Friday 28 September 2007

The Rise of Online Content

The LA Times has a very interesting article about now Hollywood studios are branching into creating online content, and establishing small digital houses to write and create this work. The web content is not being completed with writers, cast, or crew that are being paid Union rates, so this is causing tension between the studios and the Unions in the USA.

"The more it looks like television is migrating to the Internet, the more important it is for us to ensure that writers are covered under a writers guild contract," said Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. "We certainly don't want to get left behind the way we were with cable television, reality TV and animation."

Network executives are loath to further inflame the issue by discussing it publicly. Privately, however, several studio and network executives said they were not trying to circumvent the unions but instead attempting to adapt to a changing landscape in which entertainment plays out on multiple screens.

Many likened their situation to being in a vise grip, squeezed on one side by advertisers and fans demanding more online entertainment while pressured on the other side by guild officials who insist that ground rules be established first.

"It's something that our viewers are demanding," said one television executive, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. "We are doing a disservice to them by not providing it. We are going to provide it to them one way or the other."

Thursday 27 September 2007

90-second Drama

The first of four 90-second dramas, collectively called Limelight, written by Irish playwrights Hugh Leonard, Patrick McCabe, Frank McGuinness and Tom Murphy, will air tonight on RTÉ One after the 9pm news.

The plays were directed by Shimmy Marcus, produced by David Blake Knox of Blueprint Pictures, and were shot on location in Dublin's Gaiety and Gate theatres. The series is a promotion for the 50th Dublin Theatre Festival, which opens today.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Radio Nominations Open

The Guild Awards Committee has decided that the volume of nominations for the ZeBBie for best radio script is not large enough to make a definitive shortlist. Accordingly the date for receipt of nominations has been extended to 5.00pm on Monday 1st October.

If you have not made a nomination for best radio script you are invited to do so now. Please examine the list on the Guild web site and make your choice.

The shortlist for the ZeBBies will be announced on Monday 8th October and will be available for reading and voting.

Tickets for the awards ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday November 6th, will be available from the week of Monday, 8th October.

Venezuelan Films

The Associated Press reports that last year President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela established a state-run film studio, called Cinema Villa, to create a new era of local cinema.

The first film is about a controversial subject: Luis Posada Carriles, the former CIA operative who allegedly masterminded a jetliner bombing and attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro. The director, Eduardo Barberena, claims he did not get any pressure from the Chavaz government to tell the story in a particular way.

Barberena, who has mostly made TV commercials, sees Cinema Villa as a chance for Venezuela to expand a tiny movie industry -- which has made only a few internationally known movies, such as "El Pez que Fuma" (The Smoking Fish) in 1977 and "Secuestro Express" (Express Kidnapping) in 2005.

Three dozen feature films, documentaries and TV programs are now in production at the center, according to Culture Minister Francisco Sesto. They include "Imagining Revolution," about the development of Chavez's socialist movement, and "Venezuela Petroleum Company," about corporate exploitation.

The new film center is both financed and controlled by the government, similar to how Cuba runs its Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. Scripts are selected by a committee that includes Venezuela's culture minister, who reports directly to Chavez.
This initiative by Chavaz is drawing fire for being propagandist from some quarters who suspect that the art will come second to the message. The audience will have its chance to judge once the films are released.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Miranda gets Frank

The Guardian reports that American writer, playwright, performance artist, and film-maker Miranda July won the 2007 Frank O'Connor award this weekend for her collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You.

Miranda wins €35,000, and the accolades of the jury.

The chairman of the judges, Pat Cotter, who had earlier defended the shortlist as a demonstration of the judges' independence, hailed Miranda July as a worthy winner.

"The award has been won by a book of original genius," he said, "a book which we believe will endure for a long time."

Perhaps, as the daughter of two Californian writers, it was only a matter of time before July turned her talents to fiction. Born in 1974, she began working as a playwright, adding music and video to create a style of multimedia performance she describes as "live movie". Her first feature-length film, the quirky romance Me and You and Everyone We Know, won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Caméra d'Or.

No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection full of a similar type of fantasy, but underpinned with a new toughness, an awareness of the real world that underlies the characters' rich inner lives.

Monday 24 September 2007

Festivals Ahoy

The Aspects of Irish Literature Festival will take place from the 26th of September - 30 of September in the North Down Museum in Bangor. It features readings, workshops, recitals, and discussions by Irish writers. Culture Northern Ireland will broadcast podcasts from the festival.

Also coming up is the 50th Dublin Theatre Festival, which runs from September 27 - October 14th, and will showcase a diverse range of theatre from international and Irish playwrights.

Knockout for Mahon

RTÉ reports that the Irish film Strength and Honour has won Best Picture and Best Actor (Michael Madsen) awards at the Boston Film Festival - the first time both awards have gone to the same feature in the festival's history.

Written and directed by Cork filmmaker Mark Mahon, 'Strength and Honour' tells the story of an Irish-American boxer (Madsen) who promised his late wife he would never fight again having killed his friend in the ring.

However, when he discovers that his only son is dying of the same hereditary heart disorder that killed his wife, he is forced to go back on his promise and become a bare knuckle boxer in order to raise money for the boy's life-saving surgery.

The film was shot in Cork over seven weeks last autumn and also stars Patrick Bergin, Richard Chamberlain and Vinnie Jones.

Commenting on his film's festival success, director Mahon said: "This is a great honour. To win top awards at such a prestigious festival is surreal - competition was fierce this year with a large number of high profile titles competing."

Friday 21 September 2007

The Dream is Over

The LA Times reports that two years into the deal where Paramount bought out Dream Works SKG Steven Spielberg and David Geffen are not pleased with how the partnership is developing.

Smarting from seller's remorse, the DreamWorks principals are expected to bolt late next year. Geffen has been telling people in Hollywood that he and Spielberg would look for a new backer and studio home as soon as they are free to do so.

Geffen plans to exercise an out in his contract that frees him to leave next year. If he exits, Spielberg has the right to follow him out the door. Stacey Snider, who runs DreamWorks, can walk if Spielberg departs.

Any breakup is sure to be messy for both sides. Spielberg is knee-deep in movie productions at the Melrose Avenue studio. He and his DreamWorks partners would be forced to leave behind hundreds of projects, including a planned movie version of Alice Sebold's bestseller, "The Lovely Bones," to be directed by Peter Jackson of "The Lord of the Rings" fame. Spielberg pursued that property for many years. They would also abandon key executives at DreamWorks as well as those they installed in senior positions at Paramount. .
I'm sure this news article is causing concern among producers and writers who have projects lined up in Paramount.

Final Call

Today is the last day for members of the IPSG to nominate work for the ZeBBies, the inaugural awards by the Guild that celebrate the best work in film, radio, television and theatre by Irish writers.

Each Guild member can nominate one project from each of the four categories. Nominations close today, at 5pm.

The short-list of nominations will be announced on Monday, the 8th of October.

Thursday 20 September 2007

Travelling Shorts

IFTN reports that the 10th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival will be travelling to Galway and Cork in the coming weeks as part of its world-wide journey to find the best film among its twelve finalists, which were selected from 456 entries received from 33 countries.

The short film festival will screen at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, on Sunday, September 30th at 3 pm, and the Cork Film Centre, Cork City on Sunday, September 30th at 8 pm. Tickets cost €7. It will be the end of a week-long tour of countries from as far apart as St. Petersburg, Russia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. 50,00 people are expected to see the films.

Filmgoers at every event are asked to vote for one film. The votes are forwarded to the festival's headquarters where the winner will be announced at Union Square Park (NYC) on Sunday, September 30th at 9:15 pm. and posted on the web site by 10 pm.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Royal Representation

Dominic Cooke, the Artistic Director for The Royal Court in London, has an article in The Observer about the kind of work he would like to see from emerging playwrights, and his opinions on theatre's need to represent the various factions in society.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Women in Film in Toronto

The Star, the Toronto-based newspaper, has an article about the recent Toronto International Film Festival, and its traditional support of emerging female directors. The piece also discusses the issues surrounding why women's participation in the film industry continues to remain so low.

Poliakoff is Cultured

The Stage reports that in the autumn season of the BBC's Cuture Show there will be a special edition spotlighting the work of director, playwright, and screenwriter Stephen Poliakoff.

Poliakoff has created a one-off 45-minute television drama, called A Real Summer, that will air as part of his feature on the Culture Show. The piece is centred on a single actress, Ruth Wilson, and is shot on one location. It serves as a prequel to Poliakoff's forthcoming BBC2 drama, Capturing Mary.

Monday 17 September 2007

Nominate for ZeBBies 07

Members of the IPSG are reminded to submit their nominations for the ZeBBies, the inaugural awards by the Guild that celebrate the best work in film, radio, television and theatre by Irish writers.

Each Guild member can nominate one project from each of the four categories from the master-list of qualifiers, which you can view on the web site. Nominations close on Friday, September 21st, at 5pm.

The short-list of nominations will be announced on Monday, the 8th of October.

Emmys 07

RTÉ and the BBC both report on the Primetime Emmy Awards, handed out in Los Angeles last night. The final season of The Sopranos garnered three Emmys, one of them being the Best Writer award for creator David Chase's episode "Made in America", and the overall Best Drama award - the first time a series has won that prestigious award for its final season.

The other writing awards went to Greg Daniels in the Comedy category for his work on The Office; the writing team of Late Night with Conan O'Brien for the Variety, Music or Comedy Program category; Irish screenwriter Frank Deasy for Prime Suspect: The Final Act in the Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special section; and Ric Burns and James Sanders for Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film in the Non-Fiction division.

The New York Times notes that a great deal of the actors accepting awards recognised the writers' importance to their work, which is a recognition of the on-going negotiations in the USA over writers' contracts.


Always wanted to direct the Irish version of Enter the Dragon? Filmbase in Dublin has the solution: take their new four-day (over two weekends) 'The Art of Action' seminar with international stunt coordinator, Roger Yuan.

The course costs €400, and go prepared to demonstrate the moves.

Friday 14 September 2007

Culture Night 2007

Over 100 free events will be taking place throughout Dublin city to celebrate Culture Night 2007. Events include tours, talks, exhibitions, concerts, films, workshops, indoor and outdoor performances from 5pm until 10pm on Friday the 14th September.

Full details about the location and description of the events are available on the web site.