Aaron Sorkin in Talks to Adapt Michael Lewis’ ‘Flash Boys’: The Hollywood Reporter

41rC-xFW03LGreat news for fans of Sorkin/Lewis collaborations (Moneyball). According to THR, Sorkin is now in talks with Sony about adapting another Lewis book, “Flash Boys”, which “deals with the practice of high-frequency trading on Wall Street and how it became a way to rig the system.”

Tatiana Siegel writes: “Lewis’ book revolves around a group of men on Wall Street including Sergey Aleynikov, a one-time programmer for Goldman Sachs, and Brad Katsuyama, the founder of IEX, the Investor’s Exchange.

Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing the film. Rudin, who has his first-look deal at Sony, executive produced Moneyball.

Rudin and Sorkin are frequent collaborators, having worked together on Social Network and the HBO series The Newsroom. They also have an untitled Steve Jobs project in the works at the studio that Danny Boyle is directing.”

Check out more from The Hollywood Reporter.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Duo Kathryn Bigelow & Mark Boal Planning Film On Controversial POW Bowe Bergdahl: IndieWire

THE HURT LOCKERKathryn Bigelow is so much more of a varied director than her career choices for the last couple of films (including the recently announced Tom Hardy, mistaken-identity thriller) have made her appear. Near Dark, Point Break and Strange Days are emblematic of how diverse she can be and while I have no doubt she will bring it with this new project, especially aligned with screenwriter Mark Boal, it makes me nervous to see her involvement with yet another film about our military entanglement with the Middle East.

But, hey…I have no doubt she knows what she’s doing and amping the controversy seems to only sweeten the pot for Bigelow. So…bring it, lady.

Oliver Lyttelton of IndieWire writes of the recent announcement: “The director/writer pair had a certain amount of backlash from “The Hurt Locker,” but nothing compared to their follow-up “Zero Dark Thirty” — willfully misread by some as being pro-torture, and well-researched to the extent that some wanted to investigate where their sources come from.

But that may have been the tip of the iceberg compared to what might come next, as Deadline report that the pair, through Boal’s new Megan Ellison-backed company Page One, are planning to make a movie focusing on the story of Bowe Bergdahl. In case you’ve been in a coma for the last couple of weeks, Bergdahl is the U.S. soldier who was kidnapped by the Taliban after wandering off his base, and held captive for five years.

Reportedly Boal and Bigelow have been looking into the case for years, but the announcement surely comes in response to recent weeks, in which Bergdahl was freed in exchange for five Taliban fighters, causing an uproar among the right-wing, who then subsequently made claims that Bergdahl was a traitor who’d attempted to desert and, in the particularly crazy corners of the internet, even that he was a “Homeland”-style sleeper agent.”

Lyttelton writes of a peculiar announcement that tells of a second, identical project announced today as well: “Looks like Bowe Bergdahl might already be the new Truman Capote: Deadline already report that a rival project to Bigelow & Boal’s is in the offing, with Fox Searchlight acquiring the rights to “America’s Last Prisoner Of War,” an article by late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings about Bergdahl. “In The Bedroom” and “Little Children” helmer Todd Field is involved, presumably as a writer/director, though we hope he shoots his adaptation of Jess Walter’s brilliant novel “Beautiful Ruins,” set to star Imogen Poots, first. Read the original article here.”

For more about this announcement and all the particulars, visit Indiewire.

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Video: PBS Online Film Festival Unveils Lineup

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PBS has just released a trailer for their upcoming online film festival which will run from June 16th to July 31st. The festival will highlight filmmakers from across the US and will feature 25 shorts that will, according to Senior Vice-President and General Manager of PBS Digital, Ira Rubenstein, be “experimenting with new platforms to reach diverse audiences with high quality and engaging content.”

All films will be voted upon by the public and will be available to view on PBS.org or any digital platform capable of viewing PBS content. For any update on the festival or to view the films starting June 16th, visit their official website.

On Finding New Screenplay Structures for Independent Films: Filmmaker Magazine

inside-llewyn-davis-catAs each year passes, we see the screenwriting advice industry growing bigger and bigger, all pushing the Three-Act Structure as necessary for the writer selling her screenplay to a biz that expects innovation, but of course within a totally predictable framework. Years ago by contrast, it was up to independent filmmakers to shake the forms loose and liven up the Three-Act-Structure, but over the last few years, inventive films have dwindled.

Jeannine Lanouette, Founder and Chief Content Creator at Screentakes Digital Publishing and screenwriting teacher for over 20 years, writes of the need of variations of story structure and how independent films should take up the mantle once more proving once and for all, story comes in many forms. Her piece speaks of the recent trends within the industry, but also infuses her talk with instruction of how a screenwriter can ingrate a more creative approach to story and Three-Act Structure.

She writes: “There’s no avoiding Three-Act Structure. It is the One-Point Perspective of screenwriting. Just as in drawing, you have two points on a horizon line and then a third vanishing point to create a sense of space, in filmed drama, you have a beginning, middle and end to orient the viewer in time.

However, within that three-part structure, there are infinite possibilities for what can be achieved. This is the Advanced Screenwriting class, where a healthy respect for the model handed down to us by centuries of dramatic innovators is combined with an acknowledgement that artistic evolution depends on continually seeking new ways to apply the old models. Hollywood used to be open to cultivating, or perhaps simply tolerating, such ambitious endeavors. But, considering that today’s Hollywood has sunk into a comic-book-franchise/based-on-a-true-story rut at the expense of original adult drama, I would like to suggest that the evolution of the art form is now the sole responsibility of independent filmmakers.

Indeed, there have been some beautiful examples of screenwriting innovation recently: the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost are two of my favorites (which I’ve written about on my website). Ironically, it was just as the Screenwriting Advice Industry was taking hold 20 years ago that Quentin Tarantino provided indie counter programming when he turned three-act structure on its head in Pulp Fiction (which I’ve often analyzed in my lecture classes). Using basic story structure principles, he created a structural system all his own. This is at the core of getting beyond the mono-minded model.”

Read more of Lanouette’s article and “Meditation on Character, Action and Theme”here.

A Century of Chinese Cinema: An Introduction: BFI (British Film Institute)

farewell-my-concubine-1993-001-leslie-cheung-00m-qia BFI Southbank will be hosting a four-month celebration of A Century of Chinese Cinema from June-October of 2014. The massive event will be comprised of five sections of Chinese filmmaking and the BFI’s Noah Cowan sets up this impressive introduction which is summarized below.

The Golden Age will be highlighted in June at Southbank. Cowan writes, “The 1930s in Shanghai were a golden age in many spheres of Chinese culture, cinema chief among them. Widely considered by the rest of the country as a den of iniquity, catering to foreign invaders walled off in concessions throughout the city, Shanghai presented an ‘anything goes’ attitude that proved enormously fruitful for the upstart new medium.

Despite heavy censorship by the Guomindang (Nationalist) government, Shanghai filmmaking during this period – aided considerably by the Chinese Communist Party cadres who infiltrated the growing studio system – was able to shatter age-old taboos and champion utopian ideals. Early masterpieces such as The Highway (1934) and Street Angel (1937) not only look towards a more just and equal society, but question how the art of cinema itself might be reconceived along progressive lines by experimenting with innovative visual techniques and unusual narrative structures.

A New China will also be highlighted in June: “…it is intriguing to trace the continuities between the cinemas of the pre- and post-Revolution periods. Despite the state-sanctioned dictates of socialist realism, many of the most critically and commercially successful Mainland films up to the Cultural Revolution continued to derive from the acknowledged classics of Chinese progressive culture associated with the prewar May 4th Movement.

Meanwhile, brief periods of cultural experimentation such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign emboldened filmmakers to once again engage in social commentary and take both political and aesthetic risks, leading to such recently rediscovered masterworks as Lu Ban’s extraordinary An Unfinished Comedy (1957). This intriguing period would come to an end with the onset of the Cultural Revolution, the last and most brutal crackdown on intellectuals, which halted narrative film production for more than a decade.”

Genre Cinema will be shown in July: “First emerging near the end of the 1920s, the wildly popular martial-arts films (known as wuxia pian, literally ‘chivalrous combat films’) quickly became a target of official sanction. The Guomindang (Nationalist) government, taking umbrage at the films’ outré special effects and bevy of louche women, banned them for promoting “superstition and moral decadence”…

The 80s and 90s saw several major evolutions in the genre as the craze for the ‘classic’ martial-arts film began to wane. Jackie Chan found global superstardom as the clown prince of kung fu, blending the often solemn martial-arts template with slapstick and sensational stunts; prolific Hong Kong New Wave leader Tsui Hark would take the wuxia film into a lavish new era with a series of ambitious epics; while the enormously influential, Hark-produced A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) brought fantasy and the supernatural into the martial-arts mix. Finally, at the turn of the century, martial-arts cinema returned to the Mainland that once spurned it: following Ang Lee’s global success with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), a series of baroque, Mainland-produced wuxia epics such as Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002) and Feng Xiaogang’s The Banquet (2006) garnered significant domestic and international success.”

New Waves in August: “As with all the other arts, cinema was profoundly affected by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution: film production was stopped altogether for a time, and only gradually restarted with an exclusive output of ideologically orthodox model operas.

As the Mainland finally emerged from the shadow of this cataclysmic event a decade later, the filmmakers who became known as the Fourth Generation – a pre-Cultural Revolution cohort, many of whom had themselves been denounced, ‘re-educated’ and forced to endure the ridicule of young militants for their commitment to culture life – sought for ways to express the ordeal that had been visited upon the country. The result was the so-called ‘scar films’, simple, affecting dramas that employ intimate and small-scale narratives focusing on individual tragedies as microcosmic representations of massive societal trauma – a style of storytelling that would prove remarkably influential even beyond the context of the Cultural Revolution.”

New Directions in September-October: “Mainland filmmakers who comprised the so-called Sixth Generation – Wang Xiaoshuai and Jia Zhangke chief among them…display some marked group characteristics: an increased cosmopolitanism, a preoccupation with urban life that has much in common with the Hong Kong New Wave, a predilection for exquisite compositions and gentle pacing that owes much to Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, and a taste for small-scale, delicately wrought narratives of ordinary people buffeted by vast social change that rhymes with the Fourth Generation ‘scar’ films and rejects the largesse (some would say excess) of the flamboyant Fifth Generation epics.”

Read the full article here.

Roland Emmerich to Direct Stargate Reboot: Comingsoon.net

2764-stargate-atlantis-1920x1080-movie-wallpaperSince there is truly no originality in the biz right now anyway, I choose to celebrate the bringing back of a franchise that puts a big, fat smile on my face.

Coming Soon writes: “On the heels of yesterday’s update on the status of director Roland Emmerich’s much-anticipated Independence Day sequel comes some exciting news about another one of Emmerich’s 1990s sci-fi hits. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, together with Emmerich and Dean Devlin, are partnering to launch a new feature film trilogy that reimagines 1994’s Stargate. The announcement was made today by Gary Barber, MGM’s Chairman and CEO. Emmerich, who directed and co-wrote the original film with Devlin, is confirmed to direct and Devlin will produce…

Barber said, “We couldn’t be more excited to once again partner with Roland and Dean, the world-class creators of the original ‘Stargate,’ to bring their reinvigorated vision of this wildly popular property to audiences of multiple generations.” He added, “’Stargate’ is one of the biggest titles in MGM’s vast library, and we look forward to adding this great franchise to our slate.”

“The ‘Stargate’ universe is one that we missed terribly, and we cannot wait to get going on imagining new adventures and situations for the trilogy. This story is very close to our hearts, and getting the chance to revisit this world is in many ways like a long lost child that has found its way back home,” said Emmerich and Devlin.”

Read more from Comingsoon here.

5 Takeaways from the Sundance Institute | Women in Film Financing Intensive: Caryn James

1683641-inline-s-2-sundance-new-brandingCaryn James writes an excellent piece on the info gleaned from the Women in Film Financing Intensive, put on by the Sundance Institute and Women in Film (WIF) Los Angeles. James writes: “The day-long event…brought directors and producers together with speakers and panelists from the film industry and the financial world, united by a purpose they care about deeply: giving women filmmakers the information (sometimes hard to find) and the specific tools they need to overcome those financial barriers.”

James details 5 crucial facets of the business that women filmmakers need to take into consideration when approaching a project, the most important being money: “Money may not be the root of all evil, but it’s certainly a root cause of one: holding back women filmmakers. Financing was the most frequently cited barrier for female directors and producers of independent films, according to a 2012 study commissioned by Sundance Institute and Women in Film (WIF) Los Angeles.”

She continues: ““The traditional sources for independent features – foreign sales, pre-sales, DVDs – have been drying up, yet we’re still staring at that corpse,” said Christine Vachon of Killer Films, one of the most successful indie production companies. “To move ahead, think creatively not only about money, but about your project itself, and be bold. In today’s market, it’s not enough for a film to be pretty good,” she said. “It has to be fantastic to break out. It helps if the film is zeitgeisty, so people feel they need to see and talk about it. That’s not pure idealism; it’s your most realistic chance.”

Read more from this great piece here. The information it contains can help not only female filmmakers, but all interested in better knowing and navigating the film industry’s scary bits.