Features

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 »

48 Hour Picture People

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At 7:00 p.m. on a Friday night, more than twenty teams of filmmakers gather at a local film center or bar. In a random drawing one member of each team picks a film genre out of a hat. Every team is then given the same character, prop, and line of dialogue they’re required to include… Read more »

The Medium is the Maker

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Filmmakers are often touted for their “vision”—their singular sense of how a movie should look, sound, and feel. But every film starts on paper, with a screenplay or even just an idea for a character or a mood. A director must partner with a cinematographer, a production designer, and others to translate that idea into… Read more »

Two Steps Back

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The Federal Communications Commission has voted to loosen media ownership laws, allowing one company to own television stations that reach forty-five percent of the American viewing audience (up from thirty-five percent). The new rules also permit cross-media ownership. Now, one corporation can own both a television station and a newspaper in the same market. On… Read more »

Counter-Currents and the Joy Quotient

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The label “experimental” has been troubling me for a while now. For too many people, the word only conjures up the films of Brakhage, Mekas, Anger, etc. So much so that the very term has calcified within the minds of hipsters and film aficionados alike—ending the canon in the seventies. Today the notion of producing… Read more »

The View from the Whitney

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Chrissie Iles is the curator of film and video at the Whitney Museum of American Art and has been curating for twenty-three years. Before joining the Whitney in 1997, she was head of exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. Her Whitney exhibit, Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977,… Read more »