Sedona Film School Receives Mayor’s Arts Award

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 in Partner News

The Annual Sedona Mayor’s Arts Awards were held Saturday evening at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre. The Sedona Film School was honored with one of the prestigious awards, in the Organization category. Director of the school, Rue, was on hand to receive the award.

“Well, I guess the secret’s out!” Rue joked. Her primary goal when she took the reigns of the film school in August of 2010 was to raise awareness in the community about the wonderful opportunity in their own backyard. “I am so grateful for all the local support we have received. Your efforts put this award in my hands tonight,” she continued.

The Sedona Mayor’s Arts Awards is sponsored by the Arts & Culture Commission, established in 1988, to protect, enhance, serve and advocate excellence in the arts for the people of Sedona. The Sedona Film School at Yavapai College is a first time recipient of this award and felt honored to be in the company ofwonderful local organizations like the Sedona International Film Festival (SIFF).

Patrick Schweiss, Executive Director of SIFF had this to say, “The Sedona Film School — formerly the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking — contributes so much to this community and to Yavapai College. Sedona can be proud to have a world-class film school with personalized one-on-one attention to its students by a staff that is dedicated to giving the next generation of filmmakers’ unparalleled education and training. Where most film schools take 2-3 years to put a camera in a student’s hand, here in Sedona they are shooting (and getting hands-on experience) in the first three weeks. And it is obvious that their work is paying off when you see the films at their annual, year-end shorts film festival.”

Schweiss added, “The Sedona Film School launched a significant recruiting campaign and DOUBLED its enrollment this year! In these tough economic times, that is a significant achievement! These are students who are now living, working, learning in Sedona and contributing to our local economy. These are students — and future filmmakers — who will help put Sedona on the map in the film industry. The community truly banded together this past year to show support for the filmschool and make a unanimous statement that WE LOVE OUR FILM SCHOOL and want to keep it in Sedona.

Local businessman and philanthropist, Bill Lacy, is a supporter of the Sedona Film School. He pointed out that “The school has been a part of our Sedona community for 12 years providing high-quality, affordable education for students of all ages.  Many locals and visitors alike have attended this school in Sedona.”

Lacy also supports the annual High School Film Competition. Each year the Sedona Film School conducts a statewide competition for high school students from grade seven through 12, awarding a full, in-state scholarship to the grand prize winner.

“Rue, the director of the school, is always looking to improve the education for students. She is respected in the industry and able to draw renowned visiting instructors from around the country to teach and mentor students, and even give talks at theSedona International Film Festival, so they are sharing knowledge with whole community,” Lacy added.

The spring semester kicks off with a Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop on January 12 and 13, 2013. Christopher Miller, producer and filmmaker, is back by popular demand. The workshop covers the nuts and bolts of making low-budget films look like a million bucks. Save money without sacrificing your vision. Attendees will even get to see some hands-on demonstrations in creating film equipment from inexpensive materials available at any hardware store.

“This is such an exciting award for the school; such a wonderful affirmation of all the instructors’ hard work!” Rue continued, “I think the timing on this is perfect. We have some great partnerships in the community, and I am proud of the amazing support we have received in Sedona and the Verde Valley.”

The Sedona Film School is quickly gaining recognition and respect within the industry.  Their hands-on approach leaves graduates ready to transition easily to the working environment of a movie set.  Additionally, they are expanding their relationship with the renowned Sedona International Film Festival (SIFF) and are planning for a special series of technical workshops during the 2013 Festival.

SedonaFilm School advisory board member and owner of Goldenstein Gallery, Linda Goldenstein, added, “The school’s vision dovetails perfectly with the city of Sedona’s endeavor to expand arts and education, as well as our long-standing history as a filmmaking location.”

The enhanced film school curriculum will give students more than 200 hours of on-set training during the nine-month certificate program. Students work closely with film industry professionals in a true apprenticeship environment.

The partnership withNorthern Arizona University (NAU) offers a minor in Independent Filmmaking,through coursework at Sedona Film School. Also, students whom attend SedonaFilm School can transfer their credits seamlessly into a bachelors program at NAU. Students may choose from a narrative or documentary track and in only nine months, they walk away with their own short film as a calling card.

The Sedona Film School is located at the Yavapai College Sedona Center for Arts and Technology, 4215 Arts Village Drive, Sedona, Arizona. Call Rue at (928) 649-4257 for more information. The film school is now accepting applications for fall 2013.  To learn more about the Sedona Film School, please visit www.sedonafilmschool.com.

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Faith Hibbs-Clark, CSA Casting Director wins Barry E. Wallace Award

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 in Community News, Partner News

Faith Hibbs-Clark, CSA casting director for film and television and owner of Good Faith Casting, LLC was recognized at the Filmstock Film Festival for her outstanding leadership and service to the Arizona Film Industry as this year’s recipient of the Barry E. Wallace Award.  

The Barry E. Wallace award honors the talented, passionate and self-sacrificial members of the Arizona film community. In honor of Barry E. Wallace, whose untimely passing left a hole in many a heart. This award is intended to pass on Barry’s torch and recognize the monumental efforts of those in the community who maintain a great public reputation and are known for doing great work, and doing it in a manner of utmost professionalism.

Ms. Hibbs-Clark has been a casting director for 13 years and has cast for thousands of commercials and many films and television shows with clients such as Universal, Lionsgate, Paramount, The Weinstein Company, Lifetime, Sony, The History Channel, Discovery I.D., any may others.  The award also recognized Ms. Hibbs-Clark’s community and volunteerism including an annual food drive for Saint Mary’s Food Bank, volunteering at Tranquility Trail an animal rescue center, scholarship contributions, and her efforts in helping to lobby for a film tax incentive to draw more production and revenue to Arizona.

110 nominations were received recognizing the efforts of individuals from around Arizona.  The top 5 were recognized at the Filmstock Awards ceremony on November 16th 2012.  The winner was selected by a panel of judges within the industry including Barry E. Wallace’s widow.

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Distribution 101- Domestic Distribution

Posted on Oct 22, 2012 in Partner News

This article comes to us from  guest contributor Mark Litwak. Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and Producer’s Rep based in Beverly Hills, California.

Domestic Distribution

By: Mark Litwak

In my last article I discussed foreign sales agents and their role in the distribution of independent films. Now let’s turn to domestic deals. “Domestic” is usually defined as North America, which is comprised of the USA and Canada, as well as their possessions, territories, commonwealths, protectorates and trusteeships. For the United States, these include the U.S. Virgin Islands, Saipan American Samoa, Guam, Wake Island and Puerto Rico. However, many domestic deals also encompass the Bahamas, Bermuda, Saba Island, St. Eustatius Island, St. Kitts Island and St. Maarten Island. These are not affiliated with either the USA or Canada. Bermuda, a British colony in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, has never been part of Canada or the USA. St. Kitts Island’s  sovereignty is shared by France and the Netherlands. Why are these entities considered part of the Domestic territory? Simply because certain television channels have satellite footprints that cover these areas, and buyers  demand these rights be included in any deal.

Consequently, producers need to be careful in defining the scope of territories granted to distributors. It is customary for independent producers to enter into separate foreign and domestic deals. If, for example, the filmmaker assigns Bermuda to an international distributor, that could prevent their domestic distributor from making a lucrative deal with HBO. Indeed, it may deter a domestic distributor from acquiring the title. Thus, to maximize revenues a producer has to make sure they don’t sacrifice a beneficial deal because they thoughtlessly assigned away rights to a small territory.

The term “distributor” is so broad that it encompasses many different types of companies. The major studios such as Paramount and Sony typically distribute pictures directly to theaters, license them to television channels like Showtime, and manufacture their own packaged media (i.e. DVDs) for sale to mass merchants and video rental outlets. Many majors studios may also distribute their pictures in selected foreign territories and contract with local distributors elsewhere.

Smaller independent distributors exploit movies in a variety of different ways. Some book films into theatres and then assign television and home video rights to third parties for licensing in those media. Others are basically home video labels that manufacture and market DVD’s. Some of these companies license directly to television while others use intermediaries. However, sometimes home video labels decide to release some of their films in theaters to build awareness for the picture. They may pay a third party to book the title into theatres. A filmmaker seeing such theatrical releases may perceive the company as a theatrical company when they are not. So it can be difficult to tell what kind of distributor they are dealing with.

A theatrical release, even if perfunctory, may help the distributor persuade filmmakers to make a deal even if it is unprofitable by itself.  If a smaller distributor attempts to theatrically release an indie film, they face stiff competition from the majors. Because the major distributors have a steady flow of desirable movies, they have the clout to demand the best theatres and dates, often relegating independents to whatever dates and venues are left.

Complicating matters further, some home video companies deal directly with mass merchants like Wal-Mart, while the others have to go through intermediaries like Anderson Merchandisers, that ship and pack product from numerous companies for delivery to mass merchants.

All this is to say that distributors operate differently and filmmakers need to do their homework before making commitments so they understand exactly how each distributor proposes to release their film and how the revenue stream will be divvied up. If multiple companies in the chain of distribution deduct significant fees and expenses, the revenue stream that goes to the filmmaker/investors can become a trickle.  So when a distributor says they distribute to theatrical, home video and television media, you should ask: “O.K. Exactly how you do that? What intermediary companies do you use, and what kind of fees and expenses do they deduct?”

One type of home video deal is known as a sub-label deal. Here two companies split the responsibilities for acquiring, marketing and distributing titles. Typically one company, such as Lionsgate, handles the physical distribution of titles and collection of revenue from its buyers. The other company, the sub-label, is responsible for acquiring titles and creating the key art and marketing materials. The two share revenue.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a sub-label deal, provided the filmmaker understands how distribution fees are collected and expenses are recouped, and the amounts are reasonable. However, I have seen many of these deals where the filmmaker thinks they are sharing in the wholesale price remitted by buyers like Blockbuster or Wal-Mart.  The filmmaker is unaware that he/she is really receiving just a share of what is remitted to the sub-label from the parent company.

In these deals, “Gross Receipts” has been defined and calculated on the revenue received by the sub-label after the parent company has deducted its fees and expenses. The cumulative effect may be that little or no revenue flows down to the filmmaker. The filmmaker thinks he/she is receiving 25% of the wholesale price of each DVD sold but actually is receiving 25% of the funds remitted from the parent company to the sub-label. A well-drawn contract will carefully define “Gross Receipts” as the wholesale price which is the amount remitted from the home video buyers, and not the amount remitted to the sub-label. Filmmakers need to ask specific questions when selecting a distributor in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Almost all distributors nowadays try to acquire so-called ancillary and new media rights so they can license movies to such companies as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Many of these new media buyers don’t like to acquire individual titles and prefer to deal with aggregators who can license them bunches of films at a time.

 

Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and Producer’s Rep based in Beverly Hills, California. He is the author of six books including: Reel Power: The Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood, Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and the recently published Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Film. He is the author of the CD-ROM program Movie Magic Contracts, and the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources website at www.marklitwak.com. He can be reached at law2@marklitwak.com.

 

Self Defense Seminar with Mark Litwak, Date: October 20, 2012

This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems from arising by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging the other party to live up to agreements by adding performance milestones, default penalties and arbitration clauses.

Link:

http://www.calawyersforthearts.org/calendar?eventId=541354&EventViewMode=EventDetails

 

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Filmstock Freeplay – November 5th

Posted on Oct 18, 2012 in Partner News

Filmstock Film Festival is putting on a FREE event to the public to show what Filmstock and indie shorts are like! We are inviting local audience members to see what local filmmakers have produced by showing Filmstock’s “Best of Fests” and favorites from previous years!

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Distribution 101 – Foreign Sales Agents from guest contributor, Mark Litwak

Posted on Oct 15, 2012 in News, Partner News

For the first time, we welcome guest contributor Mark Litwak. Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and Producer’s Rep based in Beverly Hills, California.

 

DISTRIBUTION 101 – Foreign Sales Agents

By Mark Litwak

  

Filmmakers fortunate enough to receive distribution offers for their films are often confronted with complex deals to distribute their films. These can bewilder those unfamiliar with the customs and practices of the industry.   Let’s begin with a discussion of international film sales.

 

International sales agents are distributors, although they usually do not own a single theater, home video label or television outlet. They are essentially distributors that license films to territory distributors (“buyers”). Territory distributors acquire rights to exhibit a film within their country although sometimes they may license rights for several different countries. They often find out about films from sales agents whom they meet at various markets held throughout the year. Sales agents and buyers typically attend the three major film markets, which are at Cannes, Berlin and Santa Monica (AFM) as well as TV markets such as Mip and MipCom. The May 2012 edition of the Cannes Market will have more than 1100 sales agents and 10,000 participants from almost one hundred different countries.

 

The sales agent not only licenses the films they represent, but also services their buyers by providing them with various materials and elements, including film and video masters, key art, photos and trailers. An honest and competent sales agent can be extremely helpful to a filmmaker. Most filmmakers have no clue how to go about licensing their film, for instance, to a Turkish buyer, and what terms would be acceptable. Moreover, they don’t even know who the buyers are in most territories.

 

According to the latest 2011 Box Office statistics, two-thirds of all film revenue now comes from abroad. International sales (those outside of North America) grew 35% from 2007 to 2011. Revenue in North America, by comparison, increased a mere 6%. So while foreign sales have been expanding quickly, domestic sales have grown modestly. Over the past four years, the number of screens in China has doubled to more than 6,200, a number that’s expected to double again by 2015. Chinese box-office receipts hit a record $1.5 billion last year, according to their State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. With China and other rapidly developing countries building thousands of new theaters, this trend is expected to continue.  Indeed, for many independent filmmakers, even today, 90% or more of their revenue is derived from foreign sales. That is because the North American market is by far the toughest market to crack for a low budget indie film without stars.

 

It can be difficult to select a sales agent. Reputable sales agents should be willing to accept terms in their contract with filmmakers that protect their interests. Many such provisions do not cost the sales agent anything, as long as the sales agent lives up to the terms of its contract. A requirement for interest on late payments, for example, costs the sales agent nothing as long as payments are made on time. Such a clause is important because it will encourage a sales agent to live up to its commitments, and provide the filmmaker with a viable remedy in case the sales agent defaults. While a competent sales agent provides valuable services, one should always remember the importance of what the filmmaker brings to the table. Without a good film, the sales agent has nothing to sell. Most sales agents produce few if any movies themselves.

Here is a list of some of the most critical ways for filmmakers to protect their interests in contracting with sales agents. The following list should not be considered exhaustive. There are other provisions a filmmaker may want to include such as clauses dealing with advances, guarantees and reservation of rights.

 

NO CHANGES: The film should not be edited, nor the title changed, without the filmmaker’s approval. Editing for censorship purposes, television broadcast and changes made for a foreign language release, such as adding subtitles and translating the title and dialogue, is permissible.

 

MINIMUM ADVERTISING SPECIFIED: The contract should specify in writing the minimum amount the sales agent will spend on advertising and promotion of the film. These expenses are often incurred at various markets. They could include advertising in the trade papers, a billboard on the Croissette or payment for a screening room for the film. The sales agent should commit to payment for the creation of a poster, one-sheet and trailer if these items do not exist.

 

EXPENSES LIMITED: There should be a floor and a ceiling on expenses. Market expenses (the cost to attend film and TV markets) should be limited to the first year of release and capped per market. Promotional expenses should be limited to direct out-of-pocket costs spent to promote the film, and should specifically exclude the sales agent’s general overhead and staff expenses.

 

TERM: The term should be a reasonable length, perhaps five or even 10 years, but not in perpetuity. The filmmaker should be able to regain rights to the film if the sales agent gives up on it. Thus, it is best to have a short initial term of two or three years and a series of automatic rollovers if the sales agent returns a certain amount of revenue to the filmmaker. If the sales agent does not meet or exceed these performance milestones, all rights should revert to the filmmaker. If the sales agent is doing a good job and paying the filmmaker his share of revenue, there is little reason to switch to another sales agent. Indeed, for movies that have been out in the marketplace for a few years, it is very difficult to find a sales agent willing to take on  an older  film.

 

INDEMNITY: Filmmaker should be indemnified (receive reimbursement) for any losses incurred by filmmaker as a result of the sales agent’s breach of the terms of the agreement, violation of third party rights, and for any unauthorized changes or additions made to the film.

 

POSSESSION OF NEGATIVE: The sales agent should receive a lab access letter rather than possession of the original negative and other master elements. The sales agent should not be permitted to remove masters from the laboratory.

 

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS (E&O) POLICY: While it is generally the filmmaker’s responsibility to purchase an E & O insurance policy, sales agents sometimes may be willing to advance the cost of this insurance and recoup it from film revenues. In such an event, the filmmaker should be added as an additional named insured on the policy, which is a minor cost.

 

TERMINATION CLAUSE: If the sales agent defaults on its contractual obligations, the filmmaker should have the right to terminate the contract, and regain rights to license the film in unsold territories as well as obtain money damages for the default. It is only fair for the filmmaker to give the sales agent reasonable prior notice of default before exercising her right to terminate.

 

RIGHT TO INSPECT BOOKS AND RECORDS: The sales agent should maintain complete and detailed books and records with regard to all sales and rental of the film. Filmmakers should receive quarterly (or monthly) producer statements accompanied by any payments due the filmmaker. Filmmakers should have the right to examine the books and records of sales agent during reasonable business hours, on 10 days’ notice.

 

LATE PAYMENTS/LIEN: All monies due and payable to the filmmaker should be held in trust by sales agent for the filmmaker. The filmmaker should be deemed to have a lien on filmmaker’s share of revenue. The sales agent should pay the filmmaker interest on any late payments.

 

LIMITATION ON ACTION: The filmmaker should have at least three years from receipt of any financial statement, or discovery of any accounting irregularity, whichever is later, to contest accounting errors and file a Demand for Arbitration.

 

ASSIGNMENT: It is best to prohibit assignment unless filmmaker consents. If assignment is permitted, the sales agent should not be relieved of its obligations under the original contract.

 

FILMMAKER DEFAULT: The sales agent should give the filmmaker 14 days written notice of any alleged default by filmmaker, and an additional 10 days to cure such default, before taking any action to enforce its rights.

 

WARRANTIES: The filmmaker’s warranties, in regard to infringement of third party rights, should be to the best of the filmmaker’s knowledge and belief, not absolute.

 

SCHEDULE OF MINIMUMS: Foreign sales agents should agree to attach, to their contract, a schedule of minimum acceptable license fees per territory. The sales agent is not permitted to license the film in any territory for less than the minimum without the prior approval of the filmmaker.

 

ARBITRATION CLAUSE: Every contract should contain an IFTA arbitration clause ensuring that all contractual disputes are subject to binding arbitration with the prevailing party entitled to reimbursement of legal fees and costs. The arbitration award should be final, binding and non-appealable. The IFTA personal guarantee Rider can be used to bar a company’s chief executive from attending future American Film Markets if the company refuses to pay an arbitration award.

 

Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and Producer’s Rep based in Beverly Hills, California. He is the author of six books including: Reel Power: The Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood, Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and the recently published Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Film. He is the author of the CD-ROM program Movie Magic Contracts, and the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources website at www.marklitwak.com. He can be reached at law2@marklitwak.com.

 

Self Defense Seminar with Mark Litwak, Date: October 20, 2012

This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems from arising by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging the other party to live up to agreements by adding performance milestones, default penalties and arbitration clauses.

Link:

http://www.calawyersforthearts.org/calendar?eventId=541354&EventViewMode=EventDetails

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Casting Alert: The Shadow Side

Posted on Oct 4, 2012 in Partner News

Good Faith Casting is now casting for a SAG short film project.

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