Tag Archives: ABNY

Pssst… We’re Fomenting Revolt In The USA

We’re all squirrelling away here in Toronto in the longest, coldest winter ever, thinking about warm Houston. We’re prepping for our world premiere at Worldfest, contacting press in Houston as well as some indie film blogs that have a general readership (check out our first film review here). Who knows when we’ll next get into a film festival and so we want to make sure that we get the most bang for the buck out of this one. In fact, before we accepted the invitation to Houston we had a long discussion amongst the team about what to do: should we wait to hear from the Toronto International Film Festival or another “first tier” festival or accept from Houston. Worldfest is the original indie film fest and have a long list of first feature film alumnae who are very impressive indeed – Ang Lee, Stephen Spielberg, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, to name a few. But they’re considered a “second tier” festival and, of course, everyone wants to go to Cannes or Sundance or Toronto or SXSW – the big ones. However, we decided that we would be foolish to turn down an invite in order to wait for one that won’t notify accepted films for six months and is unlikely to happen. We’re a small film with no stars and no studio backing, made with credit cards, crowdfunding and lines of credit. Toronto is the launchpad for Oscar season films with major stars. The likelihood of getting into a top tier festival is extremely slim – but they all want the world premiere (or at least continental premiere) so we would have to sit on the film for six months and be unable to show it to anyone. That thought alone was unbearable to us. Nor is getting into a top tier festival the be-all and end-all for a film, particularly small indies. It probably wouldn’t get us distribution (again, films with stars get the majority of distribution deals even at “indie” film fests), though it would probably make it easier to get into other, second tier festivals. It’s a difficult judgment call.

In the end, the “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” argument prevailed and we’re happy that it did. Our film has a Latino lead and Houston has a large Latino population who are “under-served” in terms of content. How do we know – besides taking a look at TV and film that is being made by the studios, where Latinos generally play gang members or cops who used to be gang members or dishwashers (nothing wrong with dishwashers it’s just that in films they don’t usually get names and have only one line), etc.: the interest that we got right away came from Latino news outlets. Manuel, our star, has already had one interview and there are a couple more major outlets who are interested in the film specifically because it has a Latino lead. Not to put too fine a point on it: that’s one of the reasons we want to make these kinds of movies – because we think movies, a major way that our culture talks to itself about who we are and our values, ought to reflect the way that we actually look and talk and dream. There’s enough movies being made every day with white, male leads who get the skinny, white girl out there. We don’t need to contribute to that, Hollywood (and most indies) have got that base covered.

Back to our preparations for Worldfest we’ve been trying to update our website, to make it more functional and add some pull quotes (nice things people have said about us). We’re getting together some promo postcards and some business cards for when we shmooze and hang out at the festival. And booking our rooms at the Crown Plaza hotel that is the film festival HQ. And now that we have something to talk about (in contrast to the months of picture editing in which there wasn’t much to say) we’re trying to “up” our social media game with the help of Mannal Butt, our enthusiastic intern. Everything seemed to be going according to plan and then we got an email yesterday from the festival that our BluRay DVD hadn’t arrived in Houston. We sent it FedEx and it was supposed to arrive by March 20th! After some panic we finally tracked it down: it was being held at the US border facility because we had failed to fill out a piece of paperwork that we weren’t given and which the Canada Post outlet hadn’t even heard of. We have in fact sent DVDs before without filling out a special form and had no problem. What we’d missed was a declaration that the video we were sending to the USA didn’t contain porn and wasn’t intended to foment an uprising against the government of the United States of America. Seriously. I’m not sure if they’ve heard of the internet or youtube. I mean, does anyone buy porn DVDs anymore?

On the other hand, maybe we are trying to start a revolution. Just a little bit.

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Our Worldfest Press Release

ABNY_Worldfest_Press release

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March 18, 2014 · 12:08 PM

Finished! Big Thanks to Redlab Digital and more.

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LOCKED & LOADED! Michael Legedza, Shawn Whitney, Kathryn Palmateer and Jason RIvera. 

I’ve been meaning to summarize our final stages of post-production for the last several weeks and have final set aside the time to do so. When, many moons ago, I last blogged about our struggle to complete post-production, we had just hired Luke Sargent to step in and take over the role of picture editor. This was both an excellent decision – life changing, in fact – and a lesson in expectations, especially when it comes to timelines for lo-fi filmmaking. 

Luke was contracted to work on the edit until the end of October. But when you only have a few days a week to work on something things take longer than expected. He had every right to step back at the end of October – when we barely had a fine cut – and expect either more money or to move on. But he stuck with us right to the end, through colour correction and sound mix. He has been an inspiration to us and a great learning resource. And incredibly supportive – in the last two weeks he picked up the master files and a BluRay master from Redlab Digital (our post-production house) – to cut a trailer for us and to burn us an exhibition screener. Incredible. Besides his commitment, his work and creative contribution have been incredible. I don’t think that any of us believe that we would have a completed film as good as it is without Luke. Many hat tips go his way.

I have to admit that I’m the kind of person who isn’t always great at planning ahead. I focus on the task at hand, work my way through it then move on to stage. As we approached the end of picture edit we knew we were going to have to colour correct the film – we lit with mostly fluorescent bulbs, for instance, which gave everyone a yellow hue. And of course we needed a sound editor and sound mixer – to get the best quality sound and to get an M&E track (music & effects – you need a separate track from the dialogue if you hope to make any foreign sales so that they can dub in the local language).

This was new territory for me. I have no experience with this aspect of the post-production process and have never dealt with a post-house. I met with one facility and they talked about giving us a great deal and coming in as executive producers in return for an equity stake in the production – then they backtracked a few days later and gave us a very large quote that was out of our budget. But, even more, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths because they had said one thing and then turned around and done another with no explanation and pretending like nothing had happened. Trust is really important to us. So, I started looking around Stage32.com – sort of a Facebook for film industry types. We’d found some crew on their for the shoot and it had worked out well. We got in contact with a few colourists and even met with a wonderful sound editor and mixer, Anne-Marie Ront. But it was clear that separating all of the elements – when none of us had experience with this stage of post – was going to be too much to deal with.

Again, Luke came to the rescue. He introduced us to Ahmad Ismail at Redlab Digital and Ahmad came through with an excellent overall quote for bespoke completion services. We decided not to try and take the movie to Telefilm and seek finishing funds. We’d already had a bad experience of submitting the unfinished film to a distributor who had been asking to see a rough cut – and then didn’t give us notes, just sent a curt email passing on the film (we were expecting advice, not a sale). Filmmakers: in case you haven’t heard this enough, never send your unfinished film to anyone, no matter how much they ask. So we decided to shoulder the extra debt and finish the film ourselves and do it in a one-stop, high quality facility. And it was well worth it – Redlab organized everything and all we had to do was show up and focus on the movie. And we worked with some excellent people: colourist Andrew Exworth, Sound editor Michael Legedza (who provided full foley and created a whole sound design for us!), and sound mixer Jason Rivera. It made it a painless process and gave us a film that was the best possible end product that it could be. There’s no doubt that helped us get into Worldfest, the Houston International Film Festival.

It’s been a long, challenging process and a steep learning curve for all of us. But we made it through and now we’re ready to embark on the next phase of this journey: festivals (yay, Houston!), sales, and a premiere screening in hometown Toronto. Stay tuned!

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We Pitch Raindance This Monday. Come Out & Hear About Our Next Film!

Never ones to rest on our laurels, even though we’ve got our film in the can, we’re still taking whatever opportunities come along to spread the word while we’re going through the post-production process. Well, this Monday there’s an opportunity with the Raindance Canada “LIVE! AMMUNITION! Pitching Contest”. It’s at Revival (783 College St West), starting at 6:00pm and running till 9:30pm. On behalf of Dangerous Dust Productions (that’s us!), Clinton Pontes will be pitching A Brand New You – after all we still need finishing funds and to build awareness of the film. Clinton, of course, played the charismatically vile Murray in ABNY. But, in addition to the ABNY pitch, we’ll also be pitching our next film – a gay-themed screwball comedy. We’ll be pitching in front of a live audience (barf) and a panel of judges, including indie producers Avi Federgreen, and Marc Sanders, as well as John Galway from the Harold Greenberg Fund and Stephanie McArthur from the Hot Docs Forum.

Want to see Clinton rock the house with his pants on for once? Want to find out more about our upcoming film? Well, come on out, show your support and be part of our debut. Hope to see you there!

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