Feel Good Film Fest Announces Hosts, Tribute Honoree and New Media panel

Posted in feeling good, film festivals, New Media by johnwildman on August 6, 2010

THE FEEL GOOD FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES

ACADEMY AWARD-WINNER AND CURRENT EMMY NOMINEE SHIRLEY JONES AS FEEL GOOD TRIBUTE RECIPIENT

CHERYL HINES AS OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION HOST

HAL SPARKS AS CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS CEREMONY HOST

NEW MEDIA PANEL FEATURES WORLD PREMIERES OF “ALIEN NINJA,” “MY FUTURE GIRLFRIEND,” “THE TREASURE HUNT: A CHAD, MATT AND ROB INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE” WEB SERIES

LOS ANGELES, CA August 4, 2010 – The 2010 Feel Good Film Festival (FGFF) announces Academy Award winner Shirley Jones will be the Feel Good Tribute Honoree for the 3rd edition of the film festival.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines will serve as the Host for the Opening Night Celebration on Friday, August 13. Comedian Hal Sparks takes on the hosting duties for the Closing Night Awards Ceremony on Sunday, August 15.

Details were also announced for the FGFF Filmmaker Panel. Focusing on new media, the panel is titled, “Why Web Series Suck.”

Hines will serve as the host for the Opening Night Celebration co-presented by FETE that will feature the presentation of Joe Ballarini’s FATHER VS SON. Beginning with the film festival’s signature “yellow” carpet entrances (in honor of FGFF’s sunflower logo), in the Egyptian Theatre courtyard, the Gala event will include an after party presented by Roaring Lion, The Happy Ending Bar & Restaurant, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and TeTeo Tequila.

A two-time Emmy nominee for her work on the Golden Globe Award-winning series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and director of last year’s critically acclaimed indie dark comedy SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, Hines most recent project has required her to serve as executive producer on the upcoming NBC reality series “School Pride.” The decidedly feel good project is a proactive, alternative series that tells the stories of communities coming together to renovate their aging and broken public schools. While transforming the school, the community also restores its sense of value and school pride. The cameras follow students; teachers and parents as they roll up their sleeves and rebuild their own schools, concluding with the unveiling of a brand new, completely transformed school.

Hines previous credits include the feature films THE UGLY TRUTH, RV, WAITRESS, THE GRAND and BART GOT A ROOM, as well as ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters” and “In the Motherhood,” Hines has also produced and directed various television projects, including the award-winning comedy series “Campus Ladies” for the Oxygen Channel and the Starz Networks original comedy series “Hollywood Residential.”

Regarding taking the reins from previous FGFF hosts Rainn Wilson and Carlos Mencia, “It’s a thrill to be the first woman to host the Feel Good Film Festival’s Opening Night Celebration. Just like Carlos and Rainn, I’ll put on my Old Spice and Spanx and do my best. It’s a great festival and I look forward to kicking off the weekend of films and events with some really, really good feelings.”

Popular comedian and actor, Hal Sparks, will host the FGFF Closing Night Filmmaker Awards Ceremony.

Following his hosting duties on E! Entertainment Television’s “Talk Soup” (1999-2000) and frequent appearances on a myriad of comedy clip shows on VH-1, Sparks is primarily known for his work on Showtime’s “Queer as Folk” (2000-2005).

Currently, Sparks has been dividing his time on the comedy tour following the release of his “Charmaggedon” DVD, as well as performing with his band, Zero 1.

The choice of Shirley Jones as the Feel Good Tribute Honoree also will mark the first time a woman has been so honored, following Jonathan Winters and Ed Asner during the first two years of the film festival.

From her start in the classic big screen musicals OKLAHOMA! (1955), CAROUSEL (1956) and THE MUSIC MAN (1962), Shirley Jones embodied the image of singing ingénue. Her startling Academy Award winning performance in ELMER GANTRY (1960) simply confirmed her versatility on the big screen.

Of course, any discussion of Jones’ impact on the world of entertainment has to include her role as the iconic ‘Shirley Partridge’ on the classic 70s situation comedy “The Partridge Family” (1970-74). Co-starring with her real life stepson David Cassidy, the series not only was immensely popular during its four-year run, but also has proved evergreen gaining fans through syndicated runs and DVD releases up to the present.

A four-time Golden Globe nominee (ELMER GANTRY – 1960), (THE MUSIC MAN – 1962), (“The Partridge Family” – 1971 & 1972), Jones has recently added another Emmy nomination to her impressive list of accolades for her performance last season in “The Cleaner”. The nomination follows previous nods for “Silent Night, Lonely Night” (1969) and “Hidden Places” (2006).

Feel Good Film Festival Founder and Co-Director, Kristen Ridgway Flores said, “We are thrilled to have two fabulous feel-good female role models for the 2010 festival! With Cheryl Hines opening the festival and then honoring the legendary Shirley Jones on Closing Night, I guess we could call this year the “Year of Woman”. What an exciting time!”

The Feel Good Film festival also announced details for its annual featured Filmmaker panel to take place at the Egyptian Theater on Saturday, August 14. Focusing on New Media and presented by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, the panel is entitled, “Why Web Series Suck.”

Taking the form of a mock trial, the panel will screen some of the hottest web content currently available online, as well as offer up notable world premieres of highly anticipated series – all in the service of looking at the inroads that scripted entertainment produced for the internet have made over the last few years.

Co-moderated by FGFF Programmer Matt Bolish and FGFF Co-Director America Young, confirmed panelists will include Devin Faraci (CHUD.com), Dave Poland (Movie City News) and Dana Tuiner (Manager, Comedy Development – FOX Broadcasting).

Participating Web series include:

ABIGALE’S TEENAGE DIARY

SCR/PROD/CAST: Hayden Black

ALIEN NINJA (World Premiere)

DIR/SCR: Greg Aronowitz

PROD: Sheri Bryant

MY FUTURE GIRLFRIEND (World Premiere)

DIR/PROD: Brian Amyot

SCR/PROD: Steven Tsapelas

PROD: Patrick Cohen

THE LEGEND OF NEIL

DIR/SCR/EXEC PROD: Sandeep Parikh

PROD: Jeff Winkler

SCR/CAST: Tony Janning

PROD: Leah Mann

THE TREASURE HUNT: A CHAD, MATT, AND ROB INTERACTIVE

ADVENTURE (World Premiere)

DIR/SCR/PROD/CAST: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin

DIR/PROD: Tyler Gillett

SCR/CAST/PROD: Rob Polonsky

PROD: Justin Martinez

PROD/CAST: Chad Villella

Regarding the announcement of the “Why Web Series Suck” panel, Young said, “While there has been a lot of discussion and forums about web shows, they seem to be done mainly by those who already appreciate and/or create them.  There are a lot of critical views of web series.  We wanted, with respect and fun, to open up the floor to differing opinions with the hope of broadening the influence and popularity of quality web shows even further. This panel should be a creative way to call attention to that while debuting and shining a light on some of the best work being done on the web.”

Festival passes and tickets are available for purchase on fgff.org.

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What’s Actually Happening – March 3 (DALLAS FILM FEST, SXSW, FESTWORKS, STRIPPED)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 5, 2010

What’s Actually Happening – March 3

I feel bad. I feel guilty. Because I started this blog about a year ago at Justina’s (my wife) urging and I was into it and writing fun stuff that was behind the scenes and naming some names and taking some artistic licenses and people were starting to follow it and pay attention to what was actually going on in my life with the stuff that I do.

Then I kept getting busier and busier. Which you would think would make it more and more interesting except that I stopped the actual blogging stuff and just posted press releases and interviews and movie reviews. Which I want everyone to see but that isn’t the point, is it? If I’m asking you to check into this damn thing then I should make it worth your while.

So, I’m taking another stab at it. Because there is A LOT happening and a lot happening with me wearing various different hats. So I’m going to try and stop being a perfectionist with the prose and just start delivering some goods – rough on the edit edges or not.

So, here’s some stuff to look forward to:

DALLAS International Film Festival. I’m into it BIG TIME. We’re like five weeks out or something and there’s great, exciting stuff and there’s “what the hell?!” stuff and there’s a lot of praying – to uhmmm…no one in particular. Because that’s how it works in film festival land. AND, this is the first year with no AFI involvement. Training wheels are off, baby! And I just might throw in some thoughts later as to why I believe that was a HUGE mistake on their part. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the “vision” thing. Or lack of it.

SXSW (or South by Southwest Film Festival for those of you that need this shit spelled out – literally). I’ll be covering the film festival for Movie City News, like I just did for the Sundance Film Festival. And once again, I’ll try to write about every damn thing that happens to me so you’ll have an idea of what the experience is like. Of course, you’ll have to go to Movie City News to read it, since Dave Poland promotes the fact that I’m reporting/writing/reviewing for him, so he’s kind of like you to read it on his pages instead of mine. And since I would kind of like him to pay me for doing that…it works for me.

FESTWORKS. At Sundance, Rose Kuo (Artistic Director), Robert Koehler (Director of Programming and film critic extraordinaire, David Rogers (Festival Producer) and myself joined forces to form our own version of a film festival super group. Hopefully, less like Asia and more like Derek and the Dominoes. But with less heroin and more staying power. Anyway, we all left AFI after beating the odds and the house with AFI FEST last year (if you know what I mean and if you don’t….well, I’ll talk about that at some point too, I’m sure) because we love film festivals in a way that we want them all to be the best damn things ever. And we think we can help various ones do that. Sometimes, it will be just some simple consulting, some times it will be us recommending some kick-ass person we know would be great for the job and a great fit and sometimes will swarm the place, roll up the sleeves and bust our asses side-by-side with the teams in place to make something work. Anyway, I’ll be announcing the first “official” project soon and it will be very, very cool.

STRIPPED. The movie. My first feature film as a director. And the first feature film for Justina and myself as producers. It’s a post-feminist horror film. Three guys on a birthday outing talk their way into the wrong house with the wrong women inside. Think TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE DEVIL’S REJECTS with a “family” of women orchestrating the proceedings…

We are scheduled to shoot this thing at the end of May going into June and as much experience as I have doing various jobs in front of and behind the camera and watching as many films as I do and working with as many filmmakers at the film festivals as I do – well, there is a HUGE learning curve with this thing every single day. Producers on the film include one of the guys responsible for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake and the other producer has cool-ass films like David Lowery wonderful ST. NICK and current SXSWers EARTHLING and AUDREY THE TRAINWRECK under his belt. We already have the horror dynamo known as Tiffany Shepis on board as well as Samrat Chakrabarti, an Indian actor that despite an amazing international filmography we’re getting on the ground floor with because various dumbasses haven’t cast the guy in some weird-ass network sci-fi series where a strange incident has tied a group of random hot people together in a world where truth is false and pretend is sexy….or something like that.

Anyway, Justina and I actually bought the house we’re shooting this thing in. Which I’m living in right now. I’m sleeping in the room that will be inhabited by ‘Crystal’ a hot little sociopath that like the color pink, scrapbooking and uhmmm…cutting things. Our friend Marc Lee is staying in “the killing room.” Fun! So, I’ll clue you into the process as we hurtle along toward the shoot not too unlike one of those test rockets they show in stock footage that would freak you out if you were standing anywhere in the vicinity while it blasts off the blocks and careens not entirely toward its destination.

Here are some fun things about the house: It’s in South Dallas. Which is not a “great” area. But it is a cool two-story four-bedroom place with close to two acres of land and a freeloading horse named “Money” that is taken care of by an old black rodeo guy named “Peewee”. Oh, and we are surrounded by Baptist churches. And a train. One final thing, when we cut the chains that had kept the garage closed since we bought the place we found an old cabinet that had in it (among other things) a bee keepers outfit and smoker, random mason jars with weird stuff in them and two chainsaws! Made to order for Justina and John, the couple that gets romantic when they’re watching OLDBOY.

After that, new stuff that has just come up include doing some stuff with the Texas Frightmare Weekend screenings at the end of April, working with the Las Colinas Studios on a couple projects, possibly the Vision Awards benefit and definitely the Feel Good Film Festival.

I’m sure there is – and will be – more. Because that’s how things have been since January 1st. A very strange year and a very cool year so far.

So stay tuned….

PART TWO: INVITING PRESS TO COVER THE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on February 11, 2009

This discussion begins with Jeffrey Wells’ shenanigans at the Oxford Film Festival and continues with Karina Longworth’s (and Mark Bell’s and Dave Poland’s, etc.) attempts to broaden the discussion into something beyond his bad behavior into the question of who leads and who chooses the music during the ethics dance that takes place when a film festival arranges for airfare/ accommodations for a journalist to attend their festival.
The discussion won’t end here, but I’ll continue it from the viewpoint of someone who has done exactly that for AFI DALLAS, as well as having done the low grade version (inviting to attend premieres, panels and parties, but not having to take care of flight and room) for my other film festivals (AFI FEST, IFFLA, Lone Star and the Feel Good Film Festival).

There are two key points that all of this hinges on. The first being the thing that for my money was the most egregious of Wells’s way-off-the-mark crap-havior, which was his statement that the lunch he was served at a certain point at Oxford was of much more interest to him and his readers than the film that was playing that day.

Ass.

Simple as that.

Because this stuff begins and ends (and throw in the middle part too) with the filmmakers and their films. Bottom line.

It is why the first thing I did upon my arrival at AFI FEST was institute the nightly red carpet which would involve every filmmaker and attending cast for the films that were premiering that evening. Feature or short, big budget or made with what was left from their school loans, auteurs, legends, or first timers – it didn’t matter and it doesn’t matter. They all get that “rock star” moment, because if they made it through the ringer and got their film programmed, they deserve it.

Now, I know the press on that red carpet wants and needs the movie stars to bolster their coverage because I am well aware of the Brangelina thing. However, what’s just as important (and personally – more important) is to get the other filmmakers in the mix. Because, while a picture of David Beckham posed all cozy-like next to an Audi has cashed my check with the sponsor, having Chris Hansen blog about his experience being sandwiched on the red carpet interviews between Bill Paxton and Lou Diamond Phillips while talking about his quirky little comedy THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF AN AMERICAN MESSIAH is easily the bigger home run.

Because he’s gonna make more movies. And when that happens, I want him back at my film festival. And other filmmakers reading that blog will also put my film festival at the top of their hitlist.

This past fall at one of the AFI FEST premieres, a writer from In Touch Magazine arrived late for the red carpet and threw a lot of entitlement-laden attitude at me when I put him toward the tail end of the press line. As if it was my first movie star picnic, he said, “I’m always put up there where you’ve got Entertainment Weekly and People.” I told him he was lucky I was able to squeeze him in there in the first place and he’d get plenty of people to talk to.

What I didn’t tell him was this – he was even lower on my personal totem pole than the place I put him because I knew he was just there to get a quote from someone like Meryl Streep that night. Who wasn’t? Everyone there was going to try and score that one. I was being kind by putting him where I did knowing the extensive in-depth film festival coverage that we rely on In Touch for.

The movie star coverage? That’s not special. Do I need it? Sure I do. But everyone will clamor and claw for it, so that will take care of itself as long as I make the access to Meryl reasonable and convenient for all concerned.

The other part is tougher. Getting press for the unknowns, the first timers, and dear God…the shorts filmmakers. And that’s the most important part for the long term health of this whole thing. Because those guys, those girls, those men and women haven’t just made very cool films or exhibited some insane potential in what they’ve delivered to that particular festival. Often that’s just the beginning. And when the next one rolls around, I want first dibs.

But it SHOULD BE just as important to the journalists. Because that’s the “new.” Those people are the potential big story if someone has the foresight and good taste to single out a Wes Anderson after his BOTTLE ROCKET short, as opposed to his RUSHMORE arrival. Ramin Bahrani? That guy is exciting to me. I caught up with him on CHOP SHOP. Hell, that was after MAN PUSH CART. I still feel bandwagon guilt with him. The director/star tandem of Richie Mehta and Rupinder Nagra of last year’s AMAL? When people start latching on to them after the next or maybe third film, I’ll feel the same way Springsteen fans felt after the glut of “Born in the USA” people joined the ride.

The second key to all of this is the ethics involved when a journalist or critic is “brought in” by a film festival. This was the thing Karina was trying to get into. And it’s something that all of this discussion has caused me to reassess how we will approach this with AFI DALLAS this year and with all of the festivals I work for in the future.

The question is how much coverage (or more to the point – positive coverage) is implied or even possibly agreed to when that deal (so-to-speak) is struck. Frankly, I want all the coverage I can get from someone we are bringing in. And I’ll talk up the storylines that I feel are running through the festival that year or even the individual stories that have struck my imagination. But that’s all I can do. I would never expect I could ask for a set amount of coverage or demand a positive tenor in that coverage. But it wouldn’t matter to me because I believe so much in the festivals I work for. Each one has a distinctive personality and flavor with solid to fantastic people programming the films. Simply put – I trust. I trust that any coverage can’t help but be positive overall because the films are great and I expect the experience to match that.

Does that mean I expect every film to get a rave review? Of course not. But I’ll let the films and the filmmakers present the argument for themselves. Now, I’ll try to “set the table” – prepare a journalist or critic for what’s in store so they won’t go sit down for a dark, surreal comedy expecting TALLEDEGA NIGHTS, but other than that…that film was programmed for a reason.

BUT…

I now think that I may have to make an adjustment to “protect” the journalists I invite, by ensuring their presence is tied to participation on a panel or a jury. Not everyone assumes fair play is the rule of the day here just because I say it is.

Yes, I would love for the attending journalists to “find” stories like Jeffrey Goodman’s struggle to find the 48 investors in Lafayette to make THE LAST GOODBYE and help Tom Sizemore remember what it feels like to put everything into a performance again or see the genuine spark of improv funny for the bargain price of $50 in Dann Sytsma’s and Daniel Jones’ COMIC EVANGELISTS. But, not only can I not dictate that, I need to do something extra to ensure no one could possibly get the impression that would ever be part of the equation. And other than involve them in specific ways to create that balance – I’m not sure now.

What I am sure about is that the effort to make it work is worth it. Otherwise, those same journalists are going to be stuck reviewing an ever increasing delivery of homogenized and product placed middle-of-the-road films courtesy of the most recent movie studio-media conglomorate-foreign or mass consumption product merger at a multi-plex near you.

So – if they want an alternative to Brangelina, they need to put the same energy into finding something and someone else to write about. Because, let’s face it – as prolific as they are – those two can only make so many films…and so many kids.