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2017 Sundance Film Festival


Welcome to another year where I will be viewing all the excitement of the Sundance Film Festival from afar. What happens in Park City between Jan. 19 and 29 is sure to define the sensational in independent film for the immediate future. It’s been awhile since I attended, but I’m confident it’s still a whirlwind of snow, screenings, parties, great meals, skiing, and distribution deals. Now, thanks to Twitter, the Festival news stream is at our fingertips. Read more

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January Edition: Ultimate Events Happening Soon

With each new day, you can guarantee that some very bright people are planning get-togethers designed to have massive impacts for everyone involved. The settings can be musical, artistic, creative, academic or business-focused; these are events you hear about before saying, “that sounds awesome,” and “sign me up.” This actively researched and updated blog series is my answer to helping people learn about ultimate events on a timely basis.

And be sure to check-out Google’s top ranked guide to CES parties here: http://cespartylist.com Read more

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Join Robert Redford, George Lucas and friends at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is set to run Jan. 22 to Feb. 1 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah, and last week, The Sundance Institute announced an especially exciting series of offscreen programming events.

Reportedly, Art of Film Weekend (Jan. 29-31) will highlight the unique roles of writers, directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, editors, production designers, art directors, costume designers, casting directors, sound designers, composers and the countless others who bring stories to life on screen. The series will kick off with Robert Redford and George Lucas discussing their careers and creative process with Leonard Maltin, and continue throughout the second half of the Festival with additional panels on topics including artistry in film music, virtual reality, visual design, editing and documentary.

“Exploring cinema, body and soul, Art of Film Weekend will take aspiring filmmakers and film-loving audiences behind the scenes to see the creative, collaborative spirit of artists at every stage of the independent filmmaking process that is so core to our Festival,” said Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper. Read more

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Sharing secrets: Film finance and distribution tips from Emily Best

Seed&Spark is a new, LA-based crowdfunding and digital distribution platform for independent films that is already winning major awards and large-scale investments, while rapidly breaking new ground in what founder and chief creative Emily Best calls “fair trade filmmaking.” According to Emily, Seed&Spark selects independent films for fans to back, then helps filmmakers raise funds and distribute their films through partnerships with the likes of the American Express Amex Now cable network. Seed&Spark differs from crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo by handling both funding and distribution. Since launching the company in December, 2012, Emily has raised more than $1 million to help 70 films get made, won the 2013 season of New York Observer blog BetaBeat’s “The Pitch” competition, been named one of Indiewire’s Top 40 Influencers of the past year, and most recently, helped the company close a U.S. $1-million round of seed funding.


Currently touring film and tech festivals around the world (“Sundance and SXSWV2V to Sheffield and Galway”) to educate filmmakers and learn best practices for connecting with audiences, Emily’s background also includes feature film production, strategic consulting for large companies, managing restaurants, and anthropology. Clearly, we all can learn something from this enterprising and hard-working young entrepreneur and her colleagues, right? Read more

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Stacy Peralta: Thanks for the documentary

I have expressed my appreciation in the past for LJ Jeneski of Nonfiction Unlimited, the NYC and LA-based commercial production company that since 1995 has been built upon the idea of exclusively representing the planet’s best documentary filmmakers for commercial and creative assignments. We worked together over the period that launched us all into a very busy 2007, and I feel we accomplished a lot together. At that time, the company’s elite roster included directors Rob Bindler, Paul Crowder, Steve James, Robby Kenner, Barbara Kopple, David McNamara, Stacy Peralta, Earle Sebastian, Ondi Timoner and Jessica Yu. It was my introduction to most of these incredible talents, and through the process of updating bios and promoting their newest projects, I got to know many of them pretty well.

Among my early assignments was touching-up an already stellar bio for Mr. Peralta. Here’s a snip from that writing amalgam I can only take a little credit for.

So far, the life of award-winning documentary filmmaker, accomplished television producer/director and Nonfiction Spots commercial director Stacy Peralta is literally a Hollywood movie – or more precisely, several of them. Read more

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Steve James: Thanks for the documentaries

Once again this year, the pre-Sundance buzz is headline news worldwide, with The Daily Telegraph asking if, at age 30, the renowned festival still has its edge. There and in widespread coverage like Elizabeth Weitzman’s great New York Daily News article from this past Sunday, “Highly Anticipated Films At The 2014 Sundance Film Festival” from BuzzFeed and others, the latest news from filmmaker Steve James leads the way. Steve’s new Kartemquin Films feature documentary “Life Itself” executive produced by Martin Scorsese will have its world premiere at this year’s festival, and he will also be honored during a 20th anniversary Sundance screening set for “Hoop Dreams,” his very first film, which is also one of history’s highest-grossing and most-acclaimed documentaries. Steve continues breaking new ground as a director and I am definitely a huge fan. I also have much love, respect and admiration for Loretta “LJ” Jeneski of Nonfiction Unlimited, the NYC and LA-based commercial production company that has represented Steve and many of the planet’s best documentary filmmakers for commercial and creative assignments since 1995. Read more

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Doug Pray: Thanks for the Documentaries

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Doug Pray‘s exuberant portraits of subcultures and maverick individuals have led him to three Sundance premieres, critical raves, numerous awards, and worldwide distribution. His feature documentaries include the Emmy Award-winning “Art & Copy,” a film about creativity and advertising, “Big Rig” a 40,000 mile road film about independent, long-haul truck drivers, “Infamy,” an intense journey into the lives and art of six notorious graffiti writers, “Scratch,” a celebration of hip-hop DJs and turntablism, his first film, “Hype!,” which told the story about the emergence and explosion of the early ’90s Seattle music scene that remains on Rolling Stone’s Top 10 list of best rock DVD’s of all time – and “Surfwise” the amazing odyssey of the Paskowitz surfing family.

Doug has directed dozens of commissioned short films and documentary-style commercials for a wide range of major clients, including Read more

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Cinema’s Past, Future and Present

Jeffrey_Katzenberg,_James_Cameron_and_Steven_Spielberg:_Three_modern_motion_picture_greats.The film industry’s creative and business sectors are at an intersection of great possibility, and new tools and practices are emerging every day. To guide industry leaders and filmmakers and to help creatively tackle the challenges of this evolving industry, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts has recently launched the Cinema Research Institute. This center is uniting professionals, artists, emerging entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and researchers with government and industry experts. The Institute’s Fellows will have the means to explore, refine and advance new models for filmmakers and financiers, and to share this information to the filmmaking community worldwide. Fellows at the Institute will propel the media arts into the future with more robust and diverse business models and creative pursuits.

Indepependent cinema professionals, supporters and fans might also consider contributing to the momentous efforts of talented filmmaker Jonathan Kesselman, who’s aiming to produce a sequel to his 2003 comedy feature, “The Hebrew Hammer.Read more

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Laura Longsworth: Thanks for the Documentary


Thanks once again to Sundance Channel, I recently had another life-altering experience from a documentary film they chose to program. This time, the film is entitled “Luckey,” it was produced, written and directed by filmmaker Laura Longsworth, and it documents the challenges faced by sculptor Tom Luckey to carry on with his life, his artistry and his business after experiencing a major spinal injury. Read more

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Kevin McMahon: Thanks for the Documentary


At some point over the past several weeks, my eyes were opened to the global water crisis, but I see now that I’m only beginning to get the full picture. Last week, I posted an entry on Irena Salina’s “FLOW,” and last night, my wife and I had another chance to see that amazing film thanks to it being repeated on the Sundance Channel. This morning, we found it there again and watched more of it with our 8-year-old daughter. After these viewings, I realized that there was a second powerful film I had recently seen (thanks again to Sundance Channel) on this subject: filmmaker Kevin McMahon’s “WATERLIFE.Read more

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