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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Sayles force: John's a Honeydripper

It’s Alabama authenticity for the new John Sayles-Maggie Renzi production, writes Birmingham News’ Bob Carlton: “They film their pictures where they take place, and to give them more authenticity, they hire as many local actors as they can. Sayles and Renzi are in Alabama scouting locations… SAYLES1.JPGand doing other pre-production work for their next movie, Honeydripper, which they will start filming in and around Greenville in October.” Before accepting an indie lifetime achievement award on Friday at Birmingham’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Sayles told Carlton, “It is very hard for people to continue to be an independent filmmaker… It’s very hard to raise money and very hard to get your movie seen… So more and more, that world is for people who are making their first or second movie – usually on video, sometimes with their mother’s credit card. But to survive and continue to make movies without getting accepted in Hollywood and getting that kind of money is pretty rare.” Of his 27 years with Renzi, Sayles said, “If you want to be a filmmaker… find a good producer and treat her right.” The Honeydripper takes place in a small, cotton-producing community in the 1950s, just before the outbreak of the Korean War,” Carlton writes, with the title refeering “to a struggling roadhouse owned by an aging piano player played by Danny Glover.” Glover’s character hires a young musician with an electric guitar he made himself. “It’s set right in 1950, when Ike Turner and Chuck Berry and those guys were starting to discover the electric guitar,” Sayles says. “That instrument, which had been in the background, is about to take over.” [More at the link.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch