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….
ROSE KUO, ROBERT KOEHLER, DAVID ROGERS
AND JOHN WILDMAN
ANNOUNCE NEW FESTWORKS VENTURE
PARK CITY, UT (January 24, 2010)—Four former principals of the AFI FEST Los Angeles International Film Festival have joined forces to create a partnership that will offer a wide range of consultation services for film festivals.
Their new venture, FESTWORKS, will seek to provide consultation and services for film festivals of all sizes in the areas of festival operations, development, programming and communications.
Kuo (AFI FEST Artistic Director), Rogers (AFI FEST Festival Producer) and Wildman (AFI Head of Press & Public Relations) all announced their departure from AFI earlier this month. This announcement confirms Koehler’s departure as AFI FEST’s Director of Programming.
The fledgling company’s website states, ”As the film festival world grows more complex and mullti-dimensional, with greater demands placed on festivals to present exciting and relevant events to audiences while serving the interests of filmmakers and sponsors, there is a growing value for precise and informed services and solutions to the many needs that occur during the execution of a festival. FESTWORKS provides a one-stop service for festival operations, development, programming and communications.”
Kuo adds, “This collaboration allows each of us to have more creative freedom and is the best way for us to continue our commitment to artistic excellence and innovative film programming.”
Koehler added, “”We believe that the multi-faceted mission behind FESTWORKS reflects the current and ongoing changes in the film festival world, above all the need for exciting ways to devise, organize and execute festivals.”
“This partnership came together as a direct result of our experiences working together on this past edition of AFI FEST,” said Rogers, “And as the culmination of what each of us has identified as a need in the film festival community.”
Wildman concluded, “The four of us share a great passion for the art of film, for filmmakers and especially for the unique film viewing experience and interaction with those filmmakers that film festivals offer the public. It’s our hope that through FESTWORKS, we can help enhance the way things are done that will benefit both film maker and filmgoer and improve a way of seeing films that we truly love.”
Kuo, AFI FEST’s Artistic Director for the last three years, was recently named as Co-Executive Director of the Sante Fe Film Festival with Michael Hare and brings a wealth of experience in leading film festivals as well as film production. The architect of AFI’s successful “free festival” in 2009, Kuo is widely credited with the critical turnaround of AFI FEST. In December 2009, the International Film Festival Summit honored her with its prestigious IFFS Excellence Award. Kuo has worked for Mill Valley, San Francisco and Santa Barbara film festivals, as well as renowned directors such as Michael Mann, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese. She is an occasional contributor to Movie City News.
After a celebrated career as Daily Variety’s film critic, Koehler joined AFI FEST as Director of Programming in a move that inspired a new round of enthusiasm within the film festival community and began a trend with other notable film critics following suit over the course of the year. Having returned as a critic and contributor for Variety, Koehler continues writing film criticism for Cinema Scope, Cineaste, filmjourney.org and the Christian Science Monitor.
Following a career producing film, music videos and commercials, Rogers joined AFI FEST as the Festival Village Producer in 2006. He subsequently became Director of Production at AFI DALLAS in 2008 prior to becoming AFI FEST’s Festival Producer in 2009. Along with successfully navigating the festival production and logistics of new venues in Hollywood and the festival’s move to Santa Monica during AFM, under his stewardship, AFI FEST enjoyed record crowds with remarkably smooth production details despite extremely challenging economic circumstances.
After his prior work with AFI, AFI FEST and AFI DALLAS, Wildman currently serves as the Director of PR for the DALLAS International Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and the Feel Good Film Festival (Los Angeles). He has also headed up the PR for past editions of the Lone Star Film Festival (Fort Worth) and the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Wildman has produced, written and served as the publicist for the Vision Awards (which benefits Retinitis Pigmentosa) for the past four years. In addition, he writes about film and film festivals for outlets such as Movie City News, Moving Pictures Magazine.com and Envy Magazine, as well as his popular blog at wildworx.wordpress.com.
ROSE KUO AND DAVID ROGERS
ANNOUNCE DEPARTURE FROM AFI FEST
LOS ANGELES (January 11, 2010)—On the heels of the successful 2009 edition of AFI FEST including the unprecedented offer of free screenings to all films for the public, Artistic Director Rose Kuo and Festival Producer David Rogers have announced their departure from AFI.
Head of Press and Public Relations John Wildman has also exited AFI.
Kuo joined AFI FEST as the Artistic Director in 2007 and presided over a rebirth of the venerable film festival that featured a distinctive programming philosophy and personality. The result was immediate critical praise regarding the new direction. The addition of former Daily Variety film critic Robert Koehler as AFI FEST Director of Programming in 2009 inspired a new round of enthusiasm within the film festival community. Kuo also was the architect of the free screenings initiative for 2009 despite a challenging economic year for all non-profit arts organizations.
Rogers successfully navigated the festival production and logistics of new venues in Hollywood and the festival’s move to Santa Monica during AFM. Under his stewardship, AFI FEST enjoyed record crowds with remarkably smooth production details despite extremely challenging economic circumstances.
Regarding her departure, Kuo said, “It has been a privilege to lead AFI FEST and work with the exceptional members of the festival team. We have succeeded in reshaping the festival and, I hope, reaffirming its place among leading festivals. Now it is time for me to go in a new direction.
“AFI FEST 2009 was the culmination of some really innovative ideas regarding what a film festival could and should be and of course, a lot of hard work. Given the hurdles presented us, it was also something that could not have been achieved without our core group. It was great to work with each of them,” said Rogers.
Wildman added, “While I am very proud of the work I was able to do press-wise on behalf of AFI FEST and several AFI programs, including the AFI Life Achievement Award (working with a wonderful team at TV LAND) and the Directing Workshop for Women, I am very passionate about promoting and assisting filmmakers through film festivals. This move will open up that landscape.”