newsletter of the dallas producers association celebrating over 30 years of industry leadership
PRODUCTIoN newS Jack and Dan
Dallas will be the production home for Fox Television’s new one-hour action/comedy series Jack and Dan starring Colin Hanks (Mad Men, King Kong) as a by-the-book detective who is paired with a drunken partner played by Bradley Whitford (The West Wing). The show is produced by Matt Nix, creator of the USA Network drama Burn Notice. Production offices are being established locally and the show will lens 13 episodes in Dallas beginning in January 2010 with 96 production days through June. In a statement, Fox Television senior vice president Bob Lemchen said “Creatively, Dallas offered us terrific shooting locations, as well as a great crew base. Dallas is simply a great place to shoot.”
The Deep End
THE REEL Keith Randal Duncan Editor-In-Chief
Deanna Sanchez Business Administration
Deanna Sanchez Senior Editor
Volunteers needed Sales & Marketing
Bob Dauber Contributing Writer
David Fiegenschue, FigDesign Design
Josh Hurst Senior Art Director Eric Jewell Cartoonist
Brent McNutt, Adventure Graphics Production
J Schuh, Gordon K. Smith Photography & Research Toons-N-Design Cover art Published by the
DALLAS PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION PO Box 142858, Irving TX 75014 dallasproducers.org OFFICERS
Clayton Coblentz President
Bob Dauber Keith Randal Duncan Bill Flynn Josh Hurst Russ Jolly Brandon Jones Allen Mondell Todd Sims Don Stokes Laurel Wilson
Martha Duncan Vice President Linda McAlister Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Preston Administrative Director
Meanwhile, Twentieth Century Fox Television has been in Dallas filming episodes of a new series titled The Deep End which is slated to premiere on ABC in 2010 as a midseason replacement. The lawyer comedy/drama from producer David Hemingson (How I Met Your Mother) features Billy Zane (Titanic), TonyAward winner Norbert Leo Butz and Clancy Brown (Shawshank Redemption). The Deep End follows a collection of young lawyers from diverse backgrounds as they enter one of the most prestigious law firms in Los Angeles. The production began filming in late September at the Studios at Las Colinas and the George L. Allen Courts Building among other area locations.
For article submission requirements, visit the DPA web site at dallasproducers.org/newsletter. All content must approved by the editor. Announcements are not necessarily an endorsement of, or by, the DPA. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed are those of the article author or of the person interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the views of the DPA. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the content, the DPA cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. The Reel is for informational purposes only and is produced without negligent, malicious or fraudulent intent. Omissions or errors are accidental. Corrections are requested; please send to the editor at email@example.com. 2 dallasproducers.org
The Deep End
education DPA EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS GROWING For some time now, the DPA has offered a mentoring program for individuals with specific needs in the production of film, video, animation, commercials, corporate videos, industrials, music and sound, editing, post production, educational programs, and documentaries. The DPA presently boasts a membership of over 200 professional companies, and many of these have had the good fortune of working with some very talented people over the years. This involvement has been fruitful for both the mentees and our members.
m e n t e egs s e e k i nr s mento
DPA member companies which have participated have come to realize that mentoring is a very small investment with a considerable payoff. The good news is that this assistance program is designed to be a short term sponsorship, committed to fostering relationships between our members and local aspiring producers and filmmakers. The program is simple. Members and their mentees decide on the amount of time which is most appropriate. This could be as little as an hour or two, or whatever is necessary to get the ball rolling. After that, future contact is optional. In addition to mentoring, a number of companies have, on their own, successfully provided internships for local educational institutions. If you have not yet taken advantage of this resource, we would like to invite you to participate, and will offer you assistance. We have recently established liaison with a number of schools in the DFW area. Programs seeking internships may now initiate contact with the DPA membership through Listserv, and negotiations will be made directly between interested companies and the schools. Details such as student requirements, overall goals of the internship, and any particulars which would help the DPA member understand the basis for evaluating performance against the schoolâ€™s academic criteria would be part of the negotiations. These submission procedures have been sent to the schools, and expanded details of these programs will be posted shortly in an update of the DPA website. In addition, in the near future, each DPA member company will be furnished a list of contacts at schools which have expressed an interest in participating. We anticipate this program will provide a valuable service to local students and our members. Looking forward to working with you. Bill Flynn Dallas Producers Association, Board Member and Education Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
spEakerS pAnEl DPA MEMBERS GO “BEHIND THE SCENES” AS PART OF SPEAKERS PANEL “How can I be marketable upon graduation from school?” “How important is networking?” “What are some of the tips and tricks to be successful in the industry?” “How beneficial is doing an internship?”
These are just some of the myriad questions that were posed to a professional speakers panel that took place at the Art Institute of Dallas in August. The session was billed as “Behind The Scenes – A Film/Video Expert Panel Discussion.” Representing the Dallas Producers Association were production veterans Bill Flynn (HATSUA Productions) and Bob Dauber (Bob’s (pretty good) Creative). They were joined by Claire Chiapetta (Cactex Media), Rene Guerrero (Miasma Film Group), Kevin Hanson (DRIVE Collective), Libby Mitchell (Imagine Ink), Lynne Moon (MoonDrops N’ Props), Paul Vela (Mary Kay) and Bettye Zoller (Voices, Voices), all of who embodied a broad spectrum of the film and video production industry.
The session was well attended and far exceeded expectations. The school anticipated 75 students to attend and in fact, there were 125+ that came to participate. The panelists fielded a wide-reaching range of questions presented by the inquisitive and enthusiastic students and hopefully, they (the students) came away from the session with some solid advice and glimpses of reality about the film and video business. The panelists were universally impressed with the substance of the inquiries and genuine interest shown on the parts of the students. The Digital Filmmaking and Video Production Department of the Art Institute of Dallas currently has 225 students and offers both Associate and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. From this group, it’s very likely that members of the next generation of film/video professionals will emerge, if they haven’t already.
MembEr notes DALLAS AUDIO POST ON THE WEB Dallas Audio Post Group works with Tomm Coker, a renowned visual artist from the comics world, on a 10 episode web comic for Warner Brothers Music called Audio Quest: A Captain Lights Adventure. The web comic features the synth-pop sensation, Lights. Captain Lights is a super-hero seeking to restore sound to the universe. Dallas Audio Post’s contributions to the series includes sound design, voice recording and special music remixing designed to create a music score for each episode. Sound Design was handled by Rene Coronado, Lead Sound Designer for Dallas Audio Post. Rene also performed the voice of “Lotar” the evil antagonist in the web comic. The music remixing was by done Dallas Audio Post Music Supervisor, Brad Dale, using the multi-track elements of the artist’s songs. The Captain Lights web comics will premiere on MTVmusic.com and will also be featured on Warner Brothers Music’s website, the artist’s website (www.iamlights.com) and YouTube. The first episode was released on Monday, September 28, 2009. www. dallasaudiopost.com
BRUCE DECK ON THE ICE Director/cameraman Bruce Deck worked the Stanley Cup Playoffs again this year for NBC and Versus. Seen here during the finals in Pittsburgh on the bench of the eventual Cup-winning Penguins. To see 30+ years of production stills, check the website. www.brucedeck.net
MAGIC VIDEO IN EAST CHICAGO Magic Video traveled to East Chicago to produce a 30 second TV spot for Ameristar East Chicago Casino Hotel. Incorporated in 1893 as a railroad and steel town, East Chicago was one of the Northwest Indiana Region’s first industrial cities, which was created to meet the needs of its workers. At one time, East Massoum Mirzaei, producer, and Chicago was the home of over seventy different Joseph Saldana, cameraman, are nationalities complete with their own ethnic based on the scene to shoot the spot. neighborhoods. Heritage and tradition remain a focal Photos by Joseph Saldana. point of our great city. This diversity is reflected on Ameristar’s team members and the TV spot we are producing for this region. Magic Video used prime lens inside the casino to obtain very shallow depth of field and focus on the team members and their message. 45 team members were shot in one day in three locations. The spot will be aired starting in November 2009. www.magicvideo.com dallasproducers.org
Curse of It Came lived up to its The stage was set at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas for yet another chapter of It Came From Dallas! This newest incarnation was entitled “Curse of It Came From Dallas – Taking the Fifth!” Throngs of people, eager to view rarely seen movie clips, trailers and images beyond the scope of their collective imaginations, began to fill the theater. The strains of eerie music played on a Theremin (you can look it up) filled the air, performed by thereminist Robert Froehner (you can look him up, too).
O ctober 1 5 , 2 0 0 9
As the house lights dimmed, Bob Dauber, chairperson for It Came From Dallas, took to the stage and the show’s first piece of video rolled, but without sound and not in color and none of this was intentional! The projection system had a hiccup. Then came a succession of false starts and assorted projection malfunctions leading Bob to ask the audience, “What are you folks doing tomorrow night?” It appeared as though the word “Curse” was grabbing hold of the evening’s proceedings.
As Bob went though introductory remarks, he announced that one of the featured guests scheduled for the evening, Jerry Haynes, a/k/a Mr. Peppermint, was not able to attend due to health reasons. At that point, upon request, the entire audience turned towards the camera covering the wide shot of the theater and gave a tumultuous shout-out and standing ovation to Jerry, that was captured on video and will be given to him at a later date. It was quite apparent that the folks in attendance had a very warm spot in their hearts for this man they’d known on the TV for over 30 years. This was followed by another round of technical glitches, but then, things eventually settled down and co-hosts Gordon K. Smith and Mark Fickert (appearing in the role of Gary Cogill) took over from there and led the audience on a merry chase through North Texas film history. Clips and trailers were shown from the popular TV series Route 66 that had filmed several episodes in Dallas in the early 60’s.
Johnny Beasley and Howard Fisher 6
me From Dallas! name These really showed off and brought back memories to many of what Dallas looked like in those days. Other productions featured were State Fair (the movie) and Bonnie and Clyde, portions of which were filmed at Bill Stokes Associates, now Post Asylum. Next up, a segment from 1981 of the aforementioned Mr. Peppermint and his show, Peppermint Place, featuring Phil’s Hummonic Kazoo Band led by a then, very hirsute Bob Dauber and a number of other folks from the production industry. Of course, Mr. Peppermint was prominently shown contributing to the humming extravaganza.
Believe it or not, the show began to get serious and another of the evening’s scheduled special guests, Dallas native Glenn Morshower, was featured in clips from the movie Drive-In that was produced in Dallas in the 1976. Morshower has been seen as Agent Aaron Pierce in 50 episodes of the popular TV show “24” and has more than 150 film and television appearances to his credit. Glenn came up to the stage to share some anecdotal moments with the audience and then called two of his co-stars from Drive-In to join him – Lisa Lemole and Gary Cavagnaro, both of whom live in the Dallas area, to reminisce about that production, too. Other special guests who were introduced from the stage and who had been in added movies shown were Dale Berry and Bob Magruder.
As the show moved forward, two Dallas Producers Association Film Pioneer Awards were presented to a couple of production veterans, symbolic of the major contributions they made to the moving image industry in Dallas, Brownie Brownrigg (posthumously) and Howard Fisher. A previous award recipient, Johnny Beasley, accepted on behalf of Brownrigg family members who were unable to attend because of production commitments. DPA President, Clayton Coblentz handled the presentation of the Brownrigg award. Howard Fisher, who was the first truly independent director in the market, was in attendance and gave an enlightening and encouraging acceptance speech. Both of the recipients had video tribute presentations shown prior to the awards being presented. After a brief intermission and a round of raffle drawings in which thousands of dollars of donated goods and services were given away, the show resumed
ICFD Pioneer Awards for 2009 went to Brownie Brownrigg (posthumously) and Howard Fisher. 8
with Act II. Gordon and Mark provided more clips, trailers and other assorted visual goodies, among them a DEVO music video and legendary lore regarding the film, The Code of Josey Wales. Another distinctive treat for the audience was a specially prepared segment highlighting just some the outstanding, award-winning documentary work of DPA members Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell and their company, Media Projects, Inc. This particular montage focused on work they produced during a span from the 1970’s into the 1990’s. All in all, despite its shaky beginning, Curse of It Came From Dallas — Taking the Fifth, was thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance and its fulfillment of its stated purpose — raising funds for the Dallas Producers Association and the important work that it does — was a total success! Please be on the lookout for next year’s installment of It Came From Dallas around the same time next year. Hope to see you there! www.itcamefromdallas.com
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member nEws BEING ‘ONE WITH THE STORM’ DRIVES CONTENT FOR STORMSTOCK There are few in the world who posses the unique set of skills developed by Prairie Pictures’ StormStock founder Martin Lisius. Lisius is part storm chaser, part cinematographer and part producer. Over the past 20 years, he has amassed the most dynamic collection of weather footage in the world. “To be successful at capturing quality storm footage, you have to really understand how the atmosphere works and become part of it,” Lisius said. “Weather is constantly evolving and flowing, like a river, and if you aren’t in sync with it, it will leave you behind.” Lisius prepares over a hundred storm forecasts a year, poring over new data throughout the day from the Prairie Pictures office in Arlington, or from his intercept vehicle in the field. “In the case of tornadoes, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” he said. “I have to determine where and when a tornado will occur hours before storms develop since I may need to drive hundreds of miles to get there. And, to get a good angle on a tornado, I’ll need to get to a four or five square mile patch of land within a risk area sometimes comprising twenty thousand square miles.” In addition to tornadoes, Lisius intercepts and photographs hurricanes, lightning, microbursts and blizzards. Fierce winds, flying debris, torrential rain, close lightning 12
strikes and bitter cold are all part of a regular work day. “It’s a dirty, wet and often uncomfortable job, but being out in the wind and in the most pristine element of nature is worth the sacrifices.” Lisius shoots 35mm on his Arriflex and transfers to HD at &Transfer in Dallas. StormStock imagery is utilized by film and TV producers worldwide for theatrical features, documentaries, commercials and music videos. In his spare time, Lisius chairs the Texas Severe Storms Association, a national non-profit dedicated to severe weather research and education. He is also president of Tempest Tours, Inc., a company that operates storm chasing expeditions for guests from around the world. www. prairiepictures.com Supercell near Kress, Texas
EYE TO EYE PRODUCTIONS & VIDEOPLUS TEAM UP FOR AMWAY Stephen Cabrero of Eye to Eye Productions recently completed a project for VideoPlus which entailed the production of three videos for Amway in Spanish and three in Portuguese. The Spanish videos were created to cover all of Latin America including Mexico. This represented a challenge because the nuances of the languages had to be maintained, and at the same time when talking about a marketing plan, the scripting and packaging had to be adjusted in a way that would be useful for all the countries. The production was shot in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bogota, Colombia; El Salvador and Mexico City, as well as studio shots in Dallas and a location shoot in Las Vegas. Local contributors included Major Litton, Joseph Saldaña, Alvaro Fernández, Scott Wilson, Pamela Rueda, Evil Twin Brother on graphics, David Jewel of db Audio Services, Maria Durand with Kim Dawson and Patty Anthe, Shelley Rojas, Scott Burnett and Travis Johnson from VideoPlus and MPS Studios. Completion of the 6 videos took around 3 months. www.i2iprod.com
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MEmber newS Mondells Honored for Documentary Excellence Media Projects is very proud to announce that their documentary on anti-Semitism in Europe today, The Monster Among Us, has received the Special Jury Award at the 42nd annual Worldfest International Film Festival in Houston. The highest honor given in its category, the Special Jury Award recognizes outstanding creative achievement in filmmaking. The third oldest film festival in North America, WorldFest’s mission is to recognize and honor creative excellence in film & video and promote future filmmaking. During the 10-day festival, 450 filmmakers from more than 32 nations around the world were in attendance. The Monster Among Us documents how, sixty years after the Holocaust, a new brand of anti-Semitism has emerged once more in Europe, directly connected to radical Muslim beliefs and actions that have spread from the Middle East to Europe. Jews from all walks of life in six different European countries tell of being attacked in their neighborhoods, of cemeteries desecrated, of synagogues burned, of being ostracized at work. This antiSemitism has surfaced on university campuses, in the media, on the streets, at political demonstrations, on the Internet and in seemingly innocent social situations. According to directors Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, “As we travel around the country showing the film to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, we find that their shock at the extent and severity of the incidents is followed by a genuine concern about what can be done to prevent a Holocaust from happening again.” Dallas-based Media Projects has been producing and distributing its work for 30 years. Founded by filmmakers Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, MPI specializes in exploring historical subjects and topics of social concern. Some have received specialized theatrical distribution and have aired on PBS and national cable networks. www.mediaprojects.org 14
Living to Tell the Tale:
Doc Sheds New Light on ’72 Andes Plane Crash Tragedy
AMS Pictures announced production is underway on I’m Alive: Nando Parrado’s Story, a documentary that chronicles the tragedy of Uruguayan Flight 571 and its aftermath through the eyes of survivor Nando Parrado. The ordeal of Flight 571 gained worldwide attention when it was revealed that the survivors—given up for dead in the desolate, snowcovered Andes Mountains—resorted to eating the bodies of the dead to survive. Parrado, accompanied by Roberto Canessa, breached the mountains after 72 days and secured rescue for 14 others who remained at the crash site.
Through never-before-seen, remastered HD archival footage, rare photographs, expert scientific analysis, state-of-the-art computer animation, and unflinching commentary by Parrado, I’m Alive reveals new insight into the ordeal, including: the fateful decisions and cruel irony that defined the disaster, an analysis of the cause of the crash, the search efforts, the failed expeditions, the physical and psychological trauma of starvation, and finally, the escape, rescue, and acclimation back into “normal” life for Parrado. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to tell this story in a way that’s never been done before, and for a whole new generation of viewers,” said Parrado, who authored the bestseller Miracle in the Andes and was portrayed by Ethan Hawke in the 1993 motion picture account of the tragedy, Alive. “And while it’s not always an easy story to hear, I think the lessons it holds are more relevant today than ever.” “AMS Pictures is thrilled to work with Nando on this project,” said Andy Streitfeld, executive producer. “This is the greatest human survival epic of our time. Our goal is to produce the definitive account of how one man on the edge of death—and against all odds—achieved the impossible.” The film is being directed and edited by Brad Osborne (Shock, The Real Great Debaters), and is slated for an early 2010 release. www.amspictures.com dallasproducers.org
EventS INDUSTRY GIANTS 2009 CONFERENCE By Deanna Sanchez The eighth annual Industry Giants conference, “Building a Community” was held June 5th and 6th, 2009 at the Collin County Community College District Spring Creek Campus. Hosted by A Bunch of Short Guys and the CCCCD Applied Graphic Design Technology department, the conference was sponsored by the Dallas Producers Association along with many DPA member companies. The event featured a distinctive lineup of speakers working in all areas of animation and visual effects for the film, television and gaming industries, and attendees enjoyed a fantastic range of presenters, as well as Master Classes and an informative panel discussion. Industry Giants is not just for animators and gaming designers; it is especially pertinent to producers, directors, crew and those in the moving picture industries. By attending the conference, producers can learn about the multitude of ways to utilize animation and visual effects in film and many other media. Presentations such as the “invisible effects” in Night at the Museum 2 and the fully generated cityscape views from Dragonball are excellent for showing how much work really goes into creating a visualization or animation. Some projects that look like they should be simple are much, much more detailed — and vice versa. Industry Giants gives an opportunity to ask questions such as how much time was involved for a visualization project, what materials and software were used, and how cost was estimated. As in previous years, Industry Giants brought together an incredible forum of experienced speakers and offered attendees a chance to get a glimpse into the latest animation in film, television and gaming. 16
Will Nicholson, CG Supervisor at Café FX has credits on Spy Kids, Sin City, The Mummy 3, Seven Pounds, Dragonball, and Night at the Museum 2, and showed behind the scenes images from some of these films. Jason Manley, President of MassiveBlack.com, gave an inspiring talk on connecting for business in today’s (and tomorrow’s) world through ConceptArt.org and other modern networks. Tadao Mihashi, Technical Developer for Digital Domain, astounded us with images from Benjamin Button and the amount of work that went into creating the believable likenesses. DPA member Janimation’s talented Senior Creative Director Greg Punchatz presented samples from his prolific career, which includes Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Robocop (all three films), Coming to America, Spy Kids 2, as well as creatures for the best-selling video game, Doom. Jay Hawkins, Senior Concept Artist for Epic Games, showed the trials and tribulations of creating concepts for the game Gears of War. An incredibly gifted artist, all of his work was hand drawn. J Schuh, DPA member and co-founder of ABOSG, stated last year, “2D is the new 3D,” and he couldn’t have been more right. A stunner at the event, Michel Gagné, who has lent his talents to Don Bluth Studios, Warner Bros., Disney, and Pixar, premiered his new Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet Game. Produced completely in 2D, the mind bending art and animation is almost indescribable. Michel also pioneered an exploration into the fifth dimension with a 2D animation set to experimental music, which is already slated to perform in Vancouver in 2010. Janis Burklund, Dallas Film Commissioner,
and David Friedman, North Texas Regional Representative of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, presented informative sessions on their respective organizations and the positive growth of the animation and gaming industries, and DPA President Clayton Coblentz gave an excellent presentation on the Dallas Producers Association and opportunities to join our organization. Leah Smith, Animation and Video Game Liaison for the Texas Film Commission, moderated the entertaining panel discussion
and gave great insight into the extensive work that the Texas Film Commission is doing for animation and video game production. Industry Giants is an inspiring and informative conference filled with fascinating images, engaging discussions, advanced visualization techniques, and opportunities to meet some of the top national animation and gaming talent in one convenient location. We hope to see you at the event next year!. ď‚ˇ
Special thanks goes to Industry Giants Committee members Raul Aparicio, Brett Briley, Amy Cass, Tom Ottinger, Rick Perez, J. Marshall Pittman, J Schuh, Vince Sidwell, and all the Industry Giants volunteers!
mEMber newS M3 FILMS HAS TWO WORLD PREMIERES AT AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL The latest projects by M3 Films, Torey’s Distraction, a documentary feature, and Bob Schneider: Live at the Paramount, a live concert film, made their world premieres at the 2009 Austin Film Festival in Austin, Texas, which ran Oct. 22-29, 2009. Torey’s Distraction, produced by Melina McKinnon of M3 Films and King Hollis of Media 13, and directed by Tisha Blood, creates awareness of Apert Syndrome and aims to generate support for those affected by this genetic mutation. Filmed over a decade with love and humor, Torey’s Distraction is a moving portrait of three children with Apert Syndrome – a rare genetic condition that causes skeletal mutation and craniofacial anomalies. Torey Harrah, Emily Hogan and Saige Blotske were born with their skulls, fingers and toes fused shut. Without surgery, they risk lifelong brain damage, and possibly death. Filmmaker Tisha Blood’s intimate documentary offers an up-close, personal perspective of Torey, Emily, Saige and their families, who in spite of their differences live a courageous life. They are proof that while we all look different on the outside, we all have the same hopes and dreams. “Torey’s Distraction is the first project to world premiere in our upcoming slate of four filManthropy™ films,” said Melina McKinnon, founder of M3 Films. “This debut is the beginning of a national effort to raise awareness about Apert Syndrome and generate funding for the Torey’s Distraction Fund of the Dallas Foundation. The fund will provide for the long term care of Torey Harrah and Emily Hogan; support the Children’s Craniofacial Association, and aims to provide funding for research into the cause of these genetic anomalies.” Bob Schneider: Live at the Paramount is the third musicMentary™ for M3 Films, director King Hollis, and co-production company Brando Records. This live concert film was filmed at the legendary and historic Paramount Theatre in Austin. First with Joe Rockhead at the Black Cat Lounge in the early ‘90s, then with the Scabs from 1997 to 2001 at Antone’s, and now as a solo artist, Bob Schneider is beloved, acclaimed and revered as the “King of the Austin music scene”. This is Schneider as you have never heard or seen him. Unfiltered and performing old and new favorites – Schneider always throws a great rock & roll party. “This is the third installment of live concert films by M3 Films,” said McKinnon. “Following the success of the previous musicMentaries™ for Blue October and Bowling for Soup, director King Hollis and I partnered again with executive producer Mike Swinford of Brando Records to bring the brilliance of Bob Schneider to the big screen. We are thrilled this musicMentary™ will debut at the Austin Film Festival – after all, it’s a Texas project through and through!” M3 Films, founded in 2003, is a Dallas-based company specializing in film, finance and philanthropy. www.m3filmsllc.com dallasproducers.org
member news AMS PICTURES’ STOP THE PRESSES: THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER IN PERIL Makes Television Debut on KERA-TV; National Distribution Secured With newspapers across the nation hemorrhaging journalists as they battle declining advertising sales, increased stockholder pressure and the influence of the Internet, a new television documentary examines the plight of print journalism and the impact on American democracy. Revised and updated since its film festival debut in 2008, Stop the Presses: The American Newspaper in Peril made its American television debut October 26 on KERA-TV. The documentary will be distributed nationally by American Public Television early next year. “This is the only documentary that has been produced on this critical subject,” says newspaperman and filmmaker, Manny Mendoza. “New data by the Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that 10,000 journalists have been laid-off or bought-out since we concluded production of this project in 2008. That means some 14,000 journalists have lost their jobs nationally since 2001.” Stop the Presses uses interviews with reporters, editors, media critics, journalism professors, students and newspaper readers to document the historic role of newspaper journalists as public watchdogs. Pulitzer Prize winners Ben Bradlee and Anne Hull of The Washington Post, David Carr of The New York Times, Ken Auletta of The New Yorker, humor columnist Dave Barry with The Miami Herald and Ed Asner, TV’s Lou Grant, are among those interviewed for the project. The documentary also incorporates film clips depicting the image of journalists in popular culture from His Girl Friday, Deadline U.S.A., Ace in the Hole, Inherit the Wind, All the President’s Men and The Paper. The Chicago Sun Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News all filed for bankruptcy protection this year. The Tribune Co. media group filed for bankruptcy in December 2008. “We originally subtitled the film Death of the American Newspaper,” says Producer/Director Mark Birnbaum. “That seemed like hyperbole at the time and we changed it. We could have stayed with the original title because, sadly, that’s what appears to be taking place.” Stop the Presses made its world premiere amidst critical acclaim at the 2008 AFI-Dallas International Film Festival. The documentary also screened at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the Starz Denver International Film Festival and the Berkeley Video and Film Festival where it was awarded a Gold Medal. The film has also been screened on numerous college and university campuses. An educational version of the documentary, which includes an accompanying guide for high school and university journalism teachers, is available online at www.amspictures.com. Stop the Presses: The American Newspaper in Peril is a production of AMS Pictures and End of Story Films. The documentary was co-produced by Director/Producers Mark Birnbaum and Manny Mendoza with Executive Producer, Andy Streitfeld. Additional information about the documentary is available at www.stopthepressesdoc.com 20
the roots of war... the road to peace Filmmaker/DPA Member Niki Nicastro McCuistion For all of us, our world changed on 9/11. Even if we were not personally affected, the economy, technology, Homeland Security, getting through an airport with the ease we once had… has had an impact. Little did I know the change it would bring to my life with a phone call from one of the funders of the McCuistion TV program that I have produced for the last 20 years. It was late autumn 2003 and 9/11 was still a raw issue. The funder asked me if I was interested in producing a documentary on terrorism, what led to 9/11 and subsequent events. I hesitated for two seconds — “yes, of course.” I submitted a grant proposal, it was accepted, and the adventure began. I’d never produced a doc and this work would involve going to the Middle East, interviewing officials, scholars, man/woman on the street, soldiers, and fringe groups. In retrospect my naïveté amazes me. Somehow it all worked, from visas to appointments. Iran declined our visit — took our visa money and said no thank you when I too-truthfully said we wanted to explore democracy and the role of women and terrorism. We were going to Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Israel. People responded to my requests, they said yes, interviews were set up and off we went. A budding filmmaker was born. The team: 22
Phil Smith — videographer; my former husband, Dennis McCuistion — narrator and co-interviewer; and yours truly — producer, director and co-interviewer… all of us eager to show up Michael Moore.
First stop: Jordan for an overnight, then onto Iraq. Our unmarked white plane should have been a clue. Landing in a zig zag pattern surrounded by helicopters was an omen to the suicide bombing we encountered two blocks from our hotel — the first night there. We learned not everyone wanted us. Yet some citizens talked to us and invited us for tea and thanked us. Children would surround us — especially me. We saw the hospitals and schools the US had built. And we encountered hostility as well as acceptance.
In each country we visited, more of the same. The ugly American was hated for his/her politics — not as individuals — and we ran into some touchy incidents. In Jordan, we filmed the funeral of a Hamas leader and an event with Queen Rania protesting violence against women. In a Palestinian camp in Lebanon, with tears running down my face as I interviewed, a woman screamed at me — that she would gladly sacrifice her son as a suicide bomber to help the cause. Yet in his interview with us the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Ayatollah Fadllalah, lamented the use of violence. In Israel and Palestine, we interviewed leaders, soldiers, and everyday citizens affected by the ”fence/wall”; one side, intent on keeping suicide bombers out, the other whose whole lives were impacted as villages were cut down the middle by a 15 foot high wall. And on Palm Sunday, as church bells pealed in Jerusalem, we stood on a hill with a CBS crew and IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the talent for CBS asked if he could go first since all he needed was a sound bite from IDF regarding the security fence. I thought “a sound bite” on this most divisive issue that is one of the protests bin Laden cites as his reasoning? My life changed once
again. I determined these issues would be my life work and it would never be about “sound bites.” Home again, and months of editing and more interviews and getting b-roll and… Scheduled for airing in January of 2006, we first aired Roots at the Angelika to community leaders. Well-received, it was a shock to get a protest from the Freedom and Justice Foundation saying the work was biased and inaccurate. They were emphatic, and KERA pulled it. And I had to go back to the drawing board, re-vet, and shorten. Our funding was gone, yet terrorism is not static. Phil Smith and I funded the remake out of our own pockets. Needing to keep it up to date, I made numerous trips to interview again here and in the Middle East, and Roots of War finally aired on KERA in June of 2009. If I knew then what I know now — little would change. Perhaps more preparation, getting experts involved in dialogue before setting out, showing it to key experts as we went along. I have learned painfully about issues such as terrorism and the schism in Middle East politics and jihaddism no-one agrees. There are moderate Muslims who want peace and democracy and are terrorized by their own people so they do not speak up. And I’ve learned I can make a film that counts, that educates and I can hold my ground. Because in the end, as producers it is our work. The Roots of War… the Road to Peace is an ongoing saga. Stay tuned ’cause there is more to come. www.therootsofwar.com email@example.com Twitter@therootsofwar
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