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Industry News

1 Jul , 2007  

Written by Erin Trahan | Posted by:

A report of news & happenings in the local industry for July 2007.
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What’s Happening

The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) revs up this month on July 13-22 with a vast array of New England filmmakers. Among them are Dave Poole, director of I am a Pig not Pork. It’s short, animated, and was produced in Maine. There’s Face Dance, a feature docu-comedy by Maine’s own Topper and Cornelia Carew. This may be obvious from the title, but the film is actually about (break) dancing on your face. Youch! Jak Peters and Paul Ezzy directed and star in The World of Until Further Notice, a collection of skits and shorts. Jenny Mackenzie brings Where’s Herbie? to the MIFF screen.

The “Maine” character in Eric Juhola’s Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, is from Maine. Niklas Sven Vollmer shot Reading the Water entirely on the coast of Maine. He describes it as an “experimental home video” and he and his subjects are Mainers. Knee Deep is another Maine production, by filmmaker Michael Chandler, as well as Rockport Pottery by Evan Richards. New Hampshire represents with Tom Jackson’s Out of Balance: Exxon Mobil’s Impact on Climate Change, and not to be outdone, Vermont shows up with Holding Our Own: Embracing the End of Life by Camilla Rockwell. (Special thanks to Beth Eisen and staff for her help with this information.) Do not miss

Another festival rich with the sights, scenes, and sense of New England is the Plymouth Independent Film Festival, July 18-22. Festival president Lisa Mattei helped identify films with New England ties, such as: Alice Bouvrie’s documentary Prison Pups; The Green Square: Story of the Charlestown Irish by Maureen McNamara; Cartoneros by Ernesto Livon-Grosman; Make Levee Not War by Ted Maguire; Paul Carafotes’s Club Soda; No Match by Dr. Peter Pillitteri, who by day runs the Emergency Room at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth; Edward Yu-Te Shen’s Life. Research.; A Box of One’s Own by Marnie Crawford Samuelson; Remembering John Marshall by David Tamés and Alice Apley (see this month’s story); and Bourbon by Adam Woodworth. But that’s just scratching the surface. Check out to see how dedicated PIFF is to the local crowd — they’ve tried to note the ties whenever possible!

Katherine Heigl seems like a local — she’s everywhere lately, including RI, to shoot the romantic comedy 27 Dresses. The production team is using RI locales to stand-in for NYC, and will break to New York to finish production in July. Many New England crew members are finding work through the project, including Jill Reurs of Watertown, MA, who calls it’s a “nice group.”

Does it seem like more men are writing for film and television than women? That’s certainly the case according to a recent report by the Writers Guild of America. Women make up less than 30 percent of writers for either category and even when working, are experiencing a growing pay gap. Minorities are also losing out to white, male writers. Read the data at

Funny enough, all kinds of local organizations are pulling together to host a fundraiser for a new documentary by Dr. Darby LiPo Price and multiracial comedian/producer/director Teja Arboleda. Their work-in-progress analyzes how mixed race comedians mediate multiracial identities and humor. Supporters will gather at 8 pm, July 12th at the Dedham Community Theater. Here is info:

Summer means trying to do as much as possible outdoors, right? Now you can take in a few films under the stars, thanks to Women in Film & Video/New England’s summer screening series. The program on Thursday July 12th will feature films by Patricia Rozema, Lana Z. Caplan, Jennifer Matotek, Carly Short, and C.C. Webster. The August 16th program will include films by acclaimed animator Karen Aqua, nationally recognized photographer Marnie Crawford Samuelson, Emerson College student Nicole Prowell, and once again, writer and director Patricia Rozema. Events start at dusk in the Growing Center in Somerville. Learn more at

The Woods Hole Film Festival brings locally-made On Broadway back to the screen (it premiered at IFF Boston) as well as Justice Louis D. Brandeis by Charles C. Stuart, Knee Deep (also playing at MIFF), Heritage Day by Randolph Stakeman, and No Bigger Than a Minute by Steve Delano. And if you timed it right, and smiled at a piece of art while Bren Bataclan was rolling tape, you got to take it home for free. See the faces of joy in Smile Boston Project. In addition to these New England-y films, Woods Hole has the future of long form documentary in the age of Internet video on the brain. Panelists Annie Valva (director of technology, WGBH Interactive), Les Blank (documentary filmmaker and 2007 Woods Hole filmmaker-in-residence), Cynthia Close (executive director, Documentary Educational Resources), and David Tamés (filmmaker and contributor, will be explore this topic on July 29th at 2 pm. Les Blank and director and actor Sam Weisman also lead master classes! If you can’t visit Woods Hole, at least visit

In the last few weeks, Tom and Heidi Tosi, of Goffstown, NH started submitting their feature Dribbles to major international film festivals. “We first spent the better part of a week mapping out a festival strategy that will carry us through next spring. This is more complicated than it may seem at first glance,” they wrote in a recent update. The production team has documented many of their steps online at

Louis Spetrino, writer/director from Stratford, CT is in post-production on Your Turn, a feature-length suspense thriller, which he hopes will premiere in July. Next up is another feature, to be shot in and around his home, at the end of the summer. “If Only is a character drama based in part on my life,” writes Spetrino. “We are currently assembling a crew for that, as well as hopefully two more films.” Get acquainted at,, or

The crew that brought you Naughty or Nice, around Christmas 2005, is taking the plunge and buying a camera in order to shoot their next feature, another comedy, The Joneses. hopes they keep their dark humor intact throughout the summer.

Are you writing music in Maine? Hoping to score an independent film or perform for one? A music industry networking group is meeting weekly at the North Star Music Cafe in Portland. Contact Bob McKillop at for details.

What’s Happened

Dave Sisson, shot through the lens of Rob Fortunato.
[Click to enlarge]

Rob Fortunato, director of photography and portrait photographer, has relocated to North Kingstown, RI. He’s maintaining a commute to NYC but it’s okay, he’s no stranger to travel. Fortunato’s previous bases have included Hawaii, DC, San Francisco, and he has visited more than 40 countries “using the camera as a cultural denominator.” Fortunato describes one portrait (see left) that captivated NewEnglandFilm’s imagination — so much that we suspected the man pictured could be some famous but unrecognizable filmmaker. Turns out he’s Fortunato’s electrician, Dave Sisson.

“He drove this big panel truck with all of this junk in the back — so I asked him if I could take his portrait,” describes Fortunato. “He’s a really a smiley, happy guy and I had to keep telling him to stop smiling because I wanted the image to look like I had interrupted his lunch break. I finally got what I wanted.” Fortunato will continue to freelance as a DP for venues such as Nova, 48 Hours, and 60 Minutes as well as pursue his own work as a still photographer and artist. “I currently use a barn on my Rhode Island property as a studio where I build sets, shoot within them until I exhaust my concept and then strike them. It’s a slow, but enjoyable process.” He is hard at work on two new series, Dollwork and Storefront. Let the images speak for themselves at

Student Films Across America showcased 63 picks of the "best films of our tech-savvy generation" at Coolidge Corner Theatre on June 28th, including local student films: Little White Flowers, directed by Christopher Messina and Spare Change News, directed by JD Marlow. The festival travels to 50 cities across the US and Canada. See

Boston brothers Orrin and Jerry Zucker picked up a Daytime Emmy — the first ever awarded to a vlog — for their animated webseries, Its JerryTime!. Last year they lost to Seminal Web Event AOL Live 8 in the Emmy’s first-ever broadband award competition. But this year they toppled competitors from Showtime, Discovery Channel, The Guiding Light and the biggest threats, the Extreme Mentos and Diet Coke Experiment.

National Boston held a Sweet 16 party last month to commemorate being licensed to drive Avids in Boston, or is it Brookline? But seriously, there were no MTV cameras rolling so the festivities were limited to celebrating 16 solid years of business and reading the National Boston blog. Didn’t know they had one? Read it here

In June, the Newport International Film Festival awarded producer (and RI native) Sasha Alpert with The Mercury’s Anne Franklin Award. Read about her work and her latest film, Autism: The Musical, here.

The Nantucket Film Festival wrapped last month, too. Luke Wolbach’s Row Hard No Excuses (featured in April 2007) won Best Storytelling in a Documentary Film. Executive director Jill Burkhart and artistic director Mystelle Brabbe reported another year of “great success.”

Images Cinema in Williamstown, MA was recently awarded a Patrick-Murray Inaugural Committee grant for civic engagement. Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Tim Murray disbursed more than $500,000 in funds leftover from the inauguration to nonprofits throughout the Commonwealth. Images Cinema regularly hosts screenings and discussions in partnership with local community-based organizations, such as the Bennington Energy Committee, the Berkshire Vegetarian Network, and the Student Global AIDS Campaign, among others. For up-to-date happenings,

Hundreds gathered to mix and mingle at a media and entertainment industry mixer at Monster Lab Studios in New Britain, CT on June 23rd. Neal Thomassen organized the second annual event to spur collaboration among the CT film and video crowd. Get involved by visiting and clicking on “join Neil’s newsletter.”

What Will Happen

Joe Maiella, president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition, announced via email that the Mass House approved additional film industry incentives, in the continued efforts to bolster production activity in the state. The 152 to 1 vote took place June 13th, though the House rejected amendments offered by Quincy Rep. Ronald Mariano toward an $80 million investment in a South Weymouth sound stage. Lawmakers believe it could lead to at least four major movies being filmed in Massachusetts, including a Pink Panther production and a sequel to The Departed. The legislation now waits Senate consideration. More information at

In late June, Roxbury Film Festival solidified its 2007 line-up of films and events that celebrate persons of color. The festival enters its 9th season and happens August 1-7, 2007. Check it out at

The WGBH Lab is seeking entries for its Filmmakers-in-Residence program, which offers in-kind support to a small number of filmmakers as they work on the production or post-production of their independently funded project. Visit to apply.

The 4th annual Newburyport Documentary Film Festival will be held September 28-30. The committee will be accepting submissions through July 6th. Check out

The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival will return for a second year September 13-16. In preparation, the organizers announced two contests: Think Globally, Shot Locally and a Martha’s Vineyard Works in Progress program. Got the right stuff?

Meanwhile, catch a flick at the Vineyard’s historic Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, Tuesday nights at 8 pm in July and August. Filmmaker Rick Stevenson has been invited to appear with his film Expiration Date on July 10th. It won the Jury Award at the Native American Film Festival and chronicles the tale of Charlie Silver Cloud III, whose grandfather and father were both killed on their 25th birthdays by milk trucks. For the rest of the schedule, and additional events planned, visit

It may be too late to sign up for the RI 48 Hour Film Project, but it’s not too late to see the results. Or on second thought, get crafty and find a way onto a crew! Last year 36 teams of more than 500 people crammed movie-making into one weekend. That many or more will do so again in Providence, July 27-29, with the results screening at the Columbus Theater on August 1-2. More at or at the Rhode Island Film Collaborative site,

Screenings, festivals, meetings and other events at

Screenings, festivals, meetings and other events at