How does a young man some called “a wastrel” become, at just 33, Julius Caesar, ruler of the known world? For writer, director, producer Paul Schoolman, that question was the genesis of his new film Jail Caesar. Starring Derek Jacobi as Sulia, John Kani as Marius and Alice Krige as the Pirate Captain, the movie is set in three South African prisons and features prisoners in key roles. The film has won several major awards around the world and will be available on Netflix later this year. I spoke via several emails with Schoolman and co-producer Krige, about the long, hard task of bringing Jail Caesar to life.
The Big Picture
As was widely reported last week, a new film studio has opened in North Austin, Texas under the direction of a partnership between Bulltiger Productions and 25 year industry veteran Randall P. Dark. Stephen Brent formed Bulltiger Productions in 2011 to develop film, games, mobile apps and graphic novels. Dark is the founder of HD Vision in New York City and Dallas, a co-founder of HD Vision Studios in Los Angeles. I spoke with Dark to learn more about the new facility.
With knowing irony, the filmmakers behind the new independent horror feature Found Footage 3D, call their movie “the Scream of the found footage genre,” and it’s part of the point they’re making. “Of course, shooting a found footage movie in 3D doesn’t make a damn bit of sense,” says Steven DeGennaro, the movie’s writer, director and producer.
As was widely reported earlier this week, Dolby Laboratories has completed its acquisition of Doremi Labs. According to the announcement, the deal advances Dolby's mission to improve the cinema experience, enable new forms of storytelling, and accelerate the delivery and deployment of innovative solutions to exhibitors. I spoke exclusively with Doug Darrow, Dolby’s senior vice president, cinema, to better understand what this deal means.
Event cinema history was made last month in Ireland and the UK when Billy Elliot the Musical Live topped the UK box office for a weekend, beating the Denzel Washington thriller The Equalizer (£1.90million-£1.89 million).
Al Caudullo’s documentary Muay Thai Madness is one of the first projects to be shot in 4K Ultra HD. The movie goes inside the Treasurers of Thailand – Mixed Martial Arts, which is the country’s centuries old national sport. Digital Cinema Report interviewed Caudullo via email about his documentary and, in particular, about his experience with 4K Ultra HD.
An independent filmmaker with many successes to his credit said it best: “Forget the show. Remember the business.” The most common mistake that new filmmakers make is to ignore the business side of the show business equation. And yet the financial aspects of show business are typically the most challenging. Last week in New York’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, the equipment sales and rental house Adorama hosted a panel of veteran filmmakers to discuss current approaches to motion picture finance and give practical advice about how producers can earn a return on their investment. More than fifty people crowded into the small meeting room for the discussion, which was moderated by Digital Cinema Society president James Mathers, himself a successful indie film cinematographer. The panelists brought a wide range of experiences to the conversation.
The dynamic between science and spirituality has been the focus of some of the most hotly contested debates in our culture. The debate continues today and that conflict is at the heart of writer/director Mike Cahill’s second film, I Origins a sci-fi love story that follows a promising young scientist as he begins to doubt his lifelong certainty that facts alone can explain everything around us.
One of the big challenges created by digital cinema technology can be summed up in a single word: Frozen. Disney’s wildly successful 3D animated film captured two Academy Awards – Best Animated Film and Best Song – and was an international box office success. And therein lies the problem. For hit movies like Frozen all those various markets demand literally thousands of different and unique versions and producing them under demanding deadline pressure is a huge undertaking. “It seems unbelievable, but for one title that is a scope show (2.39) aspect ratio, we usually have to create a 1.78 panscan and a 1.33 panscan,” said Annie Chang vice president, post-production technologies, The Walt Disney Studios. “When you start to factor in 42 different languages for each aspect ratio and then add in multiple resolutions/playback standards (1080p, 720p, NTSC, PAL) and then add in the different edits/versions and the various delivery formats that downstream distributors (airlines, television, cable, satellite, electronic sell through, etc) ask for, you exponentially end up with tens of thousands of files. Just for one title.”
Later this week at Loews Lincoln Square on New York City’s Upper West Side National CineMedia will host its annual upfront event to make the case to advertising executives that movie theatres merit a larger share of the billions of dollars they spend each year on ads on television, online and mobile devises. And it seems fair to say that the recently announced NCM-Screenvision merger will overshadow the event. Reaction to the merger news was mixed but everyone agrees on this: if the deal gets government approval, National CineMedia, even more so than before, will be the undisputed leader of U.S. exhibition. The question is, what does this mean for the rest of the industry? Put another way is National CineMedia too big?