Hollywood Networking Breakfast, May 30
The Hollywood Networking Breakfast celebrates 20 years service to the entertainment community in 2013. This month's special guest speaker is Todd Holland, Multiple Emmy, DGA and CableAce Award-winning Television and Film Director-Writer-Producer. The event will be held Thursday, May 30 from 8:00-10:30am at Raleigh Studios (NEW LOCATION).
Thursday, May 30 from 8:00-10:30am
5300 Melrose Ave, LA, CA 90038.
Q&A – "PICK THE BRAIN OF A SHOWRUNNER" -- with TODD HOLLAND, Multiple Emmy, DGA and CableAce Award-winning Television and Film Director-Writer-Producer. TODD has established himself as one of the industry's premier "go to" creative talents. His stellar work has garnered him multiple prestigious awards and nominations --three Emmy Awards, a DGA award and six nominations, five CableAce Awards, eight Emmy nominations, and a WGA nomination. His LONG list of credits reflects more than 150 episodes of television (including numerous pilots), feature films and short films. His episodic work spans the gamut of genres from GO ON, 30 ROCK and SONS OF TUSCON, to classics like FRIENDS, TWIN PEAKS, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and the critically acclaimed WONDERFALLS. Most recently Todd served as the executive producer/showrunner/director of "Go On," starring Matthew Perry.
PLUS, Todd has agreed to a one-on-one private meeting with one lucky attendee!
READ FULL BIO & BREAKFAST INFO HERE: http://HollywoodNetworkingBreakfast.com
FIRST-TIME ATTENDEES (only) from THIS list: Get $5 DISCOUNT off the $45 on-time reservation price pay ONLY $40 per person (full breakfast) – mail-in only: http://HollywoodNetworkingBreakfast.com
Robert Rodriguez Changing the Way Hollywood Makes Movies
By Ignacio Torres, NBC Latino
It was on the wide margins of his grade school Spanish-English dictionary where film director-writer Robert Rodriguez discovered his passion. Instead of listening to his teacher in class, he would sketch cartoon figures that would come to life with the turn of a page. And it was that same fast pace and animated approach to telling a story that would later allow the young film maker to revolutionize the film industry.
"When I was sitting in school drawing my flip cartoons I thought I would probably never get a real job," says Rodriguez "I never thought I would be in Hollywood."
It didn't take long for the San Antonio native to stand out among the best directors in the field. His student film, "El Mariachi," which he made with only $7,000 dollars that he raised by subjecting himself to a medical experiments, was praised by critics, ultimately pulling him into the spotlight as an up-and-coming director, writer and editor.
Rodriguez says he wanted to disguise his low-budget film as a blockbuster and to do so, he had to be creative in the way he filmed and edited the movie. Instead of renting or purchasing equipment that would help with the smooth cinematic moves, he borrowed a wheelchair from a nearby hospital, placed the camera on top, and went on to shoot. These techniques were later used and served as inspiration in later films like "Desperado" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."
"I quickly realized you really didn't need money to make a movie. You just need to offer a point of view that people weren't used to seeing," Rodriguez explains. "As a filmmaker you make what you know and you end up having a lot of yourself in the movie."
For Rodriguez, that meant incorporating his life experience of growing up in San Antonio, Texas with 10 brothers and sisters and giving Latin stars an opportunity in the big screen – actors like Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, Antonio Banderas and Rosario Dawson. A mission that he says will continue as he heads the independent TV network, "El Rey."
"For all the reason you can't break into Hollywood, that's why El Rey exists. We will be able to create our own stars, tell our own stories and allow other Latin film makers to come and cultivate that voice. "
The network scheduled to launch in 2014 and Rodriguez says it will feature animated series, documentaries, news and music that he says will be tailored for second and third generation Latinos.
"If you get a job doing your passion, you will never work a day in your life," he says. "People think I am so busy all the time, but I never work. I'm always playing."
Watch the full interview with Robert Rodriguez on NBC Latino. And be sure to check out more short clips of Robert Rodriguez discussing filmmaking on the NALIP YouTube Channel!
Alex's Rambling: The Birth and Evolution of 'Latinos In The Industry'
By Alex Mendoza
Mis estimados Compinches y Compinchas,
Pero ya hace tiempo that I don't ramble. Mis disculpas but I have been very busy sudando la gota gorda on several events that AMARTE has been working on, including the coming just around the corner mas chin... event of the year, the NALIP Conference (le cae negra al que no vaya, you will be doomed if I don't see you there!).
Bueno, I'm just taking these few minutos to tell you a quick story. You may already know, pero como fourteen years ago, I was working on International Distribution for Morgan Creek, despues of having spent more than 20 añejos in that and other major independents. When I was out of there looking for my next chamba, I did what we all suppose to do in those cases, I asked for help from my cuates. One, my most appreciated and loved mentor since he was my teacher on film school, Frank Zuñiga, me dijo que ni madres he will be helping me to find another job with the gringos.
After, despues de que se la mente, he explained that he had just had been in a meeting of most of the Latino producers and that he thought I should come in into the community to help it. Me: "Hay pinche Pancho, si el unico indigena que conozco, eres tu" ("Fraking Pancho, if the only indigenous I know, is you"). He: "That is no problem, I will introduce you with the Gran Cacas (Big Honchos)". Me: "And who is going to pay". He: "That is your pedo (problem)". Me: "But Pancho, I have no network, don't know quien es quien, how I can do it?" He: "Check your inbox, just sent you 150 e-mails of Latinos in the industry" Me: "Bueno, sere pentonto (a fool), but I like the idea, let's do it". He: "Let's, Ke-mo sah-bee?"
Bueno, I wondered for quite some time how I could make good use of those 150 e-mails, with nada coming up. I started trying to find information about the who-is-who on Latinos in the industry having the hardest time because there was only LatinHeat then, nothing else, zipo, cero, ni manchas. So, de la nada, una idea pop-up, why I don't share with those 150 whatever I start finding. And so, it started, this Latinos in the Industry newsletter. Then it was just a mass mailing, that when I sent the first one with a news item about Jennifer Lopez landing some gig, I was expecting people to ask me to stop, but to my surprise, requests to be added to the list started coming one after the other. Two years later, when the list had reached just short of a thousand subscribers, NALIP approached me desiring to acquire the newsletter, as the organization communiqué and, tarugos, asked me to stay as its editor offering me a meager stipend. Hey, I was doing it gratis, why not then, for a propina. Que no? (Ironic Point; that meeting that Pancho attended and from where he provided me the first 150 e-mails? The first NALIP Conference in San Francisco!)
So NALIP took matters on hand and gave the newsletter a professional look and placed in the hands of their Webmaster the technical tasks off putting it together. All the webmasters at NALIP since then have had a good share of the work, even when not the credit, on informing all of us. Each one of them started taking also the responsibility of editing, collecting and publishing the postings coming into the newsletter. Little by little my work on putting it together started being less and less since they were doing so good of a job. All of them, since my dear friend Abel Salas as the first one that took it at heart on making the newsletter the best it could be, have done a great job on doing so. But... and here comes the BIG but... Since a few years ago there has been a Webmaster that has done an EXCEPTIONAL job on servicing all of us. He has taking a leadership role in selecting, editing, complementing, augmenting and overall, making our newsletter una chingo, a true beneficial and helpful tool for all of us. He was granted the title of Co-Editor some months ago, but that even has not been a true reflection of his contributions, to the newsletter and to all of us.
So it is with great pleasure that, in full agreement with NALIP's Acting Executive Director, Beni Matías, we announce to all of you that, starting with THIS edition of the newsletter, Zach Evans will be credited with the full title of Editor of the Latinos in the Industry newsletter, title he has deserved for a long time. I will continue to be listed as editor too, but not be mistaken, the real work is, has been for a long while, and it will continue to be done, by Zach. Please join me in congratulating him on this, long overdue, recognition of his contribution to the newsletter, our organization, community and all of us. And, if you will be so listo as to attend the conference (and remember, le cae negra al que no vaya), please stop him on the hallways to say MUCHAS GRACIAS, ZACHARIAS!
21 Filmmakers Accepted into 9th Annual Latino Media Market
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers has invited 21 filmmakers to participate in the 2013 Latino Media Market (LMM) meetings during NALIP 2013: Spotlight on the Trillion $ Latino Market national conference in Universal City, California, June 7-8, 2013. Out of a competitive pool of applicants, producers and directors were selected to take meetings with executives and funders in the following categories: Low Budget Features in Development, Documentaries in Progress, and Non-Scripted TV Concepts.
Sponsored by the NEA and The California Arts Commission, the Latino Media Market™ is an executive meeting series for select projects to have scheduled pitches, presentations and meetings with industry executives, funders, distributors, commissioning editors, representatives, and potential partners. This year, LMM Fellows will have the opportunity to pitch representatives of such companies and organizations as BMP Latin, Cima Productions, Cortez Brothers, HAVEN, HBO, The Film Collaborative, Fox Television Studios, ITVS, KCET, LPB, Mandt Brothers Productions, Mun2, NuvoTV, Participant Media, Planet DMA, POV, PBS, pivot, Ostrow & Company, the Sundance Documentary Fund and Feature Film Program, This is Just a Test, Tribeca Film Institute, WME, and many more!
NALIP would like to congratulate the following filmmakers:
Chelo Alvarez-Stehle – Sands of Silence
Sandra Alvarez – A Secret Legacy
Sisa Bueno – We of the Saya
Angelita Franco – Burlesque Forever
Michael Gavino – Gastronomic Gods
Alex Gonzalez – Cariocas
Sonya Guimet – The Silence of Marcos Tremmer
Brian “Champ” Harmon – The Untold Story of Detroit Hip-Hop
Adam Hyman – Coded Stories
Horacio Jones – Cycles of Change: Chicano Park Muralism
Eduardo Letamendi – Gridiron Playground
Diana Moss – First Lady of the Revolution
Margarita Ramon – Radical Chic
Tomas Rubio – Ojos Que No Ven
Sandra Salas – Recovering Irma
Marco Santiago – 86
Alan Sporn – Probate Wars
Oskar Toruno – Looters
Dawn Valadez – Turn it Around
Marlene Vargas – Washington’s Village
Juan Carlos Zaldivar – Phoebe
For more information on the Latino Media Market please visit conference2013.nalip.org
Did you know . . .
• The projected Hispanic population of the United States will be 132.8 million by July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation's population.
• Presently, 1 in 5 teens is of Hispanic decent, says Selig Center for Economic Growth. By 2020 the Hispanic teen population is expected to grow 62 percent compared with 10 percent growth in the number of teens overall.
• The share of buying power controlled by Hispanic consumers will rise from 5 percent in 1990 to 6.8 percent in 2000 and to 9.1 percent in 2009, and the group’s share will rise in every state.
Thespians! Register Now for the NALIP ActorSummit 2013
The NALIP ActorSummit is an event that takes place for one day before our upcoming national conference NALIP 2013: Spotlight on the Trillion $ Latino Market. Join us for an exciting day of engaging workshops, conversations and networking opportunities with casting, acting and auditioning professionals.
The NALIP ActorSummit is open to Latinos/Latinas, Native Americans and performers of color of any age level and experience.
NALIP ActorSummit 2013
Thursday, June 6 (9:00am – 5:30pm)
This special day will include workshops from SAG-AFTRA, and NALIP executives. The ActorSummit will combine the best elements of previous years. You will have the opportunity to learn new skills through acting workshops as well as have intimate conversations with well established actors.
Back by popular demand!! Performers will have the opportunity to meet with casting directors, agents, managers, directors, producers and executives during the Round Table Power Meetings! 8-10 actors will spend 15-20 minutes with each professional, discussing specific topics and, most importantly, having the opportunity to be seen!
Register this exciting program at conference2013.nalip.org
Reel Rasquache Art and Film Festival, May 17-19 in LA
The Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival, L.A.'s showcase of U.S. Latinos in art and film in its many genres, will celebrate its tenth anniversary with a three-day event May 17-19 at CASA 0101 in Boyle Heights (east of downtown Los Angeles.)
Held annually since 2004, the film festival has established itself as a premiere forum celebrating the U.S. Latino experience in art and film. From feature-length films and documentaries, to film shorts, webisodes, animations, and experimental films, the festival's program covers the rich diversity of U.S. Latino cultures, themes, and histories.
The festival opens with Latinos Beyond Reel, a full-length documentary from Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun, exploring the stereotypes and breakthroughs of Latinos in Hollywood over the years. Opening night will also include an art exhibit reception with featured artist Juan Solis. Closing night festivities include the premiere of Jules Nurrish's dramatic short Kiss Me, and the west coast premiere of Kenneth Castillo's Counterpunch, a drama about boxing and the triumph of the human spirit. Both opening and closing night events include "after parties," complete with appearances by many members of the featured films' casts and crews. Sunday's closing night celebration also includes a reception and an awards ceremony after the film premieres.
The festival is also known for its career recognition awards; this year's recipients include actress Carmen Zapata (Career Achievement); actor Pepe Serna (Pioneer Award); writer/director Kenneth Castillo (Trailblazer Award); and artist Juan Solis (Vision Award). Recipients from previous years have included directors Chris Weitz, Luis Valdez, and actors Tony Plana and Wilmer Valderrama.
For ten years, the Reel Rasquache Film Festival has brought together a broad base of grassroots and professional community members with U.S. Latino film and video independents and entertainment industry professionals. In recent years it has included an exclusive gallery exhibition of major Latino visual artists , including creators like Patricia Krebs, Margaret Garcia and Eloy Torrez.
"It's hard to believe that Reel Rasquache has been part of the L.A. film scene for ten years," said co-director Dr. John Ramirez, a media studies scholar in the Department of Television, Film, and Media Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. "We've come a long way, just as Latinos in Hollywood have–and we all have a bright future."
All of the 2013 festival events are taking place at CASA 0101, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17. CASA 0101 is located at 2102 First Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033. More information on the festival is available at the festival website www.ReelRasquache.org. Tickets for the entire three-day event, or for the opening or closing night events and parties, may be purchased online through the CASA 0101 web site at www.casa0101.org.
Univision Pairs With Robert Rodriguez on El Rey Network
From the AP
Univision Communications said Tuesday that it is pairing with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on the English-language El Rey television network that is geared to young viewers and scheduled to debut this December.
Rodriguez is a filmmaker whose projects include "From Dusk Till Dawn." The first scripted series for El Rey will be an expansion of that movie, with the extra time allowing him to expand the story and explore richer Aztec mythology, he said.
The company that runs Univision, the most-popular Spanish-language network in the country, said Tuesday it has invested in El Rey. Terms were not disclosed. It is set to begin in December with a national distribution agreement with Comcast, the nation's largest cable company.
The network is expected to have a mix of reality, scripted, music and sports programming, along with movies.
"El Rey Network will serve as a launching pad to satisfy the tastes of young adults looking for exciting, cinematic, action-packed content," Rodriguez said.
Univision has expanded over the past two years, creating several new networks. One partnership with ABC is called Fusion, an English-language news network geared toward a Latino audience.
The Univision network said it will premiere two new telenovelas during the next season. "La Tempestad" will star William Levy and Ximena Navarrete, a former Miss Universe. "Mentir para Vivir" will star David Zepeda and Mayrin Vilanueva.
Randy Falco, president and CEO of Univision Communications Inc., told advertisers Tuesday that the company is at the intersection of two big growth opportunities: the Latino market and digital.
Media Matters Report: People Of Color Are Nearly Invisible On Evening Cable News
Today the National Hispanic Media Coalition, NHMC, laments the pitifully low number of women, Latinos and other people of color appearing on evening cable news. A new report released by the non-profit, Media Matters, finds that evening cable news guests are overwhelmingly white and male. According to the report, titled Diversity on Evening Cable News in 13 Charts, women, Latinos, and other people of color are sorely underrepresented as guests on evening cable news programs at MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.
Media Matters examined the guests of thirteen evening cable news shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News during the month of April 2013. During that time period, only 33% of MSNBC guests, 29% Fox News guests and 24% CNN guests were female. Latinos fared much worse. Only 3% of Fox News guests and 2% of CNN and MSNBC guests were Latino.
"This is unacceptable," stated NHMC's President and CEO, Alex Nogales. "At a time when Latinos are over 16% of the country, a growing bloc of the electorate, and with over $1 trillion per year of buying power, it is unimaginable that we be excluded from cable news at such rates. This has a real affect on our community - the way we are perceived is how we are treated, and when our experts are absent from these programs it gives the perception that Latinos are not making meaningful contributions to this country, which couldn't be further from the truth."
Nogales added, "I have a long list of Latino experts in my pocket that run the gamut of subjects, be it education, health, safety, immigration, technology, law: you name it, and they are all ready for primetime. I challenge CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to start inviting these expert guests onto their programs at greater rates to turn these terrible numbers around."
Just a few months ago NHMC released a national poll on the impact of media on opinions and attitudes toward Latinos. The poll confirmed that positive images of Latinos in media positively impacts non-Latinos beliefs and attitudes towards Latinos. Being absent on newscasts contributes to negative opinions regarding our community.
Dennis Leoni Developing Latino Period Drama For PBS
By Anna Marie de la Fuente, Variety
PBS has ordered a pilot script from Dennis Leoni for a drama series "Alta California" as part of a new development deal. Leoni is the award-winning executive producer, scribe and helmer of "Resurrection Blvd.," the first and longest-running Latino dramatic skein in the history of American television.
PBS has traditionally acquired programming and has enjoyed unprecedented success with its Brit import "Downton Abbey." It recently debuted department store period drama "Mr.Selfridge," starring Jeremy Piven. In the fall, pubcaster is set to air Latino-themed "Latino Americans," a three-part docu-series narrated by Benjamin Bratt.
Set in the mid to late 1800s, "Alta California" tells the story of an arranged union between two families – one Mexican-Californian and the other European-American.
Leoni will write and exec produce along with Jerry Offsay, the former prexy of Showtime, where he worked with Leoni on "Resurrection Blvd."
In recent years, Leoni has written both drama and comedy pilots for NBC, Showtime, ABC and Fox Television Studios. He also created the Web series "Los Americans."
Leoni is repped by Gersh, Haven Entertainment and Hirsch Wallerstein.
NALIP and the Sundance Institute Present 'Water & Power' at NALIP 2013
We're very excited to announce that Water & Power will flow onto the screen at this year's Special Screening at NALIP 2013: Spotlight on the Trillion $ Latino Market.
Written and Directed by Richard Montoya of Culture Clash fame, and developed at the Sundance Institute, Water & Power tells the story of twin brothers nicknamed Water & Power from the hard scrabble Eastside streets of Los Angeles. One a decorated cop - the other a senator, find themselves in a seedy motel room on the eastern edge of Sunset Boulevard on a dark and rainy night. Something has gone very wrong. Can Power exist without Water? The Fixers and Powers of the city need answers. Everybody is looking for the Twins.
Be the very first to see Water & Power in this exclusive screening and Q&A with cast and crew at the AMC Theatre at Universal City Walk on Friday June, 7th.
Do not miss this opportunity, register today for NALIP 2013: Spotlight on the Trillion $ Latino Market, June 7-9 at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, Universal City, CA. Registration spots are filling up quickly. Visit conference2013.nalip.org and REGISTER TODAY!
Did you know . . .
• Social media use skews young across demographics, but among Hispanics the preponderance is especially strong. Only 13% of Hispanics on social networks were over 50.
• According to Pew, Latino social networking penetration among internet users reached 68% last year. Of these social media users, English was the dominant language for 34% of users, while Spanish was the dominant language for a quarter of users. Another 40% considered themselves bilingual.
• According to BIGInsight's February 2012 "American Pulse Survey," 26.8% of Hispanic internet users spent six hours or more on social media sites, versus only 8.5% of total internet users.
Learn more about the evolving state of the Trillion $ Latino Market. NALIP's 14th annual National Conference will be an inspiring weekend for Latino content creators and those interested in our media community. We're bringing top industry professionals and visionaries to examine the landslide shift in influence that Latinos are making in media making, distribution, marketing, creation and consumption. Register for the conference today.
Hola Mexico Festival, May 15-22 in LA
The Hola Mexico Festival, formerly the "Hola Mexico Film Festival" returns to Los Angeles for the fifth consecutive year, offering an array of culturally rich events and showcasing the best of Mexico in film, food and music.
The Hola Mexico Food Festival will bring together world renowned chefs of Mexican cuisine at unique culinary events that celebrate the tradition and richness of the flavors of Mexico.
The Hola Mexico Festival also offers the Hola Mexico Music Festival and the Hola Mexico Film Festival presented by DishLATINO; taking place at various locations in Downtown Los Angeles from May 15 - 22.
See www.holamexicofest.com for a complete schedule and ticket information. Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/holamexicoff and on Twitter: @HolaMexicoFF
Call for Entries: LPB Public Media Content Fund
The Public Media Content Fund is an open invitation to independent producers to submit proposals for a program, limited series or short web-based digital video (of no longer than 20 minutes) on any subject that relates to or is representative of Latino Americans that is appropriate for public television and/or one of its platforms. LPB funding will average between $5,000 and $100,000 for programs of most genres, including documentary, narrative, performance, mixed genre or new media. LPB will consider funding projects at the production and post-production stage.
LPB is looking for projects that are relevant, have potential to engage a national audience and present a diverse range of subjects, issues and viewpoints that complement and challenge existing public media offerings. Projects should also aim to meet the current content priorities of PBS that include but are not limited to: Performing Arts and Drama, History, News and Public Affairs. LPB is especially interested in programs that address Latino arts and culture.
Projects should provide strong story-telling techniques that give voice to those not normally heard or seen and provide a lens to the history, arts and culture of the diverse Latino community. While proposals can take creative risks, selected projects must ultimately appeal to a wide variety of television and public media audiences. Projects that reflect personal or individual experience should have universal appeal.
Deadline: Monday, June 3, 2013 at 5 PM
All applications must be submitted online at www.pmcf.submittable.com/submit/20508
For the Public Media Content Fund Guidelines, please visit: www.lpbp.org/fundingguidelines.php
For Public Media Content Fund Guidelines FAQ's, please visit: http://lpbp.org/faq.php
Aurora Guerrero on Making 'Mosquita y Mari' & Challenging Hollywood's Lack of Diverse Stories
By Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz
Determined to challenge Hollywood's lack of diverse stories [NALIP member] Aurora Guerrero set out to make a film that reflected her own identity as a queer woman of color. The result is Mosquita y Mari a sensitive, bold, and thoughtful portrait of two teenage Chicanas whose budding friendship begins to slowly become something beyond just friends. For Guerrero, it's a personal story rooted in her own experience, "When looking back, long before I identified as queer, I realized my first love was one of my best friends. It was the type of friendship that was really tender and sweet and sexually charged but we never crossed that line."
In the film, set in Huntington Park, a predominantly Latino city just outside Los Angeles, Mari is a rebellious bad girl who is failing math. Straight-A student Yolanda—who Mari nicknames Mosquita because she looks like, "a pinche mosquita"—offers to tutor her. They hang out, ride bikes, swap music, and do homework. As they spend more and more time together their friendship subtly transforms, evoking that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that only a first crush can. It's a beautifully told almost love story set to the music of local ska bands, the melancholy vocals of Carla Morrison, and other genre-remixing Latino artists.
Mosquita y Mari premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and played in theaters last summer. LatinoBuzz spoke with Guerrero just ahead of the film's digital release to talk about the challenges of making and distributing independent Latino films.
Though Latinos are making strides in other industries there is still a lack of Latino film directors. How did the idea of becoming a filmmaker come about? What do you think are the major obstacles keeping young Latinos from becoming filmmakers?
Guerrero: It's hard to grow up and not see yourself portrayed in realistic ways on film. From a young age I was really bothered by that. When I did see a film about Latinos I didn't recognize my experience at all. I actually wondered if those type of Latinos really existed because I didn't know anyone like that. For me becoming a filmmaker was about taking back my voice—crafting stories that would move away from the problematic narratives that the studio system would put out about Latinos. I think this is why people like my films. They're refreshing. They feel more real.
As for major obstacles keeping young Latinos from becoming filmmakers, I think our communities are still coming into their identities as storytellers. It's such an important identity to reclaim—it's how our ancestors kept our cultures alive. But a long history of silencing, invisibility, and marginalization has kept generations of Latinos from believing in themselves, from seeing themselves as agents of their own lives. I think there needs to be a focus on this aspect to help cultivate young Latinas to see themselves as cultural producers and defenders.
Raising money for a Latino film (or any film) is a challenge especially in this economy. What was your budget? If you could have raised additional money and had a bigger budget do you think your film would be much different than it is now?
Guerrero: We didn't have a big budget. We were at about 200k. Our funding was pieced together as we went along in the process. A very successful crowdfunding campaign (Kickstarter) got us into production and a series of grants we applied for during production got us through post-production. I think Mosquita y Mari could have benefited from a couple more days of shooting but it wouldn't have changed our budget or our final film significantly. Ultimately I feel like the budget we had pushed me and my collaborators to be as creative as possible. It also allowed me to keep the crew at a small size which felt manageable for me as a first-time feature filmmaker.
You've stated in a lot of interviews that the film was inspired by your own personal experience. What was the writing process like? Was it an emotional one since the story was so close to you?
Guerrero: It was definitely emotional. I was writing about feelings and experiences I had never talked about, particularly with my BFF at the time. But it wasn't a bad emotional process. It felt very liberating. I think that's what drove my process forward. What got complicated were all the other layers that I wanted to talk about. I had to figure out how to weave in other elements without taking away from the girls and their growing love for each other.
Are you still in touch with the woman whose friendship inspired this story? Did you ever worry what she might think about it?
Guerrero: Let's just say that I didn't make it for her. I made it for me.
The story is based upon the friendship of these two girls. The success of the film obviously hinged on casting the two leads. What was the selection process like?
Guerrero: Casting was intense, mainly because we had one month to find all our cast. But I was determined and hopeful that my girls were out there. I just had to somehow get the word out to them so they could find me and this movie. Between my casting director putting word out to managers and agents and organizing word-of-mouth community open casting calls we found our cast. I saw about 300 or more young Latina women for the leads and las cuatas. It was a really validating experience. I mean to be so specific in my breakdown, "Must speak both English and Spanish fluently. Must be open to story of two girls and their developing feelings for each other." It was amazing to get so many young women identifying with the breakdown and wanting to be part of this film. I think the hardest part was saying "no" to most of them. I had to be very picky. I had to find girls that not only identified with the story personally but that also had the chops to carry it on their shoulders. I was nervous going into the first day of shooting. I wondered if I had made the right choices, especially with only two days of rehearsal prior to shooting. But after our first day I remember thinking to myself, "these girls are really something special."
You grew up in the Bay (so did I) but most of your films take place in L.A. What's the deal? As a San Francisco Bay Area native shouldn't you hate L.A.? Why did you choose to set this specific story in Huntington Park as opposed to obvious choices like S.F. or East L.A.?
Guerrero: You're funny. I don't want to take away the fact that Los Angeles has been my muse ever since I moved there to attend film school, but I did originally set Mosquita y Mari in San Francisco's Mission District. After putting together an initial S.F. budget I quickly learned that I didn't have the means to shoot there. And I wasn't so married to having it be the Mission. I just really wanted it in an immigrant setting.
East L.A. has been played out so much on films. It's gotten to the point where people across the nation, and even the world, think East L.A. to be the only Latino community in California. Nothing against East L.A., but I wanted to capture a community just west of East L.A. that had its own unique history and vibe. I want to bring Huntington Park out of the shadows.
Music is a big part of the story. In a lot of the scenes the characters play songs for each other and hang out listening to music. How did you choose the music?
Guerrero: I connect to specific music early on in my process of writing. I'm constantly on SoundCloud or Remezcla looking to see what new music is being produced by Latino artists. I'm not interested in producing soundtracks or scores that have been recycled in U.S. Latino films throughout the years. I'm looking for music that's cutting-edge and contemporary. That's how I see the worlds and characters that I put on screen so the music has got to somehow add to the texture of that world. Outside of the tracks I chose for the film I worked with a wonderful composer named Ryan Beveridge. When we started working together I remember emphasizing to him, "Please, no strumming guitars." I didn't want people to recognize the score. I wanted it to be specific to Mosquita y Mari. He was wonderful. I sent him bits of music I was hearing and I was sending him pictures of the neighborhood and he just ran with it. He created something really unique.
There is this beautiful moment in the film where Mosquita is riding on the back of Mari's bike and "Esta Soledad" by Carla Morrison is playing. There are close-ups of her face, of her hand gliding through the air; she looks so happy and free. The song is so sad and kinda dreamy. What made you choose it?
Guerrero: I believe love is bittersweet, especially young love. Carla Morrison, the score and the opening song are all meant to subtly bring that tone to the film. When I think of Carla Morrison's voice it feels haunting. Her music always stirs melancholic feelings of loss in me that end up lingering for days. For that specific scene I thought she was the perfect choice to juxtapose Mosquita's youthful excitement of feeling alive and in the world.
The word gay is never spoken in the film. The characters and setting are Latino but no one directly comments on being Latino, they just are. Why did you choose to tell the story this way?
Guerrero: I think staying away from labels is what makes this film refreshing. Audiences are placed in Mosquita y Mari's world—their world is Latino, Xicana, it is immigrant. They don't have to stop to remind themselves of it. They have grown up bicultural. It's their norm to go in and out of Spanish and English without having to point it out. It's how I was raised and I thought it was important to depict young people comfortable in their own skin and world. Mosquita y Mari's story is meant to capture the moments that maybe down the line, maybe in college, they will come to discover were their first moments of queerness.
Mosquita y Mari had its theatrical release last year. What lessons did you learn? What advice would you give to other Latino filmmakers about the distribution of Latino films?
Guerrero: My producer and I released the film ourselves. We didn't have a big budget at all to do this so our theatrical release was very very limited. I think I learned that to open in a city like Los Angeles and New York theater houses expect you to have a big marketing budget or they will pass on your film. We didn't budget accordingly because we were focusing our efforts on reaching our audiences via social media which wasn't going to cost us much. But I feel like social media is something that has yet to be considered a viable platform for marketing in the industry. I think my biggest advice to filmmakers is to look into the many digital platforms that exist for you and your team to distribute your film. A theatrical on a tight budget really only becomes about generating critical reviews for you and your film, not revenue.
Historically, Latino films have had a hard time at the box office. Why do you think Latino films haven't vibed with Latino filmgoers in the past?
Guerrero: It's interesting. I believe in Mexico there's a big culture of moviegoing, both studio and indie. I think here in the US that's not the case because Latino communities don't have access to indie films. If you go into communities of color you will only find the big theater chains which only play the blockbuster genre films. So how else does our community find out about independent film? Is it talked about in their schools? Is it written about in their local Spanish speaking papers? Are the art house theaters hard to get to? I think social media is starting to close this gap when it comes to learning about films like Mosquita y Mari and Netflix is making them more attainable, but even then I think there is a "deprogramming" that needs to happen so Latino audiences not used to watching indie films can appreciate more nontraditional narrative films
What's next for you? Any new projects?
Guerrero: Right now I'm developing my second feature film, Los Valientes. It's about a gay, undocumented immigrant who finds himself caught in a web of deceit when the small, working-class town he and his family live in purposes its own anti-immigration law. Since I'm not personally undocumented I approached two groups, DreamActivists PA in Pennsylvania and Dreamers Adrift/Culture Strike in the Bay Area, about becoming Los Valientes community partners. They've all agreed, thankfully! Together we're creating a path to ensure a mutual exchange of knowledge happens between the film and the undocumented communities the film will be set in, which in this case are San Francisco and certain parts of Pennsylvania. We'll be launching a website for the new project soon and we're hoping the fan base we've built around Mosquita y Mari will be excited to follow this new project. In the meantime, we ask people to LIKE our Mosquita y Mari Facebook page where we've been posting all our recent good news, like the screenwriting and development grants that KRF/SFFS and Tribeca recently awarded Los Valientes.
Mosquita y Mari will be available May 7 on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Vudu and June 8 on DVD.
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.
Showcase Your Work to a Global Audience at 'NALIP 2013: Official Selection'
We are very excited to offer a new platform for our members to exhibit their creative content to a global audience. Formerly NALIPsters On View, NALIP 2013: Official Selection will showcase short films by NALIP members featuring a diversity of subjects, voices and viewpoints.
Submitted short films, trailers, music videos, etc. will compete for placement on our playlist in the Official NALIP YouTube Channel. Selected films will be featured in the printed NALIP 2013: Spotlight on the Trillion $ Latino Market Conference Program.
Conference dates are June 7-9, 2013. Deadline for submission is midnight May 20. Filmmakers will be notified on May 28.
To learn more about this exciting program, visit NALIP 2013: Official Selection.
Did you know . . .
• According to BIGInsight’s February 2012 “American Pulse Survey,” 26.8% of Hispanic internet users spent six hours or more on social media sites, versus only 8.5% of total internet users.
• There were 32.5 million Hispanic Internet users as of May 2012 according to comScore. Seventy-two percent of Hispanic Internet users visited Facebook in May 2012 and almost 15% of Facebook's audience is Hispanic, up from 14.5% in 2011.
• Hispanic mobile users who are bilingual are 39% more likely to own a smartphone compared to an average mobile user (May 2012 comScore / Ad Age Hispanic Fact Pack)
Learn more about the evolving state of the Trillion $ Latino Market. NALIP’s 14th annual National Conference will be an inspiring weekend for Latino content creators and those interested in our media community. We're bringing top industry professionals and visionaries to examine the landslide shift in influence that Latinos are making in media making, distribution, marketing, creation and consumption. Register for the conference today! conference2013.nalip.org
LACMA Film Series Highlighting Young Women Filmmakers from Mexico, May 10-11
By Kerensa Cadenas, Indiewire
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is holding a special film series featuring the work of young female filmmakers from Mexico on May 10-11. The series was organized with AMBULANTE, a non-profit film organization founded in 2005 by actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal and Pablo Cruz.
AMBULANTE supports and promotes documentary film as a means for social justice. The program includes a great selection of films and many of the directors will be in conversation after screenings. Below find descriptions of the films (from the LACMA site) playing. You can get more information and tickets here.
El General (The General) - Natalia Almada
El General tells the story of one of Mexico's most controversial figures, Plutarco Elias Calles -- alternately known as "The General," "Nun-Burner" and "The Dictator" -- as told by director Natalie Almada, his granddaughter. The film is both a journey into Almada's family history, and an intimate portrait of Mexico a century after the Revolution of 1910, touching on the socio-economic injustice that has prevailed for the duration.
Intimidades de Shakespeare y Victor Hugo (Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies) - Yulene Olaizola
The lodging house owned by Rosa Carbajal at the corner of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo streets in Mexico City hides an intimate and passionate story. Twenty years ago, Rosa met Jorge Riosse, a charismatic young tenant who became her closest friend. But after his sudden death, a darker portrait emerged. The film is a profound sketch of two lonely characters whose lives become strongly and strangely entwined.
El lugar mas pequeno (The Tiniest Place) - Tatiana Huezo
Five families walk through the jungles of El Salvador for several days; they arrive in their village to find nothing left. The characters-- farm laborers from a guerrilla town -- struggle to resume living amidst the nightmares and wounds inflicted by civil war. They begin to organize themselves, collecting the remains of the dead, sowing the soil and looking after their animals. Forced to give up their weapons, they commit to the memory of what has happened.
Mi Vida Dentro (My Life Inside) - Lucia Gaja
Mi Vida Dentro tells the story of Rosa, who, at the age of 17, migrated illegally from Mexico to Austin, Texas. In January 2003, she was detained for suspected murder, and then put on trial more than eighteen months later. The film provides powerful insight into the life of Mexican immigrants in the United States through one woman's struggles in the judicial system.
Did DreamWorks Animation Just Inflate a YouTube Bubble?
By Brent Lang & Lucas Shaw, The Wrap
DreamWorks Animation stunned the online video community this week by paying $33 million up front and as much as $117 million in total for AwesomenessTV, a network of YouTube channels less than a year old.
It was the first time a major entertainment or media company acquired a YouTube channel, enriching AwesomenessTV founder Brian Robbins, his investors and his agency (and incubator/investor) United Talent Agency.
The deal may also drive up the prices for other key YouTube players, luring more investors and media companies eager to capture millennials' attention into the online video arena.
Awesomeness draws a fraction of the audience that bigger YouTube networks do. Its flagship channel boasts 550,000 subscribers and its network has accumulated more than 800 million total views. Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen each attract more than 20 million viewers and 1 billion views a month.
Each have been valued in the $200 million range.
Privately analysts and industry insiders expressed surprise that Awesomeness could command a price half that of its bigger rivals' valuations. They predict valuations are likely to soar in the near-term.
"I think we're definitely in a bubble phase at the moment, but this feels less bubbly than some of the other ones," Michael Hirschorn, chief creative officer at YouTube programmer IconicTV, said.
"Given the last 15 to 20 years and what's happened in the digital space, I'm not surprised by any of these numbers anymore," he added. "As often as not those numbers in hindsight start seeming reasonable."
The Awesomeness acquisition is expected to lure more investors to YouTube programming. Several smaller YouTube networks, including INDMusic, are on the verge of closing new funding rounds, and could benefit.
"Any time there's a new business that relies on outside capital to fund growth, a liquidity event like this gives more confidence and enthusiasm for what's being built and the potential of the medium," Brian Bedol, CEO of the startup Bedrocket Media Ventures, said. "This is important for companies in the space that need capital, because it gives outside investors more confidence that they will have healthy exits."
Analysts believe that the Awesomeness deal made a lot of sense for DreamWorks Animation, which has been looking for ways to extend its brand onto various platforms. Awesomeness has grown quickly by relentlessly targeting teens and tweens.
"They did a great job taking advantage of an audience that was native to the platform and they approached it as a media property not as a vehicle for a single piece of talent," Bedol said. "That's been the key to the success of all great media brands."
At the center of it all was Robbins, a successful producer who got his start acting in shows such as "Head of the Class." With the deal, DreamWorks Animation brings the veteran producer behind shows like "Smallville" and "One Tree Hill" in-house.
"Brian is a big piece of the value proposition," Max Benator, a veteran online video producer and manager, said. "He's a valuable producer. He hasn't worked for anyone else for a long time. What is his value in the marketplace on a three-to-five year deal? Millions of dollars."
The deal also provides an opening for DreamWorks Animation to extend its brand into areas outside of film, as it has already begun to do with TV shows for Netflix and Cartoon Network. For now, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is emphasizing YouTube channels, not a potential cable network.
“We're going to let Brian continue to do what Brian's been doing," Katzenberg told reporters Wednesday, "and we also have talked about what we think are going to be some additional great collaborations with Brian on YouTube."
Awesomeness, while large and still growing, faces the same challenge most of these YouTube networks do: turning its audience into significant revenue. When TheWrap asked Robbins whether he had the infrastructure to monetize those channels, he had a quick answer.
“I don't, but they do,” he said, pointing at two YouTube executives seated to his left.
The next step will be finding ways to expand Awesomeness into other areas and to integrate DreamWorks Animation characters like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda into Awesomeness' platform without fundamentally altering its DNA. The last thing either company wants to do is alienate Awesomeness' fanbase of teen YouTube users.
"They will want to build out the audience on Awesomeness to skew lower to generate eyeballs for Dreamworks' content and they want to create more content to appeal to the channel's current audience of teens," Marla Backer, an analyst with Research Associates, said.
If DreamWorks Animation can pull it off, than the studio may have purchased an important foothold in the next great universe for premium content. Just as early pioneers in the cable space like TNT, TBS and HBO demonstrate, being first in the next big thing in media is next to godliness. In that case, $117 million would be a small price to pay.
Notes From an Arbitration - Lessons Learned in Suing an Indie Film Sales Agent
The world of distribution is changing constantly with the decline of DVD and the fragmentation of digital platforms. The challenges are even greater when you turn to the international marketplace. Like many filmmakers, we turned to a foreign sales agent to exploit the rights for our latest film Morgan.
While we are going to use the word “agent/agency” in this article, we believe that inter-changeable terms could include Producer’s Rep, Distributor, Aggregator, Consultant, etc. Because, as we see it, these are the middlemen who can completely destroy you by failing at their intended purpose: to make you a profit. Many of these companies operate under the “more is better” practice where they will take on hundreds or thousands of titles so that the law of averages puts money in their pockets. While that may make sense for them, it makes no sense for the indie filmmaker. After all, we’ve taken all the risk.
A few thousand dollars one way or the other can determine when (or IF) we get to make our next films. We count on the expertise and diligence of these agents to get the best possible deals. We need them to be sharks. Our particular agent promised us high returns across more territories than we were capable of getting for ourselves. All the agent wanted was a commission. Sound too good to be true? It was.
So what happens when you have signed with an agent who is not marketing your film effectively, who is not selling your film for amounts that you feel comfortable with, and/or may not be trying to exploit your rights at all? Obviously you call them and try to work it out because, after all, you are supposed to be working together to make money for each other. But let’s suppose your agent is a total [expletive] who doesn’t even know what a deliverable is, and you want to terminate your relationship. You turn to your contract to see what recourse you have. If you feel really convinced you are right, you attempt to terminate it. That is what we did. And this is what we learned from suing our foreign sales agent to terminate our agency agreement.
1) ARBITRATION CLAUSE. Chances are that you have some kind of clause that may spell out how both parties are to resolve a dispute over the contract. You probably have never given it much thought. I know we didn’t. We had blindly accepted the language as standard, figuring the mere threat of arbitration was a deterrent from the proceeding itself. But, as our dispute rose to epic levels and arbitration became necessary, this paragraph became our master. Also worth noting, we found out that generally you cannot go to court if you have an arbitration clause (possibly if both parties agree, maybe) because a judge will send the case back to arbitration, ruling that the courts have no jurisdiction. This goes for appeals as well. Generally, courts will not hear appeals of arbitration cases. Nor will the:
2) ARBITRAL BODY: Look at the arbitration clause: Does it specify who the arbitral body is or under which state’s laws the contract will be interpreted? Does the prevailing party have the right to collect attorney’s fees? You may find, like we did, that we should have really spent time on this paragraph. We knew nothing of the arbitration company. Did they like indie filmmakers? Were they studio oriented? How much do they charge? What are their rules of process? You will be BOUND by these rules if you go to arbitration. Take the time to look up the company in your contract. Ask around. Had we looked into any of those questions, we would have NEVER agreed to use our arbitral body because of:
3) THE ARBITRATOR. The arbitrator is an attorney working somewhere in the entertainment industry (hopefully). You and the opposing party receive a list of attorneys to select from, along with their resumes. It’s not really possible to see what other cases they worked on or how they ruled in those cases. Your attorney may be able to find out more information about them, but it’s pretty tough. In our case, both parties agreed quickly to one arbitrator. This is great because we wanted the case wrapped up as soon as possible so we could get on with exploiting our film. No such luck. Upon meeting an arbitrator, you will immediately ask yourself, WHY would an attorney sign up to do this? Answer one: to bill you. Constantly. The arbitrator charges you for everything he does in the arbitration. He has no checks or balances in this regard. So if your arbitrator is trying to send his kid to college, you might as well sign over your car right now because he can make up any number of hours he wants and send you a bill. You have to pay it or you will default. Answer two: because he’s not qualified to be a REAL judge. So he’s going to take it out on you. Whatever his interpretation of the laws, whatever his opinion is of your film, your budget, your hair color, he can rule however he wants to. (As a matter of record, our arbitrator actually told us that nobody cares about our movie or this case.) And again, there are NO checks and balances on this because the arbitral body hides behind its motto:
4) AN INFORMAL, EXPEDIENT AND COST EFFECTIVE PROCESS. We elected not to have full time representation because of the cost. Our agent however did hire a full time lawyer. Even though we had the promise of an informal process, the arbitrator NEVER looked out for our best interest. He let the opposing attorney antagonize and threaten us. He let the opposing attorney cause repeated and unnecessary delays. He scheduled paperwork to be due while we were traveling on the film festival circuit. But he gave time extensions to the other side. He gave the opposing attorney such wide latitude in discovery that we turned in over 1000 pages of evidence! Meanwhile, he only required the opposing attorney to turn in about 10. So this impartial, expedient, cheap process was not our experience. Our arbitration took SIX months and cost a lot of money. The entire process from breach to verdict was a year because:
5) THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE. From our experience, being the CLAIMANT (the party bringing the action, namely, us) puts in you a much tougher spot that being the RESPONDENT (the party being sued, the agent). We had to prove all of our claims, which meant that we had to turn over clear and compelling evidence. We thought we had plenty. But the arbitrator’s rulings slowly whittled away what we thought was our best evidence. The respondent does not really have to do anything. Our agent literally just sat on our film’s foreign distribution rights stalling all the energy we had been creating for a year. Now we might be in trouble on this one, but we really would consider just breaching the contract and exploiting the film ourselves (next time). It would then be up to our agent to prove the breach, the damages, etc. Definitely DO NOT consider this legal advice. It’s just our opinion.
6) AGENCY COUPLED WITH AN INTEREST. Scour your contract right now for this phrase. It is crucial when it comes to terminating your agreement. Now what we are about to say is only a general rule that (true to the law) comes with a million exceptions. Nonetheless, in an agency contract, you (as the principal) ALWAYS have the POWER to terminate a contract with your agent AT WILL.) It is imperative that you understand that you can still be liable for the damages that this causes your agent (i.e., the MG or license fee they already paid you, marketing expenses they can prove they spent, etc.). Our agent did countersue us for damages. But they also sued us saying that we did not have the RIGHT to terminate the agreement. As we are now painfully aware, the RIGHT to terminate is not the same as the POWER to terminate. As a rule, you CANNOT terminate your contract with an agent if it is “coupled with an interest.” That is to say, that the agent has some kind of interest “in the thing the contract is about.” What is this “interest”? What is the “thing”? Who the hell knows! It isn’t defined by the law. What the interest ISN’T has sort of been sketched out over the last hundred years. Generally, simple monetary considerations are NOT considered interest (i.e. commissions, payments, etc.). We thought we were well within our POWER to terminate because the agent did not pay any money upfront. And since the agent did not generate any deals other than those we brought to them, it would seem TWICE as obvious that our distributor had NO interest in our film. But, referring to #2 above, our arbitrator was grossly unqualified to interpret this kind of law (our research shows these agency coupled with an interest cases frequently end up in appeals court because of their complexity). Our arbitrator ruled that our contract was coupled with an interest because of some postcards that the agent had printed out in Berlin (have we mentioned that you can’t (technically) appeal?). I’m sure that now every distributor is now calling their attorney to add this paragraph, but if you, the filmmaker, can, keep it out. The agent is covered anyway, because in the event you terminate unfairly, you are on the hook for any damages that the agent suffers (and probably their attorney’s fees).
7) DEFINE DEFINE DEFINE. Boilerplate. Fear that word. Just because everyone thinks they know what marketing, customary efforts, good faith or even all-rights is, WRITE IT DOWN. This is your business and your money we are talking about. Define every single term. We did not do this. So when we claimed that our distributor did not use “reasonable and customary efforts” to license, market and sell our film; that they did not “consult with us” on this marketing and licensing of our film; that they did not generate offers that we could have gotten ourselves, we were on the hook to prove it. We thought it was obvious that our agent should have a Facebook page, and maybe post our movie on it, or on their website, maybe even the trailer (shocking!). At least they should have spelled our names right on their listing! To our 500 pages of print-outs, the arbitrator balked, saying that is was “unpersuasive.” Outline what you think reasonable and customary efforts are. We really recommend setting a minimum amount acceptable for the contract to remain in force. Define marketing. What efforts do you expect the distributor to make? Be as specific as you can. (I am now hearing horror stories of friends’ films sitting on their distributors’ shelves in limbo. They won’t be getting the rights back for years and the film won’t be generating any more revenue because the distributor finds it financially unviable to exert further effort.) Go through your contract as though you can be shot by a firing squad. Because that’s how it feels when you go into an arbitration hearing and every sentence is scrutinized by both sides, each interpreting it to favor their position. If the arbitrator can’t see clear convincing evidence that your definition is correct, you cannot prove a breach of contract.
8) CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. A GREAT ONE. Unfortunately no lawyer could have reasoned with our agent in order to avoid arbitration. The lawsuit in and of itself was ridiculous. Though we only had an attorney on retainer for consultation, the way the arbitrator pushed us around made us wish we could have afforded complete representation (or an assassin). It is worth noting here that we changed our law firm part way through the proceedings. Just like the discussion of the arbitrator above, make sure your own attorney is qualified to handle your particular dispute. The law is complex and the process is a game. You need a fighter. You want to feel really great about who is representing you. Don’t be afraid to fire people. Keep looking until you find the right lawyer. How will you know? Trust me, you will.
9) KEEP RIDICULOUSLY COMPLETE RECORDS OF EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS…EVER. So after all of this you may be surprised to find out that we prevailed. (Can you imagine what we’d say if we LOST?) How? Every single email, letter, check, even the envelope that the check came in. Yep, we keep all of that stuff and more. Why? Look through your contract and see if you find a paragraph that discusses how to amend/addend the contract. Usually it stipulates that it has to be done in writing. It turns out that most states consider email “written communication.” While we were not necessarily saving all of that paperwork to prevail in a court hearing, that’s what ended up happening. The agent not only lost their frivolous countersuit because of those emails, they were also held to a strange law in California under which two parties can “agree to agree” just by agreeing to the major terms of an agreement. (Confused? It would take a book to explain THIS law.) Specifically, in those emails, we had offered the agent a sum of money to settle the case. Though they originally agreed to accept it, they later reneged. The arbitrator ruled that the first agreement was permanent. Though it was on a technicality, a win is a win.
10) BE A SORE WINNER. But the award by the arbitrator was lackluster. He is a studio attorney who clearly thought that our case was frivolous and meaningless. He just couldn’t understand that to us, it meant everything. In the end, the arbitration cost us almost as much as our film and stole a year of our lives. We are now out to prove the arbitrator wrong. Filmmakers DO care about their movies and filmmakers WILL care about this verdict. He could have single-handedly moved independent filmmaking into a new era of mutual responsibility. But instead his final opinion read more like a warning to the distributor on how to fix their contract so that they can more assuredly screw over the next filmmaker.
11) TELL YOUR STORY. Since we’ve started going public, we are hearing many stories of frustration and anger about these agency relationships. Filmmakers worry that if they speak up, the agencies may retaliate. Well, here are two things you should know. One, they probably WILL retaliate. Ours did. They told film festivals, foreign sales agents, distributors and other people we do business with that our film was “unavailable.” They tied up our film’s distribution for almost an entire year. We were distraught. But then we realized number two: we are the content creators. Festivals, distributors, aggregators and (most importantly your fans) want your content. These agencies don’t have jobs unless someone makes them something to sell. Thankfully, we have been able to pick up where we left off, though the film’s value has certainly suffered from sitting on the shelf for a year.
As we sat in the hearing, reading aloud the angry emails that had flown back and forth between us and our agent, we were struck by a sad realization: this whole process was just a big waste of time and money. WE were paying the arbitrator to decide if WE had the right to terminate a contract with an agent who was supposed to be making US money by exploiting a movie WE paid for. Who were these people and why were they being granted ANY validity whatsoever? We are sharing our story in the hopes that it will help save some other filmmaker from falling into the same traps we did. And if you do find yourself having to take that big leap, remember: arbitration is war and you have to win by any means necessary.
None of this article should be construed as legal advice. This is our opinion base on our experience.
About the author: Michael D. Akers is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. In 2000, he founded United Gay Network (UGN) with his longtime partner, Sandon Berg. Morgan is Akers’ fourth in a line of genre defining films. His first film, Gone, But Not Forgotten, altered the queer indie landscape with an adept story made universal through common human drama and incidental sexuality and went on to win numerous audience awards after playing in more than 30 festivals world-wide. Gone, But Not Forgotten ultimately became one of the most successful independent LGBT films of all time.
10 Great Producer Quotes
In honor of our "Producer Week" here at SSN, we're taking a look at ten inspiring quotes from some of our favorite producers, past and present. At times, producing can be a thankless job, but great producers press on, working tirelessly to protect their directors and get a film made, sometimes against great odds. You can't be the kind of person who throws their hands up at the first sign of trouble and be a successful producer. These ten people understand that (and they have some wise words about the industry as a whole), so let's take a look at some of their best quotes for inspiration:
"Consider this 're-make' business that is taking away opportunities for new ideas and new films to happen. If the movie was made right the first time, why make it again? The only reason this is happening is it has become a safer way for the Studios." – Bernie Brillstein
"You can tell a film that has been shot at a brisk pace with lots of energy. It comes through in the dynamics of what you see on the screen. Somehow, it's easier to create when you're out there in real places on real streets, no matter what the hardships are while you're shooting. There's much more camaraderie when you're out there in the elements." (on the benefits of shooting on real locations). – Gale Anne Hurd
"If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless." – Darryl F. Zanuck
"I always find that when I do something I like, from the heart, then it works." – Harvey Weinstein
"In every place there are 100 people who can say no and only one person who can say yes. You have to get a good piece of material to the right person." – Robert Evans
"I just don't believe that you can't make anything happen. I think if something's good and you believe in it, and you care about it, and you give it love and nurture it, it's going to happen." – Jerry Weintraub
"When I started, the most important thing was the movie. You made a good movie and you didn't really worry about opening weekend, because you knew that with word of mouth, the second-weekend gross would be bigger than the first. Today I believe that the marketing is more important than the movie, and that, to me, is tragic." – Sherry Lansing
"One of our jobs is to keep women working, which we do by keeping women coming to the movies. And doing that means making good, smart, often funny movies that women can identify with—with terrific dialogue we all remember and cherish, and stories that illuminate our lives and decisions and turning points." – Lynda Obst
"If you're going to spend two or three years of your life working on something, you've got to be making the kind of movie that discusses and influences the culture and is engaged in the world you're living in." – Scott Rudin
"It doesn't have anything to do with the budget of the film. It has to do with the scope and scale of ambition, and the skill that people brought to it to realize that ambition."- James Schamus
Let us know if you agree with their advice, and sound off in the comments if you have some favorite producer quotes to share.
Call for Entries: FCGD Short Film Competition
The Dominican Republic Global Film Festival (FCGD) presents a selection of the best international, dramatic and documentary films, enriches the country culturally and brings the Seventh Art into all areas of Dominican society. The Festival contributes to greater awareness and understanding of global issues through stories about events and people who have left their mark on lives. The Festival also promotes and encourages discussion of social, political and economical issues through cinematography.
The contest is open to students, amateurs or professionals venturing in short audiovisual works. The works may be submitted from filmmakers from all over the world.
The official language is Spanish. The work submitted in another language must have subtitles in Spanish and optional English subtitles.
Submission Deadline: August 1, 2013
For details and submission information please visit the competition's webpage.
What Would Happen To The Media If Facebook Collapsed?
By John Herman, BuzzFeed
MySpace had one of the largest user bases ever collected on the internet. It was, for its time, superlative: It had the most people, the most content, and the most money of any site of its kind.
Then it was gone. When Facebook, which had previously targeted only students, opened to the general public, MySpace didn't have a chance. Facebook was cleaner, more sophisticated, and had the ultimate internet intoxicant of the time: real names. Users fled. MySpace fell faster than it rose.
MySpace — at least, the version that entered the cultural zeitgeist — effectively ended in 2010, when it lost, according to some estimates, more than two-thirds of its users.
This isn't to say that Facebook's position in 2013 is comparable MySpace's in 2009. For one, there is no obvious new Facebook — that is, there is no obvious replacement for Facebook in the way that Facebook was an obvious replacement for MySpace. But there are signs that Facebook is losing users in its most mature markets and that users' attention is drifting. More importantly, no major internet services are immune from collapse. So the Facebook contingency is at least worth considering. It'd be irresponsible to ignore!
MySpace's collapse was largely self-contained; it took a big bite out of News Corps' profits, but it didn't have extensive ripple effects. A Facebook collapse would be less manageable: The new economies that it has created — its app ecosystem, its advertising network — would be demolished, of course. Also notable is the profound effect a MySpace-style collapse would have on the media — the same media that would be charged with covering said collapse.
According to data collected from the BuzzFeed Partner network, which tracks visitors to an assortment of major news and entertainment sites with over 350 million combined monthly visitors, Facebook accounts for over 75 million — more than 20%. The number is certainly higher for many newer media organizations, such as BuzzFeed, whose audiences depend on social networks for news.
The rise of Facebook referrals in the BuzzFeed network has corresponded, at least recently, with a fall in Google referrals. One, in other words, is replacing the other. But replacements are never exact: Facebook overtaking MySpace, a superficially similar service, had the effect of pumping millions of eyeballs to outside media organizations; as Facebook's real, identity-bound photos and personal information glued users to the site in a way that MySpace's cluttered data never could, Facebook's News Feed directed them outward in a way that MySpace's blog-centric design never did. The media reaped the benefits of the changing of the guard — it coincidentally had a friend in the new de facto social network, and just in time.
Recent research suggests that the next wave of social networks may not be as generous to outside content providers. Instagram and Vine and Snapchat and WhatsApp and Kik do not replace Facebook and Twitter in terms of functionality, but that doesn't matter — they draw from the same pool of available attention. Facebook stole users' attention from MySpace by being a better MySpace, then it grew into something more — the new wave of apps (and yes, they're mostly apps) is stealing attention away from Facebook by each being something less.
If the next great social media shift truly is from centralized, profile-based social networks to decentralized feeds, distributed profiles, and private messaging, content providers will face a reckoning. Mark Zuckerberg recently described Facebook's new News Feed as a sort of personalized "newspaper," which was reassuring to a media industry rushing to colonize it. But Snapchat's users have never bought a newspaper in their lives. As they become adults, these people will still need to know things that adults need to know, and be interested in things adults have always been interested in. But while their impulses are familiar, their means of satisfying may be unrecognizable.
We should also assume that, in the event of a user exodus, Facebook will try to adapt its service to the new new future of social media — the one where links to traditional news stories may be less important. To suggest that Facebook has been a success because it was a great place to find news would be wrong; likewise, it's far from safe to assume Facebook's news-spreading ability is the pure product of user demand and that it will be fully preserved and distributed among new platforms.
A 20% decrease in audience, or a broader trend away from link-sharing on the largest social networks, could be disastrous for an industry where 20% year-over-year traffic growth is a prerequisite for success.
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