Is MoviePass Manipulating User Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to Get Butts in Seats?

Here's a closer look at why the marketing team behind 'Gotti' is attacking film critics.

Each week on Indie Film Weekly, we like to bring up a few movies that are hitting theaters. One film we didn't mention last week was the limited release of a new John Travolta vehicle called Gotti. Now, I know what you’re thinking, we’re usually all over John Travolta news, but be that as it may, we decided it was better to spare you the recommendation (or even the knowledge that this film exists). That’s because it’s currently sitting at an almost impressive 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been universally panned by critics since its sneak preview at the Cannes Film Festival.

A biopic of the legendary mobster, the film opened last Friday on 500 screens across the country to a paltry box office gross of $1,719,902. Now, that may not seem like too terrible a number on the indie scale, but once you add in the fact that Travolta’s passion project is rumored to have had a production budget north of ten million dollars, it's easy to see why this venture could be considered a bust.

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Calling All Creators of Color: Here’s How You Could Win $25K!

Start a new crowdfunding project with Seed & Spark and end up in the running for this new grant.

Seed & Spark has managed to separate itself from the crowded crowdfunding space by heaping benefits upon their creators. Their new grant, in partnership with both Erika Alexander’s diversity-focused media company Color Farm Media and the entertainment and lifestyle network Black&SexyTV, is another great example of these efforts.

The program begins this month and includes both a multi-city educational tour and a generous grant for creators of color. Its focus: representation with a capital “R”—not only will it educate filmmakers and provide a platform for better representation on screen, but it leverages the organization's educational events as voter registration drives efforts beginning in July.

Aptly named Keep It Colorful, the tour features a mix of events, including Q&As with Alexander and workshops and panels with Seed&Spark. With more dates to be announced, the confirmed dates/locations include:

  • Late June: Los Angeles, CA

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How to Meld the Perfect Collaborative Atmosphere on Set

For 'The Unicorn', director Robert Schwartzman erased the divide between cast and crew to create something outrageous.

Making a movie is like making a good stew. Sure, that may not be the first analogy you’d jump to while racking your filmmaking ethos, but for Robert Schwartzman director of The Unicorn, one of 2018’s best comedies, it just makes sense.

Every good stew requires fresh ingredients. Your cast and crew are the meat and potatoes. But that stew can't just be about the ingredients. Without the proper mixture, it would just be a bunch of vegetables. You've got balance them out in a way so the flavors come together as a harmonious whole. And that’s the real job of the director. They’re the head chef. The captain.

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Watch: And the First Animated Film To Win the Vimeo Staff Pick Award is…

We've never seen a short like this before.

Vimeo has crowned its first animated champion. The Vimeo Staff Pick Award took its act to Animafest Zagreb in Croatia last week where they awarded Rachel Gutgarts a shiny new piece of hardware for her short A Love Letter to the One I Made Up.

The film begs the question, does the '"perfect" partner exist or can they only live on in our dreams? A Vimeo curator explained that it's the way Gutgarts crafts her film, "utilizing repetitive images, carefully chosen words and a limited, but deliberate color palette," that drew the team to A Love Letter.

"This short film explores the recesses of our need for connection and our most seductive relationship fantasies. Poignant and frustrating, this abstract and painstakingly animated silkscreened piece manages to be immediate, meditative, and fleeting all at once," they expanded.

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HBO Documentaries and IFP Have Teamed Up to Bring Your Doc Series To Life

The two giants of documentary announce their "New True Stories Funding Initiative."

HBO and IFP have joined forces to create a new grant specifically designed for multi-format nonfiction storytellers. The IFP/HBO New True Stories Funding Initiative supports several different types of makers in the early stages of development. It doesn't matter if you're working in print, audio, or, of course, video, as long as your intention lies in bringing your work to life visually. That means that if you want to make short form, feature-length or serialized content, this could be a good one to check out.

IFP explains the grant is for "projects on the arts, humanities, contemporary societal and political issues, and personal documentaries with approaches that range from traditional and character-driven narratives or journalistic perspectives to those more adventurous, creatively risky and formally challenging."

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Watch: Don’t Blame Rose for ‘The Last Jedi’, Blame Finn

The weakest character in 'The Last Jedi' is its greatest flaw.

It's been six months since the release of Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi and fans are still arguing over whether the film is "good." This week, the debate was thrust forth into the spotlight once again after actress Kelly Marie Tran removed herself from social media following relentless bullying from some of the series' more intense followers. They claim, rightfully or not, that her character, Rose, is the weakest character to appear in the franchise since Jar-Jar Binks.

But how can these "fans" be so critical of her performance (neglecting those particular idiots who place a special focus on her appearance) when the real blame lies with the screenwriters? It's no secret that the character of Rose is a key member of one of the most brutally drawn out MacGuffins in cinematic history. Perhaps we should go back and evaluate where the roots of dissent from The Last Jedi really stem from.

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Watch: This Thrilling Student Film Won Vimeo’s Top Prize at Cannes

Film school has paid off for Julie Colly, the director of France's Si Tu T’imagines.

Vimeo's new festival initiative has officially expanded overseas, with the streaming platform taking its Vimeo Staff Pick Award to the Cannes Short Film Corner just a few weeks ago. Although it must've been difficult to highlight only one member in such a diverse group of filmmakers, Vimeo's curation team selected Listening Eyes by student filmmaker Julie Colly as their champion.

"We wanted to celebrate the amazing work being done by female filmmakers," a representative from the Vimeo curation team explained. "The diversity of voices, styles, and perspectives from around the world confirmed our belief that a new class of filmmakers are on the rise and will soon reshape the industry."

This student work from the Parisian film school La Femis explores a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality by using elements of thrillers and genre storytelling. With a fantastic lead performance by Lilith Grasmug, the film builds in intensity as her curiosity pulls her into unchartered territory.

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Watch: How a Haunting Short from Denmark Caught the Attention of Nicolas Winding Refn

Vimeo's second ever Staff Pick Award led to some massive exposure for Elsa Maria Jakobsdottir's ATELIER.

Last week, we announced Vimeo's initiative to take its Staff Picks to the streets with the Vimeo Staff Pick Award. The physical award debuted at SXSW in March and will be expanding to many other festivals around the world as part of the official awards ceremonies.

In addition to a shiny new piece of hardware, the winning film will immediately premiere on Vimeo’s Staff Picks, providing a valuable bridge from the festival circuit to online distribution. No Film School will also feature each short and a Q&A with the winning filmmaker, beginning today with the second ever Staff Pick Award, which was given to Elsa Maria Jakobsdottir at Aspen Shortsfest for her film ATELIER.

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Vimeo Takes its Staff Pick Award to the Festival Grounds

A festival award and a Vimeo Staff Pick all in one = a pretty sweet deal.

Back in March, Vimeo handed out its first ever physical Staff Pick award to a short filmmaker at SXSW. In addition to a shiny new piece of hardware, Danny Madden’s film Krista immediately premiered on Vimeo’s Staff Picks and was given the chance to shine through all the internet clutter on its way to an online audience.

The win provides a nice bridge from the festival circuit to online distribution for filmmakers and now Vimeo has announced that it will be expanding these efforts by partnering with many other festivals around the world to present more in-person Staff Pick Awards as part of the official awards ceremonies.

"It always feels like the real birth of the film once it goes on Vimeo— from then on, it's for everyone, everywhere, and that's the main reason to make these things."

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Get Up to $30,000 for Your Next Narrative Short with SHIFT’s New Grant Program

Grants this generous for narrative shorts are few and far between.

If you've got a narrative short in pre-production and are stressing out how to find the funds to make it, then, believe me, you're not alone. The amount of money sometimes needed to pull off your vision, especially in the short form, can often be underestimated.

Unlike a documentary short where you can often get by with minimal crew, gear, and set-up, production of a narrative short can start to add up fast. That makes the scarcity of grants available (compared to those offered for nonfiction work) even more frustrating. Luckily, this new grant from SHIFT, which launched last month as the new brand identity for the combined MediaSilo and Wiredrive businesses, has added an option for filmmakers to pursue.

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