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Archive for October, 2007

Scouting Grande Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Danny Daneau

We had the tremendous fortune to be granted the opportunity to shoot all of our exterior sequences on the Grande Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In September of 1996, President Clinton designated this to be first monument administered by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the National Park Service. There hasn’t been a film crew permitted to shoot on these lands for decades and now we were granted full access.

Even after the first two scouting trips, I frequented the property as often a I could, trying to discover it’s most filmic of areas. I would never be able to cover the entire grounds, or even a fraction at that, because the national monument spans over 1.7 million acres of southern Utah.

Grande Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Danny Daneau scouts more of Grand Staircase
only two days away from production.

Map Grade Staircase-Escalante

Map of Grade Staircase-Escalante in relation
to the state of Utah.

[tags]Grande Staircase-Escalante, National Monument, Bill Clinton, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, film scouting[/tags]


The Writers Strike and Indie Film

Erica Harrell

At my work for the past month all we have been focused on is the impending Writers Guild of America strike. The strike could happen as early as tomorrow as the WGA contract is up at 11:59pm PST tonight. For those of you who do not know anything about this strike, the WGA members are in negotiations with the American Motion Picture and Television Producers over various issues. Mainly that the Writers Guild members are not receiving any residuals off of sales from iTunes or the free programing that is now available on most major network television websites. For instance anytime someone watches Ugly Betty or Greys Anatomy online, the writers are not compensated anything unlike when those episodes air on TV. This also occurs when someone downloads a film from iTunes. The AMPTP and the WGA have been going through some pretty interesting negotiations in Los Angeles over the past month. Silly arguments have broken out and little progress has been made.

If a strike does occur tomorrow, all WGA members must cease writing, meaning that if a script is not complete it cannot go into production. This is particularly bad for the television industry in which I work (see Entourage). The last WGA strike occurred in the late 1980s and lasted for 10 weeks. As a result of this strike, network televisions turned more towards reality programming, Dateline, 60 Minutes and other news programs flourished which paved the way for the majority of the reality programming that encompasses television today. As these shows do no employ WGA writers as they are non scripted. For the sake of not having to endure more programming like The Hills or Survivor 25 Cincinnati, I hope the strike is resolved quickly.
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Quote of the Week – Walter Murch

Danny Daneau

We thought seeing where we are in editing our film, a quote from the great Walter Murch would be an appropreiate way to kick off our “Quote of the Week” series. Enjoy…

“Looking at a first assembly is kind of like looking at an overgrown garden. You can’t just wade in with a weed whacker; you don’t yet know where the stems of the flowers are.”

Walter Murch, Motion Picture Editor

[tags]Walter Murch, Quotes, Editor, Editing[/tags]


Indiewood Films Failing at Box Office

“We’re all suffering. It’s the entire business. At least someone should be succeeding. It’s as bad a fall as I’ve ever seen,” Focus Features Chief Executive James Schamus tells the LA Times today.

Is this something for our little indie film to worry about. Of course, however, a lot can change in a year. For example, the upcoming writers strike in Hollywood could lead to a lack of projects going into production. Regardless, buyers and distributors are becoming scared and cautious. Not good news.

I’m just glad our budget isn’t giant like some of the players mentioned in the above article. Now is not a good time to be sitting on a multimillion dollar indie film.

[tags]LA Times, Focus Features, James Schamus[/tags]


Will Netflix win the Indie Film War

Danny Daneau

While a lot of us were sleeping, a little company named Netflix took our mailboxes by storm by offering access to obscure films and the luxury of home delivery. While at first Blockbuster scoffed at this little company with their online dreams, they would soon grow to fear them, before inevitably joining them.

Now it is a all out free for all smack down extreme. Netflix filed a lawsuit in April of 2006 against Blockbuster for patent infringement on some of the unique aspects of their online service. It was settled out of court on June 25th, 2007 and since then Blockbuster has closed 290 of their stores with plans to double that by the end of the year. Their goal to now focus dominantly on their online component.

Netflix vs Blockbuster

Blockbuster is pulling punches by gaining rental rights to all films released by the Weinstein Company. Netflix is developing an edge by offering films to be streamed immediately from their website. The landscape for the rental marketplace is now in a drastic shift.

In the midst of all this, Netflix starts a independent distribution company named Red Envelope Entertainment. This seemed to be a promising opportunity for independent filmmakers such as myself, however questions have been raised lately on home committed the company is to finding unique independents. Read More at SpoutBlog.

From Netflix Media Center:

About Red Envelope Entertainment
Netflix (NFLX) is committed to providing consumers with access to the widest variety of films available. With over 65,000 titles, the Netflix catalog spans every major genre, from documentaries and dramas to comedies and how-to. To that end, Red Envelope Entertainment is acquiring and funding original content projects to increase consumer options and provide an innovative method for film distribution. While giving filmmakers a platform to expose less commercial projects to a broader audience, Red Envelope Entertainment looks to leverage its proprietary technology to offer subscribers unique and original content to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access. This original content initiative creates a national distribution channel for films and entertainment programming otherwise not available to broad audiences. For more information, visit www.netflix.com.

[tags]blockbuster, dvd, home entertainment, indies, netflix, red envelope, weinstein company[/tags]


A Test Case for Social Media and Blogging!- The Assassination of Jesse James

Erica Harrell

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to catch a screening of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford at the best theater in the world, the Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles. This film is truly one of the best of 2007. As much as I had anticipated its release, I did notice that this film was not being widely advertised around Los Angeles.

A person living in LA is bombarded everday with what is up-and-coming in Television and Film. I can name almost every new network show: CANE, CHUCK, SAMANTHA WHO?, and current film releases: MICHAEL CLAYTON, SAW IV, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, the upcoming AMERICAN GANGSTER but strangely a film with two huge stars in it has no billboards, bus stop posters, or spray painted advertisements on the sidewalk of Melrose Avenue. All that said, I was there opening weekend and throughly enjoyed this film. I thought the whole time, wow what an Oscar contender this film will be.

Brad Pitt stars in the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Brad Pitt stars as Jesse James in the
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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Indie Film and Indie Music

Erica Harrell

This summer on my first two feature films I met many incredible people who I will be friends with for a long time. Part of filmmaking is building relationships with other people in the industry. Danny and myself have an amazing relationship both professional and personal. My other director, Laura Lopez and I have been close friends for several years now and I will work with both of them again in the near future. One person in particular from this summer, I would love to work with again as she is one of the most amazing talented people I have ever met. Aleksa Palladino, came all the way from LA to Florida, in the summer, to star in my other feature Baker. Aleksa plays a young nurse Maggie Collins who thinks she has found a mentor in Nurse Baker, but she really discovers the dark side of compassion. Aleksa became fast friends with Laura and I and we soon discovered that she has her own indie band with her husband Devon Church, called EXITMUSIC.

Production Still from Baker
Production Still from Baker,
Directed by Laura Lopez

EXITMUSIC is described as:
Exit Music Band“At once apocalyptic and hopeful, the emotional impact recalls bands like sigur ros while tapping into the old soul of American music from Bob Dylan to Billie Holiday. Thoughtful, arresting vocals are embedded in lush, evocative instrumentation.”
Aleksa and Devon have just released their first album called, The Decline of the West. Their album can be purchased here.

Independent Filmmakers and Independent Bands share many similarities when is comes to getting the word out there about their films and music, respectively. This blog is a way for the A Monster in the Attic team to get the word out about our film as well as to share our knowledge of filmmaking. Check out Aleksa and Devon’s band and support Indie Music!!!


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