Manchester by the Sea with Matt Damon

Sundance is now one day past its midpoint… The frenzy of its introductory days has passed, and it’s become a little easier to see through the haze of my excitement and anticipation at each event.

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My first screening was Manchester by the Sea. Produced by Matt Damon and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (a reunion after their work on Margaret (2011)), the film stared Ben Affleck’s younger brother, Casey Affleck.

I loved seeing Matt Damon in person! I had seen The Martian in Leonard Maltin’s Film Symposium class at USC (a class in which films are screened before their release dates followed by a Q&A session with some of the crew), but he hadn’t shown up for that (instead we met the composer, Harry Gregson-Williams). Despite his celebrity status, Matt was calm, levelheaded, and straightforward. I think that’s an extremely admirable trait, given that his career revolves around him professionally acting normal.

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I’m in the Business and Cinematic Arts (BCA) program at USC, and I love following the news on the bidding that’s going on for the films. This year it’s so different with Netflix and Amazon driving up the prices. I’ll be heading back to campus soon, but in the meantime it’s great to be out of LA — the atmosphere here is so different, and it’s a truly amazing experience.

– Perisa Brown

 

Sundance New Frontier – Interactive Media Gallery – Chris Milk

Hey Guys,

So it’s my official first day at Sundance, even though the festival kicked off yesterday… It was a long drive and super cold outside.

This year, I’ve decided to change up my video blogging or vlogging style and do reviews/interviews and cool s@!t, basically sharing what I like, encouraging you, the reader/viewer to share in my experience.

Here’s Chris Milk’s Sundance Institute webpage with more info. Sundance Institute New Frontier

Seriously, you guys, I was completely surrounded by the most beautiful sounds, making this piece an audibly and visually, interactive, captivating experience.

If you can read Chris Milk’s Artist Statement, I promise you it will be worth the strain.

 

SUNDANCE 2015: A Tale of Two Films (plus one!)

Hi all, Doug Blush again, still recovering from last week’s film screenings and reconnections with dozens of longtime filmmaker friends and heroes. The best part of Sundance, as I said in my blog last year, is actually not just the films…seeing premieres here is an incredible experience, to be sure…but the bonds that the independent film community makes at the events, on the streets, and even at the legendary Davanza’s Pizza place on Park Avenue (see photo!)

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Some of our HUNTING GROUND crew hanging out at the mighty Davanza’s Pizza in Park City

On Friday January 23rd, we premiered the two films I worked on in the festival this year, THE HUNTING GROUND from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the team behind THE INVISIBLE WAR, and at the same exact time (gee, thanks schedulers!), SEMBENE, from directors Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman, about the life and work of the “father” of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene (if you haven’t seen his films, do yourself a favor and find them!).

The HUNTING GROUND premiere was full of intense emotions, with a number of our campus assault survivor-activists in attendance, along with two US Senators and a completely packed house. We had a long standing ovation at the end as our survivors took the stage and spoke about their work to bring campus sexual assault out of the shadows and up for legislation and new rules. Like THE INVISIBLE WAR, this film was difficult to tackle, but so satisfying to see in the response it received…our second screening on Saturday morning got three standing ovations as the film ended and our survivors took the stage (and standing ovations are not the norm at Sundance, I can say from many years of experience). The film will be released theatrically soon, and will be broadcast on CNN later this year. Many campus screenings will be happening soon as well…one will likely be planned for USC, and you can pass the word on to others at www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com.

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Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and a group of survivor activists at our HUNTING GROUND Q&A

SEMBENE has taken almost seven years to come to Sundance, and I was proud to be a consulting editor on the project. The film weaves the parallel stories of Sembene himself and his longtime biographer and friend, co-director Samba Gadjigo. The interplay of these two Senegalese intellectuals is set against the incredible images and ideas of Sembene’s films, which I barely knew about before i first saw the project. With his films and writing, Sembene fought against French colonialism, Islamic extremism, government corruption, racial and gender inequalities and many other issues, all with a uniquely African sense of image, pace and idealism. The Q&A for the film’s Saturday screening also featured Sembene’s adult son Adain, who broke down crying while remembering his late father. These kinds of emotional moments are what make Sundance screenings so special…you truly don’t know what will happen during the first looks at these new independent films.

Directors Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo at the Q&A for SEMBENE!

Directors Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo at the Q&A for SEMBENE!

The big social event of the weekend for us doc filmmakers was the Saturday night IDA/ro*co party in the center of Park City, where nearly all the documentary crew members converge to trade ideas and enjoy a bit of sponsored libation. I probably talked to 40 filmmakers and artists during this event, and traded war stories with lots of personal heroes. This is the Sundance that really resonates for me…much more than a party, this was a meeting of the grand documentary “tribe”, a chance to come out of our various cave-like edit rooms and spend a few hours in the warm glow that Sundance brings us (and yes, the drinks are free!).

The title of this entry includes the “(plus one!)”, not due to a party RSVP, but because I found out literally with a day left at the festival that ANOTHER film I had edited last year, called BENDING THE LIGHT, was showing at the New Frontiers Microcinema on Main Street. I had worked on this project with legendary director Michael Apted, who has crafted everything from THE UP SERIES to a James Bond film and episodes of the series MASTERS OF SEX. The film tells the parallel stories of five master photographers and the craftsmen who make Canon optical lenses for still photography and cinematic use. I was pretty blown away to stumble into the finished film at Sundance (I hadn’t seen the final color corrected version) and we had a full house for the screening and Q&A. Here’s the trailer: https://vimeo.com/101762811

Everyone getting virtual with Google Cardboard at the New Frontiers exhibits

Everyone getting virtual with Google Cardboard at the New Frontiers exhibits

Finishing that event, I literally had long enough to run over to the USC Alumni and Filmmaker event on Main Street, say hello to some SCA folks, and get in the van for the airport! A great finish to a whirlwind Sundance, but I could have used another week to see the ridiculously great slate of films packed into Park City. Next time…

Preparing to take the fast ride home to LA, courtesy of BEING EVEL

Preparing to take the fast ride home to LA, courtesy of BEING EVEL

Sundance Recap: SCA has Banner Year in Utah

Careers are made at the Sundance Film Festival. Across generations, filmmakers from Bryan Singer to Ryan Coogler have started their storied careers at the Park City Festival. This year, 33 films with Trojans in key positions were shown at Sundance/Slamdance and 5 films were sold including Diary of a Teenage Girl, Results, Dope, Cop Car, and Finders Keepers. In addition, Red Om Films, a production company founded by actress Julia Roberts, Lisa Gillan, and Marisa Yeres Gill, will be producing a narrative version of the documentary, Batkid Begins.

A still from Dope

A still from Dope, which sold at Sundance 2015

Several SCA alums also received honors at the festivals. At Sundance, Dope was awarded the U.S. Excellence in Editing Award in the dramatic feature category. In the Slamdance Festival, Hench-DADA alum Einar Baldvin’s MFA thesis project, The Pride of Strathmoor, won Jury Award for Animation Short, and 20 Years of Madness received a Jury Honorable Mention for Documentary Feature.

“It is inspiring to see Park City audiences discover the many unique voices among our alumni and student filmmakers” said Director of Alumni Relations Justin Wilson. “I look forward to seeing as many of these films as possible on campus as part of our screening series.”

USC was “live” from the Park City with coverage on the Sundance Blog. Bloggers included Doug Blush, Ross Putman, Tchavdar Georgiev, and Natalie Qasabian. You can read their entries here:

The following films were also part of the festival:

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
Foley Edited by Kimberly Patrick ‘12

DOPE
Written & Directed by Rick Famuyiwa ‘96
Produced by Forest Whitaker
Produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi
Production Sound Mixed by Mary Jo Devenney

I SMILE BACK
Directed by Adam Salky

RESULTS         
Executive Produced by Sev Ohanian ‘12

SONGS MY BROTHER TAUGHT ME
Produced by Forest Whitaker
Produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi

Z FOR ZACHARIAH
Produced by Joni Sighvatsson ‘85

COP CAR
Produced by Andrew Kortschak ‘13

THE HALLOW
Written & Produced by Felipe Marino ‘04
Produced by Joe Neurauter ‘04

THE NIGHTMARE
Produced by Ross Dinerstein ‘05
Cinematography by Bridger Nielson ‘04

KAIJU FURY!
Produced by Shannon Blake Gans

PROJECT SYRIA
Directed by Nonny de La Peña ‘09
Art Direction by Michael Murdock ‘14

A WALK IN THE WOODS
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Cinematography by John Bailey

FINDERS KEEPERS
Directed & Produced by Bryan Carberry ‘09
Produced by Adam Gibbs ‘08
Co-produced by Greg Lanesey ‘95
Co-produced by Matt Radecki ‘94
Edited by Tchavdar Georgiev ’01

THE HUNTING GROUND
Edited & Associate Produced by Doug Blush ‘88
Edited by Derek Boonstra ‘07
Cinematography by Ayana Baraka
Production Coordinated by Chao Thao ‘14

KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK
Assistant Edited by Barb Steele

PROPHET’S PREY
Executive Produced by Brian Grazer ‘74

RACING EXTINCTION
Edited by Jason Zeldes ‘09

TIG
Directed by Ashley York ‘06

SEMBENE!
Consulting Editing by Doug Blush ‘88

DOG BOWL
Edited by Brian Scofield ‘11

MYRNA THE MONSTER
Assistant Edited by Jeffrey Glaser

THE COLLECTORS: BEEKEEPING
Directed by Steven Cantor ‘95

SHAUN THE SHEEP THE MOVIE
Produced by Paul Kewley ‘97

PALM ROT
Written & Directed by Ryan Gillis ‘14

THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST
Written by Marc Smerling

NANA                     
Written & Produced by Paloma Martinez ‘13
Edited by Monica Salazar ‘13

20 YEARS OF MADNESS
Directed, Produced, Edited & Cinematography by Jeremy Royce ‘13
Produced by Jerry White Jr. ‘13
Produced by Kaveh Taherian ‘12
Cinematography by Will Jobe ‘13
Production Sound & Supervising Sound Edited by Kimberly Patrick ‘12
Post-production Sound & Supervising Sound Edited by Qianbaihui Yang ‘12
Line Produced by Michael Newman ‘12
Associate Produced by Lindsay Villarreal ‘13
FX Edited by Marcello Dubaz ‘12
Composed by Alexis Marsh ‘11
Composed by Samuel Jones ‘11

BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
Written, Edited, & Sound Designed by Kurt Kuenne ‘95

CLINGER
Written & Produced by Bubba Fish ‘13
Sound Design by Ankur Agrawal ‘14

LA-GAR-TO
Written & Directed by Miguel Jiron ‘13

THE PRIDE OF STRATHMOOR
Written & Directed by Einar Baldvin ‘14

SOMEWHERE IN THE VALLEY
Written & Directed by David Greenspan ‘01

YOSEMITE    
Produced by Clara Aranovich ’10
Produced by Nicolaas Bertelsen ’11
Produced by Sev Ohanian ’12

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SCA @ Sundance: Photo Gallery

This year, a wealth of SCA alums, student, faculty, staff and friends visited the Sundance Film Festival, resulting in an unforgettable time in Park City. Check out some of their photos below; click on any to see in full view.

 

These USC alumni filmmakers show school pride at Sundance with a big “Fight On!”

USC Alumni Filmmakers at the Riverhorse Tavern during the SCA Filmmaker Party

SCA Head of Alumni Relations Justin Wilson, SCA Associate Director Kristi Patton, USC Associate Director of Alumni Clubs and Communities Erin Jabovy, SCA Student Industry Relations (SIR) Office Manager Ali Sarafoglou and SIR Director of Professional Development Bonnie Chi

Jeff Kehe, Landen Michael White, David Minnihan, Jared Lewis

Tyler Stevens and Bonnie Chi

Jason Berman, Chris Ridenhaur, Justin Wilson

Corey and Jessica Bodeh-Creed, Aaron Marshall

Reza Safinia, John Burr, Ashley Avis, Jonathan Fuhrman

Jose Tamayo, Kara Duncan, Alex Kattan

Sarah Malkin, Doug Blush, Emily Barclay, Alex Buono

The team behind the Award-Winning Fruitvale: Co-Producer Sev Ohanian, Editor Michael Shawver ‘12, Writer/Director Ryan Coogler ‘11 and Composer Ludwig Goransson

George Klippel and Justin Wilson

Efraim Walker, Kimberly Rosenblum, Jennifer Cohen, Andy Tan, Justin Goldberg, Mike Hartman

SUNDANCE Interview with Chinaka Hodge

USC Alumni Chinaka Hodge, Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellow

Winter Wonderland

With 20 inches of fresh powder, Park City was transformed overnight into a winter wonderland.  Sunday morning offered dreamy moutain conditions for any and all Sundance ski bunnies looking to take a break from the movies and the bustle of the town. I hit the slopes this morning and hope to still catch a film this afternoon!  Fingers crossed I can score a ticket to something good!

SCA Students in the Sundance Lab

The SCA crew is about half in Park City and about half getting ready to leave.

I think it’s appropriate to re-post this announcement from Writing Division Faculty Member and point out that the USC School of Cinematic Arts has a strong relationship with the Sundance labs.

Howard Rodman just returned from the Sundance Screenwriting Lab where Ihewas an advisor, and SCAers Sharon Greene, Ioana Uricaru, and Ryan Coogler were Fellows.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118048632