Slamdance Screenplay/Teleplay Competitions Call For Submissions

From the Slamdance website:
Writing Competitions Launch:
After the festival, we turn our attention to Slamdance’s Writing Department: 2009’s Writing Competitions have already kicked off with fantastic prizes and sponsors. The Short Screenplay Competition’s final deadline is just around the corner (February 9, 2009), so hurry up with those submissions: the Grand Prize Winner walks away with $500.00.
And wait … there’s more! One of top five finalists will be selected and produced as a part of Slamdance’s $99 Special Competition and screen at the 2010 Festival! Check out previous Slamdance $99 Specials here.
The Teleplay Competition Call For Entries has also launched: The scripted portion is sponsored by Act III Productions and the unscripted portion is sponsored by the Greif Company: early deadline is February 17, 2009. Save some money and get those original ideas in ASAP – we want to read them and connect you with companies who want to produce your ideas. Step to it now!
Feature Screenplay Call For Entries opens in March 2009 and is sponsored by Upload Films with a $7,000 Grand Prize Award. Upload Films recently signed an option agreement with our 2008 Screenplay winner Neil McGowan (NUMBERED).
The Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition begins in June 2009 and the winner walks with $5,000 as well as a possible option agreement. And regardless of genre or length, if you have a script and you want some constructive feedback from our expert team, check out our year round coverage service.

Sherlock Holmes to be Gay in New Film

According to
Tongues are wagging at the news that Guy Ritchie’s upcoming Sherlock Holmes film will give the legendary detective (portrayed by white-hot Robert Downey Jr.) and his ever-faithful assistant, Dr. Watson (almost forgotten “It” boy Jude Law), a chance to finally express their attraction…to each other.
The source of the wagging is none other than RDJ himself. (incidentally, this “news” comes days after rumors that producers demanded some major changes. …) According to News of the World, when asked about the relationship between the two sexy sleuths, he reportedly answered, “We’re two men who happen to be roommates, wrestle a lot and share a bed. It’s badass.” Law went on to add, “Guy wanted to make this about the relationship between Watson and Holmes. They’re both mean and complicated.” Mean? Complicated? Grrrr
Those familiar with Ritchie’s macho, undernuanced and oversaturated style know better than to expect any hint of a “Brokeback” mystery here. But kudos to him for giving a go at some bloke-on-bloke action. And why not? Holmes was a borderline misogynist with but one vague heterosexual relationship. Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rarely provided insight into the inspector’s emotional life, but when he did, it was in the context of Holmes’ feelings for Watson.
Let’s just hope it’s not a total cock tease, with Holmes falling into one of his drug-induced stupors or “doing it for a case.” Yawn. Then again, we know both these guys can play gay, and I’d break out my pipe to watch these two strip off the manacles of Victorian finery and get “mean and complicated” with each other. Case closed.

Regent Releases Depatures and Shake Hands with the Devil

Regent Entertainment is releasing Departures (Okuribito), the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and and 10 Japan Prize Awards (the Japanese Academy Awards), and Shake Hands with the Devil, Roger (And the Band Plays On) Spottiswoode’s new film (nominated for 12 Genie Awards–the Canadian Academy Awards).

For more info:

For Departures:

For Shake Hands with the Devil

UPDATED: End of the Road for New Yorker Films, Legendary Distributor of “Difficult” Cinema

by Eugene Hernandez (Updated 22 hours, 17 minutes ago)

EDITORS NOTE: This story was updated with information regarding an email message sent by New Yorker to filmmakers.

With rumors swirling all weekend among industry insiders, New Yorker Films, the venerable film distribution company, confirmed today that it is closing its doors. They made the announcement via a simple statement on their website.
“After 43 years in business, New Yorker Films has ceased operations,” the statement reads. “We would like to thank the filmmakers and producers who trusted us with their work, as well as our customers, whose loyalty has sustained us through the years.”
For full story go to


Just a weekly catching up of what’s going on in my life.
I received positive comments back on my script for Here! Networks/Regent Entertainment. Any further notes are waiting until there is a production imminent. As everybody in the industry knows, getting a production can never be counted on until the movie is in the can (and even then, one sometimes wonders), so there is still no guarantee the film will be made. So wish me luck and keep sending out those Richard Gere positive karmic thoughts.
I just completed a workshop wherein I did revisions on my sci-fi film Revelation and I am pleased with the results.
Two theaters in England expressed interest in taking a closer look at some of my plays. One said they were going to have an in-house reading (just among the members, no audience) of Queen Christina Goes Roman. Again, keep those Richard Gere thoughts going.
I am starting up reading again for the Slamdance teleplay competition. Last year, I had to not participate due to too many conflicts. I am always looking for private consultation gigs, so if anybody knows of anyone, please pass my name and blogsite on to them.
I’m debating whether to take the long bus ride to go to the Nuart to see Moscow/Belgium or take the lazy way out and see the International today. Tomorrow night I may go to the LACMA for the Germany Divided movies of Escape from East Berlin and Funeral in Berlin.
Oscars Sunday. My guesses, Slumdog Millionaire (Ron Blagojovich has a new nickname: Slumdog Million Hair) for picture, director and adapted screenplay. Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Heath Ledger, Penelope Cruz acting; and Milk best original screenplay.
Talk to everyone later.

Five Greatest Science Fiction Films of All Times

The Five Greatest of Something: an occasional entry when I don’t have anything else to report and just want to put something on line.

The Five Greatest Science Fiction Film sof All Times

2001: A Space Odyssey

La Jetee
Dr. Strangelove…

How to Improve the Academy Award Telecast

Is there a way to improve the Oscar telecast? Probably not, since not everyone can even agree on what a good Academy Awards program consists of. Is it one that is entertaining (and comes in at an agreed upon length)? Is it one that receives high ratings (and comes in at an agreed upon length)? Is it one that reflects the average movie goer’s taste (and comes in at an agreed upon length)? Is it one that awards the truly best in a category (and comes in at an agreed upon length)? In the end, the only thing anyone can really agree upon when it comes to the Academy Awards show is that it’s boring and if they could do produce it, it wouldn’t be.

It’s gotten to the point where one feels sorry for the producers since they are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Don’t do full productions of songs and get criticized. Do full productions of songs and get criticized. Interrupt an acceptance speech for running too long and get criticized. Don’t interrupt acceptance speeches and get criticized. It’s gotten to the point where there are critics who will lambast the Academy for the dance number between Rob Lowe and Snow White and then years later the same critics will say, “Why don’t they do things like the Rob Lowe/Snow White number? That’s what makes the Awards so entertaining, when they do kitschy and tasteless things we can make fun of for years to come”.

In the end, though, no matter what ideas are considered, the producers of the Academy Awards have to realize they will never be able to please everyone. No matter what changes one makes to the system, some group is always going to be upset that a deserving film was overlooked. For proof of this, all one has to do is look at the Foreign Language Film Category, which has undergone several changes in the last years in an attempt to get only the “right” films nominated, and still can’t seem to do it (Gomorrah, anyone?).

But how to change the show and please all four criticisms mentioned above? There probably is a way to achieve most of them, and it’s actually very simple: bring back the award category for Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production (won by Sunrise in 1929) and run it alongside the Best Picture, Production (won by Wings in 1929). If the Academy did that, it would be far less likely that films like The Dark Knight and possibly even Wall-E would be overlooked. Of course, this wouldn’t make the show any more inherently entertaining or make it come in at an agreed upon length, but it might resolve the issues of reflecting the average movie goer’s taste, while still awarding the truly best in a category, while helping to improve the ratings. (Of course, wouldn’t it be hysterical if the Academy did this and The Dark Knight still didn’t get a nomination? What would that say about Academy voters?)

Another possibility is to do what the Golden Globes do and divide the Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress into comedy and drama (and not comedy/musical—why, oh, why does the Foreign Press Association think that just because something has a lot of songs in it, it belongs in a category alongside comedy). There are several problems with this. The first is that there is no guarantee that movies like The Dark Knight would receive a nomination (it didn’t at the Golden Globes) and thus would defeat the purpose of putting in such a change. The second is that one would then have to not go through with the Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production suggestion (which would probably have guaranteed The Dark Knight a nom) since one wouldn’t want to award three best pictures of the year. At the same time, it might be worth considering having the Best Picture divided into Best Production and Most Unique and Artistic Production and then divide the top acting categories into comedy and drama (which would please the people who feel comedy performances are often overlooked). However, the coming in at an agreed upon time would probably put a kibosh on the whole idea (three extra categories? Yeah, right.), but what a list of nominations this would make.

And as for the length of the telecast, in the end, the only real way to make the show come in at an agreed upon time is to award certain (dare I say it) more “minor” categories (sound effects editing, anyone?) at an earlier ceremony (as the Tony’s have learned to do). But every time this suggestion has come up, the idea has been shot down faster than that guy who went hunting with Dick Cheney. And the only way to make it more entertaining is to…well, make it more entertaining (of course, any actor who has received an acting instruction of “be funnier”, knows how useful a comment that is). But of course, if making something entertaining were that easy, we wouldn’t have movies as bad as The Love Guru and The Happening.