Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mike Figgis on film directing

The Carlisle-born film-maker delighted the crowd with some frank tales about how
– and how not – to make it in Hollywood.

On Saturday night at the Guardian’s Open Weekend, film-maker Mike Figgis
promised he was going to name names – and he duly did. Figgis gave a brilliant
insight into the ups and downs of being a Hollywood director; in his case, more downs than ups. Figgis was born in Carlisle and grew up in Kenya (his father was a
frustrated musician and DJ, his mother secretary to Ernest Hemingway, who may or
may not have had a passion for her), and in the 1990s looked as if he could become
one of Hollywood’s top directors, with films such as Internal Affairs and Leaving Las
Vegas. But, as he explained to a captivated audience, every time he got within sight of
the pinnacle, he blew it.

Continue reading Mike Figgis on film directing

The new golden age of TV

Call it the kaleidoscopic age of TV drama. Never before has there been such a range
of colorful story lines, styles and sensibilities at work in the genre.

One program producer enthuses that hour-long series are now indisputably “the
jewel in the crown” of small-screen creativity. Inroads into schedules by reality fare
during the last decade and a recent spate of sitcom successes notwithstanding, it is
drama that still sets the tone for most broadcasters—and potentially returns the
biggest rewards to its backers.

Think high-end, high-cost American network series like Smash, Touch or The
River or the current crop of pay cable contenders like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and
Showtime’s Homeland, as well as basic cable’s Covert Affairs on USA Network
or Breaking Bad on AMC. Never has there been a time when so many top talents,
behind and in front of the camera, were so attracted to, and adept at massaging, the
genre. Nor a time when so much money was at stake.

Continue reading The new golden age of TV

Hike in U.K. tax incentive targets film finance

LONDON — Films are about to get a boost in Britain — and perhaps Hollywood as
well — as the U.K. considers changes in the tax structure that would double the
amount individual backers can write off, and increase the coin that companies can
invest in tax-free projects by 150%.

The modifications will be part of the revisions to the Enterprise Investment Scheme,
which provides tax breaks to boost economic activity for smaller businesses in the
U.K., with qualifying investors receiving an upfront tax break.

“The interesting thing about EIS is that you no longer have to be carrying on your
activity in the U.K.,” says Olswang tax lawyer Cliona Kirby. “Now, you can trade
internationally. So you can actually fund an American film with British money and
make your movie in the U.S. or wherever you like, and still access the incentive.”

Pending approval from the European Union, the annual amount companies will be
eligible to invest in an EIS scheme is set to increase from £2 million ($3.2 million) to
£5 million ($7.9 million), while the amount an individual will be able to invest will
double from $792,977 to $1.59 million.

Continue reading Hike in U.K. tax incentive targets film finance

SPAA demands local content increase

The Screen Producers Association of Australia has responded to a proposed
Television License Fees Amendment rushed through the House of Representatives by
the Government late Thursday, demanding an increase in Australian content. The
rushed amendment will cut 25% off the licensing fees payable by the free to air
television networks for the use of public spectrum.

Geoff Brown, executive director of SPAA said: “It’s time for the federal government
to ensure that Australians see an increase in Australian content on our television
screens, as promised by the big three networks in return for a reduction in their
obligations of hundreds of millions of dollars.” The promise Brown mentioned came
in February 2010, when the initial breaks were given to the networks.

Brown told Encore: “Ryan Stokes said the slashing of the licenses would allow the
networks to protect local content. There has been no delivery on that. We understand
the economics on the multi-channels are still being worked out but some form of
local content regulation needs to be instilled on the primary channels. We were
promised a new landscape and they haven’t delivered.”

In a statement, Brown said: “This renewal of the rebate will now amount to savings
in excess of $275m for the networks and they expressly requested it of the Minister to
ensure appropriate levels of Australian content. There has been no appreciable
increase in Australian content since the license rebate and in that time the amount of

foreign content on the free to air multi channels and on the Internet has increased.
The government must now act to shore up Australian content by legislating for an
increase in the Producer Tax Offset for television.”

In the recent Convergence Review interim report, the Review panel suggested the
government increase the Producer Offset for television from 20% to 40%. Brown
said: “The government must heed the recommendation in the interim report and
commit to an increase in the Offset.”

March 23rd, 2012 at 4:23 pm – ENCORE

ABC gets head start in race to mobile TV

TV viewing on mobile devices is set to rocket in the next year.

THE ABC is set to steal a march on its commercial rivals when its popular catch-up
TV service is made available on iPhones within weeks, signalling in earnest the
beginning of the mobile TV revolution.

The corporation has confirmed it is putting the finishing touches to the technology of
its iview service that will enable the 3.7 million users of iPhones in Australia to watch
shows on the smallest of the four screens – computers, tablets, TVs and phones – used
to view TV content.

TV viewing on mobile devices is set to rocket in the next year as data plans for mobile
phones get larger and come down in price, thereby allowing people to watch TV on
the go.

Continue reading ABC gets head start in race to mobile TV

Global Box Office Hit $32.6 Bil in 2011, Fueled by Exploding International Growth

While the domestic box office was down a sobering 4 percent, the foreign take grew
by 7 percent to $22.4 billion; China now second-biggest international market after

The foreign box office rescued Hollywood in 2011, with international ticket sales
reaching $22.4 billion, a healthy 7 percent increase over 2010, according to the
MPAA’s annual Theatrical Market Statistics report.

Globally, ticket sales reached $32.6 billion in 2011, only a 3 percent gain. That’s due
to a marked downturn at the North American box office, where revenue reached
$10.2 billion, down 4 percent over 2010. International reveneus made up nearly 69
percent of the pie.

“The figures on box office reflect only one indicator of an extremely complex and
evolving movie industry,” MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said. “We’re
working harder and smarter to keep moviegoers coming back for more, whether at
the cinema, at home or on the go.”

Continue reading Global Box Office Hit $32.6 Bil in 2011, Fueled by Exploding International Growth

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Screen Australia invests in new features

Screen Australia today announced nearly $5 million investment in four new feature
film projects, triggering close to $20 million in production.

“I’m thrilled to be able to announce production investment for such a unique mix of
feature films,” said Screen Australia’s Chief Executive, Ruth Harley. “These projects
combine iconic Australian stories and compelling genre films from both first time
and established filmmaking teams.”

The Oscar®-winning duo Emile Sherman and Iain Canning (The King’s Speech) will
produce Tracks, the true story of Robyn Davidson’s solitary trek across the
Australian desert, with co-producer Julie Ryan (Red Dog). A quintessentially
Australian story, Tracks is adapted for the screen by writer/director John Curran
(Praise, The Painted Veil).

Seventeen Australian directors including Cate Blanchett, Robert Connolly, Justin
Kurzel, Mia Wasikowska and David Wenham will respond to Tim Winton’s
hauntingly beautiful short stories in The Turning, a cleverly structured omnibus film
from acclaimed producer Robert Connolly. Other directors on board The Turning
include Benedict Andrews, Jonathan auf der Heide, Tony Ayres, Shaun Gladwell,
Rhys Graham, Ian Meadows, Yaron Lifschitz, Claire McCarthy, Ashlee Page and
Stephen Page.

Continue reading Screen Australia invests in new features

Whatever happened to non-linear films?

A decade ago, a caper like Contraband might have been in line for a fashionably
fragmentary narrative treatment – so why not now?

Straight and narrow … Contraband tells its story in a convenational narrative.

It’s a berth on the USS Contemporary all the way for Mark Wahlberg in his new
thriller Contraband, with its story about the counterfeit-money supply lines between
Panama and the United States. In fact, the film is a testament to the glories of (above
board) free trade: once known as 2008 Icelandic production Reykjavik-Rotterdam,
this piece of intellectual property has crossed the Atlantic with star Baltasar
Kormákur, who, as the new film’s director, ushered it smoothly into the Hollywood

Contraband is a solid enough 110 minutes, a bit like a lengthy episode of the Crystal
Maze set in a sweating central American metropolis overseen by some crazed UPS
official. But its feverish overplotting made me think it had missed a trick. It might
have benefitted from stringing together some elegant non-linear connections, like Traffic and Syriana, with whom it shares a fascination with international

Continue reading Whatever happened to non-linear films?

Schepisi to Receive Vanguard Award

Director Fred Schepisi will be honored with the Vail Film Festival’s Vanguard Award,
while Krysten Ritter, who plays a lead role in the Starz series Gravity, has been
chosen to receive the festival’s Excellence in Acting Award.

The festival, which runs from March 29 to April 1 in Vail, Colorado, will present the
honores at its awards ceremony on its closing night.

Schepisi, whose credits include Six Degrees of Separation and The Chant of Jimmie
Blacksmith, most recently directed The Eye of the Storm, starring Geoffrey Rush,
Charlotte Rampling and Judy Davis. The film, which will be released in the United
States by Sycamore Entertainment, will have its U.S. premiere as the festival’s
opening night film.

Ritter’s film credits include She’s Out of My League, Confessions of a Shopaholic,
What Happens in Vegas, 27 Dresses and Vamps. She stars in Kat Coiro’s L!fe
Happens, which will screen as the festival’s closing night film.

3/20/2012 by Gregg Kilday – THR