Toronto Day #1: Megan Fox, the Coen Brothers and red carpet nonsense..Oh My!

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on September 12, 2009

“Receive with simplicity, everything that happens to you.”

That’s the quote that the Coen brothers use to introduce you to A SERIOUS MAN. But by the end of the film, I wanted to amend it to say, “Receive with appreciation everything you’re about to see and hear,” because it is A LOT. Not in a sprawling, “Dear God, will this ever end so I can try to figure out what has just uncorked itself in front of me kind of way (see SOUTHLAND TALES), but in a compact but detailed to a fault examination and exploration into a very particular time (the late 60s, suburban-style), culture (Jewish), and man (the central character played by Theatre veteran Michael Stuhlbarg).

Stuhlbarg plays ‘Larry Gopnik”, a physics professor at a small Midwestern school that almost immediately faces a shit-storm of unbelievable, if intimate proportions: A Korean student unhappy with a grade tries to bribe him, his potentially violent neighbor is encroaching on his yard, and his own house is filled with strife thanks to a bickering son (facing his own demons from a school bully/dealer) and daughter, his inept brother torn between his obsession with a possible genius mathematical “map of probability” he has discovered and the daily draining of a cyst that terrorizes him, and best yet – a wife that wants to leave him for an overbearing (and I can’t begin to describe how much that word doesn’t begin to do justice to this guy) family friend.

Gopnik’s life as he knows it is turned upside down from the get-go, and as he says during a lesson plan, “Even though you can’t figure anything out, you’ll be responsible for it on the midterm.” He goes to a succession of rabbis for advice, one more practically inept and unhelpful than the last, as he stumbles through a period of discovery and re-awakening in his life that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. But this isn’t simply a comic Job story, because the Coens would be bored with that. No, this is a comic storm that is both messy and sometimes indiscriminate in who and what it targets. But in the end, regardless of how it all plays out – they’ll be responsible for it. And if you’ve been hoping for the Coens particular brand of humor to return after NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, you’ll be happy for it.

Nice start for a film festival, huh. After that I ran into Spout.com’s always delightfully acerbic film writer and critic Karina Longworth. Love her. In a film world video game, you could pit Karina against George Sanders’ classic character in ALL ABOUT EVE and play for hours. Anyway, she gave me the inside scoop on what she had seen. Which is, of course, the “sport” of a film festival. Compare notes and dish out the thumbs up and thumbs down on everything you’ve seen up to that point.

Next up was Diablo Cody’s JENNIFER’S BODY. “Wait,” you say. “Isn’t that directed by Karyn Kusama?” “Yes,” I reply. Pause. Anyway, it’s Diablo Cody’s JENNIFER’S BODY. Which means depending on your predilection with JUNO–style dialogue and verbal toss-offs, it’s either clever and instantly quotable or irritating and quickly wearing out its welcome. Oh, wait. It also stars Megan Fox. Hmm…my last bid was from wearing out its welcome. Do I have another bid…?

“Hell is a teenage girl.” And “Sandbox love never dies” Those are the watch-quotes to go by for the film. The idea is simple: Megan Fox plays the hottest girl in school, who – after inadvertently being turned into a demon by a small beer indie band looking for a shortcut to fame via a sacrifice to the devil, runs gorily roughshod through the boys in school while her nerdy best friend (Amanda Seyfried) tries to figure it all out.

And it’s not scary. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t succeed in what it’s aiming for. No, my guess is if you’re putting your money down to see this film, then it’s all about Megan Fox. And wisely, Cody and Kusama know that. In fact, it’s so transparent that the boys get a reward practically after every kill. Megan Fox demon eviscerates a boy, Megan Fox hottie is filmed slow-mo skinny dipping. Megan Fox demon has seconds, Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried have a hot girl-on girl make out session. So, it’s like, “one for you and…one for you.”

The fact is, that while I understand the Megan Fox porn star hotness appeal, I am still fascinated over the ability of the hype and marketing machine’s ability to keep that T&A train operating at full speed. And while JENNIFER’S BODY does have some smarts to go with its smart-ass, ultimately it plays a minor key. And not just in horror-land.

Next up was Joe Dante’s THE HOLE. In 3D. That’s right. A film festival movie in 3D! That’s just all kinds a good, right? Here’s the deal about the 3D thing. Either those 3D glasses are the most expensive things ever to produce or there is technology involved that could bring down a nation. Because, I swear there was so much paranoia involved in giving those things back to the people running the screening that it made me long for the comparative lack of concern the airport security displayed as I flew in to Canada in the first place. “You need to leave the theater to go to the bathroom? Fine, hold on to the box cutter, but give me the 3D glasses.”

Anyway, THE HOLE is a story about two brothers that relocate to a new home with their single mom. Upon arriving at the new home, they discover a cute girl living next door and…wait for it….in the basement under their house…wait for it…under an ominously padlocked plank in the floor… A hole.

I’m betting the title gave it a way.

And, of course, the boys, not knowing any better, unlock the padlocks and free the evil force residing inside the seemingly bottomless hole. And since it’s their mess, they – along with that cute girl next door will have to clean it up. Or something bad will happen to them. Which is the appropriate way to describe the stakes because this is a horror film for the kids. A gateway drug, if you will. So scary stuff happens and there are various threats to people. But in a “safe”, un-gory, limited exposure to evil kinda way. The film is so completely aimed at a specific age demographic that Teri Polo (the go-to actress for sexy but safe) is cast as the mom.

And the movie IS amusement park ride fun. The scares come from things like malevolent clown dolls (your kids homework will be a follow up viewing of POLTERGEIST) and those stop-motion walking a crawling spirits (okay, do an assignment on THE RING too), courtesy of your not-so friendly basement dwelling hole.

And then there is the 3-D thing. Which is cool. I’ll just give myself up to that willingly. However, is it just me or – like the perfunctory tricks that gymnasts have to accomplish in their Olympic routines – does every 3D movie have to throw a baseball at you? Or they get 3D points deducted from their overall movie score? Just curious.

So, take the kids to this thing so you can speed along their horror-film development and you can also enjoy yourself as well – as opposed to just napping, like so many of my friends who are parents did during G-FORCE.

That was it for the films. The next order of business was something new for me. The red carpet. Or specifically: being a journalist on a red carpet. This is ironic in that I practically live on red carpets – or to be more direct – running them. I am frequently that guy managing the traffic at the beginning of the filmmakers and movie stars entrances: welcoming them, assigning escorts to them to walk them down the thing, introducing them to the photographers, etc. That is frequently my little show.

And I take care to not just manage the placement of the press on my red carpets but to also pay attention and ensure, as best I can, that everyone gets the photos or interviews they need and want and no one goes home empty handed.

This was different. A first come, first serve policy combined with the fact that I was “print” and didn’t have a video camera joined at my hip meant that I was destined to not only be at the end of the line – I was also going to be relatively inconspicuous.

The entrances were for Steven Soderbergh’s THE INFORMANT! And the potential interview targets on hand would be Soderbergh, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula and Melanie Lynsky. Not a bad group at all. So, I am standing next to a guy writing for a national tabloid that like me has not seen the film yet. However, unlike this guy, I had read reviews and stories and did some background on the film. In addition, I also had a decent knowledge of popular culture pre-Jonas Brothers. Because, for the life of him, he could not think of a question to ask anyone not named Matt Damon. After spying Lynsky at the front of the carpet, he asked me, “Does she kiss Matt Damon in the movie?” To which I replied, “Well, I haven’t see it but she does play his wife. So I’ll hazard a guess – yes.” Next question, “Do their characters have kids together?” Desired response: “I don’t have that much insight into their pretend home life.” Out loud: “I don’t know.”

But now I was feeling the pressure to come up with good questions myself for everyone. Something that wouldn’t have been asked twenty times immediately before me or at the very least, phrased in a creative, yet concise way that would send each of them off to the races with clever, funny, witty and insightful sound bites for the readers. So thinking quickly, I put together my winning question for each of them – knowing that this far down the line I would get one and only one question. Because, by this point in the line, they just want to get in the house and be done with it.

Well, I needn’t have worried, Because each one of them – Soderbergh, Damon, Bakula and Lynsky – passed us by. Didn’t give us a shot at the question or even acknowledge us. Publicists rushed Damon through – typical – that’s routine. “He’s got to get in now. Quick! The movie’s gonna start in a half hour, so he needs to be inside RIGHT NOW! Soderbergh literally stood in front of me – with his back to me – for ten minutes but would not turn around to answer a question. And Bakula and Lynsky even brushed us off. Melanie Lynsky!

But to be fair, this is all on the publicists. The film’s reps and the Toronto Film Festival publicists. It’s their job to regulate the traffic flow and make sure that everyone gets some love. It’s something that I work my ass of to achieve at AFI FEST, DALLAS and each of my other film festivals and agonize as it is happening to ensure that fairness and equal play. And it was great to see first hand, exactly why it’s so important that I do that. Because the personal publicists DON’T WANT TO – bottom line. You should have seen the look Bakula’s sawed-off little guy gave us before he shielded us with his back from being able to get to Scott. (Honest Disclaimer – I have a long ago and far away Hollywood history with that little wiener dude and it’s possible he recognized me. Regardless…) If the film festival’s publicists aren’t on point (at best) or just don’t care (at worst), then the end of the line is exactly that for a journalist at those red carpets.

To paraphrase Diablo from JENNIFER’S BODY, “That’s not just high school evil. That’s actual evil.”

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AFI DALLAS 2009 – The long belated wrap up (Part One – The Ladies of AFI DALLAS)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 1, 2009

No sooner did I get comfortably back home in L.A. than I was immediately in the thick of things with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and all of the AFI stuff (Life Achievement Award, AFI Conservatory Thesis screenings and the upcoming DWW showcase), oh AND The upcoming edition of The Vision Awards. So my apologies for the lack of “original content” in between the plethora of press releases, but I’m still figuring out how to do all of this stuff at once.

Anyway, I have had some time to think and think and think some more about this year’s AFI DALLAS Film Festival, and I feel there is so much to write about that I have decided to do it in three of four parts.

So in no particular, in fact very random order – here goes:

Part One – The Ladies of AFI DALLAS

One of the overriding themes for me this year was the influx of very cool women that came to Dallas for the festival. Some of these women I have known, known of, and in some cases been a fan of for a little while now. Yet most of these women I met for the very first time at AFI DALLAS and thrilled that I did. They are (in alphabetical order):

Alice Krige – We had Anthony Fabian’s thoughtful drama SKIN at AFI FEST last fall and we were fortunate enough to have it come to AFI DALLAS for an encore of sorts since it became part of AFI’s very cool Project 20/20 program. The program basically travels various filmmakers that have had their films play at the AFI film festivals around the world to literally and truly use film and filmmakers as a way to build a bridge between cultures. It’s a shining example of AFI taking an ambitious lead to do something outside of trotting out classics for another look and promote and utilize film for the next generations. It’s one of those things that make me proud to be here.

Anyway, we got a huge bonus at AFI DALLAS by having Alice Krige come to town to represent the film with the director, Fabian. She provided one of those high expectations payoffs by putting the “red” on my carpet to shame with a crimson gown that just stopped everyone in their tracks. Not only that, she exuded all kinds of ethereal grace and charm. Great moment.

Jordan Ladd – I almost have to include Jordan’s father, David with this shout out because I really spent time with them both while she was in Dallas. Let me begin by saying that if I was a cheerleader for any single film this year, it was for Paul Solet’s creepy instant classic GRACE. And Jordan gives the kind of performance in the film that transcends genre and should place her several rungs up the respect ladder if the right people are paying attention. So, I kinda almost willed both the film and her and Paul to be at AFI DALLAS (thank god that James Faust and Michael Cain will listen to me sometimes with recommendations for this festival). But beyond that, within moments of talking to her and her father, I wanted Jordan to move in to my condo so my wife and I would have the prototypical nicer-than-nice and coolest neighbor that anyone could conceive of. Unassuming is a word. And two words that trump that one are “Jordan Ladd”. And her father, David Ladd was great too. If you didn’t know your film history or (as I was) could be lulled into forgetting it, you would think you were just hanging out and talking to a proud dad just happy to be there and see the attention his daughter was getting for her new movie and not a guy who has forgotten more than a lot of us will ever know about film production and the business. Even if that movie involved her as a mom dealing with a newborn baby with a bloodlust for mommy. If we could have, we would have extended both of their visits for the duration of the festival.

Karina Longworth – I was looking forward to having Karina attend a film festival of mine for some time now. Tough, tough writer and critic and I was anxious to have her around not just to weigh in on the programming (in this case) that AFI DALLAS offers but frankly because I wanted an opportunity to hang out with her and get to know her a little. And the truth is, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with Karina as I had hoped. But watching her moderate a panel and then give MSN’s James Rocchi all he could handle at a lunch afterwards was more than worth the price of admission. Listening to the give and take between those two was fun. I have to think that if you were a movie blow hard then she would scare the shit out of you. But if you can hold your own, have something to say, and are willing to lay it out there with her then I have to think she gets the automatic invite to any party (movie-related or otherwise) you might want to throw.

Heather Matarazzo – I kid you not, AFI DALLAS scored Heather to be part of our jury this year because we are Facebook buddies. I had admired Heather not just due to her work in film but her outspokenness regarding her choices and career. And from the moment she arrived, I had everyone at AFI DALLAS thanking me for reaching out to her. Never for a moment do I believe I’m the only one that cares as deeply as I do about this stuff, but Heather combines that damn near uncompromising notion of what potential is out there for us too achieve through film, but goes about delivering her opinions – which are strong and direct to be sure – more gently and considerately than I could hope to. You hope for an “ambassador” when you ask someone to serve on a film festival jury – and she was the epitome of that.

Carri McClure – Here’s the thing about personal publicists: They can make the dealings with their clients a joy or a wanna-slit-your-wrists job – bottom line. I came from personal PR, and it kills me when the personal pub is simply a road block. Either out of a lack of imagination, laziness, or just because they happen to be a sour pain-in-the-ass, it is rare, rare, rare to find a personal publicist that both “gets it” and is genuine in their dealings with you. Carri does. In consecutive years, we have had her clients Ron Livingston (twice) and Robert Towne come to Dallas and the experience all three times has been near-flawless because Carri knows what she’s doing. And she also plays fair. And let me be clear – she is tough on the facts and the details on behalf of her clients. She is no push over by any means. BUT she also works toward the greater good of the event and her client to make sure that things will run smoothly and logically – as opposed to just standing in the way of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. There are actors and actresses that I advise the people in charge of film festivals and events I do to cross off their lists because life is just way too short to deal with the person in charge of their PR.  Carri is at the other end of that spectrum. And that trust and working relationship make me want to give her first “dibs” with her clients whenever I do events.

Monique Parent – Another My Space and Facebook pal. My first year at AFI FEST, Monique allowed me to publish an article she had written about the intricacies and oftentimes awkwardness of shooting explicit love scenes for films. But we had never actually met until this year when we had an idea for a filmmakers’ panel for Women in Film Dallas. I wanted her presence and opinion on that panel and knew she would have the right personality to bring to town. And that thought was right on all counts. Monique is smart, beautiful and a straight talker. You could see a filmmaker wanting to write a part for her just for the excuse to have her on set – let alone raising the game of their film. She has done plenty of service in the land of soft core and really, really deserves someone giving her a Tarantino-type spotlight role in a cool indie thing somewhere.

Robin Wright Penn – Robin’s publicist Mara Buxbaum (who is a friend) more-or-less made it clear to me that the only way Robin would be coming to Dallas was if I could…let’s just say…uhm…take a personal interest in her well-being while she was here. No problem. Now Mara had been to Dallas with the Wilson brothers a year or so ago so she knew what to expect (and more importantly knew it was “safe”), but this was a specialized situation. And frankly, it’s important to have someone like Robin come to the festival – not just for this particular one but for the future well-being celebrity-wise. Because, AFI DALLAS only being in its third year is still in that process of forming a reputation as a destination for people of Robin’s ilk. And you know the “ilk” I’m speaking of, don’t even pretend. Therefore, even though I had Mara’s trust in this case, we still need to impress each and every big league actor and actress and send them away very happy and gushing with praise with how we run this particular film fest machine. Because they’ll tell two actors and then they’ll reassure two actors and they’ll convince two more actors and so on and so on…

Two, Robin was coming to town to support a documentary, HAZE, about teenage binge drinking – which I personally thought was an important one beyond just being a good film. And as the spokeswoman for The Gordie Foundation which was deeply involved, if not the outright inspiration for the film, it was important to Robin for her participation to be done properly. And that’s what impressed me. Because we get “demands” all of the time. And a lot of the time, those demands come from a place of personal comfort or convenience or sheer “testing” to see how much they can get away with (like the old lion film reviewer we flew into town – gruff but not lovable). And Robin’s specifications (I won’t even characterize them as demands because I want to make sure the context is precise here) were all in the service of what she thought was right for the film, for The Gordie Foundation and for her friends Leslie and Michael Lanahan, who began and lead that foundation in honor of Leslie’s son, Gordie. Robin has seen that documentary and the testimonials countless times by this point and I saw it still bring her to tears after all this time and all of those repeated viewings. Seeing that made me want to be just that much more careful to help navigate the tricky press and publicity waters for her and them. She was patient and dutiful on behalf of the film and the foundation and deserving of a lot of respect for making the trip.

Lisa Rosman – When Kim Voynar isn’t writing for Movie City News, I think she serves as Lisa Rosman’s (who works and writes for US Magazine and Flavorpill) publicist. She sold me on the fact that I needed to bring Lisa to Dallas to be a panelist and talk movies because in one bought plane ticket and hotel room we would be instantly upping the ante on the AFI DALLAS coolness quotient. And, as I have come to trust – Kim was right on the money. After moderating one panel with Lisa as a participant and one dinner rife with banter and provocative topics – film and otherwise – I became an instant fan. She has style, she’s got a knowing awareness spiced with just the right amount of acerbic – and all in a classic dame package. I became an instant fan – simple as that.

Tiffany Shepis – Again, thank you facebook. And, to be fair – thank you very much Loyd Cryer at Texas Frightmare Weekend because he teamed up with me to make Tiffany’s appearance possible. Some people were scratching their heads a bit on why I instantly jumped at the idea of bringing Tiffany to Dallas to be a panelist but I knew it would be great. And once again, she exceeded all expectations for the couple of days she was there. There are people who are game for whatever you’re gonna throw at them and then there are people like Tiffany. Instantly, you can see why she is an evergreen draw at the Fangoria-type conventions and why she is one of those actresses in the genre that is seemingly always working. If you are a fan or a filmmaker in horror I have to imagine that a crisis ridden internal debate would be “Watch Tiffany on screen or have Tiffany on my set – what’s more important to me at this very moment?!”

Kim Voynar (and her daughter Neve)
– Even though technically (by my own rules for this blog) I shouldn’t – I have to include Kim in this list. I’ve known her and had her attend my film festivals a few times now, but frankly, she kind of sets the tone (or should if I was choosing the person that got to) for how film festival behavior and “dialogue” between film fans and filmmakers and journalists should go as far as I’m concerned. I just flat out like Kim’s writing and her viewpoint on film and socio-politics. She is possibly the most effective devil’s advocate writer around right now. She’ll offer up a contrarian’s position from a balanced, inquisitive place that few people have either the guts or the talent to delve into. And her daughter, Neve (pronounced with a “long E” not like the Canadian SCREAM queen) is primed to follow right in those impressive footsteps. Smart, sweet and fun, Neve had the poor timing to get sick just after she arrived in Dallas after she had been looking forward all year to coming to the festival following her first visit with Kim a year ago. It sucked for her – obviously – but I was also genuinely disappointed. You see, Neve is not just a great, smart kid, but seriously, she has the beginnings of her mom’s writing talent. I was hoping to have her weigh in on our Family Friendly section as only she could. Instead, my goals for her were lowered to hoping I could help Kim get Neve well and feeling better before she had to go back home.

Last week, I was having a conversation with AFI FEST Artistic Director Rose Kuo about the fact that just screening movies does not a film festival make. It just doesn’t. If that’s what you think, then you’re fooling yourself. That’s film without the festival as far as I’m concerned. It’s the filmmakers, the actors, the jurors, and the journalists. It’s the people that are there doing Q&As, participating in panels, talking up movies in the lounges that make a film festival unique and special and a place you want to be or should want to be. And this group of women were a major reason that AFI DALLAS was something special this year as far as I’m concerned.

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.