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George Lucas has a message for studios that are cutting their slates and shifting toward big-budget tentpoles and franchises: You’ve got it all wrong.

The creator of “Star Wars,” which stamped the template for the franchise-tentpole film, says many small films and Web distribution are the future.

And in case anyone doubts he means it, Lucasfilm is getting out of the movie biz.

“We don’t want to make movies. We’re about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we’ve moved away from the feature film thing because it’s too expensive and it’s too risky.

“I think the secret to the future is quantity,” Lucas said.

He spoke to Daily Variety after the groundbreaking ceremony for the renamed School of Cinematic Arts at USC.

He gave $175 million — $100 million toward the endowment, $75 million for buildings — to his alma mater. But he said that kind of money is too much to put into a film.

Spending $100 million on production costs and another $100 million on P&A makes no sense, he said.

“For that same $200 million, I can make 50-60 two-hour movies. That’s 120 hours as opposed to two hours. In the future market, that’s where it’s going to land, because it’s going to be all pay-per-view and downloadable.

Click here for the full article at Variety.


In a effort to push Errol Morris to become a filmmaker, Werner Herzog promised he would eat his own shoe if Morris finished a film. Morris did, and Herzog did eat the shoe at a screening. The shoe angle is played up, but the twenty minute film gives a good view of Herzog and his love of Morris’ early craft.

Click here to watch the film.

Found via (The Documentary Blog)

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Documentary: Priest and Predator
Excerpt from Newsweek

Oct. 9, 2006 issue – Deliver us from Evil,” a gripping new documentary opening in theaters next week, profiles Father Oliver O’Grady, a convicted pedophile who spent 22 years molesting children in parishes throughout California, where he served as their priest. In the film, O’Grady describes his sexual attraction to boys and girls, and details how church authorities, including Roger Mahony, now head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, moved him from parish to parish. Other chilling moments include interviews with O’Grady’s victims, their families, and never-before-seen deposition testimony from Mahony, who denies knowing about O’Grady’s predilection. Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the L.A. Archdiocese, said in a statement that the film is nothing more than a “hit piece designed to cast the Archdiocese and Cardinal Mahony in the worst possible light.” Julie Scelfo spoke with Amy Berg, the film’s writer and director, who covered the sex-abuse scandal for years as a freelance investigative producer.

How did you get O’Grady to speak with you?
I got his phone number and started calling him at his home in Ireland. He wanted to tell his story but he wasn’t sure how. We spoke every Sunday for five months until he finally decided he was ready to speak on camera.

Were you surprised by how easily he spoke of molesting children?
No, because he was like that on the phone straightaway … He was very jovial and polite, and he just seemed like he wasn’t that nervous about it. He had been holding this in for so long, and obviously he was ready to talk.

I heard the interviews made you physically sick.
You have to be so nonemotional and professional and not let anything in, but after a week of listening to someone talk about molesting children, specifically and graphically, I was overcome. I spent the last day of the trip holed up in my hotel room, unable to get out of bed.

Has Cardinal Mahony seen the movie?
I don’t think so. We provided a private screening to the church and five people showed up, but not Cardinal Mahony.

Do you think that Mahony should resign?
I do. And I don’t think putting him in Rome in charge of a bigger church—like [Boston’s] Cardinal Law was—is a solution, either.


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The Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball – almost a century ago. They won a record 116 games in 1906, and back-to-back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. Fast- forward to 2006, and the “Cubbies” are still waiting for another championship win. But despite the longest dry spell between world championships in all of professional sports, the Cubs are perennially in the top ten in league attendance.

WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR: THE SAGA OF THE CHICAGO CUBS chronicles the lives of die-hard Cubs fans, and the ultimate devotion they show their beloved team. The documentary captures the energy and optimism of opening day from the fans’ perspective, following several fans over the course of the season as they root on their team. The “Sports of the 20th Century” documentary premieres TUESDAY, SEPT. 26 at 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT.

By in News, PBS

Coming in September as part of the American Masters series. Check your local listings for day and time.

The two-part, four-hour documentary is directed by Ric Burns. The film is narrated by artist and musician Laurie Anderson and features artist Jeff Koons as the voice of Andy Warhol.


You work so much – is the need to tell stories what motivates you to work that much?

Herzog: Probably, but I am not a man who is driven all the time. I am not a maniac. But Ilove my work and I do not like to hang around for years and twiddle my thumbs and hope that something will happen to me and some producer will offer me something. I always, when I am in between larger projects, I do a documentary. For example, Grizzly Man was done in 29 days. 9 days of editing, 14 days of shooting. From the first day of shooting to the first cut of the film being presented to the committee of Sundance was exactly 29 days. That film came so easily – it all fell in place, as if I was sleepwalking.

Were you surprised by the response that film got?

Herzog: The magnitude of the response surprised me, but I had the feeling from the very first moment that this was something very big. You can tell – it happens a couple of times in your life when you know that you’ve gotten into something and you better do it right now, this is big.

It’s a film that is going to stay, it’s not going to age. It’s not going to disappear after its first run, which was quite successful. It’s going to linger. This was a film that’s going to stay.

The themes are timeless.

Herzog: And the character and the environment, and wild nature – this is something I can deal with easily. But I always kept saying, ‘Do not expect me to do a film about wild nature, this is a film about human nature.’ 

It was an incredibly crowded group of documentaries last year – what do you think has changed in the documentary world?

Herzog: I think there’s a very big background to that. The background is that we have an explosive evolution of new instruments for creating reality or pseudo-reality of invented reality; digital effects, virtual reality and the net, reality TV, PhotoShop itself. All of a sudden filmmakers, and we as an audience, are forced to readjust our attitudes towards reality. What constitutes reality? There will be many great documentaries because audiences are longing for films that point back to the reality of their lives. We have find new way to express this – it’s a great time for filmmaking, and a great time in particular for documentaries. But not in the way that cinema verite was done – that was the answer of the 60s.

Grizzly Man is a documentary that is about Treadwell but is also an editorial and a discussion with him –

Herzog: An ongoing argument.

A lot of people think of documentaries as only fact, fact, fact…

Herzog: We have to look after that, but beyond the facts there is something we have forgotten to ask about, and that is the truth. Where is the truth that illuminates us? I’m after an ecstasy of truth, an ecstatic truth. And not just in documentaries – in all my feature films you see this quest for illumination, this ecstasy of truth. I have my way to do it, but I see many, many others who are doing very bold and unusual new things in documentaries. I really welcome that.

Is it harder to find that truth in a narrative feature?

Herzog: It’s always elusive. It is always mysterious. You have to have a very clear vision, a very deep vision. If you don’t have that, don’t go into filmmaking.

Complete Interview at CHUD

By in News

Kinky Friedman may not win the governor’s race on Nov. 7, but if you thought his quotable roadshow would be forever silenced then, think again.

Win or lose, Friedman has a contract for a documentary on his campaign, which explains why a camera crew has been following him around.

The Los Angeles producers are Wayne Miller and David Steinberg, the comedian/director of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. . .

The project apparently grew out of earlier pilot episodes the same two producers shot of Friedman’s campaign for a Go Kinky reality show that didn’t get picked up on CMT, the country music network. . .

Miller said the documentary was his idea. He said he used to produce political commercials for television but never has shot a documentary on a governor’s race.

He said he has known Friedman for years and appreciates his talent.

“The reason for doing (the movie) is that it’s a tremendous story, and it has a real place in history,” the producer said, indicating he may try to sell the project to the big screen as well as TV networks.

Complete Houston Chronicle story

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September 16-17 Rochester, NY
September 23-24 Hot Springs, AR
September 30-October 1 Kansas City, MO
October 9-10 Silver Spring, MD
October 14-15 Indianapolis, IN
October 21-22 Ft. Wayne, IN
October 28-29 Salem, OR
November 6-7 Austin, TX


For theater information

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Working on a film with a California twist? KQED-San Francisco has launched a new documentary series where they partner with filmmakers to get their films completed and broadcast. Check out the announcement below, and visit the web site for more details.  This looks to be a good opportunity to work directly with a local PBS station and get a wide audience.

KQED Public Television in San Francisco seeks one hour documentaries for the third season of Truly CA, a showcase for eclectic films about the golden state. Filmmakers will be offered significant post production resources to complete broadcast versions of their films, including: an online, sound mix, closed captioning, promotion, a web site, plus a licensing fee and broadcast. Projects should be completed films, fine cuts, advanced rough cuts, or festival versions. Submissions must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2006. Visit for details.

By in News

Adrian Grenier, the heartthrob star of the hit television series “Entourage”, had a gaping mystery most of his life — he didn’t know who his father was.

But long before he shot to fame with his portrayal of Vincent Chase on “Entourage”, a show about the  hangers-on of a rising celebrity in Hollywood, Grenier turned the camera on himself.

Armed with barely any money, but with an idea and good friend Jon Davidson by his side, he set out to find his father, a man he had not seen in 18 years and knew little about.

He eventually found John Dunbar, and he found that he could now put to rest his childhood.

The product of his curiosity turned into “Shot in the Dark”, a documentary that took seven years to finish and had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on the weekend.

Full story from MSNBC

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49 UP is the seventh film in a series of landmark documentaries that began 42 years ago when UK-based Granada’s WORLD IN ACTION team, inspired by the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” interviewed a diverse group of seven-year-old children from all over England, asking them about their lives and their dreams for the future. Michael Apted, a researcher for the original film, has returned to interview the “children” every seven years since, at ages 14, 21, 28, 35, 42 and now again at age 49.

Documentary Films .Net review of 28 Up

Trailer for 49 Up


A chapter of Ken Burns’ upcoming, 15-hour documentary War also received a sneak preview. French director Bertrand Tavernier (Sunday in the Country, ‘Round Midnight) said that he had watched all of War and that it ranked among the greatest films he’d ever seen.

I can’t think of anything that would have made me more eager to see Burns’ epic World War II documentary than that kind of endorsement from a director whose knowledge of film remains unsurpassed.

Rocky Mountain News


Michael Moore had an eventful festival.  He screened twenty minutes of Sicko as well as clips of Slacker; Slacker is planned as a direct to DVD release covering the aftermatch of the 2004 election.  If you were at the festival and happen to catch the screening feel free to post a comment.  Would be great to have some feedback from actual viewers.


Word from Toronto is that Michael Moore and Mel Gibson were going to share Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2004.  Moore revealed that Mel Gibson backed out of the award after meeting with  Time representaives in California.  Rather than award it to Michael Moore alone, Time instead gave the award to George Bush.


During the feverish days following the attack, Congress established a billion- dollar compensation fund, and grieving wives became overnight millionaires.

No one could have known that for many of them, the money would destroy their lives once again, attracting jealousy, resentful relatives and making them even more depressed. Some would become squandering, spendaholic widows, their payouts fuelling addictions which could not replace the husbands they had lost. Others would become embroiled in legal battles with their families, their lives eaten up by bitterness.

Click here for the Daily Mail article.


After success pitching Quaker Oats and Miller High Life, Errol Morris is doing a series of TV ads for Reebok that will highlight when NFL players knew they were destine for greatness.  Morris commercials are always more interesting than the average fare, and this concept likely will continue the higher standard of work.  But these commercials highlights the difficulty of even a successful documentary director being able to be well compensated in his chosen field.


If you saw the film in 2002 and weren’t offended, well you might be today, or more likely the FCC might.  While it seems highly unlikely that films on such important subject matter as terrorists attacks and world wars, will lead to FCC fines, some CBS affiliates believe they might.  Reuters reports that dozens of CBS affiliates are unwilling to rebroadcast 9/11 because of course language used by firefighters.  With possible fines increasing ten fold under new rules, content caution is happening.


Thankfully, there is DOC Blog.  Daily posts leading up to and during this film festival.  Close to 50 filmmakers are asked to participate, and the posts vary widely.  But for a view into the festival and some of these filmmmakers thoughts as they make the best of it, DOC Blog should not be missed.


The health care industry is not taking Michael Moore’s new documentary on their practices lightly.  According to Advertising Age:

  • Pharmaceutical manufactures  Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline have instructed employees not to speak to Moore.
  • Families who Moore interviews have a 100% rate of getting free medicines after being interviewed and making it know.
  • Health care industry representatives consistently using phrase “one-sided” in describing Moore’s past films.

The pharmaceutical industry might have reason to believe they are Moore’s primary target.  Rumor has it that Moore has setup entire fake business offices to film how far doctors will go when they interact with Moore’s “drug reps”.  The relationship between doctors and drug reps has been long documented on TV and in print.  Atlantic Monthly recently did an article reporting the extremes, but also acknowledging that the most extreme incentives and gifts for doctors have been scaled back.  Whether Michael Moore can bring new information to this corruption is questionable.  Whether he will bring a bigger audience to the issue is not in doubt. 

Michael Moore has indicated that Sicko will be released in 2007.  Miramax will be distributing.

By in News

Two Colorado State University women ‑ one a professor, the other a researcher ‑ have received a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, and a like sum from CSU’s College of Liberal Arts, to study the effects that a loss of culture has on these evacuees.

Kate Browne, an expert in Afro-Creole populations and professor of anthropology, has teamed with Lori Peek, a disaster researcher in the Department of Sociology, to document their stories.

“Evacuees feel a profound sense of attachment to New Orleans: its Creole food, its music, its flair for celebration and even the way of talking were wildly different than what they have found in other areas,” Browne said.

How evacuees fared from the Gulf Coast is reflected in the proximity to their former social networks.

The researchers write that many evacuees came from a culture based in French Creole roots in which celebration, regional cuisine and extended family ties are highly valued.

While not enough time has elapsed for evacuees to pull their lives together, the misconception that life for evacuees should be returning to normal only compounds their troubles.

Click here for the Rocky Mountain News article.

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NBC will be airing In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina on August 28th.  The one hour film will air commercial free.

HBO will be airing Spike Lee’s four hour documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.  The film will air over two nights, August 21 and 22, with the full film being shown on the 29th.

I have seen neither of these films, but have been aware of the Spike Lee documentary for several months.  The focus on New Orleans has always bothered me on some level.  The hurricane hit so many communities beyond New Orleans, that the focus on just this one area seemed too limiting.  This site was run for several years when the publisher (myself) lived in Long Beach, Mississippi.  Most of the Mississippi coastal community (several blocks in, all along the coast) was completely destroyed including where I lived.  But that initial feeling of being bothered, when looked at closer is absurd.  Documentaries are all about focusing on one part of life and telling about it.  Putting the focus on New Orleans is a perfectly legitimate choice.


The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund recently announced its first round of grants for 2006 with 14 feature-length documentary films receiving a total of $605,000. Dedicated to supporting U.S. and international documentary films that focus on current human rights issues, freedom of expression, social justice, civil liberties, and exploring critical issues of our time, the Fund was established at Sundance Institute in 2002 with a gift from the Open Society Institute and is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grants are announced twice a year and since its inception at the Institute, the Fund has disbursed almost $4 million to 113 projects.

Click here for the full Cinema Minima article by Cyndia Greening. (Found via AltFG)


[PBS CEO Paula Kerger]: “My point to them is that we, as public television, don’t have the resources to try to understand what they’re thinking,” said Kerger, who won big points with reporters for her forthright comments. “I can’t tell you, as I stand here today, that I have a clear understanding” of whether PBS stations could face fines for airing the Burns documentary — with language intact — before 10 p.m.

“When you look at the indecency rulings as they have transpired, I don’t see a clear path. Right now, it’s a moving target.”

The context for the concern is that KCSM, the San Mateo-based public TV station, is facing a $15,000 fine from the FCC for a repeat showing of an episode of Martin Scorsese’s “The Blues” that included a smattering of blue language. The FCC acted even though it got just one complaint and “The Blues” was shown all across the country without issue.

Full Mercury News story by Charlie McCollum

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New to our reaunch in 2006, Documentary Films .Net is opening a posting forum. With the thousands of viewers, filmmakers and industry people visiting this site, it is time for everyone to have an opportunity to express their thoughts on documentary films. Similar to this site initial catagories will included:

  • Documentary Discussion
  • Filmmaker Resouces
  • Festivals
  • Films School, Education, and Scholarships
  • Reviews

Sign-up today and be one of the first registered uses for the new forum.

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By Gregg Goldstein

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Magnolia Pictures has nabbed North American rights to “Jesus Camp,” a documentary about a retreat for born-again Christian children.

The project revolves around three youngsters who attend the Rev. Becky Fischer’s “Kids on Fire” summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D. It details their training to “take back America for Christ” and hone “prophetic gifts” in a mission as political as it is religious. The film was directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.
–Read the rest of this entry »