few could doubt that 'Boyhood' epitomized the notion of success in American independent film last year," Kohn wrote in his piece, "Why the Spirit Awards Need to Stop Mimicking the Oscars." "While 'Birdman' — a wildly enjoyable cinematic concoction, no doubt — was a far more refined production populated by celebrities and slick filmmaking trickery." True indies, he argued, are "left with the stinging reminder that money and exposure still win out." "Boyhood," distributed by IFC Films, was made for...
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Watch: Russell T Davies' Dramas 'Cucumber'/'Banana' to Premiere After 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

"*** as Folk" fans, you're in luck -- Russell T Davies' ("Doctor Who") highly anticipated new interconnected dramas "Cucumber" and "Banana" will premiere March 2 on Logo, following the premiere of "RuPaul's Drag Race." The two interwoven drama series will explore the lives of 21st century gay life in Manchester, England. The hour long "Cucumber" follows Henry Best (Vincent Franklin) and his boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan (Cyril Nri), while the half-hour long "Banana" follows the lives of the younger characters in Henry's world. In this clip from "Banana," we see one of the characters, Dean (Fisayo Akinade), experience something we've all done, whether we care to admit it or not: seeing an attractive stranger on public transport and promptly fantasizing about a life together. "Cucumber" and "Banana" also stars Julie Hesmondhalgh ("Coronation Street"), Freddie Fox...
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Vice Media Reveals Plans to Launch Female-Focused Online Vertical

Vice Media continues to grow its digital publishing empire with the launch of a new female-oriented web vertical called Broadly, which aims to cover, according to an exclusive report published by The Hollywood Reporter this morning, "a variety of topics including politics, culture, lifestyle, sex and fashion." The vertical will feature two original video series, one of which will document the daily professional and personal lives of different women. The other will examine the relationship between public figures and feminism. The launch of Broadly is being spearheaded by Shanon Kelly, who will serve as publisher, and Tracie Egan Morrissey, who will take on the role of director of content. It's exciting news given Vice's well-known culture of machismo both inside and out. So here's to hoping "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" director Ana Lily Amirpour, who had her film distributed by Vice Films at the end of last year, shows up somewhere on Broadly. Maybe a...
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Sundance Selects Acquires U.S. Rights to 'A Murder in the Park'

Sundance Selects has acquired exclusive U.S. rights to "A Murder in the Park." Directed by Shawn Rech and Brandon Kimber, "A Murder in the Park" is a documentary that follows the fascinating story of Anthony Porter and Alstory Simon. Porter was two days away from being executed for a double homicide, when a group of Northwestern University students were able to help reveal Simon as the real killer. Simon's confession then exonerated Porter, and, in turn, condemned Simon to 37 years in prison. It sounds almost too good to be true, and the film asks whether that might very well be the case. READ MORE: African Diaspora-Interest Films to See at DOC NYC, USA's Largest Doc Festival  Said Sundance Selects/IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring, "Rech and Kimber have crafted an expertly made, utterly captivating examination of the ethics and inconsistencies of our justice system." "A Murder in the Park" premiered at DOC NYC in 2014. Sundance...
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Watch These 10 Oscar-Winning Epics On Demand

[Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Movies On Demand. Catch up on last year’s Awards Season contenders and past winners On Demand. Today's list is a selection of classic Oscar-winning epics.] "Titanic" On the RMS Titanic, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and gives her the time of her life. The ship hits an iceberg and Rose must find Jack while the ship sinks deeper into the freezing water. From director James Cameron, "Titanic" has lived on for nearly two decades as the love story of our times. Tragically romantic and stunningly staged, it went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and remains one of the most successful and influential movies of all time."Chariots of Fire"This classic look at the competitive spirit features two runners competing for Olympic glory in their own fashion and for their own separate reasons. "Chariots of Fire" is based on the amazing true story...
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Watch: Adam Brody Bails on Pregnant Girlfriend in 'Growing Up & Other Lies' Exclusive Clip

Co-directed and co-written by Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs "Growing Up & Other Lies," is (as its title might suggest) about the trials of a last ditch, largely unsuccessful attempt to grow up -- after all, it's billed as an "anti-coming-of-age comedy." The film follows a group of friends (Adam Brody, Wyatt Cenac, Danny Jacobs and Josh Lawson) as they take an all-day walk down the entire length of Manhattan in an attempt to relive the uncomplicated ease of their early 20s, and spoiler alert: Things don't exactly go as planned. Check out this exclusive clip of Adam Brody doing his best to convince his very-pregnant girlfriend that a drunken Manhattan ramble with his buddies is more important than her last gynecological check up. "Growing Up & Other Lies" will be released in theaters and available on demand on March 20. READ MORE: Watch: Trailer For Indie Rom-Com ‘Growing Up & Other Lies’ With Adam Brody, Wyatt Cenac...
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Watch: Gospel Singers Team Up with Atheists in 'The Jones Family Will Make A Way' Exclusive Trailer

The first trailer has been released for Alan Berg's "The Jones Family Will Make A Way," which follows a surprising collaboration between a religious, musical family and an atheist critic. The documentary film follows a rural, Pentecostal preacher, Bishop Fred Jones, whose family has performed on the southern gospel circuit for years, largely unseen by those outside the faith. Despite objections from many within his congregation, the Bishop decides to take his family's musical ministry outside the church. The film appears to be another story of an unlikely alliance, this time between a gospel-singing family and a jaded, atheistic rock critic. While this seems almost unthinkable, the critic notes, "You guys are the perfect gospel group for atheists." "The Jones Family Will Make A Way" will screen at SXSW and make its world premiere at the Paramount Theatre on March 8. Watch the trailer below: READ MORE: SXSW Reveals Christine Vachon as Keynote, More Films...
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Watch: Secrets Are an Illusion in Exclusive Trailer for Larry Clark's 'Marfa Girl'

Larry Clark, best known for collaborating with Harmony Korine on "Kids" and "Ken Park," will return to the south-central U.S. for his latest film, "Marfa Girl," which is being released by Breaking Glass Pictures.  Like Clark's previous films, "Marfa Girl" constructs a gritty sexual portrait of the youth in a particular community -- in this case, a Texas border town named Marfa. Here's the film's official synopsis: "The new film from visionary director Larry Clark follows Adam, a directionless 16-year-old living in the working class U.S./Mexico border town of Marfa, Texas, and his sexual relationships with his teenage girlfriend, twenty something neighbor, aggressive local artist and high school teacher, while an unhinged, misogynistic border patrol agent watches over the neighborhood. What ensues is a web of sex, drugs, and violence as the Latino skater punks adjust to their gritty, aimless life in the dead end town." Check out...
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Sundance Favorite 'I'll See You In My Dreams' to Play Cleveland International Film Festival; Full Lineup Announced

The Cleveland International Film Festival has announced the lineup for its upcoming event, which takes place March 18-29 at Tower City Cinemas in Downtown Cleveland. CIFF will screen a record number of 193 feature films and 234 short films. Opening the festival is "I'll See You In My Dreams," directed by Brett Haley and starring Blyth Danner, while Dan Fogelman's Pacino led "Danny Collins" will close the festival. The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival Includes:Features:"The Incident""The Incredible Adventures of JoJo""Labyrinthus""Listening""Love Land""The Midnight Swim""Now We're Alive""Placebo""The Tribe""Violet" Documentaries:"20 Years of Madness""Alfred & Jakobine""Almost There""Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World""Big Moccasin""Don't Leave Me""Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead:...
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