Tuesday 31 July 2007
According to the Washington Post the American National Archives and Records Administration has entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Amazon.com, and its subsidiary CustomFlix, to reproduce and sell to the public copies of thousands of historic films and videotapes in the Archives' holdings.
Stacey Hurwitz, a spokeswoman for CustomFlix, said the first six DVDs became available on Amazon July 16 and are already selling. She said they were newsreels from the late 1950s and early 1960s.Thousands of other public domain and government films will become available in this fashion in the future. In a separate pilot program about 100 Archives films have also been made available free via Google.
They include scenes of the famous 1959 "Kitchen Debate" between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in a model American kitchen on display in Moscow. Other footage shows a youthful Fidel Castro after the communist revolution in Cuba, along with reports about Hawaii becoming a state, and the Soviet space program.
Hurwitz said the DVDs will sell for $19.99 and will be manufactured on customer demand at the company's facility in Scotts Valley, Calif. The Archives said they are part of its "Universal Newsreels," which date from 1920 to 1967.
IFTN reports that RTÉ had appointed Eddie Doyle as the new Commissioning Editor for Entertainment.
Eddie Doyle has been Assistant Commissioner for Factual programmes at RTÉ Television since January 2006. During that period he managed a number of high-profile documentaries and factual entertainment programmes, including the 'Future Shock' programmes, 'The Hospice,' 'So You Want to be Taoiseach?', and a number of ‘Hidden History’ productions. Previously Executive Producer of ‘Prime Time Investigates’, Eddie oversaw the series from its inauguration in 2002, managing, among others, programmes on Leas Cross and the Garda Siochana. In 2001 his programme on the private rental sector won the Celtic Film Festival Jury Prize, and in the same year his programme on the Taliban (Afghanistan: Hostage Nation) won the ESB Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award. Prior to joining RTÉ Eddie worked in entertainment broadcasting in Britain for various companies including the BBC, Channel 4, Hat Trick and Trans World International.
Kevin Linehan, RTÉ Television's current Commissioning Editor for Entertainment, is delighted to take up a new role as Executive Producer, Music. Eddie Doyle will now work alongside Assistant Commissioning Editor for Entertainment, Julian Vignoles.
Along with familiar Sesame Street characters such as Elmo and Cookie Monster, new characters will be created for a Northern Irish audience.The first series, which will comprise of twenty fifteen-minute episodes, will be broadcast by BBC NI from February 2008.
Sesame Workshop president Gary E Knell applauded SixteenSouth's "exciting original concept" and said he hoped it would result in "a unique show that will be relevant, humorous, engaging and reflective of a brighter future for the children of Northern Ireland".
Colin Williams, managing director of SixteenSouth's parent company The Inferno Group, welcomed the announcement as "a truly amazing opportunity, a real privilege to create a programme our children will grow up with and, 30 years from now, remember the songs, the loveable characters, the stories and, most importantly, the life lessons".
Monday 30 July 2007
The BBC reports that Swedish filmmaker and theatrical director, Ingmar Bergman, died today at the age of 89.
His famous 1957 film, The Seventh Seal is on release currently in art-houses around the world in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
Bergman once said in a New York Times interview in 1976:
I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.
Applications are open for the 2008 Brian Way Award, which was established to celebrate and raise the profile of playwrights who write theatre aimed at young people. The award is granted annually to a writer who has had a children's play professionally produced in the past year. The value of the Award is £6,000, with a runner-up receiving £1,000.
Submitted plays should be at least forty-five minutes long, suitable for an audience of young people up to the age of 18 years, and have been produced professionally between July 1, 2006 and August 31, 2007. The playwright must either be resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or have a writing association with a theatre company or group based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.
The closing date for submissions is October 31, 2007.
Friday 27 July 2007
"Our vision is for BBC iPlayer to become a universal service available not just over the Internet, but also on cable and other TV platforms, and eventually on mobiles and smart handheld devices," said the BBC's Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology.The service is free, but currently it's only available to users in the UK who possess a computer that uses the Windows XP operating system.
Thursday 26 July 2007
The Stage reports that a mere two weeks before the Edinburgh Festival Fringe one of the venue managers, Understairs Arts, has gone into voluntary liquidation, which leaves more than 35 shows without theatres.
Jon Morgan, director of the Festival Fringe Society, said :"I was sad to learn the news that Understairs Arts had to take the decision to go into voluntary liquidation. The Fringe Society does not directly contract artists or venues, but we do offer advice and support. We are in contact with the companies affected to give them as much help as we can so that as many as is possible are still able to perform."
The BBC reports that our very wet summer has contributed to a sharp increase in DVD sales in the UK (and one assumes, Ireland).
In June there was a 38% increase in the sales of DVDs compared to the same month the previous year, according to the British Video Association (BVA).
"Home entertainment has clearly offered some respite to the dreary wet weather," the BVA said.
Overall sales rose by 12.6% in the first six months of the year, during which 108 million DVDs were sold.
"DVD continues to prove its strength as a format and demand from customers keeps rising," BVA director general Lavinia Carey said.
She also drew attention to a 4.7% increase in DVD rentals in June - the first rise in 12 months.
Wednesday 25 July 2007
Today's free Funding the Arts information session, organised by Filmbase and the Arts Council has moved location to the Andrew’s Lane Theatre (9-17 Andrew’s Lane, Dublin 2). The session will take place from 1.30pm - 2.30pm, and registration will occur from 1.15pm.
Tuesday 24 July 2007
There's an interesting article on LA Times about the changing trends in television comedy in the USA.
For decades, multi-cam comedies have been a prime-time staple as much for their hit-making potential as for the relatively cheap production costs, but the shows, filmed before live studio audiences, have fallen out of fashion. Rising to take the few remaining network comedy spots has been the single-camera style, whose movie-like freedom and ease can be seen in such critically acclaimed programs as "30 Rock," "The Office" and "Arrested Development." With a welcome change in pacing and no laugh-track-sweetened live audience, single-camera exudes a sophisticated cool that executives believe appeals to the prized and more tech-savvy 18-to-49 demographic.
Actually, few young viewers today probably realize that single-camera comedies are older than they are. The form used in such shows as "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie" in the mid-'60s was once the prevailing force of prime-time comedies. While not near those heights today, single-camera is again gaining ground. Of the eight new half-hour comedies greenlighted for this fall, five are single-camera — the first time in decades singles have outnumbered the multi-cams.
"The problem with multi-camera shows is that over the years there has been a glut of them and there have been so many bad ones with the same rhythm that the form itself got stale," said Ken Levine, a veteran comedy writer for shows such as "MASH," "Cheers" and "Frasier," who blogs about pop culture. "Comedy itself is really at the lowest point it has ever been."
Based on the results of a reader's poll, The Guardian has published its Top 50 Funniest Films of all Time.
Here's the top twenty:
What would be on your perfect list?
Friday 20 July 2007
Filmbase in Temple Bar, Dublin is hosting a free lunchtime information session on Wednesday 25th July, from 1.30pm - 2.30pm, on "Arts Council Funding For Filmmakers".
Representatives from the Arts Council will explain the variety of funding schemes available, the guidelines and application procedures. The presentation will be followed by audience questions and answers.Due to space limitations it is recommended to book a place by contacting the Filmbase office.
Funding Strands to be Discussed:
Projects New Work Award & Once-Off Award(deadline: 17 Aug 07)
Commissions Award (deadline: 21 Sept 07)
Travel & Training Award (deadline: ongoing)
Last week the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild / Cumann Drámadóirí na hÉireann organised a conference at the Galway Film Fleadh on Writing for the Screen in Irish.
The conference was mostly conducted as Gaeilge, with translation into English for visitors and those with a poor memory of the mother tongue. The Minister for the Gaeltacht, Éamon Ó Cuív, opened the meeting. It was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ros na Rún screenwriter Greg Ó Braonáin, in which Mario Bolduc, a screenwriter from Quebec, and Roger Williams, a screenwriter from Wales, discussed their experiences of working through non-English languages for television.
After a tea break Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, a writer and script editor on Aifric, chaired a lively, and sometimes heated, discussion on the experience of writers in Ireland trying to make a living writing for the screen in Irish. The panel members consisted of Emer NÍ Choisdealbha a senior screenwriter for Ros na Rún, Máire Ní Chonláin, the commissioning editor for TG4, and Máire Ní Thuathail, the executive producer of Ros na Rún and other programmes for TG4.
Thursday 19 July 2007
Filmbase reports that the Wicklow County Arts Office in association with the Wicklow Film Commission and the Wicklow Rural Partnership are looking for young filmmakers born or residing in County Wicklow to submit short films for the Wicklow Young Filmmakers bursaries. Wicklow County Arts Office developed the bursaries, and this is the first year that they will be awarded.
The competition is open to young or emerging filmmakers aged between 18 and 25, working in any genre for example, animation, documentary, experimental etc… Submitted shorts should be duration of between 3 and 20 minutes, and will only be accepted in DVD format. A total of €2,750 will be awarded as part of these bursaries in a number of different categories. Deadline for receipt of submissions is Friday 3rd August 2007.For an application, or for further information, contact the Wicklow County Arts Office, County Buildings, Station road, Wicklow Town. Telephone: 0404-20155 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Films will be short-listed and the winner will be announced in the Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely in an awards ceremony on Saturday 2nd September 2007.
The schedule of films for GAZE, the Dublin International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (2-6 August 2007 at the IFI Dublin), is now online.
It's been announced that writer and actor Mark O'Halloran will officially open the festival. Other guests of the event include: director Rahman Milani (Seahorses); director Lisa Gornick (Tick Tock Lullaby); Louis Biedak, the star of Lulu Gets a Facelift; directors Alan Grossman and Çine O'Brien with star Fidel Taguinod (Here to Stay); director Tom Maguire (Queering the Pitch); and Gal Uchovsky, the producer of closing film, The Bubble.
Wednesday 18 July 2007
The BBC reports that the EU has backed the DVB-H standard for mobile TV services across Europe. Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding urged member states to start using the chosen standard "as quickly as possible".
Ms Reding warned at the beginning of the year that Europe risked losing a chance to be a global player in the burgeoning mobile TV market.There are seven standards for mobile TV around the globe. DVB-H is available in Europe, US, South Africa and Asia, although Qualcomm in the USA uses the MediaFLO standard, and Virgin Mobile in the UK utilises DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), a technology associated with digital radio.
DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) has been identified by the EU as "the strongest contender for future mobile TV".
It was developed with almost 40m euros ($53m, £27m) of EU research cash and has so far been trialled or rolled out in eighteen European countries.
The use of the DVB-H standard will be "legally encouraged" among all 27 member states with the view to mandating use, if necessary, next year, said Ms Reding.
The decision is seen as a way of speeding up the rollout of services, which the EU believes could reach some 500 million customers worldwide by 2011.
The use of DVB-H requires freeing up the UHF band, which might be problematic for some countries.
Tuesday 17 July 2007
Monday 16 July 2007
Yesterday at the Galway Film Fleadh, five screenwriters - Mary D'Arcy, Val Nolan, Eamon Quinlan, William Collins and Keith Bogue - pitched script stories to a panel of experts as part of the Stella Artois Pitching Award.
Later that evening the winner was announced: Will Collins for his original screenplay entitled My Brothers. Will is from Cork, but lives in Galway, where he graduated with a MA in Screenwriting from the Huston School of Film last November. He is a member of the Guild's fortnightly Galway Scriptwriting Group.
Thursday 12 July 2007
The New York Times reports that in the forthcoming negotiations between Hollywood studios and writers, actors, and directors the industry executives may ask for a complete overhaul of the system of payment of residuals.
The industry executives declined to discuss specific contract proposals. But they said they would adamantly oppose any move to extend residual-like payments to the sale of movies and shows on the Web or in other new media. They repeated an earlier call for a study that would, in effect, defer decisions about such distribution channels for as long as three years.I suspect if the industry had total freedom it wouldn't bother with payment at all.
"We need complete flexibility," said Ms. Sweeney, who described broadcasters as being in a desperate scramble for revenue as consumers increasingly turn to online sources for programs that are often stripped of advertising. "Guild restraints limit our ability to do what we need to do," she said.
Wednesday 11 July 2007
Business Weekly reports that in the USA users of TiVo Inc.'s digital video recorders can now order movies from Amazon.com directly to their televisions.
The two companies partnered in March to deliver Amazon's Unbox download service to TiVo machines, but the feature required customers to place their orders on a computer through Amazon's Web site.Expect to see such integrated systems in European markets in the near future.
Now, PC intervention won't be needed. The new "Buy on TV" feature allows TiVo users to search Amazon's video catalog and rent or purchase titles using their TiVo's remote control.
The feature works for owners of TiVo Series2 and Series3 broadband-connected DVRs.
The new feature is the latest example of how companies -- including Microsoft Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Apple Inc. -- are trying to find ways to deliver online videos to customers' living rooms.
Tuesday 10 July 2007
Monday 9 July 2007
According to an article in The Stage a consortium led by Channel 4 won the license to launch ten new national digital radio stations.
4 Digital Group, which includes Channel 4 Radio, Sky News Radio, Emap and Virgin Radio owner SMG, beat rival bidder National Grid Wireless to win the new 12-year licence.Those of you with an interest in writing for radio should keep these new markets in mind.
It will now start work on preparing its ten-station offering, which includes two speech-based stations.
One of these will be Channel 4 Radio, which is expected to rival the BBC in terms of its comedy and drama output and launch a soap to compete with The Archers on BBC Radio 4.
'Meet the Quare Fella', from 1960, is a rare opportunity to see the now infamous encounter between Eamonn Andrews and Brendan Behan.
Andrews elicits frank responses from his subject regarding the topics of writing, fame, religion, his time in borstal and his connections with the IRA.
'Brendan Behan's Dublin' (1966) is a documentary directed by Norman Cohen and features interviews with Behan's parents and wife, Beatrice.
Written by Carolyn Swift and featuring Ray McNally as the 'voice of Behan', the film is evocatively photographed by Robert Monks with musical ballads sung by The Dubliners.
"It is a legitimate function of art to provoke debate and sometimes to express controversial ideas. A genuinely free, pluralist society would celebrate this aspect of our culture. Those who use violent means to silence it must be vigorously opposed." - excerpt from an open letter supporting the writer of Behzti.The winning entry will be optioned for production by AcidTheatre for £250.
Entries and enquiries should be sent via email to email@example.com before 1 August 2007.
Friday 6 July 2007
The BBC Writersroom is highlighting an opportunity at BBC7 for the radio comedy show, Play & Record.
The composite show is made up of sketches, characters, songs, and other odds and ends from a wide range of writers and performers. The programme is intended to showcase new talent so it wants writers who have not yet had material performed on the radio.
We are looking for strong, joke-heavy material that will make listeners laugh a lot. It's very hard to say what we want exactly (funny, a bit different, lots of jokes). Basically, Play and Record is supposed to be a scratchpad for new material, so if it's funny, it will go in.The deadline for submissions is 9am on Monday 16th July 2007. The series will be recorded in London and Scotland in August/September for transmission this Autumn on BBC7.
Each show will have four performers (2 male and 2 female) which is a factor you might want to bear in mind when writing.
Please send one or two sketches which you think are your very best work. If we like those, we'll get back to you for more. Longer submissions, outlines, or sketch ideas will not be read - sorry, but we just don't have the time.
Please email any questions or submissions for Play & Record to the producer: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Yale Drama Series is a competition aimed at supporting emerging playwrights, and is sponsored by Yale University Press and Yale Repertory Theatre.
The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the David C. Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of his/her manuscript by Yale University Press, and a staged reading at Yale Rep. The winning play will be selected by series judge Edward Albee. Submissions must be original, full-length plays – translations, musicals, and children’s plays are not accepted. Playwrights may win the competition only once.
Include a check or money order for $25 made out to Yale University Press with your submission. Entries for the 2008 competition must be postmarked no earlier than July 15, and no later than August 15, 2007.
The winner of the 2007 competition was John Austin Connolly, a retired clinical psychologist from Dublin, for his play The Boys from Siam.
The Guild is organising a meeting at the Galway Film Fleadh on Friday 13th July from 10.00am to 1.00pm at the Radisson hotel on the topic of Writing for the Screen in Irish.
The meeting will be opened by the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Éamon Ó Cuív, and will be addressed by Mario Bolduc a writer from Quebec and Roger Williams a writer from Wales.
Spaces are limited so please book a place by emailing email@example.com, or by phone at 01-6709970.
Thursday 5 July 2007
According to the IFB, "Irish production companies will now share in the IFB's own revenues, so that part of what would normally flow to the IFB towards its own recoupment, flows to the producer instead."The details are available in the IFB's Producer Recoupment Guidelines.
As of July 1 the producer of a film or television project in which IFB invests will be entitled to an 'internal corridor' of 50%, subject to certain exceptions. In effect, half of the money invested by IFB is considered as money invested by the producer. IFB is deemed to have recouped when it has earned back half of its investment, the other half having been received by the producer. The internal corridor will not apply to net profits.
Wednesday 4 July 2007
The Stage reports that screenwriter Tony Jordan (Hustle, Holby Blue, and Life on Mars) has launched a competition in which the winner will be given £5,000 and a commission to write a script for Jordan's production company, Red Planet Pictures.
Called The Red Planet Prize, aspiring screenwriters are now being called on to submit the first ten pages of a script, which will be read by a panel of judges made up of Stephen Fry, The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, BBC head of drama Wales and drama commissioning Julie Gardner and Jordan himself.Entries - one per person - should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1, 2007. Full scripts will be requested by October, with finalists contacted in December.
Those who impress the panel will be asked to provide a full script, with six writers chosen to spend the day with Jordan, co-creator of Life on Mars and EastEnders' former chief storyliner, as he whittles the competition down to one.
Jordan said: "I know what it is like for new writers. They send these scripts out and they get stacked up against a wall somewhere and never read.
"All most writers want is for someone to read their work properly. It is really heartbreaking and soul destroying to not get a response when you send your work out."
Screen Daily details a UK report, entitled Writing British Films – Who Writes British Films?, which was commissioned by the UK Film Council and conducted by Royal Holloway, University of London. The study interviewed 63 screenwriters credited on a sample of 40 British films in 2004. Some of the statistics revealed:
- 98% of the writers were white
- 82.5% were men
- 66% were aged over 46 and most earned relatively high incomes.
- 61%, of the writers questioned were not British.
- 57%, whether of British or overseas nationality, were contactable only via a Hollywood agent.
- 77% of the respondents had worked previously in television.
Tuesday 3 July 2007
According to Yahoo Amazon.com is starting to sell independent films in the HD DVD format through its on-demand DVD printing service.
With CustomFlix, when a customer buys a movie, it kicks off an automated process that copies the film onto a disk and puts together the packaging on the spot. The company did not provide details as to how many customers have used CustomFlix to buy on-demand DVDs, or how much an on-demand HD DVD might cost.Two high-definition formats have been struggling for dominance in the market for a year: Sony's Blu-ray and the HD DVD format. Amazon is taking a position on the format by backing HD DVD for its CustomFlix endeavour. Since Amazon will waive processing fees for the first 1,000 films it accepts for production by its CustomFlix Labs I suspect that many indie film productions will be only too happy to have their films on HD DVD.
Amazon said it will offer Sundance Channel's "Big Ideas for a Small Planet" series via the on-demand service.
TV3 are looking for content for their new TV show, Reel 2 Reel. The broadcaster hopes to cash in on the surge in short films that people create for online sites, and for the likes of Current TV.
It's looking for short pieces between 3 and 5 minutes long, across a variety of genres, and in as high a quality format as possible: DV, DVC-PRO, or DV-CAM. Each week the viewers will vote on which of four short films they like the best. The application form can be downloaded from the web site.
Monday 2 July 2007
The Stage reports that the largest ever production grant has been awarded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to the award-winning play, Scenes From the Big Picture, written by Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty.
The sprawling 40-scene play requiring a cast of 21, which paints a panoramic portrait of a hot summer’s day in Belfast, was first seen at the National Theatre in 2003. It won McCafferty the John Whiting Award, the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for New Playwriting and the Meyer Whitworth Award and has since been staged in America, Australia, Germany and Macedonia.
Now Prime Cut Productions are to stage the play in Belfast in September after securing a grant of £79,000 from the Arts Council-administered Lottery Projects fund. The award follows substantial support for the project from Belfast City Council, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Foyle Foundation, and gives a green light to what Edel Magill, Prime Cut's co-executive producer, says will be "one of the largest and most ambitious productions by a local theatre company in Northern Ireland in the last ten years".
Laois County Council is looking for applicants for its Writer in Residence for six months from September 2007 to March 2008. Any professional writer who has been published in English or Irish can apply. The deadline for entries is July 19, 2007.
According to the latest Arts Council Newsletter, the Arts Council is urging the incoming Government to provide €100 million to fund the arts in 2008, which is a €20 million increase on the 2007 figure.
In a statement, Arts Council Chair, Olive Braiden, noted that €100 million would be a significant investment and would stabilise the arts sector in Ireland for the first time ever. This stability would enable artists and arts organisations to work regularly in schools, in communities and other settings as well as playing their crucial role in the life of the nation, improving the quality of our life at home and enhancing Ireland’s cultural reputation in the international arena.
Stressing the need for €100m Olive Braiden reiterated that the value of the arts should not be underestimated.
Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council, said: "Our new knowledge economy needs the arts more than ever. It's our ability to adapt, our creativity and our management of knowledge that will secure our future success. All of these much needed and increasingly highly rated traits stem directly from an involvement in and exposure to the arts, so it makes financial sense for the Government to continue to invest in the arts."