A Decade of Congratulations

I finally got a chance to read the Winter edition and kudos as usual. I also wish to send you my congrats for your 10th year anniversary. I enjoyed your “Notebook” column of your history with the mag and seeing a pic of your cute kids—God bless. It is tough to build any business (as Action/Cut is finding out) and I have great admiration for what you and your great staff have accomplished against all odds. I wish you the best of continued success.

Guy Magar, Los Angeles, CA

Houston Pride

Congratulations on crowning a decade of publication in such grand style. My copy of your tenth anniversary issue is worn from re-reading and referring to its exceptionally informative articles. Naturally, Houston is proud to have made your top 10 list of U.S. cities for moviemaking (Issue #53, Vol. 11). We’re number 10 for now, but so much is happening here that you can expect to see us move up in rank by this time next year.

All kinds of low-budget projects are in the works. Jack Rhodes Productions is shooting their first horror film in Houston, being directed and produced by our corporate members Rob McKinnon and Jolene McMaster. Pure Horror Films, Inc. plans a series of supernatural thrillers here, as well. Producer Howard Griffith, another corporate member, just wrapped Inmates of the Heart, written by Rishi Vij. The dailies were screened at Bill Moore’s state-of-the-art screening room at P.O.V., Inc. Greg Carter just completed his latest urban action film. VT2 Media Design & Communications’ new facility is up and running, offering premier production soundstages and services, dutifully christened by work for Super Bowl XXXVIII. And yet another corporate member, R.O.I. Films, has settled here and its CEO Tom Vaughan has co-founded the non-profit Houston School for Film and Theatre. Billy Bob Thornton’s Friday Night Lights is filming in the Astrodome. And that former Katy High School cheerleader Renée Zellweger, from Houston’s neighboring community Katy, continues to make us very proud.

Houston is simmering just under the surface. Keep your eye on us!

Cynthia Hand Neely, President, Women in Film And Television/Houston, Houston, TX

Everyone Had a Copy

A belated note of thanks for including Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival on your “20 Best Festival Investments” list! It was quite a nice surprise to learn about the coverage while at Sundance—everyone had a copy, so it was a great icebreaker. We don’t often get recognized on the national level, so thanks for taking the time to recognize the work we do!

Erik Jambor, Festival Director/Co-Founder, Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Birmingham, Al

A More Than Legit Venue

I really wanted to thank you for including us in your “20 Best Festival Investments” article. I can’t tell you how I appreciate the positive write-up. As you know, I’ve been working so hard the past many years to grow the festival into a contender—hopefully this will affect the way investors, sponsors and especially indie filmmakers look at our festivals, and possibly take us as a more legitimate venue on both coasts.

Bill Ostroff, Director, FirstGlance Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA

Oh, Canada?

I was rather bemused to read your latest edition of the “10 Best Cities.” In the past, I’ve found this feature entertaining and enlightening. Sure, I liked living in one of the listed cities (Toronto) and always liked having you confirm that Toronto is a great place to make movies with great gear and locations, and without having to bust the bank.

This year, the rules seem to have changed. The subtitle says it all: “MM counts down the 10 best cities in the U.S. to make movies.” Sure, there are previously unlisted cities on your list. That’s understandable when the slots won by Canadian cities were freed up. Too bad you didn’t even mention that you changed the rules and turfed out all Canadian competition.

I could ask you why you did this, but I think I know the answer. I saw the letters from angry “homelanders” last year who didn’t think MovieMaker should be promoting “foreign” or “runaway” productions. That’s your choice, but you should have the guts to explain the change.

While you’re at it, maybe you should change the title of your mag to “American MovieMaker” and spare the rest of us the bother of reading it.

David W. Scott, Toronto, Canada

Dear David:

I planned to explain our “rule change” in my “Notebook” and it slipped my mind as we went to press. The writer’s instructions were to look at American cities because we plan to do an international best places feature later this year.
Rest assured that we’re big fans of our northern neighbor here at
MM. I attended film school in Vancouver, B.C., and have loved your city since I was a cub reporter and was flown in to do a story on Ontario tourism. (I’ve never laughed
harder than the evening I spent at Second City). Thanks for being a loyal reader of
MM all these years.


Non-fiction Inspiration

Congratulations on the tenth anniversary, Tim, and thanks for the mention in your “Notebook.” When you recounted the 10 years and all the chances you took, it’s pretty amazing you’ve survived this long.

I wanted to say that I read your interview with Gayle Ferraro last night and found it revealing and inspiring (God, I sound like all those 20-year olds who send letters to you every month.) I especially liked when you asked her how much Sundance paid her and she told you. So many times the actual dollar pay-off involved in selling a film (especially a documentary) is never mentioned. All we hear about are the big deals (Capturing the Freidmans, My Architect, Spellbound), but never the bottom line. Anyway, I found Gayle’s story inspiring because she’s a true do-it-yourselfer.
Ann and I are embarking on the festival circuit with our very personal doc about her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, told in Ann’s first-person voice. It’s idiosyncratic, moving and I think it has great potential, but it’s not for everyone. Gayle’s story reminded me that you need to keep your audience and the original goal for your film in mind when you embark on the “selling” part of the struggle.

Actually, we’re off to a good start. We already have initial interest from PBS and HBO, and the Tribeca Fest director liked our early 20-minute cut. Anyway, there may be a future article for MM in this down the road. I’m also curious about your doc on Susan’s high-stakes poker tour. Sounds very interesting.

By the way, your kids look great! Nice going, Dad.

Rus Thompson (longtime MM contributing editor), Seattle, WA