Features

Spice Market

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I am white and alone in a darkened room at night with over four hundred Dominicans in New York City. It is a room full of laughter. A room full of stereotypes embraced and shattered. And a room every American should experience in one way or another. Oscar Herasme, president of the Dominican American Professional… Read more »

How can I do this full time?

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Dear Doc Doctor: I can’t wait for the time when I am able to be a full-time independent documentary filmmaker—it’s been really difficult juggling so many balls in the air. Is there any way to make the path quicker and smoother? It used to be that in this land of opp-ortunity, the American dream was… Read more »

POLICY

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Picture if you will, Karl Rove and Karen Hughes sitting around the offices of Bush-Cheney 2004, talking strategy and shooting the breeze. Suddenly the phone rings. “Karl,” a young aide says excitedly. “I’ve got bad news for you. The Democrats have a new weapon: independent documentary films!” It sounds like an early Woody Allen set… Read more »

What’s (still) experimental?

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For filmmakers, being experimental isn’t as easy as it used to be. Fifty years ago, tossing aside Hollywood’s conventions of narrative, acting, cinematography, and format exposed plenty of directions in which to push the envelope. Maya Deren challenged viewers by confusing them. Stan Brakhage manipulated his film by hand to create images never seen in… Read more »

Healthy Spending

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It seems you can’t turn around these days without hearing people moan about the high cost of health insurance. Whether it’s presidential candidates duking it out in television commercials, small business owners worried about paying for insurance, or average Americans buried by the cost of prescription drugs, paying for health care is on everybody’s mind…. Read more »

Don’t Shoot

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Many might say the past few years have been good ones for independent filmmakers, largely because digital filmmaking has made movie production so much more accessible to budding directors everywhere. Nevertheless, obstacles facing low budget filmmakers are, and continue to be, many—filming on a tight schedule, publicity, legitimate screenings, and attracting an audience for what… Read more »

PBS’s Double Bind

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There’s a phenomenon afoot that is increasingly evident this year—at Sundance, Real Screen, and beyond. Let’s call it producer fatigue; what was formerly indignation with PBS has morphed into simple dismissal. It seems so complicated, the thought goes, why work with public television at all? In a year when public television funding sources brought a… Read more »

Ask the Documentary Doctor

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Dear Doc Doctor: Is a short film the obligatory starting point of a filmmaking career? If so, what can I do with it when it’s finished? It doesn’t seem to make financial sense to make a short. Some filmmakers start with a short either while in film school or out on their own, and that… Read more »

The FCC Showdown

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On October 22, 2003, the FCC held a hearing on localism in Charlotte, NC. FCC chairman Michael Powell probably wished he’d stayed home. There was a kind of “Showdown at the OK Corral” feeling to the whole thing, with nearly 350 witnesses—everyone from fundamentalist Christians to independent film producers and songwriters—making strange bedfellows as they… Read more »

Digital Intermediates

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Your next film probably won’t be digitally mastered. But the one after that probably will be. That’s how fast the costs of a digital intermediate are falling, even as the quality and benefits of digital mastering rise. Sure, digital video doesn’t have the warmth of Super 16 or 35, and you’re not about to throw… Read more »