Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and more...

Anyone ever been to Punxsutawney, PA? Last week I was. I must say the entire town seems to truly attain the benefit of being the location in Bill Murray's 'Groundhog Day'. Where else can you walk around the street any name every corner store from the film, while enjoying a stay at the same hotels the cast and crew did. Granted Detroit is not as small as P, PA, I think it could still attract tourists in the same way. I think if there is some entrepreneurial project in Michigan, it would be that of a company which would (like NYC and LA) take on a bus touring transit where visitors can see where the stars stay when they make moves and what locations they've seen in favourite TV shows and films.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New York City Filming...

Today is day on of a 4 day music video shoot in NYC. The video is for a country music artist by the name of 'Untitled' - The concept: Doing an unconventional country music video setting in an urban landscape. We've seen rodeos, farms, barns and cows...the next step is the hot dog stands and taxi corners of Manhattan; the pizza shoppes of Brooklyn; the streets of the Bronx... I always said that if you want to be original think original and undone. Do what's 'undone' as our assistant director would say.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Screen Your Work

Remember, if no one sees it, then it's not really a movie...that's the age old saying right? After you and you crew have taken 5 weeks to 5 years to bring to life your feature or short film project, and you find yourself not able to get into local festivals...Take the advantage of renting out a screening rom yourself. If not for your friends and family, perhaps for the public? Risk it, show the world. I mean how much can an auditorium rental really be. A band once asked me if I knew how to book them work....I responded...don't book shows, book audience members. That's right and it also makes sense here. Find your spot, screen your movie and book audience members to watch it. Charge them nothing or charge them something, make sure it's worth their while and have a good time. If they like it and so do you, I'm certain they'll come back for more.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On the Set of a Giant Man

“People say It reminds me just like this place I went to in New Orleans,” says owner Michael Hennes of ‘Howes’ Bayou.’ The wood trim bar actually has the rustic feel of an old saloon that could be in an city for any narrative of any potential film project....It’s warm behind the scenes on the set of “The Giant Mechanical Man”....Most everyone on the crew is a hired local. A positive for the state of Michigan, and today they are filming at ‘Howes’ Bayou’. A local Cajun themed restaurant in Ferndale.

The craft service is being provided by ‘Keepin It Fresh’, owned by Damita DeAngelo and Shelly Hurowitz. DeAngelo says “It’s providing jobs” when discussing the film incentive – Nothing can be better as craft service is the best place on set to be.

So why are they filming here today?

“That’s the connection with Paulette, the production designer suggested (she was a regular) I know the shot you need as the birthday scene” and “they came in and they liked it and thought it would have a good feel for the movie” says Michael Hennes.

The crew from Los Angeles seems to thoroughly be enjoying their time “There’s no doubt that I’m coming back (to Michigan),” says line producer Michael Gallant. Who says he’s been called for 2 more movies that could potentially come to the state to take advantage of the film incentives.

Michael Hennes says, “I think it’s important publicity for the city. I like to see us being more inviting to the film community and make it a little easier to work in the city.”

Hennes speaks about when the location scouts arrived, “They took pictures of everything as it was and promised to put it back as it was....just like another party that we’d be putting together.”

It may be just like a party, but not as conventional as this exciting new project brings positive publicity and the intangible benefit of future patrons identifying the location for it’s cinematic playtime.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Union Dues and Ramblings

I have commented on joining SAG before and I felt that I must let local Detroiters know that if they wish to sign up and have been granted the invite to become a member of one of the finest unions in the country...the price is low. A total of $1418 is due for the Detroit market talent versus the over $2300 joining fee on the east and west coast. So if you live in Detroit and wish to join SAG, know that we do benefit in one way; however, if as a local actor you wish to move to Los Angeles and continue working, the difference must be paid up front before being able to accept a job. Another item I am often asked of from both novice talent and veteran actors is "What is Station 12, they told me they have to Station 12 me." This is which is essentially when your agent is granted the clearance from the union alongside the producer of a project to hire an actor and make sure they are up to date with paying their dues and in good standing with the union. All on screen talent is 'Station Twelved' before working on any project.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Commercial Time

Looks like the incentives have drawn a little more attention to the state. This week I am witnessing three commercial sets, one for the US. Marine Corps, another for General Motors followed by Coca Cola. That's a pretty big list of clients here in our state taking advantage of our stage space and putting people to work who may not have had the opportunity to get hired on some of the bigger feature films. The good news for me today is that I also have to go SAG - I plan on keeping everyone updated on the process of joining to union step by step.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Childrens Movies Take Top

With "Tangled" in 3D and "Harry Potter" high atop the box office charts. The Wizards of Hogwarts prove that a seven day week that is totaling nearly $170 Million is a good way for producers to spend money. If there are films that we want to see, we often don't because we can't find a babysitter, but the trick is with these films that no matter what, you can even take the babysitter with you and that is the purchase of another ticket. So will we see more and more youth driven stories hit the silver screen. I assume that with the reinvigorated use of 3D glasses, the answer is yes. The trick is that as these films which are animated continue to be made, they will require less and less value over time in acquiring name talent to provide voices as the genre itself will bring in an audience.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Sometimes as a screenwriter you want to pull your hair out. Just take a few steps back to analyze objects around you. Trees, air, and the grace of a butterflies wings. Things are much simpler than they seem.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Gun Drugs and Dirty Money" Premiered!

Jon Anton's "Guns Drugs and Dirty Money" screened to a sold out audience at the Emagine Novi theatre last night. I must say that I was a bit reserved when considering the film, but by the time the opening credits had rolled, I was hooked. The highly stylized picture reminiscent of films like "Smokin' Aces" had a comic cook like interpretation within the editing style featuring black barred bordering and dialogue bubbles that would take us to the next scene. The character heavy picture was plentiful in comedy, drama and most of all...action. Local Detroit actors Jason Waugh and Michael Mili portray interesting roles with jocular propriety.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Michigan Actors Studio

Last week many of you may have read my article on acting coach Steve Blackwood. I recently came across another skipper of the theatrical arts; Richard Goteri of the Michigan Actors Studio. MAS seems to accommodate a habitat where talent can grow; Each actor who is enrolled in a one day a week, eight week program can stand alongside both aspiring and seasoned thespians. Like a greenhouse, as individuals they can also network in an environment where the aptitude of each individual can be shared through potential friendships. This and next weekend, the school is hosting a series of one act plays in an affair entitled "24 Hours" (conceived by Oliver Hailey and The Writers Workshop). However, only 12 hours will be played out in the PM (there is also an AM in the original written works) - Indeed the show that costs only $12 a seat ($10 w/ student I.D.) is a fine way to spend the evening and support the local art scene. "24 Hours" which was co-directed by Goteri and his comrade Rachel Bellack, features the talents of such local actors as Ken Alter, Sheela Sharma, Nana Allen, Rob Putansu, Michael Gillespie, Ann Johnstone Filippis and Michelle Balser Peterson.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Finance an Art Project

I often also get asked from people: How can I finance my project? Whether it be a movie, TV show pilot or line of boutique clothing wear such as jeans or jewlery...Investors are out there. If you want to find investors, here's a tip: Don't talk to people who are already in the business of your dream. Why is that? It's because they already do it, and they do it well. Why would anyone want to give money to someone who could potentially be a competitor? That is what they are thinking in their minds. Instead discuss your passion project or line of Michigan branded T-Shirts with someone who is not in that business. Someone who finds the sex appeal in something new. The draw of doing something different from the daily routine of one's own life is a psychological stimulus that can both affect the mind body and soul. For example: If I am a rich doctor who never gets out to see a movie because I have patients all day but I am rich, then I am likely to be far more excited to hear about your ideas then if I am already a rich movie producer. That's my tip of the day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More Actor Advice...

The behaviour in Detroit isn't what you see on "Entourage"...Contending for a role in town doesn’t promote agitating the casting directors. There is only 2 or 3 of em here anyhow. I understand that one needs to campaign for a role, but in the mid-west it needs to be done quietly. Leave the fast talking and smooth walking to the L.A. people who know what they are doing and have been bred into each other for so long. So advice to up and coming actors, is to cool it down. Do you work, do it well, be persistent but not petulant, and the roles and people will come to you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

The best marketing tool ever: Host a Free Party. It's something everyone wants to attend and they will buy just about anything when they get there. I had the pleasure of eying several parties this weekend all of whom were sponsored by alcohol companies or worked with other coalitions to assemble location and names and brands. Everyone is looking for a Halloween party this weekend and if you are one of the smart filmmakers, fashionistas, or artists that wish to get the word out then assemble. All you need is sponsors, an up and coming DJ, and a location that will take 50% of the door (if you decide to charge).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

3D TV's to Takeover>?

Remember Laserdisc? Remember VHS? Well how about 8 track tapes? It has come time for another revolution in home entertainment technology. A new medium 'Exact 3D' is now getting major backing by companies like Brosta TV and Japan Cable Television. Brosta TV which has a lot of experience in anime and JCTV has more experience in live action productions sound like a perfect myriad for experimentation on 3D television production. I'm curious as to whether or not we as a people will slowly be exchanging out flat screen and high definition televisions for a 3D one? Can you imagine going to the nearest electronics store to buy a 3D television set? I can and we all should, because in the next 10 years, it may become the norm. Though for many of us, we can't let go of the simple non headache inducing effects of watching a simple projection on a flat screen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potential Union Merger

SAG and AFTRA are continuing to negotiate the possibility of a merger and things are looking solid for that. Thursday night a 'Forum for One Union' meeting was held to prepare questions and answers from the heads of both parties involved, and another meeting may happen as soon as next month. The forum however is made up of 12 people and the meeting took place over the course of 3 hours. I would assume that parameters have to be set up for which union firstly takes the name...I can't imagine a world with the three initials SAG..but perhaps SAGTRA? There are both supporters and opponents to this merger. Opponents may consider that each union separately represents uniquely different items of concerns and supporters may say that a merger would help strengthen the coalition of 'talent' in the world in general.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Proper FIlm Education

Many people ask me for advice on where to go to school to become a film producer. Most trade film schools discuss art but rarely evoke upon the collaborative business minded sensuality that one must hone. USC Stark has a program that is like an MBA for filmmakers...with courses in marketing and distribution. NYU film school has a joint MBA/MFA program that allows you to properly prepare for the real world. Chapman University has a joint JD/MFA program that teaches one the world of entertainment law. A world that contains marketing dollars, finance, accounting, and strategies for development. Being a proper producer is being an ethical human resources manager. Film after all is still a collaborative art, and not just simply 'art.'

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Agent or Agency

What's more important the agent or the agency? This past few weeks, many actors, writers and producers found themselves swaying under new banners in order to either follow and agent to live the dream of being with a big name agency. Gersh agents leaving for CAA, CAA agents leaving for matter what the directional pull, one of the toughest decisions would have to be who to roll heads with. So if the power agent or spiritual head, "Jerry Maguire" of the company decides to leave, should an actor remain loyal to the agent or stick with the brand label he wants on the back of his resume?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Star Power Shuffle

All those rumours we heard of Hugh Jackman on his cell phone in Detroit battling the studio to bring aboard Darren Aronofsky to helm 'Wolverine 2' seem to be true as the ink is shuffling through the scratching pen. It used to be that the director was the star of the show but now it seems no matter how well respected you are as a filmmaker the studio system still exists however seems that the studio heads make movies with the directors used as instruments. This is called MBA filmmaking. A group of business grads who tackle the 3 piece suit positions at studios; we can't blame em, they do need to look out for their stakeholders - and mathematical equations that determine your box office worth are balanced against the possibility of a film making a certain amount at box office. So what equation beats that? The Hugh Jackman equation. He is a powerful actor who can stand tall and remain determined that a fellow auteur friend of his becomes the captain of his ship. So perhaps, it's the actors that hold the 21st Century power in decision studio decision making of a film, whereas it used to be the filmmaker himself?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Michigan Film Transparency

The Negative Impact of Michigan's Film Industry Pt. 1.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that indeed some people are hurting due to the windows of opportunity that some have found to slide right though and steal from citizens of Michigan. Locally in Detroit are being sold promises in return for hundreds and thousands of doll ars. Regional radio and television air spots in which companies promise that they are Hollywood talent scouts and go from city to city, hotel to hotel and say that their interviews are return the parents of these children of course must fork up thousands of dollars to attend conventions half a country away and come back home with nothing but empty pockets. Do we call this a scam? Is this a pyramid scheme that is built upon the loopholes that our politicians have allowed to remain open. In Allen Park, a recent movie studio was on the news for being kicked out for not paying rent after they had promised thousands of jobs when they first arrived (and used taxpayer money to build their infrastructure). Another supposed Michigan film studio (that I won't name) is accused of attempting to run away with millions in taxpayer dollars by way of a refundable credit loophole. Another story leaked about a contractor who is owed over $200,000 dollars from working at said studio. So what happens to people who work and don't get payed? Is that commonly referred to as slavery? Taxpayers are owed one thing for certain: Answers. Michigan is already dealing with one of the highest unemployment rates, we cannot afford to tear apart at peoples dreams.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Superhero Tout

A few decades ago, making a superhero movie would have been considered bad business. Thinking about it, I remember 'Captain America' (1990), 'The Flash' TV series (1990), and even 'Fantastic Four' (1994) was considered a B-Movie that you could only find bootlegs of in comic conventions. No one dared put real energy into the production marketing dollars until 1998....Wesley Snipes, David Goyer and Stephen Norrington gave us the dark vigilante 'Blade'. For the first time a comic book character was placed in a real world setting and taken seriously against the backdrop of film-noir like elements weaved into the fabric of the super-natural elements that make the hero. Since then we have seen X-Men, serious actors like Edward Norton taking on the Incredible Hulk (to be continued by Mark Ruffalo), and Marvel Studios putting hefty work into combining the world of Marvel Cinema into one unique environment. Film Auteur, Darren Aronofsky's name has come up on the set of Hugh Jackman's 'Real Steel' as a candidate for 'Wolverine' helmer; Can you just imagine how great that will be! Now we get to see a re-boot of 'Spiderman' with the same lesson's Marvel has learned from their previous films (Not hamming it up!) - Not to mention Chris Nolan's 'The Dark Knight', Idris Elba as a possible Luke Cage, next summers' 'Thor' and 'Captain America', the excitement is tipping over. We can't wait. With 21st century technology and 'real' screenwriters interested in writing the stories and 'real' filmmakers interested in making them, the comic book genre will hopefully only get better.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nom Name

Argentine's "Carancho" has been selected as their nominated film for the best picture in foreign-language category. With only 20 votes over its two competitors ("The Man Next Door" and "Dos Hermanos"). The project came in just moments before the deadline for countries to submit their films for foreign-language nomination. The film is a crime-thriller that set against a love story involving an ambulance chasing lawyer. The first thing that comes to mind is the potential that lies before Ben Affelck's "The Town." Perhaps 2010 could be the year that the Academy recognizes Crime-Thrillers as a theme.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Product Placement

It always works. Oliver Stone recently admitted to an audience at an Advertising Week event that the film was too big for the NYC film tax credits and that received $60 Million from Fox. That is actually a small budget for an appetite of any filmmaker nowadays. In order to help boost the platform, the film drops notes for Dunkin Donuts and Ducati, in addition to a slew of other companies willing and wanting to be mentioned. Producers need to do anything they can and lets face it, a feature film can be essentially a 2 hour commercial for any product. Granted the film may not always be focusing on that particular "thing" that is being subconsciously sold to us. Most anyone knows that Vince from "Entourage" drives in a Maserati or Aston Martin and often takes sip breaks at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. The human mind remembers, and we want what the stars have.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Catch Them If You Can

The MPAA and RIAA are cheering potential legislation looking to shut down foreign and domestic web-pages that effectively promote and stream pirated film and television. It's called the 'Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act' and would let the justice department close down these kind of web-sites. The bill of course is hopeful to protect creative content and brands that come along with them in order to keep the financial function of the entertainment industry stable. Downloading illegal movies has for too long crippled potential box office growth and in turn possibly assisted in the lack of consumer benefits in purchasing content.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

South of the Venture.

Lions Gate is looking to joint venture with Mexican media conglomerate Televisia as reported by the New York Times. They are calling it Pantelion Films, which looks to release about ten films a year over the next five years, targeting the hispanic and latino demographics. This could possibly be one of the best moves by LGF to go after a growing arena of audience members. I wouldn't be surprised if other companies didn't follow suite. The easier part for LGF is that it still isn't a super giant company on it's own yet, so it can take bigger risks. This risk sounds like it could prove to be wealthy.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The great thing about all the movie abuzz in Michigan is the fact that one day we'll all get to sit inside a theatre and see all our great landmarks and hangouts on screen. Though not always as our hometown. Detroit doubles Seattle in 'Red DawN' yet we all know American Coney Island when we see it. 'Vamp' is filming Detroit for New York, yet we all know Hart Plaza when we see it. The amazing thing is all the money these companies are spending to dress the locations as though it is really someplace else. About an hour into 'The Island' press pause and you may see the downtown Detroit skyline with street signs for Los Angeles. My question is, when is someone going to film Detroit for Detroit? Well better not, the more they need it to be something else, the more vendors are financially benefitting to dress it up like anything the company wants it to be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

i-Downloads' New Bidding

Steve Jobs has come up with a new plan: To offer television shows at 99 cents (already lower than the prices offered by i-Tunes). Although studio's are naturally squeamish - The reason? Ever since the downloading of music for such a low price, the great days of the early 90's were gone, when a CD could be priced tagged to actually make the studio money. Granted the legit but cheap downloads of today were a reaction to pirating. So granted that it was a a relatively good idea, the point is that DVD box set sales that are planned for release nearly half a year after the show's respective season ends, many now suffer a marketing plan. Also, many people may no longer be psychologically willing to buy a whole season of a particular show because of the cheaper price online, and the ability to perhaps buy only the episodes they want like songs. Most people of course if they like a show are willing to fork out for every episode because they have to have it. The point here is, can we as an audience and customer agree to placing a price for our harsh economic times but also be willing to look down on illegal downloads. Many people may not realize that downloading TV Shows like music hurts people involved. I did a post about SAG the Screen Actors Guild earlier. One of the ways these actors make bread is through the residual sales of DVD's. So I wonder what their take on this is? My last post was about the decline of physical video rental outlets, and taking it in, is this just a sign of the times, or a way for some people to make easy money on other people's hard work or perhaps a negotiated response to illegal downloaders in the same way it worked for music? Download and stream television, who would have thunk it?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Video Stores and Their Importance

Blockbuster Video may have to throw in and start a new game. With dwindling DVD sales and rentals, and consumer anguish over high retail prices Blockbuster has their hands full. Not to mention alternative options like streams, downloads, Netflix and RedBox, creating a whole new playing field. Blockbuster shares have been bouncing under $1 throughout the year and since 2007 Blockbuster reportedly has a loss of nearly $1 billion. In order to escape this billion dollar debt, the chain may close nearly 3000 stores across America. The question is will physical rental outlets like Blockbuster remain needed or will they go away for good in the future. I must say, considering the negative energy from "late fees" and "disgruntled employee/consumer interaction" of a any DVD/Video rental store, the concept of teenagers, couples and families having somewhere to hang out for 30 minutes on a Saturday night is needed. The dialogue over whether or not to buy popcorn, pop, chocolate covered peanuts or raisins, and even what genre of movie to get is pivotal to the human condition. We all remember slow walking the video isles with our significant other as we discover each other's likes and dislikes and analyze each other's personalities based on our choices of film. So yes, in a anthropological observation, I don't think rentals stores will go away completely, nor will their need of being.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Funky Sounds

I recently came across a musical artist who told me something interesting. We are subject to double standards for lyrics? Why is it that some people can say what they wish but others can't? The artist explained to me that as a musician, they all play the same instruments. Should we blame society for everything? Is it easier than blaming yourself? The new age movement has brought us a new spin on religion, and therefore blasphemy has been given a whole new dictionary of words to work with. Why is it that so many people force us to feel obligated not to say what we want or what we need to? A musician among all artists should practice the inalienable right to speak the truth through chords or lyrics without the fear of popular radio backlash or being subject to the blacklist of event management groups that have taken a stranglehold on the voice of the minstrel. Let the Warblers free.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To Join or Not To Join

Many actors in Detroit who've benefited from the tax incentives for filmmakers have found themselves questioning, do I join SAG. The Screen Actor Guild union is a prestigious foundation to be an official member of. First off, I would advise actors to consider carefully. It is a decision not to be taken lightly. Once an actor pays his initiation fee and joins the union he cannot violate 'Rule #1' and participate in non-union work. This is a great thing for an actor who has already participated in many independently produced films or student project; However for the novice who joins right off the bat because he or she has received 1 or 2 lines in a movie or commercial, this could prove risky, if that person hasn't had a chance to learn from practice. That being said, SAG is an absolute must in my opinion for the thespian who wishes to become a member of the community of greater acting professionals. Being a member of the union offers protections and guarantees that non-union work can too often fall short on. In final note, joining SAG is an absolute "yes", be proud of your invitation to coalesce with the greatest company you could ever come across.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Events To Launch

Most of the time, I overhear so many people talking about the Detroit arts scene as a past tense. I can push this enough that it is our duties as metro-Detroit residents to get out there and engage in events that push the artists market. Oakland University is holding a 'Contemporary Art' gallery in the coming weeks, and the UMMA steadily holds gallery shows; currently a feature of James McNeill Whistler. Although, I to understand the frustration that so many people are enduring - Most galleries take place without the works of many metro-Detroit natives. I therefore encourage and plead to the ushers of circumstance to help our artists triumph by giving them a podium to which they may stage their grand escapes of evening entertainment. Too many times, I hear from local painters and sculptors who sell their work for a measly dime at smaller festivals that there isn't opportunity here. So, let us bear the responsibility and take advantage of their wonderous work. Help show it to the world. We don't have to search to far for the next Van Gogh....he may just be poking around a local high school in Oakland County.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Artistans and Their Bread

After a situation that happened this week, it has come to my attention that artists need to be reminded of their route in life. I advise taking an hour out of each day to sit back and ask "why am I doing this?" and "what will I get out of this." Questioning your advances will help develop a path. The goal should be however to no stray away from that path. Many actors, musicians, painters and artists in general do not realize that art in of itself is indeed a craft, to be honed and carved from stone. It needs to be molded to reflect your dreams. If you do not think you will be successful in letting others know who you really other, don't attempt it, because you will be embarrassed of your attempted effort. Instead, plan, plot, and discover the route that best suites your needs and fits your talents. Most of all in order to re-iterate, stick to it. Don't give up and strive forward against all strife. Afterwards, you can sit back and eat your bread.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Motown Focus

How many times have I heard someone tell me about an album that they are producing or a concert that they plan to their friends basement. I have been skeptical of musicians left and right, probably because so many little understand the amount of effort and focus that is needed to bring their passions to life. However Motown can return. With outlets like YouTube and iTunes allowing easier and cheaper delivery, perhaps the musical youth of Detroit should take notice. Stop telling me about how you want to be a player or a musician in the industry. Everyone is a recording artist according to what they will tell you. Instead I urge the young musicians of metro-Detroit to defer from talking about what they are doing and just do it. Use what is around you. You can bring Mo-Town back to it's glory, if you behave as so. So act as if. But don't mis-behave. Be on par, on time and focus your efforts properly. Focus will get you further in this life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raleigh Studios! It's almost here

I have to admit, I was taken by first glance at what could and will be Raleigh Michigan Studios. The elavators, the floor, the hallways....all of it. Strikes me as a Hollywood style studio in the making. The studio is promising to bring 3,600 jobs over the course of it's life by Alfred Taubman and Governor Granholm. Let's hope so. Let's hope that these jobs are well paying and lets hope that there are films and television shows that will fill the studio space. Overall I think if more L.A. operations like this one that join forces with established Michigan, that we will have a proper industry here. Granted most of these jobs may end up being below the line, meaning if you are a wanna-be director, your best bet is still to attend film school outside of Michigan and perhaps get yourself to the point that you can bring movies back home to the state to get made. Raleigh Studios is expected to become fully operation and open for business in February of 2011.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Directors' Still Authors?

Are film auteurs still worth it. This week, directors like Robert Rodriguez were approached by studios to move forward on sequels to their previous production efforts. Sin City 2 or Predators 2 may be coming to theatres soon. Equally, filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash) and Matt Reeves (Clover field) have been tagged to consider so many future properties. So the question is does a director make a movie or does the responsibility of a successful project remain in the hands of the writer? or the actors? It is obviously the whole package that makes any film as good or as a bad as it can be. However, I stand by the auteur theory of filmmaking, that a directors project is his project, and it is the "author" of the screenwriters translation to the screen. The director's eye and passionate edge is what makes our subconscious so interested in what we are watching. The same script directed by 3 or 4 different people could and would completely change the way we understand the performances and dialogue of the actors. Therefore I say yes, directors are worth it. The personal experiences of that individual who manages the productions creative aspects is what we learn through his or her tone and color.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Union Council

By August 1st, there is a potential of a strike looming....not SAG or AFTRA, or the WGA...rather the low profile, Teamsters Local 399 who represent thousands of drivers in Los Angeles who transport everything from movie star trailers to movie making equipment. So without out them could mean no moviemaking. The current Teamsters' contract with the studios expires at the end of the month and neither side is budging regarding current negotiations. As SAG and AFTRA primetime negotiations begin in the following months and the DGA (Directors Guild) negotiating in November, could one start to worry about a halt of work in Hollywood?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LGF meets MGM

Lions Gate Films' chief executive, Jon Feltheimer, and vice chairman, Michael Burns met yesterday with the credits who are babysitting MGM Films to give a meeting about the possible merger. The meeting was a prominent one as LGF could possibly own properties such as Jamnes Bond 007, Lord of the Rings' The Hobbit, and the made in Michigan Red Dawn remake. Car Icahn (who owns 37.3 percent of the LFG stick) and the board at LFG struck a 10 day truce in order to get through this week. Even though the merger seems perfect, it could also bring about it's own complexity as LGF owes nearly $550 million dollars in debt. MGM has almost $4 billion dollars of debt that would need to be taken care of following any merger. Perhaps LFG can roll out a red-carpet for the next series of James Bond pictures to cover these costs?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer of Lackluster

Have any of you walked into the movie theatres not knowing what to watch? Don't worry, we are all feeling the same way. There is so much A+ level talent making B- movies this year. From "Jonah Hex," "The Last Airbender," to "Toy Story 3," audiences have shown up see their favorite actors; Although movie ticket sales haven't suffered so much...The plot and characters have. Rotten Tomatoes for example gave the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz piloted "Knight and Day" a 53 percent rating. In high school, we all know that 53% is a failing grade. So when you have two of the biggest names in Hollywood, why are they not demanding more from the writers? Can it all be blamed on the script, or should we suggest that the Studios allow the directors the final cut that they need to bring us the works of art they wish to author? On the other hand, shall I suggest for now to us walking into the movie theatre foyers to perhaps consider smaller films that pay more attention to our subjected minds. Even recent foreign films have tangled my thought process after the theatre lights go up. I suggest that we audience members visit the small art house that we often dismiss on main street. I recently enjoyed the Swedish film-noir, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Based on the book of the same name, the film did so well critically that it is undergoing an American makeover.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Twilight Installments Shoot In L.A.

Summit Entertainment will shoot parts 1 and 2 of the final Twilight chapter "Breaking Dawn" in Vancouver this fall - However in addition to their great north location, the projects are also aiming to film sequences in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This would be the first film to utilize Louisiana as a location. Most likely this is due to their 30 perfect transferable tax incentive program, regarding in state expenditures on film productions. Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) is directing the feature films that will compose part 4 and 5 of the series, with the first film planned on being released November 18, 2011. The series has totalled 1.4 billion dollars worldwide. So with a project of this level headed south, one can only wonder what kind of tourism may come to the city of Baton Rouge after the release. It is this thought process that makes me ask, how can other states like Michigan see film productions as a way to attain positive reputation and redeem other sources of revenue, for example tourism?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rumblings at the Lions Den

Lions Gate Films (the Santa Monica based studio behind the "Saw" franchise) is facing a takeover from a Carl Icahn. Often referred to as the 59th richest person in the world, with a net value of over 10.5 million dolalrs, Icahn is an equity investor who has aimed to acquire 37.9% of the company shares. In an attempt to thwart his attempt at reaching over 38% which would put him in the majority, Lions Gate will possibly issue more stock to other shareholders. LGF is currently in talks of a possible merger with the near bankrupt MGM. If Icahn takes over Lions Gate, one could only wonder what his plans are with that possible merger if he indeed takes over and replaces to current board of directors? Icahn currently has 33.9% of LGF stock, which puts him in a position to block some current decisions made by the board of directors that require two/thirds vote. LGF opened in the stock market today at $6.66.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Art of Touring

To independent filmmakers seeking a new strategy to gain more public focus on their projects. Perhaps taking a note from Hollywood by way of a long lost sovereign tool of our maverick film ancestors. Touring. Yes like a musician or comedian. This past saturday in metro-Detroit 'Twilight' actor Bronson Pelletier (who plays Jared) is not necessarily the "Star" of the picture but he amongst other supporting actors in the film attended select showings all across America. This is a unique and relatively inexpensive way of keeping the hype stable through the weekend (not that it needs any push).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Michigan Live Events Bring Fun To Local Economies

How many times have you heard people say, what is there to do around here? I couldn't say that a live event isn't in the same level as live theatre because choreographed actions like dancing are indeed an art. Thinking in that mindset, so could dancing monster trucks? The Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival this year will also feature monster trucks alongside a 1200 foot wall of fire. At modest admission and parking prices on July 3rd and July 4th, I can say that is a local bargain that will hopefully bring many from out of state to Michigan. In addition events like this can answer the "what is there to do around here?" question. As a matter of fact, Michigan needs more sponsors to participate in live events that are inexpensive and stimulating to local economies, because all parties can benefit.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Red Dawn - Release Postponed..Indefinite?

The high profile film project that filmed in Detroit late last year, "Red Dawn" has been placed on indefinite hold due to lack of funds to distribute a film of it's size by MGM. Naturally this may effect actors in Michigan who are awaiting their screen appearance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Do I?

I often get asked, how can I work on a big budget movie in town or get educated to prepare to? So I will reply with the best advice I can give. To the out of work men and women who are thinking about using the Michigan Works program to finance an education that teaches you how to be a best boy grip or gaffer, think again before you do. As I currently understand it the Michigan Works program that is designed to help the unemployed get re-educated is a one time shot (meaning after you are approved you can't do it again and again and again). So if that is the case, educate yourself in the best possible way to get work "in general" and perhaps navigate somehow toward film. If you want to be an on set production accountant, production manager, producer or development executive then look into getting degrees that assist in that such as programs in business administration; concentrating in finance or accounting - perhaps an BBA or MBA? If you want to be an electrician, camera assistant or grip...then get in touch with someone who is already working in a professional capacity in that position by looking through the Michigan Film Office production booklet - If you can or are allowed to, ask the experienced professional the "how do I" questions that you have. If they are so gracious to give you time and answers, then appreciate it; furthermore inquire about union status and how one can join. Yes, there is a union for electricians, cameramen and lighting technicians that protects professional workers on these large scale studio film projects that everyone wants to work on so badly. Get educated about that, research it. So in final note. getting a certificate from a small, unheard of, and recently popped up school in film lighting won't help guarantee anything, and very rarely will it impress any professional. Set yourself up for success, get a real education from an accredited college or university and get a second opinion from a professional always. Think about it this way, you wouldn't want to go to a doctor or car mechanic who just has a certificate in some small area from a newly arrived unaccredited school would you? If you want to study the creative ends of the film business or the technical ends while attempting to achieve a real degree, look into programs at USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia, Chapman, Florida State, Northwestern...the list goes on! On the other hand, If you are looking to put yourself in a positive position to get back to work then get a real education in a real subject that can be transferable to the film business in some way. You'll thank yourself for it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To Work Unpaid or Not To Work Unpaid...That Is The Question

In some cases, I believe working for free or pro-bono is a great start for the novice with the blank sheet resume. So, my answer to this common question that I am asked by fellow artists, musicians, filmmakers and actors - Yes! Do it if you feel it's the right project at the right time. As an actor for example, many people pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for acting workshops in the metro-Detroit area being taught by a teacher that no one is Los Angeles or New York knows of or will ever know of. The interesting thing is that these same people then tell me they don't work for free. Put it in perspective, it can't be any worse than paying someone else for a similar experience. Working on a student film project for example is a great way to network and study your craft. Maybe your not getting paid, but your not paying anyone else either. On top of that you can possibly get material for the ever so honored "demo reel"; However like anything else in this world, don't do it if you don't want to do it...if your prior experiences with a particular process has shown to be less materialized in results, then switch your process. If you want to do this business and your not a $20 million dollar actor then get out there and do this business. Hopefully you have a side job that can pay the bills while you work yourself up. Life is participation, so participate.

Friday, May 28, 2010


To the future readers of this blog: Welcome! My intention is to use this arena as an appointment to study, observe, theorize, and postulate on the bureaucratic, economic, financial, and educational options we hold or wish to follow with regards to the vocations of the greater world of art, including but not limited to film, television, theatre and music.