Despite the long odds against them, the low budgets, the uncertainty about commercial success, independent filmmakers consistently deliver movies that are compelling and entertaining. The stories are unique and personal, and the acting from new and established actors alike is often better that what you normally see at the cineplex. Yet too few people have the chance to enjoy these films. Here are what I thought were the twelve best independent movies of 2012.
When Light Iron CEO Michael Cioni made the move to Manhattan from Los Angeles this past January, he wasn’t worrying about finding a good rental opportunity. After all, without really having to search, he was already set up quite nicely at 580 Broadway after a few months renovation. In a real estate deal said to go off with minimum hassle, Cioni’s Light Iron had taken the eighth floor space held by OffHollywood’s post-production operations, which included a sleek digital intermediates grading theater.
[Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to introduce Bob Gibbons as Digital Cinema Report’s new film critic. He’s a longtime industry friend and, as a passionate movie lover, has been reviewing films online and in newspapers for many years. This is a list of releases from January through June of 2013 that he previously reviewed. His reviews of current releases will appear here regularly. We hope you enjoy them and welcome your comments.]
When I discovered that my long-time friend Bob Gibbons has been writing movie reviews for many years, I asked if he would write about films for Digital Cinema Report and he agreed. He has long worked in the motion picture industry, mainly at Kodak and later at Panavision, and one constant in his career has been a passion for movies of all kinds. And he sees a lot of movies. That passion shines through in all his reviews of movies good and bad and we’re pleased and proud to be sharing them with you starting with this Report.
With the success of The Hobbit and the first film to launch in high frame rate (HFR), what exactly is HFR? Why do moviegoers need yet another option at the Cineplex? These questions were all addressed recently during an HFR 3D promotional shoot, hosted by GDC Technology and Red Digital Cinema. Salvy Maleki, as lead producer and executive vice president at GDC Technology, was in need of original HFR footage to use in a promo to showcase GDC’s HFR Integrated Media Block (IMB), only to find that there was no content available to license. She took the initiative to organize a live-action, special effects shoot, shot in HFR 3D, to show off different frame rates, comparing 24 to 48 and 60 frames per second.
Berkeley post house Colorflow recently completed final post-production work on Born this Way, a riveting, feature-length documentary from producers/directors Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullman on the underground gay and lesbian community in the African Republic of Cameroon. Final color grading was done at Colorflow with lead colorist Kent Pritchett working with the two filmmakers to set the final look. It was a challenging process due, in part, to the unusual circumstances surrounding the film’s production.
The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek, a film based on the play by Naomi Wallace, is a coming-of-age story with a wicked twist that reaches into the depths of a nation and asks, "What lies beneath?" For post-production American Film Institute AFI directing graduate and director of the film Vuk Mitrovic went to AlphaDogs upon recommendation of a friend’s client who had used the facility for their project.
Director/producer Alicia Brauns had a very personal story to tell about her father’s journey from holocaust survivor to well-known surgeon. The documentary-in-progress is entitled Mosaic of Life. To depict that experience and Dr. Jack Brauns’ positive outlook on life, she turned to her favorite cinematographer, Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC. The two knew they would be covering an extensive amount of ground, from inside the infamous camps to the trip through Germany and beyond—in a short shooting time. They had to build their camera package carefully so they chose Canon C300s supported by a fluid head and legs from Sachtler.
Oblique FX continues to produce visual effects for the television series Being Human, now in its third season. The Montreal facility was recently nominated for a 2013 Canadian Screen Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television for best visual effects in television for its work on the second season of the program. Being Human tells the story of a trio of supernatural beings who live together in Boston.
The Laemmle Royal Theatre in Santa Monica, has worked with Christie to create the first booth-less cinema within Los Angeles. The conversion to digital was part of an upgrade made throughout the Laemmle chain. “Being 100 percent digital made the renovation easier as we were able to carve out multiple auditoriums without having to allocate additional space for a projection booth,” said Greg Laemmle, president of the company.