Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW

Venice Films Mostly Male & AFI 100 Movies List 2017, Not One by a Woman?

by Sarah Bullion, Screenmancer Correspondent

An interview with Rachel Feldman – Veteran of the Hollywood Gender Wars – Two Women Who Direct Film & TV (updated) in a Candid Conversation about the State of the Business.

Director Sarah Bullion, In a Conversation with Director Rachel Feldman

Director Sarah Bullion in a Conversation with Director Rachel Feldman

SARAH BULLION: You are a veteran filmmaker and vocal activist for women in Hollywood, how did you discover that voice? 

RACHEL FELDMAN: Perhaps because I had grown up in a political household, I came to my view of injustice fairly organically. Unconscious gender bias is so ubiquitous – it was always shocking to me how little people talked about it.

I received my master’s degree in film directing and my graduate thesis film won over 25 major film festivals. I also began to write at that time and immediately sold my first scripts. In those “15 minutes of fame” I was signed by William Morris and attended a lot of meetings. I was making a living working for well established (male) directors on big studio movies, preparing their director notebooks and pre-viz plans, while getting grants and making my own indie films – but it became clear that none of the women in my class were getting directing jobs, just the guys – some of whom hadn’t even finished their thesis films. For 10 years, I was never hired to direct, until Steven Bochco saw one of my shorts and invited me to helm an episode of “Doogie Howser M.D.” He had a keen awareness that women directors were suffering and wanted to do something about it.

Director Rachel Feldman, a Veteran of Gender Wars in Hollywood

Director Rachel Feldman, a Veteran in Hollywood Photo credit: Suki Medencevic

I sought out other directors like me at the Directors Guild of America but there were only a handful of women directing at the time and few of them attended meetings. Despite the incredible level of gender inequity all around us most women were very fearful of ruining their careers by speaking up. Even though it had only been 10-15 years since “The Original Six” motivated the DGA to go to court on behalf of women directors, causing a marked increase of employment for women, I felt quite alone.

We wanted our guild to fight for us, but their support came in the shape of “shadowing” programs that rarely led to jobs, having events that celebrated the handful of female celebrity directors, or to have “networking” events filled with executives who had zero mandate to hire us. It wasn’t until 2010 that I met other women at the DGA who felt brave enough to question the established patriarchy. We were tired of the same boilerplate responses to our lack of employment, it felt as if our own guild truly didn’t care about making things better for us.

In 2012 I was asked to run as co-chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee. My speech was an outspoken call for change and I won. I produced the 2013 Women of Action Summit, the first event in the guild’s 80-year history that focused exclusively on tackling gender inequity. The 250 female directors who attended were exhilarated, however the DGA actively thwarted our success. The year-long organizational process was tortuous with a punishing level of scrutiny and domination from the guild. And if that hadn’t stopped us, on the day of the event, a Guild administrator literally stole the single copy of email addresses our guests had given us requesting further contact with our coalition. This sabotage prevented us from using that event as the very catalyst for which we had created it in the first place. Then, in the final blow, adding insult to injury, soon after the event, the guild implemented a vote to change our by-laws, preventing our coalition’s most vocal members from running for office based on their lack of recent employment – caused by the very gender discrimination we face.

Though the DGA was effective in suppressing an uprising, I believe our efforts have been a tipping point in finally cracking open a new conversation with solutions now as a goal.

What makes one an activist? 

Activism is bred from rage. Being a “have not” in an environment of riches is maddening. People continue to insist that the film business is a meritocracy, that the best and the brightest succeeded, but most are blind to the fact that without opportunity one cannot possibly rise. This is true regarding class, race, or gender. It’s this frustration and exclusion that sparks the flame of needing to fight back.

What is working and what isn’t?

We have to stop accepting the status quo. We say, “The future is female” but in Hollywood that all too often means having female executives or filming a female protagonist who just acts like a man. Until we have female creators using their voices and vision to offer fresh perspectives, it’s all pabulum.

In the past few weeks, The Venice Film Festival screened only a single film directed by a woman, The AFI Best 100 Movies lists not one movie directed by a woman.  Out of 60 episodes why was only a single episode of “Game of Thrones” directed by a woman? And why, decade after decade, is it acceptable that the DGA’s own screening schedule is a sea of men’s faces? Unconscious bias is omnipresent and we must simply just keep calling it out over and over and over again in every facet of our industry until folks wake up.

Training programs are bullshit when there are already so many accomplished women directors, shadowing is downright disrespectful and ineffective. No other industry would put up with being present to simply observe others at work – with no pay and no actual plan to prepare for an actual job. Most women directors have either graduated film school or have made independent films, commercials, music videos, or worked in the industry as editors, AD’s etc. – so why are we treated as novices, viewed with suspicion, treated with disrespect? Why is this tolerated? Let’s find a route to feeding the hiring pipeline that’s equitable and sensible.

I have 25 years of high-level experience and yet I’m still called a “first time director” by feature producers and asked to shadow in television. Directing is hard and it requires a very specific set of skills, talents, and temperament but it is not molecular chemistry. Give women opportunities and they will deliver, big time. Do like Ryan Murphy and Ava DuVernay. JUST DO IT!

What would you like to see new or young activists doing and saying today? 

Female filmmakers have gotten brave, even brazen. Younger women are fearless now in their calling out inequity and that helps. Women are helping, supporting, and lifting up other women and there’s an overall sense of sisterhood today that is very powerful. Women no longer want to be the only women in the room, we want our entire community to thrive and that generous sense is glorious.

Are you ever concerned that your outspokenness will injure your career? 

I don’t believe that anyone’s activism will affect their career adversely. It’s not like there is a poisonous individual who’s the issue, it’s institutional culpability that is harming women’s careers in general.

What is the difference for a woman director on a feature film versus on TV?

The only difference is the way we have been treated, not the work itself.  In television, the director steps into a fully formed, pre-established community.  That group can be welcoming to new directors or downright hostile – and women can have a hard time with this. But in features, when the director is the one who leads the hiring of department heads she has a leadership role from the onset, which engenders automatic respect.

What differences have you seen on sets with more women represented? 

Gender is not the answer. Awareness is. Men can be great feminists and working with enlightened men who respect and love working in a team is amazing. I will say that good news is on the horizon.  Just this week I had a conversation with the studio executive who is producing a pilot of mine and when I suggested that we hire women directors he opened his laptop and already had compiled an extensive list!  I was thrilled! Also many celebrated female actors are now talking about how much they enjoy working with women directors and want to support us.  It’s happening.

There’s lots of talk about nurturing new talent but why is the industry not seeking out all the experienced women directors who’ve been struggling all these years, in television and in features?  How can they be found?

There can be no more excuses about not being able to find female directors. Producers simply have to realize that they cannot rely on literary agencies or the guild, who promote those whose careers are already thriving. There are many organizations such as The Alliance of Women DirectorsFilm Fatales, and at The Director List, where filmmaker Destri Martino has amassed searchable database of over 1000 women directors. There are over 1300 female directors in the DGA alone!

When Ava DuVernay wanted to hire women directors of color she put out the word and found great talent.  When Ryan Murphy wanted change he and Tanase Popa created the Half Initiative, creating his own gateway.  Where there is a will…

And hey, calling JJ Abrams – where are you in this?! We need powerful voices to fight for us.

What’s your personal experience with agents and managers – representation? 

I’ve directed over 60 episodes of television, but each job was as hard to get as the next and I’ve never had solid representation. It’s tricky for me.  I came up at a time when no one was talking about these issues and we few women had little support. So now I’m neither a newbie – full of promise, nor a celebrity name -who will easily slide onto a roster.  I’m a client that requires a narrative and that’s a hurdle many reps find challenging.

Talent doesn’t go away.  I think it’s actually a good thing if a director is also a writer, an editor, had children, cared for dying parents, or sailed around the world. These experiences make us stronger storytellers, not weaker ones. But the industry perceives these life waves as “gaps” and that becomes just another excuse for resistance.

How do we get more people (from agents to producers) involved in the groundswell?

It’s happening, I think people really do care, but we need to continue to call out the established practices that have not been effective, and take bold steps until change happens.

Did your activism influence your passion to bring Lilly Ledbetter’s story to the screen in FAIR FIGHT?

Absolutely! Lilly was cheated out of half her salary by a company she had dedicated her career to, just because she was a woman. Her challenges and her fight spoke to me deeply on a personal level. FAIR FIGHT is a thriller about a real life super hero. Lilly had virulent antagonists who wanted to silence her demand for equity and she wouldn’t give up, no matter the stakes.

Lilly may be the voice and face of “fair pay” but it’s gender justice, in every aspect of life, that’s the heart of our message. Women in Hollywood are cheated out of careers because of their gender, girls and women around the globe are undervalued, demeaned, and abused just because they were born one gender and all of this is outrageous and must end.

Lily Ledbetter, Activist, with Director Rachel Feldman

Lilly Ledbetter, Activist, with Director Rachel Feldman

Do you think FAIR FIGHT can change things? 

Movies are effective propaganda and our media is one of the U.S.’s most impactful exports. The stories, images, and concepts we illuminate have a global effect and girls and women, men and boys, will understand Lilly’s bravery in the face of terrible odds. This is the human story that one single person can and must speak out against tyranny and subjugation, and that the unique character who can withstand tremendous obstacles and obstruction is a super hero in the flesh. That story needs to be told over and over, especially with women at the helm.

I’m eager to conduct a cinematic symphony and this is it – to take all the skill and craft I’ve developed over a lifetime and use it to create a big, beautiful, dare I say important, story that takes an audience on a huge emotional journey. But for the world, for the zeitgeist, I hope the message will be very powerful.

What would your ideal career look like? 

What a fun question! I’ve become a very facile storyteller. It would be amazing to be able to use the skills I’ve developed and finally put them all to use. I would love to have my own production company and a pod deal, getting paid to do what I do now every day on spec. I’d like to be directing my projects and other’s, writing all kinds of movies and TV series, and working with other writers creating a broad range of projects.

I’d love to set up writer’s rooms and bring my projects to life with those like the brilliantly talented students, mentees, and colleagues I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years.

I started out in advertising so I’d also love to work with brands to create what I call “advertainment.” I long to work with a product line and web series where the characters and plot are integrated with the merchandize in a truly organic fashion. Not product placement!  But a show that sells a lifestyle from top to bottom. I really want to do this!

What are you currently working on? 

My producers Jenette Kahn and Adam Richman at Double Nickel Entertainment are currently out to actors with FAIR FIGHT.  In addition, I recently won the 2017 WGA Writer’s Access Project, run by Glen Mazzara, with my pilot KINKS, then sold that pilot to AJ Mendez at Pillar Segan who have a deal at eOne TV.  We’re preparing to take the project to buyers with talent.

I just completed a new short film, HERE NOW, starring the amazing Amy Brenneman, shot by Nancy Schreiber, the brilliant cinematographer who won the coveted 2017 ASC President’s award and we’ve recently been accepted to a couple of Oscar qualifying festivals. I was jonesing to make a movie!  We shot it in my house over 2 days and many lifelong friends came in with freebies and favors including Panavision, Technicolor, Cine Lease, Legion VFX, and even the incredible Bruce’s Catering. The rest of the budget I raised with a Seed & Spark  fundraising campaign of $10,000.

Like most filmmakers I’m in constant development. I write every single day. It’s making movies in my head and on paper; it keeps my imagination limber and my slate strong.

Sarah Bullion is a LA-based director and writer, interested in the intersection of cinema and activism. She is the Treasurer of the Board of Alliance of Women Directors and is currently completing her MFA in Screenwriting at Stephens College. She can be reached at sarah@allianceofwomendirectors.org

You can tweet to Rachel Feldman at @WomenCallAction or find her here.

Screenmancer thanks both directors, Sarah Bullion and Rachel Feldman, for this Conversation, part of a new series.For more information, contact: news@screenmancer.tv or post comment.

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Focus Features Turns 15 & Gifts Freebie Movies for You on FB Live thru Sept. 8

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Friday night for the next three weeks just got a little more exciting now that Focus Features is a teenager. The Comcast-owned movie label plans to gift the public three great first-run features from the past on Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 8.

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All in celebration of their 15th anniversary in the business, the trio of star-vehicles will be shown for free on Facebook LIVE. Big names include Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Danny Huston and more. Read on for the official story on this corporate birthday party presentation promo…

Hashtags & All: #FOCUSFRIDAYS ON FACEBOOK LIVE 

FREE LIVE-STREAMING OF CLASSIC FOCUS FEATURES MOVIES
ON FRIDAY NIGHTS IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER
CONTINUES CELEBRATION OF COMPANY’S 15th ANNIVERSARY

LOS ANGELES, August 24, 2017 – A trio of film favorites from Focus Features will be streamed on Facebook Live over the next three Friday nights in August and September. #FocusFridays will take place each Friday night on the Focus Features Facebook Page, beginning @6:00 PM PT. Promotional video can be viewed here.

The lineup of classic movies is as follows:

Friday, August 25th: The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Al Otro Lado del Río”). Following an inspiring journey of self-discovery and tracing the youthful origins of a revolutionary heart, the Latin American continent is unveiled in all its glory as two friends experience life at its fullest.

The Motorcycle Diaries

 

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Friday, September 1st: The Constant Gardener (2005) sweeps audiences along one man’s emotional and global journey to uncover the truth behind a personal loss and a worldwide conspiracy. For her performance opposite Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz won the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, and Academy Award.

The Constant Gardener 

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Friday, September 8th: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) earned Golden Globe Award nominations for its stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, in an unforgettable love story, a tumultuous relationship seen through a maze of memories. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

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#FocusFridays is the latest celebration part of Focus 15 (www.focusfifteen.com), the initiative commemorating the founding 15 years ago of worldwide film company Focus Features, whose films have garnered 105 Academy Award nominations and won 21 Oscars. Film buffs and movie fans can sign up at Focus Insider for invites to retrospective screenings, limited-edition soundtracks and posters giveaways, and all Focus 15 updates through this link.

Focus Features  acquires and produces specialty films for the global market, and holds a library of iconic movies from fearless filmmakers. Current and upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, winner of the Best Director award at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival; the breakneck action-thriller Atomic Blonde, directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy; Victoria & Abdul, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench as Queen Victoria; Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill; the untitled Entebbe project, a gripping political thriller directed by José Padilha and starring Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl; Jason Reitman’s new comedy Tully, starring Charlize Theron and written by Diablo Cody; and the untitled new film from Paul Thomas Anderson starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

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Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

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Henry James Gets Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Plus A Redgrave & A Richardson

by Screenmancer Staff Want some film news? Okay. This lazy heat of summer meets Summerstorm Entertainment (Germany) with an announcement about the Henry James adapt THE ASPERN PAPERS now shooting in Venice, Italy. They’ve added Jonathan Rhys Meyers to a cast that already includes some marquee names, notably Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, and Poppy Delevingne, as […]

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Men Running in Movies & Who Tops A-List of Screen Sprinters?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent You could say it’s a sweaty little secret, but in ninety-nine percent of all enduring Hollywood blockbuster smash hits, inevitably some man will break into a sprint to save his life. Consider Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow as a running man, from himself and various Admirals, Captains, Dead Men, and […]

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Best Spider-Man Ever, Wow, Tom Holland Looks Like It, Seriously

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

We could run down the Marvel list of past Spider-Men: impish Tobey Maguire, troubled Andrew Garfield, and they were great. But why bother, Spidey fans, because Tom Holland owns the new web-slinger entry SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, which opens July 7.

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Hey, is that Jon Favreau in the background? Yes.

Owns it along with his co-stars, that is. Those being Robert Downey, Jr.,  back as his Iron Man/Tony Stark mentor; Michael Keaton as not super-normal, real-world villain Vulture; and Marisa Tomei as a surprisingly bitchin’ Aunt May.  There’s what Robert Downey Jr. calls “the kids,” all the subplot superheros. Plus this has old and new Hollywood folks, such as Tyne Daly, Danny Glover, even Zendaya. For insiders, Amy Pascal, who got burned in the SONY email hack, comes roaring back as her Pascal Pictures pushed this one through to the finish line. Even Pascal gets her superhero cape back.

Producer Kevin Feige sets the scene here on how they thought about the new Spider-Man.

“We introduced Spider-Man in Civil War and you got to see the banter and the fun and contrast between he and the other heroes there,” says Feige. “And now, after the greatest vacation of all time, in which he got to spend this time with these rock stars, he’s got to go back to high school. So, it exacerbates his problem – a problem that I certainly had and I think most people who go to high school have – ‘Is there something more for me out there?’ But Peter knows there is because he just did it. He thinks he’s ready, and of course when you’re fifteen years old you often think you’re ready for something before you really are. That’s the fun of this movie, that’s the relatability of Peter Parker, and that’s why we wanted to do this and reintroduce Spider-Man to audiences through the lens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

Yeah, okay, but Tom Holland says it in a much more fun way.

Wired for maximum energy, Tom Holland is so kick-ass even in talking about  this movie, like how he heard that he was cast as The One. “Well I didn’t actually hear I was going to be Spider-Man, I read about it on Instragram,” the newly minted web-spinner admits. “I didn’t get ‘the call.’ But no, it was an amazing experience.”

“I’d worked my ass off getting this job. And when all that hard work paid off and I could finally say I was Spider-Man, it was a pretty crazy experience.” SpideySPH17Plus he loves it when people bitch on the internet about the new onscreen reboot of Marvel’s “crown jewel” and “most successful comic book in the world,” according to Marvel Studio’s internal production notes, the hallowed “Spider-Man” created Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Holland scoffs a little at the doubters, in a good way.

“I love reading on the internet people complaining that there is so much in the trailers because you haven’t seen anything yet, there is so much more to come, the big twists and turns. My whole family watched it the other day, and my family are not ‘superhero fans,’ and they loved it. They loved it. They are my toughest critics and it was amazing to see them enjoy it, which is fun.”

Not to mention working with Robert Downey, Jr, again after almost flying off a building when they met up in the last big bang box office movie, Civil War. Let’s just say, Tom really digs working with the Suave Marvel Franchise Statesman.

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Incredible illustrations as Concept Art.

“When Robert showed up on set, he was so excited to be there,” Downey’s film protege shares. “He saw the concept art, some of the footage and he thought it looked great. To me it was the perfect indicator that we’ve got something special here.”

A veteran of Hollywood and real life, being a franchise frontier is kind of second nature to Downey now. He talks about Peter Parker in such a cool way. “He is not part of the Military Industrial Complex” like Tony Stark is, Downey points out, adding Tom Holland plays it really new, for a re-sprung franchise. “Lest we forget,” Tony Stark’s counterpart says, “[Iron Man] pulled Peter Parker into life and death situations shortly after meeting him just a year or so ago.” But “he develops this belief in Mr. Parker.”

About the other teen superheroes, Downey is equally impressed. “You know what, speaking of homecoming, these kids are pretty damn good,” and then he switches gears to the reconfigured Aunt May character, played by Marisa Tomei.

“I’ve known Marisa for a long time, she’s just perfect,” he adds. “What a fresh start this franchise is getting.”

When thinking about New Spider-Man, Marisa starts laughing, “I feel like a newcomer next to him, because [Tom Holland] was born a pro. He is so capable. [Tom] is adept at everything he does.”SpiderTube17

Then she really takes a moment to say “it’s a gift to act in a ‘franchise’ film, to know you have a job coming. And to be part of something that is so beloved. That the fans really cherish and are really excited about. There’s a fever to it, to be part of something that is so anticipated.”

But is it too big, or too anticipated, you may wonder?

“It’s big, big movie —  with independent spirit at heart. The movie is as much about ‘finding your place in the world,’ as much as it is a giant superhero movie.”

As far as Aunt May Upgraded, “I wanted to try to keep some of the — not just the function, to look after [Peter], to be curious and deduced things and make a strong home for him — I wanted to make her [mine].”

This Aunt May “works, she has a publishing company. She has a past… [But], she’s trying to make these pies. I wanted her to make these apple pies like the original Aunt May, and the original granny glasses, and the apron and the bun in her hair. It helps transition into this new iteration.”

Plus if it’s Marisa (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE), you get that this will be the first sexy Aunt May, just saying.

“I felt like I was in summer camp when I was working with them [Tom and the younger superhero cast members]. It was like ‘okay, not only are you not your age, but i’m not my age, we’re all 13 right now’ — I loved being with them.”

So you’re getting the idea how off-the-hook special this movie is, even with a kind of human villain, Michael Keaton. He’s a Hollywood insider who’s been around forever, but Keaton as “Vulture” plays a new flavor of heavy here.

Birdman’s Oscar nominee tries to break it down to the essence of his Spider-Man bad guy with “there is, you know, an underlying intelligence to it. It isn’t that simple. He has resentment.”

Vulture “may have been vulnerable.” He started out ethically okay, maybe but “my character [failed] doing things on the up-and-up, maybe — but he is put in a position to say, ‘I’m going to look after my family.’ I also like that he had a crew. I like these guys. These are all working class people. They all have legitimate gripes.”

When asked about the scope of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton nails it for most of us. “These movies are always just so huge, how they put it together it beyond me. You can tell, the director, he really saw it.” Then he stops short, summing up the little details that apparently make this movie The One for diehard Marvel franchise fans.

Michael Keaton wants to talk The Suit.

“The suit was so intricate and artfully made — I don’t think those people (Costumers) get enough credit. You know, special wrenches to put the boots in a certain (position), I was knocked out by that.” Which leads into a whole discussion about Cosplay, but never mind.SpideyNow1

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING  is right around the corner as this summer’s huge blockbuster entry and swings into the box office July 7, so get ready for it. See the official site here, with all the relevant hashtags and hoo-hah for such a massive fan movie.

JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT THE SMALL PRINT

Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Studios / Pascal Pictures production, Spider-Man™: Homecoming.  Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. Directed by Jon Watts.  Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers. Screen Story by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley.  Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal.  Executive Producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Jeremy Latcham, Stan Lee, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach. Mitch Bell, Eric Hauserman Carroll, and Rachel O’Connor serve as Co-Producers. Director of Photography is Salvatore Totino ASC, AIC. Production Designer is Oliver Scholl. Editors are Dan Lebental ACE and Debbie Berman.  Visual Effects Supervisor is Janek Sirrs.  Costume Designer is Louise Frogley. Music by Michael Giacchino. Music Supervision by Dave Jordan.

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We Just Heard About THE MANDELA EFFECT & It’s Made in LA

Curated by Screenmancer Staff

LOS ANGELES –– Periscope Entertainment announced yesterday that Charlie Hofheimer (“24: Legacy,” Black Hawk Down), Aleksa Palladino (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Halt and Catch Fire”), Robin Lord Taylor (“Gotham,” “The Walking Dead”), and Clarke Peters (“The Wire,” John Wick) have signed on to star in David Guy Levy’s psychological sci-fi thriller The Mandela Effect, written by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen and Levy.  The film marks their second creative collaboration following Would You Rather. Joshua Fruehling, Levy and Schlachtenhaufen are producing under the Periscope banner.

PLOT REVEAL

The Mandela Effect follows a man who becomes obsessed with facts and events that have been collectively misremembered by thousands of people. Believing the phenomena to be the symptom of something much larger, his obsession eventually leads him to question reality itself. Principal photography is currently underway in Los Angeles.MndlaEf17

HAVEN’T HEARD OF THE REAL MANDELA EFFECT?

You may ask what is a “Mandela Effect”?
According to Buzzfeed: “The Mandela effect” is what the internet is calling those curious instances in which many of us are certain we remember something a particular way, but it turns out we’re incorrect. The name of the theory comes from many people feeling certain they could remember Nelson Mandela dying while he was still in prison back in the ’80s. Contrary to what many thought, Mandela’s actual death was on Dec. 5, 2013, despite some people claiming to remember seeing clips of his funeral on TV. These false memories have some people thinking their memory sucks, but some wonder if they’ve gone to a parallel universe, or if time travelers have gone to the past and slightly affected our present, or if they’re simply losing their freakin’ minds. Whichever it is, what’s most interesting about the Mandela effect is that so many individuals share the same false memories.” Mndladed17

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT IT

Director and Periscope Entertainment’s David Guy Levy said: “I’m grateful to have such a talented group of actors come together to tell this story; Steffen and I could not have asked for a better group to bring these characters to life, and we look forward to sharing this film with audiences everywhere.”

 WHO IS IN IT

Hofheimer most recently starred in the FOX revival “24: Legacy,” and recently appeared in Easy Living, which made its world premiere at this year’s SXSW film festival. Previous credits include: “Mad Men,” Would You Rather, Black Hawk Down, “TURN,” and more.

Palladino most recently starred as Sara Wheeler in the AMC series “Halt and Catch Fire,” and has previously won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role in the ensemble drama series “Boardwalk Empire,” alongside Steve Buscemi. She has also appeared in films including The Veil, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and many more.

Taylor currently stars in Fox’s Emmy® nominated series “Gotham,” as “Oswald Cobblepot” AKA “The Penguin.” He has appeared in several acclaimed television series, such as “The Walking Dead,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Good Wife” and “Person of Interest,” as well as film roles including Cold Comes the Night, Another Earth, and Accepted.

Peters has a long and impressive career, with credits including “The Wire,” Notting Hill, Legacy: Black Ops, John Wick, Division 19 and more.

WHO REPS THE TALENT 

Hofheimer is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency and Forward Entertainment; Palladino is represented by The Gersh Agency; Taylor is represented by Abrams Artists Agency and Untitled Entertainment; and Peters is represented by Stone Manners Salners Agency.Periscope17

 

PERISCOPE 411

Founded in 2004 by David Guy Levy, Periscope Entertainment is a Los Angeles based company that develops and produces a diverse slate of fresh and visionary theatrical film and entertainment properties. With unique, non-genre specific projects in development and set for release, Periscope Entertainment is dedicated to discovering innovative and original material and developing it into a compelling and unprecedented cinematic experience.

RECAP:

CHARLIE HOFHEIMER, ALEKSA PALLADINO, ROBIN LORD TAYLOR, AND CLARKE PETERS SIGN ON TO STAR IN DAVID GUY LEVY’S THE MANDELA EFFECT.

We’re excited about this project, how about you? Add your comments below. Or just wait till they release it.

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DARK TOWER Casts Wild Shadow with Baddie McConaughey & Pistol-Packing Idris Elba

by Screenmancer Staff It doesn’t entirely ruin the mystique around Stephen King’s eight-novel series “The Dark Tower” to know that the name of the main character, played by Idris Elba in the upcoming Columbia Pictures release of the same name, is from a Robert Browning poem. In fact it kind of arts it up. Browning’s […]

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Get Ready To Be Entranced: Sofia Coppola’s THE BEGUILED Grips

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

There was a time when Sofia Coppola could be at an awards show and overlooked as a famous daughter; not anymore, not for years now since LOST IN TRANSLATION. But in her new film, THE BEGUILED, which is a retool of a 1971 Clint Eastwood starrer, she really comes of age as a visionary writer/director. Even in what is considered a remake of a movie based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan, it has a distinctive feel that’s all hers. The film opens Friday, June 23 in New York and Los Angeles, with wider release on June 30.KidanBGniceWith an all-star cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, you get a sense of why this movie won Best Director at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival.

Picture a Southern all-girls boarding school during the battle-weary Civil War era, and a wounded enemy soldier appears. John McBurney (Colin Farrell) adds testosterone to a very delicate and well-mannered yet highly complex microcosm of women led by a formidable Headmistress named Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman).

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“This is my dream cast,” Sofia Coppola admits. “When I was writing it, I was picturing Nicole as Miss Martha. She always surprises me. Watching her, I’ve never seen anyone like that, she does so many different things at once.” She adds that the whole cast is on a par with Kidman.

You want to use a word like confection for the ethereal feel, but that description doesn’t do justice to the depth of rich multi-layered images that float on the screen like Spanish moss.

“This is very much a Sofia film,” Colin Farrell explains. “It’s very much aesthetically beautiful. She wrote every word of this. Her way feels maybe more right than some [as far as directing], there’s an immense lack of tension on the set, very playful. She’s incredibly easygoing and generous to her core it seems.”ColinDunstBG

Farrell is underscoring the fact that a remake can often feel like a re-do of someone else’s vision.

But if you look at the 1971 version, two minutes into the film, Eastwood is literally hitting on a twelve year old, with “not too young for kisses.” And even though the fabulous Geraldine Page stars as his Miss Martha, there’s a creepy feel to their interplay, down the line. So that’s essentially the breaking point for the 2017 Beguiled. It takes a left turn at the way the heightened sexual tension is framed.

“I didn’t know the movie and I watched it, and it really stayed in my mind. I watched it. It was so weird, and I thought ‘how would I do my version?’” I thought it would be interesting to do the same story but from the female characters’ point of view.”

Elle Fanning, who plays Alicia, describes her character as kind of an empowered seductress, but still innocent in a real way. “Anything Sofia does I think is incredible, it was also like, ‘yeah.’ Because it was all these girls and women — and Colin of course— they hold the power.”ColinElleBG

“The original film had been made from a guy’s point of view, so I went back to the book. Because I just liked the premise,” Coppola adds. “It’s such a crazy, extreme premise about power between men and women in such an extreme situation. The idea of looking at wartime from the point of view of the women left behind.”

“You try to make it personal. Try to relate to the characters because it’s such a different time. And yet I loved that it had elements that were familiar to me, this feminine beautiful world. A beautiful feminine world with violence and very gothic.”

“My tendency is to be on the subtle side. Colin was teasing me: ‘Oh, this is an action movie to you, there’s guns… there’s blood.’ It’s been fun to have this mix of beautiful dresses and a little gore. We had smoke machines everyday, and candlelight… a really ethereal look that is specific to this story.”

“Colin is a good sport about being our sex object in the movie, but he has to be dangerous and threatening, and romantic in the movie.” Farrell plays a mercenary soldier paid $300 off the boat from Ireland to fight as a Yankee, so he’s neither North nor South, but emblematic of the unspoken ever-present struggle for control between the sexes.

When the crushing attractions flare up between Farrell’s character and the many flavors of female in this strange closed world hunkered down  under siege of musket fire in a distance, Beguiled really poses some interesting questions about how women express their sexuality. Yet there’s a brutality to their mannered world that Farrell’s soldier-on-the-mend only begins to realize when it’s too late.

Not that every movie needs a memorable line, but when his John McBurney yells out “You Vengeful Bitches,” in a thick Irish accent, it’s an instant classic. Probably because Nicole Kidman’s Miss Martha is so poised and possibly inherently evil at the same time, in a nice way.NicBGbad17

Kirsten Dunst, who plays wronged love interest Edwina, sums up Sofia Coppola’s deft directing hand best, as “she doesn’t second guess herself. I’ve known her for so long, I’m working with my friend, you can’t really beat that.”

Since he is outnumbered in this eerie thriller, Colin Farrell gets the last word. “I’m surrounded by extraordinary talent. Watching these extraordinary women do extraordinary work. There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s been a joy.”

Don’t miss what the women have in store for their wounded houseguest, it’s a very rewarding fight to the finish.

Focus Features awards-buzzworthy film THE BEGUILED rolls out in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, June 23, with wider release on June 30.

Directed by Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” “Somewhere”)
Written by Sofia Coppola, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan and the screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard.

Watch This Making-of With Director & Cast

 

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93 Minutes I Rated R

Official Site I Facebook I Twitter I Instagram

#TheBeguiled #VengefulBitches

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Hey, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE Is an Insider Film Fan Anthem, Take That THR

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Who doesn’t love The Hollywood Reporter, a trade paper of record since 1930 at the dawn of American Cinema? So what do you do when THR lukewarmly reviews a film that is a fantastically written exploration of the interplay between fans and films, between human superpowers and caped crusaders? You write a counter-review, and here it is: this is about co-director Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs’ freshly screened FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE. It’s playing on a weeklong run at Laemmle Music Hall that began last Friday, June 16, so you still have time to catch it.3 shot

Starring Eve Annenberg (writer-director of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish) in a tacky bridal gown on an LA Metro Bus odyssey after a near-miss at matrimony, her veiled crusader of personal discovery teams up with  Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, stage actress Nija Okoro, local standup Isadora O’Boto, MMA champion Krzysztof Soszynski (Logan), Linda Bisesti and Chia Chen. It’s not exactly The Justice League, but they all have pop cultural references that thread together the multicultural experience that is Los Angeles. And it works wonders for Wedding Woman.

Just to cheat the system for you, and give film fans fair access to the movie, here are actual press notes on the film, with a synopsis so you get a gist of where this film is headed.

“In the city of Angels, everyone is on a quest.  A disheveled, middle-aged woman in a bridal gown boards a Metro bus on Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night. As the bus heads further west, she meets an assortment of eccentrics and social outcasts who make her question where she’s been and where she’s going.  Each person she meets is at their own personal crossroads, who in turn shape the course of her bizarre journey.”

Ironically, coming from the film’s publicity folks, this is lacking in hyperbole and the extra “tulle dimension” that FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE offers diehard film buffs. ‘Tangerine Meets Canterbury Tales Set in Glitterati LaLaLand,’ is a more fitting tagline, but they got the quest part right.

Here’s something very insider fanboy and fangirl already: if you Google the title it will return results for the trip from Hollywood to Rose Avenue in Venice, which is awesome in itself. Not to mention the iconic Ballerina Clown is shown for its weirdly unpredictable staying power as a local icon despite the place going from Muscle Beach to Silicon Beach these days, with nosebleed rents and attitudes you used to only see on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, ps. So the movie also shines a spot on a place that once was cool and is now so overpriced you want to pitch a tent in protest.

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Taking on the Marvel Universe, Willow, Blade Runner, Bruce Lee, even that reptilians-live-inside-the-hollow-earth yadda, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE does a mind-meld for film fans that is of epic proportions. It taps into the inner stat and Easter Egg zone in those movie people who show up at Comic-Cons in full regalia, know what cosplay is, and collect lobby cards.

Plus there’s a gummy bear fight with the near-miss sister-in-law and crazy people we see on the street every day take on a mythic significance as the canaries in this coal mine we are all currently living in. Let’s face it, the remake of Blade Runner with Ryan Gosling has most of us a little nervous, but hopeful that the 1982 Blade Runner is celebrated even more for its cult replicant allegories to our plastic surgery dystopian now.

Embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress saga is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. (No, I’m not kidding. Ever wonder why movies are America’s number one lifestyle export? Because they are magical when done correctly.)From_Hollywood_to_Rose_Postcard_V2

You’ve got exceptional writing here from Matt Jacobs and a standout threading of stories from the debut team of Liz Graham and Jacobs. There is not one moment of dead air, and the film treats people’s obsessions and adoration of pop culture rabbit holes with reverence.

FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE points out that we all wear costumes is real life, not just in DC Comics, as a Bus Driver disrobes and frees himself. It also pokes hard at the emotional reactions to a simple white gown, a piece of clothing so imbued with primal subtext, it can literally freak people out. Not to mention the “fish lamp,” which is just as powerful as any Orb or Seeing Stone in how it moves the plot along.

The themes touched on here are the kind of uniting cross-generational, cross-cultural conversations that the Meaningful Movies inspire. Yes, including how important Batman is to some kids growing up, or Lord of the Rings to others, even seemingly hokey 80’s quest movies — all those adventure tales that somehow add you into the picture just by watching.

So embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress tale about “a group of interconnected eccentric strangers over the course of one long night on the LA Metro system,” is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. With all due respect to The Hollywood Reporter, you’ll love this film because it’s about us, in front of the screen, fitting our lives into a darkened room with a bunch of crazy strangers waiting for us outside in real life.

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Liz Graham’s and Matt Jacobs’ From Hollywood to Rose premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Comedy Film and went on to screen at the Manhattan Film Festival, winning Best Comedic Screenplay.  From Hollywood to Rose opened in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall last Friday, June 16th for a weeklong run.  

Get tickets and info here for The Laemmle in Los Angeles.

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