Let’s Finish the Oscar Doc Overhaul

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.

The problem I am referring to is something that I have been preaching for a long time. Continue reading “Let’s Finish the Oscar Doc Overhaul”

Catching Pitches in Beijing

Just got back from Beijing, where I participated in a series of seminars for film students from all over Asia. The seminars were co-sponsored by the Motion Picture Association and the CICE (China International Copyright Expo?), and consisted of three days of information exchanged about story structure, development processes, career advice and more. One of my presentations was the use of social media to create a fan base, and although all the U.S. social media sites are blocked in China, I was told that there are local equivalents that can be used in the same ways. The seminars ended with a pitching contest, judged by the international panel of presenters, which included Bec Smith of UTA, Former AMPAS President Sid Ganis, Jon Kuyper of Warner Brothers,  screenwriting teacher David Freeman, Lora Chen, who is principal consultant at China Media Consulting and a teacher at Beijing Film Academy, L.A. Lawyer Harris Tulchin, Tropfest founder John Polson and multi-hyphenate Pauline Chan among others.

It was great fun to hear the stories from these smart and ambitious students, and I can only hope that we were of some help to them. Below is a photo of the whole gang.