Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Philadelphia -- 15th best moviemaking city

MovieMaker magazine has come out with its annual list of the top U.S. metropoli to go -- and live -- if you want to make movies. Top three (out of 25) this year: Chicago, Atlanta and New York, in that order.
So, whither Philadelphia?
Well, down there in the middle, at 15, right between Portland (OR), and Sedona (AZ).

Here's what the mag says:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Recent Filmography: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Marley & Me, The Lovely Bones Key Incentive: 25% transferable tax credit • Truth be told, Philadelphia has long been one of our most touted production destinations—as much for the dedication of its film office and excitement of its local moviemakers as for the top-quality projects that have been
shot here.

The City of Brotherly Love was also one of the first moviemaking destinations to show some love to the environment, kicking off a series of green initiatives to reduce the amount of waste created by the area’s heavy moviemaking foot traffic. With monthly green events, including cocktail receptions, sustainable moviemaking workshops and awards luncheons, the city is doing its part to keep the world a better place—and its local moviemakers busy.

In 2007, the state enacted the Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit, a $75 million fund from which transferable tax credits of up to 25 percent are made available to qualified productions. However, in December 2008, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office found itself rallying to save the credit, after state representative Ron Marsico aired his disappointment at the governor’s continuance of the program, stating that “Film tax credits are bad tax policy, especially in a tight budget year, and an irresponsible priority for the sake of a photo-op of a political leader and a Hollywood star or starlet.” True to form, Sharon Pinkenson, the film office’s executive director, and her staff launched an all-out assault on their opponents, encouraging moviemakers, business owners, film school students and film fans to petition their legislators and make sure the credit continued.

One person touting the merits of the city is Mayor Michael Nutter, who claims that Philadelphia “has the best in production talent to meet your requirements as well as the support of our experienced film office staff and a film-friendly operations department. We understand your challenges and pledge our support and ask that you allow us the opportunity to show you just how much we have to offer.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Philadelphia CineFest it is!

It's official: Philadelphia's annual spring film festival has a new name -- Philadelphia CineFest -- and now has its opening night and closing night titles locked in. Running from Thursday, March 26, through Monday, April 6, the CineFest -- steered by longtime Philadelphia Film Festival artistic director Ray Murray and his crew -- will show over 200 films from 39 countries, bring in busloads and trainloads of stars and filmmakers, and take over at least four Philadelphia screen venues.

Opening night, to be held at the Prince, is (500) Days of Summer, a hit at January's Sundance fest starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel , in what's been dubbed an "anti-romantic comedy." Closing the fest twelve days and nights later is Lymelife , a 1970s family drama with Culkin siblings Kieran and Rory, along with Emma Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon and Jill Hennessy.

CineFest came into being thanks (or no thanks) to a litigious rift with the non-profit Philadelphia Film Society that oversees the Philadelphia Film Festival. The Film Society plans to launch its own fest under that name. Society executive director Andrew Greenblatt says there will be a PFF in 2009.

In the meantime, Philadelphia CineFest will bring back the thematic categories long familiar to veteran fest-goers, including American Independents, World Cinema, Danger After Dark, Latino Cinema, Muslim Cinema, and new programs on black cinema, French cinema and international comedies.

Full festival details, dates, ticket options and other information will be forthcoming. Check on the CineFest site.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Slumdog controversy

Here's the complete statement from Danny Boyle and Fox Searchlight in repsonse to the controversy being stirred up about the alleged exploitation of the movie's young stars. It's worth a read:



From the moment that we hired them and long before the press became interested in this story, we have paid painstaking and considered attention to how Azhar and Rubina's involvement in the film could be of lasting benefit to them over and above the payment they received for their work.

The children had never attended school, and in consultation with their parents we agreed that this would be our priority. Since June 2008 and at our expense, both kids have been attending school and they are flourishing under the tutelage of their dedicated and committed teachers. Financial resources have been made available for their education until they are 18. We were delighted to see them progressing well when we visited their school and met with their teachers last week.

In addition to their educational requirements, a fund is in place to meet their basic living costs, health care and any other emergencies. Furthermore, as an incentive for them to continue to attend school a substantial lump sum will be released to each child when they complete their studies. Taking into account all of the children's circumstances we believe that this is the right course of action.

Since putting in place these arrangements more than 12 months ago we have never sought to publicize them, and we are doing so now only in response to the questions raised recently in the press. We trust that the matter can now be put to bed, and we would request that the media respect the children's privacy at this formative time in their lives.

- - Danny Boyle and Christian Colson


The welfare of Azhar and Rubina has always been a top priority for everyone involved with Slumdog Millionaire. A plan has been in place for over 12 months to ensure that their experience working on Slumdog Millionaire would be of long term benefit. For 30 days work, the children were paid three times the average local annual adult salary. Last year after completing filming, they were enrolled in school for the first time and a fund was established for their future welfare, which they will receive if they are still in school when they turn 18. Due to the exposure and potential jeopardy created by the unwarranted press attention, we are looking into additional measures to protect Azhar and Rubina and their families. We are extremely proud of this film, and proud of the way our child actors have been treated.

- - Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Star Studios, Pathe International