Two execs, Carlos and Dan, whose companies/bosses oversaw the productions of Brokeback Mountain, Little Miss Sunshine, Into the Wild, and Cold Mountain shared valuable insights with us, the Project:Involve fellows, as we individually pitched our stories to them for feedback.
Carlos and Dan were both very giving and encouraging. Carlos had a wicked sense of humor, and Dan exhibited an articulate cinematic sensibility. They listened to each person's presentation/story, asked questions, and offered suggestions. While nobody discussed explicitly the art and science of pitching, I learned a lot from what people said or didn't say and how they said it.
When it was my turn, I walked up to the table and sat across from them and Jane, FIND's talent development coordinator. Earlier in the day, I practice my pitch many times -- in front of my brother and by myself. I also decided that rather than telling them the plot details, I would make them excited about the concept of my story. I adjusted the mic in front of me, and it fell out of the holder and hit the table. I looked them in the eyes (I could tell they were amused by me) and proceeded to introduce them to the world of my story.
"We'll look back on this as a time of great experimentation," said Tony Safford (Executive Vice President of Worldwide Acquisitions, Fox Searchlight) to a room full of hungry filmmakers, Friday during Film Independent's Distributors Roundtable. Consultant Jeff Dowd joined panelists Eamonn Bowles (President, Magnolia Pictures), Udy Epstein (Principal, Seventh Art Releasing), Jonathan Sehring (President, IFC Entertainment), Tony Safford, and moderator Tom Bernard (Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics) for an open discussion about the state of the industry and the filmmaker's role in their own survival.
My first visit to the Hollywood Magic Castle was an exhilarating experience.
Guests must be invited by club members. It was my luck that my cousin, Alex, was in town. His good friend, David, is a member, so he invited Alex, Alex's fiancee (Nellie), and me to the castle.
I arrived by myself while they waited for me inside. The entrance was narrow and resembled an entrance of an old, upscale apartment. I checked in at the small "lobby," which appeared to self-contained and led to nowhere. The girl who checked me in instructed me to walkup to the wall and chant a spell. The wall slid open, and Alex stood waiting for me on the other side.
Hoop Dreams, which Ebert claims as the best movie of the 90's, observed its 15 anniversary this past Wednesday at the Gene Siskel Center. I remember watching it when it first came out. I was very eager to because I had become a huge basketball fan by that time. I had elevated basketball to mythical proportion. I was obsessed with street ball, with high school basketball, professional basketball (but for some reason not college basketball).
I weaved what I heard, saw, and experienced into epic battles of skills, talents, and personalities. My teammates and I became larger-than-life characters struggling to work together to triumph over common enemies. In the professional arena, the sudden retirement of Michael Jordan left a power vaccuum to be filled by those all-stars who until then had been denied championship glory by number 23.
Such was my state of mind when I watched Hoop Dreams as a 14-15 year-old. Although I felt it was long, I knew right away it was a tremendous film. During the same time, I began to develop a social consciousness, so I was keenly aware of the social context this story took place under. I didn't realize it then, but perhaps this movie served as a companion piece to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the most important novel I read in high school.
These are the thoughts triggered by Ebert's blog post about Hoop Dreams. I feel as if I just ran into a good friend I haven't seen in a long time.