We’re excited to start sharing casting news, starting with the news that Mark Hood has been cast in the role of Milo, the bar owner who plays a small but pivotal role in bringing Alma and Zaynab together. We’re working with Chicago casting agency Paskal Rudnicke Casting, Inc. (prcasting.com) by the way. Read More
One of the most important roles in making a film is the line producer, which is sometimes combined with production manager on low-budget films. Simply put, the person in these roles is responsible for everything that makes the movie production work as a business entity: creating the budget and the schedule for principal photography and hiring and managing much of the crew. Chicago has quite a few well-regarded line producers and we got to know a bunch of them over the course of the last couple of years. They’re quite busy, given all the TV activity in town these days, and part of the challenge for any project is availability. This is definitely not a last-minute hire. But we are ecstatic that one of the best in town, Angie Gaffney, has joined “Signature Move” as co-producer, a role in which she’ll perform or directly oversee the line producer duties, lead the hiring of the production crew and help execute a whole host of other essential duties. Read More
Building a team for a film is a fascinating process when it’s your first time out. Some of the roles are filled through extensive interviewing, networking and auditioning. Others are based on prior relationships that a member of the team brings along. Our director of photography, Christopher Rejano has shot each of director Jennifer Reeder’s recent short films, the two of them have established a creative rapport that finds its expression in powerful images on the screen. We’re stoked to have Christopher shooting “Signature Move”! Read More
It was early August when I had coffee with the Chicago International Film Festival’s Anthony Kaufman and he mentioned that, for the first time, CIFF was inviting filmmakers to contribute trailers to promote the festival’s theme, “Because Everyone Loves Movies.” I brought the news back to Fawzia and Eugene in our weekly meeting and suggested we make one, using Fawzia in her “Signature Move” character Zaynab, albeit in a different scenario than those included in the film. This might be the foundation for a promotional technique we might deploy throughout pre-production, and would give the film a nice boost if CIFF chose to use it. And, it would give us a chance to work together as a team, rather than just talk about it, not to mention the opportunity to work with a director who might be a candidate for the director’s chair for “Signature Move” as well.
We did not have much time, as the finished trailer was due to CIFF by September 15, about a month away. And Fawzia had a heavy travel schedule for performances and screenings of her short films, one of which was working its way through the highly competitive NBC Universal Short Film Festival. Eugene had met Wendy Roderweiss at the Athens Film Festival, where both had short films. Since she was from Chicago and was working in the comedy genre with her short-film series in process, “Stages,” he thought she might be a good candidate for us. We had coffee with Wendy, she was interested, and off we went. Read More
We’re enthusiastic to announce that Jennifer Reeder has joined us as director. One of Chicago’s leading filmmakers (included on Newcity’s Film 50 AND Art 50 lists), Jennifer’s singular style and voice has us all thrilled with the chemistry she’ll add to the project. We’ll have more to say about the process and search for a director later, but wanted to get the exciting news out first. Read More
This coming Sunday, “Signature Move” will pitch to an audience of film distributors, investors and industry peers alongside five other outstanding film projects in various stages of development at the first-ever “Industry Days Pitch Session. Besides ours, audience members will see the latest undertaking of veteran Chicago team John McNaughton and Steve Jones (“Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer,” “Wild Things,” “Mad Dog and Glory”), from Jennifer Reeder, who made both Newcity’s Film 50 and Art 50 lists last year before playing the Sundance festival with her short film; from Collin Schiffli (director of the acclaimed debut “Animals”) and his brother Brandon Schiffli, the Chaz Ebert-executive produced Emmet Till biopic and a John Wayne Gacy-inflected period piece from the husband-and-wife team at Cornbred Films. Whether we win or lose the competition (we’re playing to win, of course), this event offers a unique showcase of some of the very best independent film projects in development in Chicago right now. Read More
We’ll write more about this later, but we wanted to share the news that our team, in conjunction with director Wendy Roderweiss (contrarianfilms.com), produced a promotional trailer for the Chicago International Film Festival. While it’s crafted around the festival’s tagline “Because Everybody Loves Movies,” we wrote an original script and, with the help of twenty-five Chicago film professionals, shot what is basically a one-minute film starring our own Fawzia Mirza in the role of Zaynab, the character she’ll play in “Signature Move.” Read More
Now that we’ve finally chosen the movie we’ll produce for our thirtieth anniversary next year—it’s called “Signature Move”—I understand why most indie filmmakers write their own material. The road to great screenplays is paved with loose gravel. And when you find it, rights holders, agents and lawyers can grind that rocky road to quicksand. (Most of the metaphors you’ll read are even worse than this.)
I guess I thought finding the project would be the easy part. Since announcing this project in February 2014, I’ve reviewed more than sixty screenplays or other properties (novels for adaptation, plays, short stories, etc.). I’ve discussed projects over lunches, coffees and beers dozens and dozens of times. I’ve been on the verge of locking down not one, but two high-profile films, neither of which would have quite fulfilled this project’s mandate but would have been, respectively, great launch undertakings (a short film) or a great second film (a work by a legendary Chicago novelist) only to see both fall apart—though all principal terms had been agreed upon—when the rightsholders ultimately did not pull the trigger. I was not expecting inertia to be such an obstacle, one that proves not only frustrating but costly once the legal fees come into play.
I was somewhere in various states of stalemate a year ago during our Film 50 photo shoot, when I met one of the figures on the list, Eugene Sun Park. Park asked me if I was still looking at submissions, and I said I was. He said he might have something, and that was that. Read More
Joe Swanberg (in conversation with the Tribune’s Nina Metz) offered a chronological and candid assessment of his career to date last week as part of IFP Chicago’s “75 Minutes With” series.
Here are a few observations from his IFP Chicago gig.
Metz asked him about his blogging about the making of his films, which she found insightful. He said he did this for his first five films, and that all are still available on the individual film web sites.
The candid sexuality in his early films was a kind of “political statement,” he says, in response to the lack of realistic depictions of the way sex is a part of our lives. Read More
I moderated a producers panel at the Midwest Independent Film Festival last night, and one of the unexpected pleasures of the evening was meeting the Lucas Brothers. Lifelong South Siders (104th Street), they’ve taught themselves filmmaking skills (“we wanted to go to Columbia but could not afford it,” one told me) and have nearly completed what looks to be a compelling and important documentary about the South Side “Bucket Boys.” They need $25,000 to finish the film, and you can check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/743781516/bucket-0 (Brian Hieggelke)