Sunday, December 28, 2008

Las Cruces Update

The Las Cruces Sun's annual Year in Review provides a rundown on several of the activities that are building awareness of the Las Cruces' area's filmmaking capabilities:
Hollywood on the Rio Grande

Las Cruces continued to build its reputation as Hollywood on the Rio Grande with big budget potential blockbusters, indie and student films in production here.

"The Burning Plain" wrapped local shoots early in 2008 in Las Cruces. The film, which stars Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger and Jennifer Lawrence, has already garnered awards and nominations. Lawrence won Italy's Marcello Mastroianni Award and Guillermo Arriaga, the film's director and screenwriter, has been nominated for The Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) Award, the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival. A U.S. release date has not yet been announced.

White Sands National Monument and southern New Mexico were again principal locations for "Transformers." The sequel, "Revenge of the Fallen," is slated to hit theaters next summer.

Comedic superstar Jack Black and Michael Cera finished shoots in White Sands for "Year One," a buddy quest comedy set in Biblical times. A John Makovich movie, "Afterwards" did some location shoots in southern New Mexico and a London production company filmed the David Parker Ray documentary in Truth or Consequences, scene of Ray's crimes and a reality TV show, "Man vs. Cartoon," filmed at the Very Large Array, about 50 miles from Socorro.

Several indie films were made in southern New Mexico, too. Creative Media Institute's first feature-length film, "Becoming Eduardo," filmed in Hillsboro and Truth or Consequences, is based on "Alternative Ed," a book by former Oñate High School teacher LouAnne Johnson, whose bestseller, "My Posse Don't Do Homework," became the basis for the 1995 blockbuster film "Dangerous Minds," starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The cast includes students from Alma d'arte, Las Cruces' charter high school for the arts and its executive artistic producer, Irene Oliver-Lewis. Johnson worked with indie filmmaker and CMI professor Rod McCall on the film.

"AH-HOS-TEEND (Retired)," a spiritual quest movie by writers-directors Chris Kientz and Shonie De La Rosa, was filmed on locations in Las Cruces and southern New Mexico. Writer Mackenzie Ridgeway and producer and director Jaron Whitfill chose locations in Las Cruces, southern New Mexico and Albuquerque for their thriller, "They Can't Be Stopped." Shawn Darling's "Grave Mistake" had a private premiere here and was picked up for national distribution by Maxim Media International and Brain Damage Films. Darling has several other projects the works, including "Red Sands," a monster movie set in a a survivalist camp for troubled kids, and a fantasy film in pre-production.

Writer and director Constance Haspopoulos worked on "A Road To Paris," produced by CMI for a short film production class of Tony Award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Mark Medoff.

...

More at Year in Review

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interview with Lisa Strout

Nice interview with NMFO Director Lisa Strout in today's Albuquerque Journal:

One on One with Lisa Strout
By Autumn Gray
Assistant Business Editor
Soup changed Lisa Strout's life. At the very least, it played a leading role.
Before the fresh pot arrived on her doorstep in Santa Fe, Strout led the kind of Hollywood lifestyle that had her flying to Italy as location manager for the Academy-award winning “A Room with A View” one day, heading a New York production office another. The majority of her 20-plus years in the business was spent in Los Angeles, usually in traffic, working 18 of every 24 hours, meeting scores of people but knowing no one, and certainly not receiving gifts that were good for the soul.
So about eight years ago, Strout decided to take a short break.
“I came out here to do some writing. I thought because I was in between movies, I would write, and I came out here for a few months,” hardly expecting to fall in love, she said.
But New Mexico had wooed her, and it “became obvious” she needed a change.
Strout returned to California long enough to finish working on her last film there, “13 Days,” starring Kevin Costner. Then, “I just up and moved,” she said.
“Within a week of coming here, I met two people who are still two of my closest friends. I was alone. I didn't know anybody. And they were neighbors on either side of me. They were so generous and warm. I remember coming home to a pot of soup on my porch with a note that said, 'It sounds like you're getting sick,' and I burst into tears because in Los Angeles, I lived in a place for 10 years that neighbors didn't talk to each other, they didn't help each other, and I missed and wanted that sense of community.”
More at: One on One with Lisa Strout

KOB-TV" Movie business going strong

From KOB-TV:

Movie business going strong in NM
A different kind of movie magic seems to be going on in New Mexico. Despite a recession, there's plenty of work to go around with movie-making.

In fact, a big production staring martial arts legend Jackie Chan is being filmed in Rio Rancho.

The star, described as a bit shy and quiet, presented two $5,000 to the Boys and Girls Club and Southwest Multi-Media. Both organizations work with children.

Pulte Homes donated the money because the company is getting a chunk of money from the film production. Producers are using some of their model homes for the shoot.

There are currently eight different movies or television shoots going on across the state.

Seven projects just wrapped up.

The New Mexico Film Commission says in the past 18 months, there have been eight to 12 shoots in New Mexico and they say that number remains steady.

The Georgia O'keefe film that's going on right now is made up of a 95 percent New Mexican crew.

Film officials say the bad economy has not hurt the film business in the least bit.

The week after Thanksgiving, theatres across the country saw the highest attendance since 2000.

"It's clean, it's high-paying, it hires local talent, it gives local talent an opportunity to show what they have to offer and I think overall it has a rippling effect of benefiting the regular individual here in the community," said Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack.

As for the plans for a Lionsgate studio in Rio Rancho, that's not happening anytime soon. But the mayor is hopeful that the studio will come back to the table for talks when the economy improves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NM Independent: Lt. Governor Denish to Support Film

The new(-ish) online news source New Mexico Independent has refreshing news about soon-to-be-Governor Denish:
Hollywood, you’re still welcome in N.M., Denish says
By Trip Jennings 12/5/08 4:34 PM

While driving through downtown Albuquerque, it’s difficult to miss signs of the film industry: Here a blocked-off street with large trailers, there a sign affixed to a pole directing crews to a set.

There’s no mistaking that Gov. Bill Richardson has made it a priority to attract film and TV projects to the Land of Enchantment, and it shows. How many of us have watched the USA Network show, In Plain Sight, just for the chance to shout out, “There are the Sandias!” OK, not many. Well, how many of you have wondered how the series ‘Crash’ holds us against its Oscar-winning film counterpart?

So does his successor, Lt. Gov. Denish, hope to continue the Hollywood-ization of New Mexico.

You betcha.

Here’s what she said during a Thursday press conference.

“In the last few weeks and months I’ve been talking to many people in the film industry, it is one of the job creators in New Mexico,” Denish said. “I’m going to work hard to keep us one step ahead of every state. We are now the model thanks to Gov. Richardson. I am going to work hard so that we don’t lose ground in that area.”

More NM Movie Industry News

One of the cooler, yet under-reported aspects of New Mexico's success with film and media is the the dimension it adds to people's thoughts of New Mexico, whether they're tourists, family members or potential clients (etc.). We live in a cooler place (to some) because there's a chance of seeing George Clooney or Christian Bale or Jennifer Lopez; we live and work in a place that must be cool and tech-savvy because companies like Sony Picture Imageworks have a presence here.

In today's NM Business Journal (online) there's another neat story about filmmaking's positive impact on New Mexico's Tourism industry:

Film tours next?
Film industry spawns more than movies made in NM
New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

When Marla Steinbrecker’s sister came to visit her in Albuquerque, she had one request.

“‘I want to see the building where Mary was kidnapped!’” Steinbrecker recalls her saying.

Mary was Mary Shannon, the character played by Mary McCormack in the show “In Plain Sight,” which is set in Albuquerque. Steinbrecker dutifully showed her sister the Atomic Cantina.

“‘This is so cool!’” Steinbrecker recalls her saying.

It’s just the kind of excitement tourism officials want to leverage from New Mexico’s booming film and TV industry, which has showcased many areas of the state.

Christian Bale and Peter Fonda led prisoner Russell Crow through the red sandstone rocks of Abiquiu in “3:10 to Yuma.” Josh Brolin dodged a psychopath with a bad hair cut around historic downtown Las Vegas in “No Country for Old Men.” John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and William H. Macy hung out in Madrid with their motorcycles in “Wild Hogs.”

“There is no better advertisement for the state than watching the beautiful scenery of New Mexico,” said Jennifer Hoffman, deputy secretary for the state Department of Tourism.

Hoffman joined the department earlier this year and is working on bringing tourism and film closer together. The department is currently conducting surveys at the state’s visitor centers to gauge people’s knowledge of New Mexico based on the movies they have seen.

Eventual plans would include kiosks in all the visitor centers, with streaming video from movies shot in New Mexico and an accompanying film map to help tourists find landmarks featured in films. Ideally, this will correspond with road signs marking certain sites, Hoffman said.

The State Film Office has a map it updates every few months that lists sites where films have been shot, but Hoffman envisions something that is more tourist-friendly.

Tourism is already a major force in the state as the largest private sector employer, with more than 80,000 employees. The film industry has risen quickly as a sector here, with direct spending of $751.7 million over the past six years. Some 115 films and television shows have been shot here since 2003...
More at Film tours next?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NM in the News: Indie Vest Attracts Attention

Indie Vest, which funded the recent NM-shot St. John of Las Vegas, is featured nicely in today's Fast Company.

IndieVest Attracts Indie-Film Investors With Reduced-Risk Model

By: Lucas Conley
Investing in independent cinema is usually just for those with money to burn. IndieVest promises both Hollywood-worthy perks and a relatively safe haven.

Martin Shreibak and Nic Rad aren't the type of investors who usually meet their partners in moonlit junkyards. Yet here they are, late on a Friday night, in a grotesque menagerie of twisted automotive scrap on the southern margins of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both men have been drawn here from their homes, which are thousands of miles away, by a shared passion: movies.

"I used to save up for the three-a-days as a kid," admits Shreibak, who owns health clubs in Indiana and still goes to the movies weekly with his 15-year-old son. "I'd sit in the theater all day, watching films like Spartacus."

"Tarantino, Scorsese, the Coen brothers," adds Rad, a 26-year-old artist, ticking off his favorites. "And any Buscemi project." Steve Buscemi, 20 yards away, pacing amid stripped-down wrecks, doesn't catch the praise. Shoulders hunched, grimacing, the actor is rehearsing his next scene.

Shreibak and Rad have made their way to this rough tract of alkaline desert to see their asset up close. They are two of about 100 investors in the first film from an upstart production company called IndieVest. Saint John of Las Vegas is a buddy comedy about a pair of insurance-fraud investigators, starring Buscemi, Romany Malco, and Sarah Silverman. Being part of IndieVest buys each investor behind-the-scenes perks, such as set visits and an invite to the Sundance Film Festival in January, where SJLV, as it's known, will be screened. More important, though, IndieVest offers its backers an array of financial guarantees and protections not found elsewhere in the Hollywood money game...
More at IndieVest Attracts Indie-Film Investors With Reduced-Risk Model

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Bill Garberina Interview @ Dead Harvey

One of our local Indie production stars in the world of horror is Albuquerque's Billy Garberina, whose Necroville recently got a solid bump in its distribution with Shock O Rama which serves the horror market. There have been pretty frequent discussions about the merits of producing Zombie flicks, but one of the things I admire about the local folks making them is that they consistently deliver.

A recent interview with Garberina at horror movie blogsite Dead Harvey is really refreshing. And useful, I think, for any up and coming movie producer to read.

Interview with Billy Garberina, writer/director of Necroville

...Tell us about yourself. What's your background and how did you get into film making?

I've been living in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the better part of 20 plus years. I was born on the east coast and as an adult I spent a summer in NYC and a year in LA. For now, Albuquerque is home. It's been very good to me. I was interested in acting from the time I was very young, but didn't really have any outlet till I was in the high school drama department. It was as a teenager I started to get the idea of directing plays, but it wouldn't be until I was about 23 that someone introduced me to 3 chip digital cinema and made the idea of making my own movie real to me. I got a BFA in acting from the University of New Mexico and in the spaces in between picked up a little dance, a lot of juggling, a healthy dose of martial fury and some vocal and music background. As a natural jackass, stunts aren't usually much of a problem.
...

What was the budget and how did you attain financing?

The shooting budget for Necroville was a slim $5000. The post production budget ended up near $4800. So all in all it was a $9800 movie. As for financing, that's a question every single film maker asks without fail and I almost always have the same answer: you have to save it, or save some of it and have a couple of buddies come on board. You have to really, really, REALLY want to do this more than anything, not just talk about it. If you're talking about making a movie (you're off to a bad start to begin with by talking too much) you need to look at everything in your life you don't need to spend money on. Booze? Video games? DVD's? Eating out? Expensive dates? Cheap dates? A jedi craves NOT these things! Seriously...if you aren't willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, you're spending way too much money and especially time on pursuits other than making your damn movie. My first feature was all credit cards...since that horrific mistake I've learned the simple power of earning and saving. Earn, save, repeat. I know that to your average human being, close to 10 grand is no small sum, but in the larger context of life, houses, cars, major Hollywood productions and other general craziness it really isn't anything at all. Necroville was financially, actually a combined effort of Ochressandro Rettinger, myself and Adam Jarmon Brown. When you spread that 10K figure over three committed people, it becomes even easier still. I find a lot of filmmakers continually lamenting not having this piece of gear or that amount of budget. Let me tell you, after close to ten years and dozens of features, both mine and other people's, I've got to tell you that availability of your actors and crew, time and personal commitment is WAY more important than any piece of gear or dollar spent ever. So my bottom line is commit to the process, commit to committed people, make sure they're available and you'd be shocked what a little elbow grease and ingenuity can get you. Necroville isn't Citizen Kane by any stretch of the imagination, but if there's a better way to make a movie with that much stuff in it for under 10K, then I challenge and encourage everyone to give it a shot.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the making of this film and how did you overcome them?

In Necroville I had to relearn the simple lessons I threw out the window to make Necroville. When you have no budget, never use animals, never use an abundance of extras, don't need exotic locations, don't have a ton of CGI, keep the story simple, don't have a ton of SFX...yeah, I pretty much ignored all of my best wisdom. I don't know what I was thinking and looking back at the final product, I really should never have gotten away with half of what we did. That being said, I'd say that story boarding based on locations in advance of a shoot would slim the process down. A lot. I say keeping everything organized and rolling smoothly was probably the single greatest feat. That being said, I feel a lot of headaches in production and post production could be solved with better planning and thinking in pre-production...possibly even in scripting to avoid MAJOR headaches down the road. For as harrowing as those 17 days of straight production were though, the two and a half years of post were the worst. Most grueling of all, in fact if I were pushed. Again, I think I had committed people and good planning in pre for production itself, but if I had to be really honest about the process, I'd say I didn't plan enough for post either with planning or budget and it cost a LOT of time.

What are the pros and cons of making a zombie film?

Pros are obvious. People love zombies. I love zombies. It's hilarious. Everytime a mainstream movie with zombies comes out out, you'll hear some insipid reporter quipping something trite like "zombies are back" or "can the zombie craze last?". I've got to tell you, I'm not sure it ever really went anywhere. Zombies are always in because zombies are cool. Not because I say so, but because the dozens of zombie films in production or fresh on shelves and the seemingly unlimited voracious appetite for them seems to indicate it. I think it's a vile and insulting mistake however, to make a zombie movie or any low budget genre pic if you see it as an easy in to film makin' and don't really have a love or passion for them. But really? Shotguns, chainsaws and baseball bats just scream to the human need to overcome fears and trepidation about the evils in the world. The zombie genre is just one of many fine examples of the kind of movie that releases that pent up angst. Good times. Cons? Well...time is always against you. There is never...and I do mean NEVER enough time to get really good zombies and SFX without time...that or money. I know this kind of flies in the face of my previous statement but to make REALLY good zombies with REALLY good SFX takes time. When you're cramming a whole feature into two short weeks and trying to maintain good camera work and decent acting? Let's just say this is one area I will concede the time and money argument. Better zombies require better budget and WAY more time than is often afforded in B movie makin;. That being said, I am also of the opinion that a movie needs to be done before it can be good. If you shoot a movie with perfect zombies that fails to make it past three scenes and never gets seen or a completed feature with quicker, less rotted flesh eaters, who made the better movie? I'm not saying you should throw quality control out the window, but done is more important always, always, always. That being said, if you can;t inject SOME quality into your done movie, maybe you should quit while you're behind. Tricky debate to be sure. Another obvious con is organizing zombies. I got lucky...DAMNED lucky with my zombie siege scene in Necroville. I had well over 100 zombies, but they get bored and angry quick. Many wandered off the set before the end of the day. I'm of the strict opinion that zombies is a plural word that generally works best when there are PLURAL zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. Tricky. Very very tricky.
...

How has the distribution been going? Any tips you can give to upcoming filmmakers looking to get their movies out there?

I can't tell you how distro is going yet because it just got released. I'm looking forward to seeing the end of year report myself!...here's crossing fingers. I can tell you based on the coverage Necroville has received online and the ads I've seen in the places I've seen them that the great folks over at Shock O Rama are really doing their best to get this movie out there. Michael Raso is a straight shooter and brutally honest about the state of the market and condition of products. It's the principle reason I opted to go with Shock O Rama...they did really right by the distribution of Feeding The Masses and I feel like Mr. Raso and his staff are really down to earth about what makes this system happen. I think my best advice to filmmakers is to be realistic about what they've made. I have a handful of unreleased features myself. The first thing you have to remember is that you are in competition with hundreds, if not thousands of other pictures every year. If you can't look at your own movie and be honest with yourself and others about where it's absolutely crappy you need to quit now and never look back. You need to realize that you are not God's gift to film making simply because you bothered to point a camera at something and press record. You need to take the advice and derision of other film makers and especially distributors with a grain of salt and simultaneously for the golden wisdom it can be. Lord knows I have. Ask questions, don't stop learning and expect answers you don't want to hear. If you can be realistic with yourself about yourself and your movie you're already taken your first step into a larger world. You also can't wait for distribution to come to you. You have to promote, promote, promote. YOU have to do the work. If you're waiting around for someone else to do the work for you, you're coming in last and you don't even know it yet. Also, don't be smooth talked into some kind of fluffy sounding deal because like the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Research your distributor BEFORE you commit to a deal. Look at the products they put out and the way they get out. Ask other filmmakers on those labels how they feel about the distribution deal they got. Be careful, be bold...just get it done. And don't forget festivals...I myself always overlook festivals and it's a damned mistake...they are great networking and promotional opportunities.
Read the full interview at Interview with Billy Garberina, writer/director of Necroville

LOCAL FILMMAKING TEAM RECEIVES SUNDANCE GRANT!!!

Pretty good news from Jason Silverman (jas@cybermesa.com)
LOCAL FILMMAKING TEAM RECEIVES SUNDANCE GRANT!!!

The New Mexico-based production company Galle Ceddo Projects is a recipient of one of the documentary film world’s most prestigious grants. Its work in progress SEMBENE: REVOLUTIONARY ARTIST (working title) is one of 20 documentary films selected from nearly 800 applications from 70 countries — and one of just six projects by first-time documentary filmmakers — to receive funding from the Sundance Documentary Fund.

SEMBENE, a film by Samba Gadjigo and Santa Fe’s Jason Silverman, revisits the life and work of the world’s greatest independent filmmaker, and follows Gadjigo’s attempts to connect his films with a new generation of African and African-American youth. The feature-length film is scheduled for completion in late 2009. Santa Fe’s Filip Celander serves as associate producer, cinematographer and post-production coordinator. The famed Senegalese novelist/screenwriter Boubacar Boris Diop serves as story consultant. Other Santa Fe participants include Business Manager Lacey Adams and editorial consultant Javier Hernandez.

Born in Senegal, Ousmane Sembene (1923-2007) almost singlehandedly invented what we now consider African cinema, creating 10 masterful films, including the Cannes-winning MOOLAADE. Gadjigo, Sembene’s chosen biographer, has spent more than a dozen years documenting Sembene’s life and career.

The documentary follows Sembene’s story from his birthplace, in the rebellious Casamance region of Senegal, to Dakar, then the capital of French colonial Africa, to the battlefields of World War II and post-war Marseilles, and back to Senegal. There, Sembene dedicated 40 years of determined, focused energy into making films and novels designed to reclaim African storytelling from the flood of colonial and post-colonial pop culture. After Sembene’s death, Gadjigo makes his own pledge: to spend his every spare moment keeping Sembene’s legacy alive. But will the YouTube generation — including Gadjigo’s two sons — put down their iPhones long enough to connect with their own African heritage?

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is a core activity of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, which provides year-round creative support to nonfiction filmmakers through creative Labs, work-in-progress screenings, Program staff and advisor consultations and artist-to-artist community. Proposals are accepted prior to deadlines twice a year, and submissions are judged on their approach to storytelling, artistic treatment and innovation, subject relevance and potential for social engagement. The Sundance Institute Documentary Program considers projects in the Development and Production/Post-Production phases. The film selection is juried by creative film professionals and human rights experts.

“The films funded in this round tell stories of perseverance and dignity in the face of our world’s greatest contemporary challenges,” said Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. “From journalists and lawyers who take on international war criminals, to a small American town confronting its own homophobia, nonfiction storytellers are leading us down new paths as we search for common ground.” Artists in this round are working in the United States, Tibet, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Romania, Chile, Senegal, Guantanamo Bay, India and Tanzania. For more information on the Sundance Documentary Fund, please visit http://www.sundance.org/press.html.

Other recipients from this round of funding, which Sundance described as its most competitive ever, include some of the documentary world's most acclaimed directors: Patricio Guzman (BATTLE OF CHILE), Tina DiFeliciantonio and Jane C. Wagner (GIRLS LIKE US), Macky Alston (THE KILLER WITHIN), Eric Daniel Metzgar (CHANCES OF THE WORLD CHANGING), Pamela Yates (STATE OF FEAR), Edet Belzberg (CHILDREN UNDERGROUND) and Thomas Allen Harris (TWELVE DISCIPLES OF NELSON MANDELA).


About the filmmakers:

Samba Gadjigo (writer/director) is the world’s foremost expert on the career of Ousmane Sembène. His biography Ousmane Sembène: Une Conscience Africaine (Homnispheres, Paris, 2007), which covers Sembène’s life from his birth in 1923 to the writing of his first book in 1956, will be published in English by the University of Indiana Press in late 2009. Born and raised in Senegal, Gadjigo joined the faculty of Mount Holyoke College in West Hadley, Mass., in 1986, and currently serves as chair of the French Department and also is a member of the African American and African Studies departments. Gadjigo has lectured widely on Sembène and on African cinema, literature and culture at institutions including Harvard and Brown universities. He is director of THE MAKING OF MOOLAADE, a documentary that was shown at film festivals and is available on the DVD of Sembène’s award-winning film MOOLAADE.

Jason Silverman (writer/producer) is co-founder of King Tomato Productions, for which he produced two award-winning films directed by Robert Byington (2008 Sundance Annenberg Fellow): SHAMELESS (winner, Great Plains Film Festival); and OLYMPIA (SXSW, Opening Night Film; Slamdance, Closing Night Film; Sundance Channel). He is currently Director of the Cinematheque at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has curated programs and consulted for the Telluride Film Festival, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Lensic Center for the Arts, SITE Santa Fe, the Bioneers Conference, the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Opera, El Museo del Barrio and the True/False Festival. He is former artistic director of Taos Talking Pictures; has served as a panelist or juror at the SXSW and Sundance film festivals; and has served as a nominator for the Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowships and Creative Capital. He is a longtime contributor to Wired and Santa Fean magazines and has written for Utne Reader, the Austin Chronicle and Time Out New York. His collection of essays Untold New Mexico is used as a textbook at the University of New Mexico.

Filip Celander (Associate Producer) has extensive management experience in the film industry: film editor for the advertising firm Creative Response AB in Stockholm (2001-2003); owner of Motion Picture Services Company in Stockholm (2003-2005); supervising projectionist at The Screen in Santa Fe from 1998 to 2000; and is the Director of Digital Media and Educational Outreach at Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts. Additionally, he has worked as an editor, camera operator, aerial photographer, and director in several feature and short films, videos, commercials and music videos, both in Europe and the United States. Fluent in Swedish and English, Filip received his B.A., Moving Image Arts, at the College of Santa Fe (Magna Cum Laude) in 2000.

Galle Ceddo Projects, LLC is a New Mexico-based production company.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NM Casting Director wins Artios Award

No Country for Old Men (film)Image via Wikipedia
From the Albuquerque Journal:
It's Not an Oscar, But Casting Director Will Happily Take It
Written by Dan Mayfield
Sunday, 30 November 2008 07:29

She may not have won an Oscar yet, but she's getting closer.

Jo Edna Boldin, a casting director who lives in Taos, has won the Artios Award — the biggest award in casting — from the Casting Society of America for her work on the Cohen brothers' film "No Country for Old Men."

"It’s as close to an Oscar as I can get," Boldin said.

The annual award is voted on by casting director' peers. Boldin shared the award for Studio Feature — Drama with Ellen Chenoweth, who cast the major roles.

But Boldin said the award is due to the nature of the project as much as anything.

"This was a project I could relate to, and, growing up in Texas, I knew what they were looking for," she said. "We see a lot of people and, I don’t know, I had an eye for this.

"I know the Cohen brothers like deadpan. Every time someone would do an audition, I would say,'‘Let’s do it again, and do less,' " she said.

Boldin has been nominated for the award several times, as well as an Emmy, but this is her first major win.

Though she’s been casting for 25 years, Boldin stumbled into the business in the 1980s.

"I used to be an actor in L.A., and I took some classes from some commercial casting directors," she said. She learned to cast commercials and smaller projects and took a job at a casting agency while auditioning for gigs herself.

She started her own company in Texas, but, after the movie "The Lazarus Man" with Robert Urich brought her to New Mexico, she fell in love with the state.

"It’s great. We’re staying busy all the time," she said.

Boldin recently cast "Terminator Salvation," "3:10 to Yuma," "Spy Kids," "In The Valley of Elah" and "Swing Vote" and has started working on "Men Who Stare at Goats."

In "No Country for Old Men," Bowdin cast mostly the day-player actors, who happened to be locals. Let's just say that nearly everybody who died in the film auditioned with Bowdin.

Marc Miles (who was killed in a hotel) and Luce Rains (who was offed in a truck) and Dorsey Ray (who doesn't actually die in the movie), were all cast by her...

More at: It's Not an Oscar, But Casting Director Will Happily Take It

More also at Media Bistro.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NM in the News: Denzel Washington Pic / Ramona Emerson

Good News? Having Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman in NM seems like a good idea. From the Albuquerque Journal:
State Antes Up for 'Book of Eli'

By Dan Boyd
Journal Capitol Bureau
SANTA FE — In an economic climate short on cheer, New Mexico is betting on Denzel Washington to bring home some good news.
The State Investment Council on Tuesday approved a $15 million loan for the production of "The Book of Eli," a "post-apocalyptic Western" that will be shot in Albuquerque, Carrizozo, Alamogordo and Santa Fe, starting Feb. 2. Gary Oldman also will star.
The $75 million production by Alcorn Entertainment is the biggest budget film the state has invested in. And with 63 days of filming in the state and 250 crew members, a lot of that $75 million is expected to remain here.
The state will receive 7.5 percent of whatever revenue the film generates after it pays off its budget, although such profit has been elusive in state-sponsored film incentive plans.
If the movie doesn't break even, New Mexico will be guaranteed to have its loan repaid within three years.
"We can't lose our money," said Peter Dekom, film adviser to the State Investment Council. "We want to create jobs for the local economy but not put taxpayers at risk."
"The Book of Eli" is a movie screenplay about a lone man (Washington) walking west after a cataclysmic event, braving barren wastelands to protect a sacred book containing secrets to saving humankind. Most of the filming will be in the Carrizozo area.
The film is the sixth to receive $15 million, the most the state is allowed to lend under its film investment program.
Proponents of the loan deal say movies that offer escapist entertainment haven't skipped a beat, even in economic downturns.
"We're as busy as we have been," said Lisa Strout, director of the New Mexico Film Office.
New Mexico is still waiting to recoup a profit from most of its previous film investments, though officials say the payback on such loans can take seven or eight years to roll in.
The state has earned $500,000 from "Employee of the Month" and received $305,000 in penalty interest from "Bordertown," which defaulted on its New Mexico loan, said Charles Wollmann, public information officer for the SIC.
Since the film program's first loan in 2001, the state has earned a total of about $900,000 in either profit or interest payments and has, in one way or another, seen all of its loan payments returned, Wollmann said...
More at: State Antes Up for 'Book of Eli'
And KOAT picks up the New Mexico New Visions story...
State Grant Program Helps Local Filmmakers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- State dollars are hard to come by this year, but one state funded program continues to invest in local filmmakers and their visions.

Being a documentary filmmaker is tough,and in a tight economy it can be even more difficult. But Romana Emerson got a gift,in the form of a state contract.

"Especially at a time like this, it really comes in handy," Emerson said.

Emerson is working on a documentary called "Gambling With Our Future." The film will look at the effects of the Navajo Nation building its first casino.

Through the "New Visions, New Mexico" state program, she was given $8,000 to work on her film.

"I don't know how we would've funded the documentary any other way," Emerson said.

Part of Emerson's contract requires her to give back to the film community in some way. Her project will take her back to her home of Tohatchi on the Navajo reservation.

"What are their lives like? What issues are important to them And their friends?" asks Emerson.

Emerson wants to equip Tohatchi High School students with cameras and help them produce their own films.

This is what the state film office calls "The Circle Of Life."

Emerson will train budding filmmakers, so when productions come to New Mexico, there will be plenty of qualified workers to fill open positions.

"I think it will create a whole new generation of people who have a dream of becoming a film maker," said Emerson...
And more at State Grant Program Helps Local Filmmakers

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Production Central

From the NM Business Weekly...
Production Central ABQ
Hollywood vet wants to build state’s film industry, revitalize Downtown
New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

Rick Clemente moved to New Mexico from Los Angeles more than a year ago without any big plans.

That has since changed.

“By fall of last year, I was seriously looking to get involved,” he said. “I saw what was going on [in the film business] and I saw a clear need for a post-production and sound facility.”

Clemente opened Production Central ABQ in 2008 and has quickly established a niche in post-production. That’s everything that happens after the traveling circus of a film or television production is done shooting. It’s a big chunk of a production’s budget and government and industry officials say it’s what is necessary to keep more of the film industry’s dollars in the state and create permanent jobs.

Clemente and his wife settled in Corrales, where they met Ann Lerner, director of the city of Albuquerque’s film office. She told him the state production incentives also applied to post-production work. So he prepared to leverage his 30-plus years of production work into a new venture.

Production Central ABQ has snagged a number of clients, including the television series “Crash” and “Easy Money.” The company also was invited to bid on special effects work for the upcoming Jackie Chan production “The Spy Next Door.”

Located in the former Gorilla Tango space at 519 Central NW, the company has six editing suites, a screening room, a complete sound recording studio and color mastering capabilities. Clemente also opened Village Coffee Roasters in the ground-level space to provide his clients (and the Downtown crowd) with a steady stream of espresso. And he decided to jump into Production Central completely and build a comprehensive facility.

“I know you can’t take baby steps and expect to grow a business,” he said. “Almost all Hollywood people are interested in saving money. But they’re not interested in exposing themselves to risk.”

It’s important to have all those things in one place, said Lisa Strout, director of the New Mexico Film Office.

“It’s a good name and it’s kind of a hub because if you have to go to one person for color correction and another person for something else, [producers] will say ‘I’ll just go to L.A.,’” she said.

Productions like “Crash” have used the sound studio for additional dialog replacement work, which actors record during editing.

Dominc Garcia, who supervised the “Crash” sound editing sessions at Production Central, said Clemente is great to work with...

More at Production Central ABQ

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Filmmaker Distribution and Serious Games in the Business Weekly.

Two additional articles about cool things going on in the New Mexico Business Weekly...
New site lets filmmakers distribute work
New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick

Distribution is the bugaboo of independent filmmakers, who are desperate to get their work out to audiences.

But two Albuquerque entrepreneurs say they have an idea that will change the whole equation and give filmmakers the power to build audiences for their work.

You could say it was a case of the aliens meeting the bellydancers. Anthony Dellaflora has been a filmmaker for years and is the co-founder of the Duke City Shootout, Albuquerque’s digital filmmaking festival. About a year and a half ago, he met Dan Latrimurti, who told him about his idea for doing streaming online video.

Latrimurti’s wife had been putting out instructional DVDs for bellydancing and he thought online distribution would be less time-intensive and more profitable. That’s when he found Maxcast, which allows users to create their own online broadcasts.

He approached Dellaflora about putting his film “High Strange New Mexico,” which explores the UFO subculture here, online as an experiment. They uploaded it with Maxcast and sent out some press releases. Two weeks later, UFO TV called Dellaflora with a distribution offer.

Dellaflora thought if this could happen for a documentary that was 10 years old, there was potential for other independent filmmakers with more current work.

So the two spent the next 18 months drilling down into the mechanics of Internet marketing and Web search optimization and came up with The Filmmakers Channel.

What it offers, they say, is a way for filmmakers, but also online instructors and even businesses, to create their own Internet broadcast channels and connect directly to audiences.

“We didn’t want to say ‘Stick your movie up online and it will make money,’” Dellaflora said. “You’ve got to know something about social networking like Facebook and MySpace as viral distribution.”

The Filmmakers Channel is a portal for all these films and other works, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of the idea, he added.

“The idea is to use our Filmmakers Channel as a base, but go out and start finding other niche audiences,” he said. “It’s a do-it-yourself thing for independent filmmakers.”...


Incubator finds fertile ground in national security technology

New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick

Glyn Anderson is an old hand at developing technology for military applications that can then be used in commercial animation work.

The company’s latest venture, however, started out with purely commercial intentions until Anderson met representatives from the National Security Technology Incubator, who suggested the new light he was creating could have national security uses.

NSTI launched this past March as part of the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University. It’s the state’s only small business incubator focused exclusively on technology applications for national security.

Chris Kientz, director of technology innovation at Arrowhead, said NSTI was created to boost technology transfer under the Department of Energy and other federal agencies...


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NM in the News: Easy Money, American Tragic, Donor Conspiracy, Filmmakers Channel,

Some mostly good news in today's Albuquerque Journal...

Ferrera To Get 'Tragic' in N.M.
by Dan Mayfield

America Ferrera, the star of the ABC sitcom "Ugly Betty," will be in New Mexico in February to produce and act in her next flick "American Tragic," Daily Variety reported this week.

It's a buddy road-trip picture, and Ferrera will play the wife of one of the buddies.

"American Tragic" will be made by Maya Entertainment, Variety said, which was founded by Moctesuma Esparza. Esparza filmed the awardwinning "The Milagro Beanfield War" in New Mexico in 1988.

'Easy Money' canned

The TV show "Easy Money," which has been filming in Albuquerque for several months and showing on Sunday nights on the CW, has been canceled, according to published reports.

The show stars Laurie Metcalf ("Roseanne") as the matriarch of a family that owns a short-term loan business in a Southwestern town called South Nile. Local actor Joe Peracchio had a major role in the series.

"Easy Money" production company Media Rights Capital produces all three prime time Sunday shows on the CW, including "Valentine," which was also canceled. Calls to the company went unreturned.

Local film picked up

Every year in New Mexico, dozens of local filmmakers pour their life savings into making a film, but rarely do they get picked up for distribution. Just 5 percent of feature-length films ever get a chance to be seen, either in theaters or on DVD.

"The Donor Conspiracy," by locals Gavin Gillette and Ryil Adamson is getting a shot. The pair sold their film through an agent to Vanguard International Cinema, and on Nov. 25 it will be available for rent or purchase worldwide.

This is big.

Though it's a straight-to-DVD title, that's more than most films ever see.

"The Donor Conspiracy" follows a pair of screwup medical students who are kicked out of school for pulling a prank you can't describe in a family newspaper. So, while whittling away the time playing video games, they stumble on an underground kidney pilfering operation in their apartment building.

"It started 10 years ago," Gillette said. "I was on a plane and I read about a guy who woke up in a tub of ice. How do you end up like that?"

Gillette read "How To Write a Screenplay," sat down and started writing.

"I always looked at films and said I could write something better than this crap," Gillette said.

He sent his script to agents, producers, anybody who might read it.

"Then, one drunken night, a friend said we can do this ourselves. I had no idea."

Gillette worked with a producer but that partnership bore no fruit, only a heavy toll on his bank account.

In 2006, Gillette was at the end of his rope. He sat down with Ann Lerner of the city's film office and told her about "The Donor Conspiracy." She knew one guy who could make it happen: Adamson.

"Ann calls me up and says, 'I've got this guy in my office and he wants to make a movie,' " Adamson said.

He had made just a couple of short films with the Duke City Shootout, but he was eager and would work cheap.

Both Adamson and Gillette had 9-5 jobs -- Adamson, who has a doctorate in special education, taught during the day and Gillette was a manager for a local homebuilder.

Things moved fast...



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Monday, October 13, 2008

Up Next for NM-shot TV: Crash

The continuing roll-out of NM-shot product continues this Friday with the TV version of the Oscar-winning "Crash" this coming Friday on the Starz cable network. (The first two episodes are supposedly available 'free' -- more info on that below.) The Denver Post has the story:


For Starz, a "Crash" into the competitive TV-series world
Joanne OstrowThe Denver Post

"Crash," the new Starz original drama series adapted from the 2006 Oscar-winning movie, opens with Dennis Hopper riding in a limo, smoking a cigar and delivering a quasi-poetic monologue to his penis.

Portraying a psychopath (what else?), he addresses his offscreen phallus and
details its physical attributes.

The soliloquy is meant to startle.

"We argued about it," recalled Glen Mazzara, writer/executive producer. "We moved the scene to the middle of the hour. Then we put it back." Then they cut it by
three minutes.

Starz executives eventually agreed it was a tone-setting scene, telegraphing that this is an R-rated series that could only be found on cable.

"Crash" premieres Friday at 8 p.m. on Starz. The pilot is available free of charge on the Starz website and on demand.

Like the film, "Crash," the series is about human connectivity, told through a web of characters in contemporary Los Angeles.

"Language and violence are inherent in the story," according to Stephen Shelanski, executive vice president of programming for Starz Entertainment.

In addition to dark humor, the scene serves to showcase a movie star. Initially Don Cheadle was slated to re-create his film role in a three-episode arc, but his schedule didn't fit the production timetable. Cheadle remains on the team of executive producers taking the project from film to TV, along with director/co-writer Paul Haggis and co-writer Bobby Moresco. Hopper is the marquee name, playing a self-destructive music producer.

The series, the first for Starz, was carefully selected to take the cable film channel into the suddenly competitive world of cable originals.

The cost of the series, co- produced with Lionsgate, is on par with other high-end cable titles like "Mad Men" and "The Tudors" (reportedly $2.3 million per episode). The rollout entails a $10 million advertising and marketing campaign in print, billboards, online and on the network.

HBO's recent misfires ("John from Cincinnati," "Tell Me You Love Me") and the Emmy-worthy successes on basic cable networks AMC ("Mad Men," "Breaking Bad") and FX ("Damages") have pointed the way to what Englewood-based Starz hopes is the next chapter in the company history.

Working in an elite field, HBO was able to attract superb writing talent like Alan Ball, David Chase and David Milch to premium cable. FX and AMC joined in, believing they could emulate that success on basic cable, and ended up with mantles full of Emmy Awards proving them right...

Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830 or jostrow@denverpost.com

The show is sort-of available free for a limited time -- if you're a verizon customer and download the software and, maybe, pay a fee.

From the STARZ website: http://www.starz.com/originals/CRASH/CRASH_101

In the season premiere, Axel investigates the murder of a Korean man. Officers Kenny and Bebe have a run-in with a mysterious woman. Ben (Dennis Hopper) hires a new limo driver - a wannabe music producer from South Central with big ambitions. And despite Peter’s protests, Christine insists that her father move
in.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Q Studios, Incentives and PBS keep NM in the News

Nice article in the Albuquerque Journal about Q Studios' partnership with Atrisco Heritage High School... (ironically, the easiest way to find many Journal articles is at Red Orbit, which covers "Science, Space, Technology, Health News and Information: http://www.redorbit.com/news/entertainment/1584918/film_studio_gives_aid_to_atrisco__albuquerque_studios_adopts/)

Film Studio Gives Aid To Atrisco ; Albuquerque Studios Adopts High School's Film Program

Posted on: Friday, 10 October 2008, 15:00 CDT

By Jack King Journal Staff Writer

The hardest part of getting into the film business is getting your foot in the door, Gail Smerigan, vice president of communications for Albuquerque Studios told a movie theater full of Atrisco Heritage Academy High School students Wednesday.

"Your foot is in the door," she said.

About 500 Atrisco Heritage students -- the school's entire student body, since it only has a ninth grade this year -- filed into the historic Kimo Theater on Wednesday afternoon to hear Smerigan and her husband, Nick Smerigan, Albuquerque Studios' chief operating officer, announce that the studio is adopting the high school's film academy. The students also got to watch a 3.8-minute preview of the movie "Terminator Salvation," which finished filming at Albuquerque Studios in August.

The Smerigans said their contact with Atrisco Heritage began when principal Karen Sanchez-Griego contacted Jason Hariton, the studio's vice president of operations, for technical help in setting up the sound stage for the school's film academy.

"In L.A., Gail had seen a Time magazine story on the national dropout rate that said New Mexico has the nation's fifth-highest dropout rate. Her thought was that we had to make kids and education part of what we do. We were looking to hook up some way with the education field and this school fit the bill," Nick Smerigan said.

Sanchez-Griego said Atrisco Heritage is building a separate building to hold the sound stage for its film academy, which will open during the 2009-2010 school year. Albuquerque Studios has offered advice about the sound stage, as well as other aspects of Atrisco's film program...

More at the site.
As noted over on the MISP (Media Industries Strategy Project) list, the discussion of how states are dealing with incentives for film production continues -- and New Mexico is always a significant part of those stories. From the New York Times...

States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters

...One of the country’s most successful programs is in New Mexico, which has backed movies like the Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men” and next year’s “Terminator Salvation,” the latest sequel in the action series, with a reported budget of $200 million.

New Mexico officials boast of having used a 25 percent production cost rebate to build a local film industry that has attracted more than $600 million in direct spending since 2003, and an estimated $1.8 billion in total financial impact, as of last June. And in fiscal year 2008, the productions in the state generated 142,577 days of employment, up from 25,293 in 2004.

Elsewhere, however, critics have sharply challenged the notion that state subsidies for the film business can ever buy more than momentary glitter.

“There’s no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs,” said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center...

Somewhat obviously, I'm a fan of New Mexico's incentive programs. But the main thing many other states seem to be missing is that while the incentives are a keystone in our success, our investment in education and infrastructure is perhaps equally important to creating an environment for real industry growth and not just a short term bump driven exclusively by incentives.

Another item keeping New Mexico in the spotlight is our position as a prominent swing state -- one of the reasons PBS will be working this week out of our local KNME. The Live Townhall yesterday with PBS Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez was definitely interesting, and more highlights are coming throughout the week...

One place to catch up on info is at the New Mexico In Focus page.

But here's a brief bit from Democracy for New Mexico:
PBS NewsHour Reports to Air from KNME Studios Next Week; This Sunday: Live
Townhall with Ray Suarez in ABQ
PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer puts the
national spotlight on Albuquerque and New Mexico, Monday thru Friday, October
13-17, 2008 at 5:30 PM. Albuquerque is only the second “Spotlight City” The
NewsHour has chosen to highlight.
Senior Correspondents Ray Suarez and Judy Woodruff
will bring the program to the studios of KNME, to examine the crucial role the
city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico will play in the upcoming
presidential election. The NewsHour will also profile the unique contributions
Albuquerque is making in business, science healthcare, and the arts. Additional
stories will include: economic disparity, voting machines, getting out the
Native American vote, NM Politics, the economy, etc. KNME airs on channels 5 and
5.2 in New Mexico.




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Friday, October 3, 2008

Easy Money this Sunday

Busy times...

The NM Filmmakers Expo is running in Santa Fe, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is wrapping, the new TV pilot "Night and Day" is beginning to shoot, and the locally shot "Easy Money" premieres on the CW this Sunday. If you have a chance, please check it out.

One of the (several) local actors involved, Joe Peracchio (of Tricklock renown) writes,
"It's a great show (synopsis below) from the producers of The Sopranos and Northern Exposure, and Im very lucky to have a fun character with an expanding and wacky storyline all fall (although in the first few episodes I’m in only 2-3 scenes, it really picks up as the weeks progress). The show also stars film veteran Judge Reinhold and actors from Lost, Las Vegas, and The OC. "
You can find the trailer and more info at: http://cwtv.com/shows/easy-money The synopsis is below…

LAURIE METCALF ("ROSEANNE") STARS IN A DRAMEDY SET IN THE WORLD OF LOAN SHARKS,

FROM THE PRODUCERS OF "THE SOPRANOS" AND "NORTHERN EXPOSURE"

Led by business-savvy matriarch Bobette Buffkin (Metcalf), Prestige Payday Loans is a thriving quick-cash company in the Southwest. But trouble soon comes from thuggish new competitors, and it's up to middle son Morgan (Jeff Hephner "The O.C.") to quash any tension. Morgan, though, is having some tension of his own. Having always felt out of place in the Buffkin household, Morgan investigates a childhood secret with the help of beautiful grad student Julia Miller (Marsha Thomason "Lost" "Las Vegas") much to Bobette's chagrin. Morgan has always been Prestige's "heavy," running down ne'er-do-wells and gambling addicts, but he's ashamed to admit that fact to Julia. It doesn't help that Morgan's older, but less mature, brother Cooper (Jay Ferguson, "Sleeper Cell") knocks heads with corrupt local Detective Yapp (Chris Browning, "3:10 to Yuma") who, in turn, blackmails Morgan. If Morgan can find a way to fend off the local yokels and unlock the secrets of his past, he just might be able to spend more time with Julia and find a better life for himself. Katie Lowes, Nick Searcy, Judge Reinhold, Joe Peracchio, Gary Farmer, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, and Kimberly Estrada also star. Alik Sakharov directed the pilot episode written by executive producers Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider ("The Sopranos," "Northern Exposure")
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Transformers Update

From ACE Showbiz:

On-the-Set Videos of 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'

On Tuesday, September 23, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider have aired an exclusive look at "" and now the on-the-set videos have come out. Presenting fans with many of the sequel's behind the scene footages while the cast and crew are filming at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the video let out some of the actions as well as the explosions on the set.

The videos which have been combined in one YouTube player below also display the interviews with several of the main cast, , , and , as well as with the director of this action fantasy film himself, Michael Bay. In the footage, it can be seen that LaBeouf gives out his comment about this forthcoming film to ET's Mark Steines saying, "I would say this is the craziest action I've ever been a part of. Just pound-to-pound footage of the stuff we've seen back - the content is massive!"

From the man who brought "Armageddon" and "Bad Boys" franchise comes a second "" movie. Set for June 26, 2009 release, it also features the likes of John Turturro, Isabel Lucas, Matthew Marsden and Rainn Wilson. Undergoing its production since early June, the action fantasy film written by Ehren Kruger, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci centers the story on the battle between Autobots and their new strong enemy, the Fallen...




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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clooney and McGregor to shoot in New Mexico

Book cover of Book cover via Amazon
From Dan Mayfield in the Albuquerque Journal:

'Goats' To Bring Clooney, McGregor to New Mexico
By Dan Mayfield
Journal Staff Writer

Two of Hollywood's biggest stars are coming to New Mexico to shoot a major film.
George Clooney and Ewan McGregor will star in the big-screen adaptation of the book "Men Who Stare at Goats," the film's publicist, Rob Harris, confirmed on Tuesday. The film is expected to start shooting in northern New Mexico in November.
The Hollywood Reporter has said Jeff Bridges and Oscar winner Kevin Spacey also have signed on to be part of the film.
The book "Men Who Stare at Goats" was written by British journalist Jon Ronson. It tells the story of the U.S. Army's attempts at psychological warfare techniques — like using brain waves to kill goats and Fleetwood Mac records to torture suspects.
Not many film details have been released, but critics have said the book is funny and many expect the movie to be a comedy...
More at 'Goats' To Bring Clooney, McGregor to New Mexico
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Mexico's Emmy Connection, Take II


Monica Winter Vigil rightly pointed out another Emmy connection I'd missed:

Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers movies, is an Albuquerque native, and graduate of Eldorado High. He took honors the other night for his direction of "Recount"

Elsewhere Sunday, "Recount", a drama depicting the events following the 2000 election, won in the outstanding made for television movie category.

The film's director Jay Roach said he hoped this November's presidential poll would follow a different script.

"We don't want to go somewhere and do 'Recount 2: The Sequel'," Roach said.


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Monday, September 22, 2008

Locals win Emmys!

Between other events and the "Legal Hawks" premiere last night, I missed out on that other show -- where two locals won Emmy's. Pretty incredible.

Of course, Bryan Cranston is only a part time New Mexican, but his support for the Duke City Shootout, humility in a bunch of interviews and knock-out performance in Breaking Bad are all good reasons to be proud he has a home in New Mexico.

From KRQE: NM-Based Breaking Bad Wins Emmy

LOS ANGELES (KRQE) - Sunday brought Emmy gold for the lead actor in the New Mexico-based television series "Breaking Bad."

Bryan Cranston won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher who turns to selling drugs to provide for his family.

The series on the cable channel AMC is set in New Mexico, and films around the state and at the Albuquerque Studios in Mesa del Sol.

The USA Network series "In Plain Sight," also set and filmed in New Mexico, was not eligible for this year's Emmy Awards because it was first broadcast on June 1, the day after the Emmys' May 31 cutoff date.

For more on Cranston and Breaking Bad, you might check out their blog here: http://blogs.amctv.com/breaking-bad/

Even more pleasant news came when Santa Fe's Kirk Ellis was awarded an Emmy for writing the HBO miniseries, "John Adams." However, things got a little interesting -- Awards Daily has it from there...

...But while Don Rickles and Jimmy Kimmel got to ramble at length as if they were a pair of witty Poets Laureate, Kirk Ellis had barely stepped onstage before the Emmys gave him the hook:

The Emmy-winning writer for “John Adams” was ironically cut off by producers during his acceptance speech while talking about public oratory in Adams era, calling it “an amazing opportunity to talk about a period in our history when articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences.”

Ellis attempted to continue: “They used words –” but the mic faded out in the middle of his sentence as ABC abruptly cut to commercial. Backstage Ellis was quick to hit back:

“I love freedom of expression and as soon as I opened my mouth they were signaling to wrap it up,” Ellis says backstage. “I find it interesting we can do 30 minutes devoted to reality show hosts but none for the people who actually [write the shows].”

More at Awards Daily
...more also at BuzzSugar

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Italian production, Doc West, to be filmed in New Mexico


For Immediate Release Contact: New Mexico Film Office
September 22, 2008 (505) 476-5600

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Italian production, Doc West, to be filmed in New Mexico

SANTA FE—Governor Bill Richardson today announced that the De Angelis Group/HDNM Entertainment production, Doc West, will shoot in New Mexico.

The production, a movie-of-the-week for Italian television, will be shot in and around Santa Fe from October 9th through December 6th and is expected to hire approximately 90 local crew members and over 200 actors, including principal and background talent.

Doc West will star Terence Hill (Lucky Luke, My Name is Nobody, They Call Me Trinity) and Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, Dick Tracy). Giulio Base will direct, and Anselmo Parrinello and local Santa Fean Luca Ceccarelli will produce.

The movie tells the tale of Doc West who arrives in Holysand to hustle the locals at cards but finds himself caught between two warring families. Because of Doc’s exceptional and entertaining abilities – gunslinging, prowess of wit, and secret past as a doctor – the Sheriff, an orphan boy and a beautiful, strong-minded school teacher want to keep him around, but that’s going to be tough.

This marks the 108th major film production since Governor Richardson took office, adding close to $1.9 billion dollars in economic impact.
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

USA Today Locations Round-up

Not a huge presence, but it's nice to see more pieces highlighting the work of local actor, Luce Rains.

From Hooray for Locations Outside Hollywood

Character actors such as Luce Rains, who lives in New Mexico and works a lot in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, may be reaping the biggest benefit by making movies away from Hollywood. He lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, but ultimately chose New Mexico for a better quality of life — and more work.

"I've done everything from Westerns to urban cop movies," Rains says. He got a plum supporting role in 2007's 3:10 to Yuma. "New Mexico is good in that it has that much variety. It's a pretty clean place to work."

While living in New Mexico doesn't prevent him from crossing the border, he's very thankful he doesn't have to deal with Los Angeles' traffic on a regular basis...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Duvall to Ride into NM for TV Miniseries?

Lots pf buzz in Michigan over the new productions coming there way... one of them involving another western, this time with Robert Duvall...

Robert Duvall to film miniseries in West Michigan
by John Serba | The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday September 17, 2008, 10:38 PM

Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall will be directing and starring in a TV miniseries filming in West Michigan in 2009.

"We're negotiating a deal with two different broadcast networks right now," said Jerry Zandstra, vice president of the project's production company, American Saga Productions. "Duvall will definitely be filming here."

The series is "La Linea" (Spanish for "The Line"), in which Duvall plays a U.S. Department of Agriculture horseman policing diseased animals crossing the Mexican border.

He witnesses two human traffickers, dubbed "coyotes," commit a crime just over the border, and shoots them, causing a social and political uproar.

It's written by Alan Geoffrion, who also penned Emmy-winning miniseries "Broken Trail" starring Duvall. James Caan, Duvall's "The Godfather" co-star, and Wilford Brimley also are cast.

"The script really highlights all the mess and human tragedy that happens along the border," said Zandstra, of Caledonia, who is also a part-time pastor at Caledonia and Wayland Christian Reformed churches and is president of the Pro-Life Federation of Michigan.

Because of the setting, portions of the shoot will take place in New Mexico or Arizona, where pre-production will begin in October, and filming will tentatively begin in January, according to Zandstra. Interiors and some exteriors will be shot in West Michigan, most likely in March and April.

"Some of the story takes place in rural country Texas, not the desert, and we've already looked at locations in Coopersville and Lowell," Zandstra said. "Most of the shooting will happen in Kent County."

He added that American Saga has an $80 million annual budget, and plans to shoot more projects in West Michigan two in Lowell and two in Grand Rapids. Another in the works is based on Stephen Ambrose's book "Nothing Like it in the World: The Men who Built the Transcontinental Railroad."

In August, American Saga, which has 70 percent of its investors located in Michigan, shot Grand Rapids firefighters at the LaGrave Avenue firehouse for "Station House," a reality-TV pilot. The footage is currently being edited into a feature-length documentary to be premiered in local theaters this fall. A six-minute promotional sample of the pilot is currently being prepared to show to TV networks.

"That should be done by Friday, and shopped around next week," Zandstra said.

Utah Pushing Incentives as Well...

Utah film industry has $138M impact
Brock Vergakis - The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY -- The governor's office told state lawmakers Wednesday that Utah will need to offer more generous financial incentives to the film industry if they want to continue attracting the kind of productions to the state that had a $138 million economic impact last year. Utah offers filmmakers who spend $1 million in the state up to $500,000 in incentives, but the head of the state film commission said Utah is being beat out by other states that offer movie and television crews greater rebates and tax incentives.

" 'Footloose' currently is a project that is not in production or preproduction yet, but it is on the table," said Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission. "However, we're struggling to compete right now with Louisiana, and most recently Georgia, to commit that movie."

The Governor's Office of Economic Development is preparing a bill that will request additional financial incentives.

On Wednesday, economic development and film commission representatives sought to allay any fears lawmakers might have about what kind of return on investment the state gets for its incentives.

The governor's staff told lawmakers Wednesday that while filmmakers only spent $54 million in the state last year, the economic ripple of that spending was 2.5 times greater.

It was the first time an economic analysis has been done on Utah's film industry.

"This is a pretty significant multiplier," said Juliette Tennert, chief economist in the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. "Multipliers (for other industries) usually range between 1 and 3, so a 2.5 for the film industry is relatively high and we think a good place to invest dollars in Utah."

Economic development officials told lawmakers the film industry created 1,100 new jobs last year , $25.7 million in personal income and $2.9 million in new tax revenues.

The state spent $3.9 million in film incentives last year, up from $1 million the year before.

Moore said Utah is an attractive place to do business for television and movie producers, but studio executives often force production to occur elsewhere. He said that's leading many Utah-based crew workers to seek jobs elsewhere.

Jason Perry, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, wouldn't say what incentives his office would ask lawmakers for, but said they would help Utah capture its "rightful place in the motion picture industry."

Currently, Utah offers a 15 percent rebate on every dollar spent by film crews in the state. Like many other states, it also offers sales and hotel tax exemptions.

By comparison, Moore said Utah lost the television series "Army Wives" to South Carolina. That state offers up to a 20 percent cash rebate on in-state employee wages and a 30 percent cash rebate on in-state supplier expenditures.

New Mexico, another state Utah has lost productions to, offers a 25 percent rebate on all expenditures, up to $15 million in loans per project and up to a 50 percent reimbursement for wages paid to train local crew members.



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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Novint Falcon in WIRED


(images from wired.com)

Great news for Novint, and good news for New Mexico's game and tech development communities:

The Novint Falcon's pistol grip adapter just got covered in WIRED. They've already gotten a bunch of coverage in the game and gadget community, most of it very positive (they've got links to much of this coverage --as you might expect -- at the Novint site).

Review: Novint Falcon Gaming Controller Takes Aim on Your Mouse

Behold, the Novint Falcon. This menacing orb has taken upon the lofty task of replacing the mouse as the PC gamer's preferred implement of destruction, letting you feel, lift, push and grope every bit of the action. It sits on your desk and provides force feedback — but not the vibrating-controller effect that console couch surfers are familiar with. Instead, powerful motors within the device provide a full range of responses, whether you're bouncing a ball on a string or reloading a shotgun. Because really, what good are advances in technology if we can't focus them on the obliteration of our gaming peers?

Novint_falcon_05_660x The first version of the Falcon we saw was a bit of a renaissance — well for games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 anyway. When gripping the original control interface (a small, multibuttoned round knob), controlling Tiger's swing becomes a matter of muscle coordination — for better or for worse. In our vain attempts at perfecting our line drives, we hit dozens of shots, each wildly different from the next, by simply adjusting the angle and force with which we moved the knob. Suddenly, following through on a swing becomes incredibly important, as the slightest adjustments to the pressure you apply can wildly alter the ball's flight.

But chances are, you're not checking out the Falcon for the fully immersive golfing experience: You want to light shit up with a high-caliber firearm. Well, Novint has got you covered. Using the Falcon's new Pistol Grip, titles like Half-Life 2 suddenly become an entirely different game.

Forget fragging as you know it. With the pistol grip coming dangerously close to flying out of your hands after a few quick bursts with a submachine gun, you may wonder how you got along without this level of feedback in the first place. Every weapon takes on new life, from the meager jostling of the standard pistol, to the forceful thunder of a rocket launcher's blast.

...

Half-Life 2 is just one of many games currently supporting the peripheral, and many more (including upcoming Left for Dead) are in the works. Supported games will have to be patched, to add on the haptic functionality. When we met with Novint CEO Tom Anderson, he mentioned that there would even be haptics-only servers on some games, so gamers could choose to only play against others who were dealing with this entirely new control scheme.

A glaring issue with the device is how well game developers choose to implement it. With Half-Life 2, there were a wide range of options for tailoring the experience to your liking. Battlefield 2 also featured many nice touches, with reload animations that were replicated by the device. With Quake 4 however, the whole notion of haptic feedback felt tacked on: You can adjust sliders to determine some of the sensitivity, and there's definitely a difference in recoil with weapons, but overall, it doesn't add much to the game...

WIRED Incredibly precise feedback. Very stable, with strong motors that resist lots of abuse. Makes playing Virtual Pool a lot more interesting.

TIRED Time-intensive learning curve might turn off folks used to their controls. Takes up quite a bit of desk space.

$190, Novint

More at Review: Novint Falcon Gaming Controller Takes Aim on Your Mouse
For more info about the business side of things, you might check out this Venture Beat article here.
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