The idea for a documentary of some sort had been rumbling around in my head for a long time. At first I thought it would simply be a way of capturing a bit of history by interviewing people that I knew were getting up in age and had great stories to tell about the early era of independent film distribution.
It was 7 years ago this week that I heard Roger Corman was being honored at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, an event that I have attended yearly for quite some time. It dawned on me that this was an opportunity to capture one of those interviews for my yet to be defined project. I reached out to Michael and asked if I could interview Roger at the festival. The resulting interview was just as informative and colorful as I had hoped, but as my project took shape, it turned out that Roger did not make the final cut. However, I decided that this interview, and the many others that followed, deserved to see the light of day as a sort of side project. My goal is to eventually create an online oral history about this particular period in the business.
In any case, below is a small portion of that interview.
For the last 11 years, I’ve been attending Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, sometimes as a panelist, sometimes as a juror, but mostly as a moderator. In addition to being a very pleasant place to visit, the festival is always well-curated and screenings take place in theaters with state-of-the-art projection and enthusiastic audiences. In other words, it’s a great event.
Every year, Michael has panel discussions that deal with issues that are on his mind, taking advantage of the availability of guests who are at the festival. I was asked to be on two panels this year, both of which are posted below, courtesy of Interlochen Public Radio. I think you’ll the discussions to be pretty interesting.
Among the many panels and Q&As that I participated in at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival was one entitled, “Equality Now.” It was meant to be both a celebration of the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage and a discussion among the filmmakers who were involved with films that touched on LGBT issues. I was the moderator and the panel turned out to be quite illuminating (if I must say so myself) and even included some fireworks. Fortunately the panels were recorded for posterity, so here it is. I’ll post some others in the next few days…
With all the bad news floating around about movie theaters going out of business, this video, courtesy of the Traverse City Film Festival, stands as a reminder of why we need to preserve the theatrical experience. Kudos to The Treefort Collective for a great job creating the video, and for putting me in a starring role alongside Wim Wenders!
When AMPAS announced its new documentary rules this week, I thought the idea of having a New York Times or Los Angeles Times review be a qualification for the Oscars was a good idea. Putting outsiders who have no stake in the results in a position of defining what is considered “theatrical” is a brilliant stroke. This is especially true of the New York Times, which has a commitment to review everything that plays a full week run in New York City. Their definition of a theatrical run has included venues like MOMA and films that have opened day & date on VOD, so this should not be a difficult obstacle for any film that mounts a real theatrical release.
On the other hand, there is still an obstacle created by the rules that I strongly feel is not only unnecessary, but is destructive to the integrity of the award. Earlier today I expressed my displeasure in two tweets and the reaction was so strong that I felt that I should use more than 140 characters to flesh out what I was referring to. The tweets were as follows:
In case you didn’t know, @MMFlint is Michael Moore, who has been credited with influencing the Academy’s change of rules.
Just got back from the Traverse City Film Festival, Michael Moore’s exemplary use of film exhibition to educate, enlighten and grow a community. Michael and the festival’s incredible Executive Director Deb Lake, asked me to moderate Q&As and panels, and I was glad to oblige. The filmmakers and audiences were enthusiastic and made for a number of great events. My personal favorite was a panel discussion with the entire filmmaking team behind the film “Being Elmo,” the story of Kevin Clash, the man who created the Elmo character on “Sesame Street.” Here is a quick snippet of a moment in the panel, when I actually got to interview Elmo. This was recorded by a cell phone in the front row, so forgive the sound quality.
If you want to hear the entire panel (with great sound quality), it is also available below (courtesy of Interlochen NPR Radio).