Friday, May 02, 2008

BUNKER HILL returns to Lawrence, May 9.

Just got this in - for those who may have missed the BUNKER HILL screening in March, it will open in a limited engagement at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS starting on May 9.

This is the opening salvo in BH's release, which the filmmakers are handling themselves -
as reported by Jon Niccum of the Lawrence Journal-World:

Filmmakers forge distribution network

Lawrence filmmaker Kevin Willmott came to this realization: “Nobody cares about your film more than you do.”

And Willmott learned it the hard way after his second feature, “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America,” was bought by a major distributor ... and the company didn’t quite know what to do with it.

“Filmmakers have this romanticized reality with distributors. ‘If I could just sell my movie to so and so, I will have finally arrived. I will have made it.’ That’s just not true,” he says

So Willmott decided to launch his own company in order to distribute independent, socially relevant and specialty films.

Micheaux Motion Pictures — named after pioneering black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) — intends on using a hybrid model of placing its films in a network of theaters throughout the country, in addition to in-house DVD sales and barnstorming appearances by cast and crew.

The company will launch its first project today, when Willmott’s own “Bunker Hill” begins an engagement at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass.

“This is not a new idea for me,” he says, admitting he was inspired by the recording industry after established musical acts began to take personal control of their recordings.

He says, “It’s the hole in the independent film chain. You get the money on your own, you do all these things on your own, then in the end when it’s done, you sit around and go, ‘Well boss, are you gonna call?’”

Willmott is joined in Micheaux Motion Pictures by local writer/producers Tom Carmody, Greg Hurd and Scott Richardson. They settled on the Micheaux name (which is in the public domain) after working with the family of the legendary artist.

“It’s in honor of Michaeux obviously, and this is what he did at a time far more difficult than now,” Willmott says.

Next month the company will screen “Bunker Hill” at the ACLU headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“The independent filmmaker has to be proactive,” he says. “You can’t become this passive person waiting for someone to get it. Your job is to get it to the audience.”

So, it appears that BUNKER will make its way through the country for the rest of the year...
will keep up to date with it as information becomes available.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Unemployed... with ghosts and Munchausen (Spot The ThemeTM posting)

Still in the midst of job hunting... not that unusual for the time of year for me - I bounce back and forth between The Real World of Job and film freelancing since I got my foot in the proverbial door -- an uneasy balance, but one I've had to maintain. Since the bulk of my work is usually in features, I , of course, live in a place where there's lots of it... well, if I work for free, that is. But that would be true even if I lived in an industry area, to gauge by ads on and Craigslist.

And I just have not managed to make any inroads into the commercial/corporate video world... a bone every now and then, but nothing to rely on. Then again - the few commercial jobs I have done did pay better, but I can't say that I've ever seen the final result, nor do I really care to. And as I've mentioned before, when I've decided to go all out on the freelance route, it usually results in long, painful periods of cash deprivation. Such is the dichotomy that is My Life.

It has allowed me to catch up on DVD watching, however - one small glistening jewel in the dung mountain. A good part of April was spent watching the films of Seijun Suzuki - mainly his later period films, three of which are considered The Taisho Trilogy - ZIGEUNERWEISEN, KAGERO-ZA and YUMEJI. All three films are set in the 1920s and although all three are different, the best way to describe them would be Japanese Arthouse with supernatural overtones weaving throughout. Most of the Suzuki films I'm familar with are the yakuza films he did in the 60's that people rave about (quite rightly) - these three are quite different in tone, although there are visual touches that remind one of some of that early work. The films are also quite long - two and a half hours, and leisurely paced. Not being Japanese, I'm quite sure there's a lot going on that I'm missing, but there are interesting touches that made the watching experience rewarding. The Trilogy is available on Netflix - if you're into Japanese film, it's worth adding them to your queue.

Just watched recently was the new DVD release of Terry Gilliam's THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN - previously available in a bare bones release, this 2-disc Special Edition finally does justice to the film in a format that's readily available to everyone. MUNCHAUSEN's previous Special Edition was a Criterion Collection laserdisc that had a commentary by Gilliam and was packed with lots of extras - but it was hard to find and pretty pricey on eBay... not to mention that you had to have a laserdisc player!

The new release from Sony is about as cool as the Criterion release - it doesn't port Gilliam's original commentary from that set; instead, it features a new commentary by Gilliam done in tandem with co-writer/actor Charles McKeown, and it's a pretty good one... both sort of bounce things off of each other, and it's entertaining. Gilliam is one of the few directors who does great commentaries, and it's better when he has someone to play off of (like his commentary for TIDELAND, done with writer Tony Grisoni.)

The second disc has an hour and a half documentary on the Munchausen Saga - all of the main players are heard from, and it's as entertaining as the main feature. Some of the material from the Criterion laserdisc is used here, such as location video, but in truncated form. Also from the laserdisc are four deleted scenes (but without commentary), and a presentation of storyboards of scenes that had to be eliminated from the script, due to budget and time contraints. On the laserdisc, these were accompanied by Gilliam's explanation of the scenes, but for this release, they do something even better: Gilliam and McKeown aurally act out the storyboards as they're presented.

For fans of the film and of Gilliam, this is a release that's been long overdue, since the Criterion release never got to DVD format... still be nice to have it, but there's not much to be disappointed with the Sony release (also on Blu-Ray). Now it would be great if they'd do the same with THE FISHER KING, whose Special Edition is only available (as of yet) on Criterion laserdisc.

Looking around, I just discovered the following, scheduled to be released this August:

Hopefully, I'll be able to afford it, if I'm working by summer.