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Guest Post: Supporting Women’s Voices in Independent Film

Jere Rae-Mansfield

Guest Post by Jere Rae-Mansfield

As a distributor of independent feature films for over 30 years, I have enjoyed watching women unite and rise to prominence in the film industry. Not only the titans who grace the pages of tabloids and red carpets, but those who make heartwarming, meaningful, or thought provoking productions through their ingenuity and perseverance.

Out of Monterey Media’s last nine films released, five were written, produced, and/or directed by extremely talented women. And they all feature a knack for distinctive storytelling, thoughtful choices for casts and crews, and resourcefulness of locations.

Distinctive Storytelling Capability

The ability to tell a story via film is unique in that different audiences view it through their own experiences. Many want to lose themselves in the moments of a film and others want to study it from a distance. Therefore, as a collective we look for a film that touches us in some way. Women filmmakers have a certain knack for hitting the emotional button with honesty and sometimes-unnerving authenticity.

As more women engage in the entire process of filmmaking (not only as the editors, writers, and performers who helped build and sustain the film community), stories are told from a voice that takes a different perspective on an issue or occasion or relationship.

At Sundance this year, “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway made a request for male directors: “Stop Making Movies About Rape.” Her reasons are her own, but essentially she asks, “What do men know about female rape?” She raises an interesting point. The same idea applies to stories about childbirth, motherhood, a mother’s loss of a child, and other women-specific topics.

I am curious: Would a film about whaling men written, directed and produced by women be widely accepted?

Thoughtful Casting and Crew Choices:

I was subtly reminded that in our newest release, “The Levelling” (written and directed by Hope Dickson Leach), choosing a talented female lead (Ellie Kendrick) — who plays a character with the intelligence, inner strength, and backbone to stand up, question, and persevere — provides the audience with a glimpse of a real person, one with the tenacity to move on and heal. More and more we are seeing female lead characters putting their experience and determination before their glamour or wardrobe.

Resourcefulness of Locations:

With limited budgets for indie films, women filmmakers are eager to assist each other, pitch in, and share information and contacts. They are not afraid to ask for location permission without fees, accommodations for their talent, or even to borrow costumes.

In Maggie Greenwald’s “Sophie and the Rising Sun,” produced by the all-women team of Nancy Dickenson, Lorraine Gallard, Brenda Goodman, and Greenwald, an entire small town in South Carolina was included in making the film in one manner or another. The locals welcomed the talent into their homes, offered meals, waived location fees, and generally embraced the film’s production.

The Evolving Landscape for Women

As women demand more control over their personal lives, it would seem that their careers are following suit and their skill sets are becoming more refined.

Being allowed to experiment in the independent film world is a stepping-stone to working on widely-distributed films and television. The indie community embraces that experimentation, as seen with two of our recent releases, based on short stories by James Franco and helmed by women directors/writers: “Yosemite,” directed by Gabrielle Demeestere, and “Memoria,” co-written and co-directed by Nina Ljeti. Ljeti, a former student of Franco’s, benefited from his guiding hand but made the film her own. She came up with the concept of shooting in 4.3 letterbox and financed the production via crowdfunding.

Women are the seeker-gatherers of our world. They find unique ways to survive and flourish in any environment — farms, suburbs, cities, and everything in between. They make patchwork families and create meals from whatever is in the refrigerator. Their willingness to adapt and determination to find solutions create an incredibly unique kind of filmmaking.

Jere Rae-Mansfield is Monterey Media’s CFO and Co-Managing Founder. After attending the University of California at San Diego, she became a working Screen Actors Guild member and an accomplished producer. Rae-Mansfield has advanced Monterey to solidify its current reputation in the independent film distribution arena. The company’s films have featured stars like James Franco, William Hurt, David Strathairn, Marcia Gay Harden, Michelle Monaghan, Famke Janssen, Bill Pullman, Forrest Whittaker, and Minnie Driver. Rae-Mansfield also directs Monterey’s outreach for philanthropic causes.

Guest Post: Supporting Women’s Voices in Independent Film was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Aaron Eckhart's 'Courage' leads Spotlight slate

  • ScreenDaily
Exclusive: Founder and CEO Matt McCombs and his sales team at Spotlight Pictures head into Cannes with a roster led by Aaron Eckhart starrer Courage.

The film gets its market premiere screening today [May 11] and is based on Jim Dent’s novel Courage Beyond The Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story.

Angelo Pizzo, a sports specialist whose screenwriting credits include Hoosiers and Rudy, directed from his adapted screenplay.

Eckhart stars as the coach of the University Of Texas American Football team whose star player is diagnosed with bone cancer.

The film opened in the Us last November through Clarius Entertainment under the title My All American and Universal handles ancillary rights.

Spotlight is also talking up Bitter Harvest, an epic romance set against the backdrop of the Holodomor – Stalin’s persecution of Ukrainians during the 1930s – that stars Max Irons and Samantha Barks.

The film screens today [May 11] and on Tuesday [16] in Cannes and the producers are in talks for a Us
See full article at ScreenDaily »

James Franco Explores His Coming-of-Age Troubles in Exclusive 'Memoria' Poster

  • Indiewire
James Franco Explores His Coming-of-Age Troubles in Exclusive 'Memoria' Poster
Read More: Watch: James Franco Seduces Emma Roberts in Stylish 'Palo Alto' Trailer James Franco's childhood contuse to be a bountiful source of inspiration for him as a writer, director and actor. He first recounted various anecdotes from his youth in the short story collection "Palo Alto Stories," which was later turned into a feature film by Gia Coppola. His subsequent memoir, "A California Childhood," was the starting off point for this year's "Yosemite," also starring Franco, and now the upcoming "Memoria," directed by Nina Ljeti and Vladimir de Fontenay, is the latest movie to be born out of his roots. Indiewire has an exclusive poster for the coming-of-age drama, which you can check out below. Based on both "Palo Alto" and "A California Childhood," "Memoria" follows the day-to-day struggles of teenager Ivan Cohen (played by Sam Dillon of "Boyhood"). The viewer follows...
See full article at Indiewire »

Monterey Media Acquires James Franco-Penned Drama 'Memoria'

  • Indiewire
Monterey Media Acquires James Franco-Penned Drama 'Memoria'
Read More: James Franco's Movie Column: Guy Maddin's 'The Forbidden Room' is Crazy With Purpose Monterey Media has acquired distribution rights for indie drama "Memoria," based on a short story by James Franco. The film, which had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival, stars Sam Dillon, Thomas Mann and Franco and is directed by Nina Ljeti and Vladimir de Fontenay. Franco is also serves as co-producer on the film. The official synopsis for the film reads, "'Memoria' tells the story of Ivan Cohen, an anti-social, self-conscious boy living in the suburbs of Palo Alto, CA. Unable to get along with his dysfunctional mother and stepfather, he retreats to a world of military combat in the confines of his bedroom, struggling to find his place in the world and dreaming of his father who left before he was born." "Memoria" will be released
See full article at Indiewire »

James Franco’s ‘Memoria’ Bought by Monterey Media for North America

James Franco’s ‘Memoria’ Bought by Monterey Media for North America
Monterey Media has acquired North American distribution rights to the indie drama “Memoria,” starring James Franco, Sam Dillon and Thomas Mann.

Memoria” had its world premiere Sunday at the Austin Film Festival. Monterey Media plans to release the film next year.

The film is based on the short story by Franco. “Memoria” was written and directed by Nina Ljeti and Vladimir de Fontenay, and produced by Rabbit Bandini Productions and Burn Later Productions with the Art of Elysium.

Memoria” is the second film in Monterey’s release lineup produced by the Art of Elysium and Rabbit Bandini Productions, following “Yosemite.” All of the funds from these films go to the Art of Elysium, a non-profit organization which supports and encourages bringing the arts to hospitalized youth, elders and the homeless community.

The film follows an anti-social boy, played by Dillon, who’s living in the suburbs of Palo Alto, Calif.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Monterey Media Acquires ‘Memoria’ Based On James Franco Short Story – Austin Film Festival

  • Deadline
Monterey Media has acquired North American distribution rights to indie drama Memoria starring Sam Dillon, Thomas Mann, and James Franco. The film, written and directed by Nina Ljeti and Vladimir de Fontenay and based on a short story by Franco, had its world premiere today at the Austin Film Festival, with Franco in attendance. Monterey will release the film, produced by Rabbit Bandini Productions and Burn Later Productions with The Art of Elysium, next year in theaters…
See full article at Deadline »

Casting: Akerman, Braun, Malone, Schreiber

  • Dark Horizons

Malin Akerman ("Watchmen") has been cast in Showtime's new drama pilot "Billions" alongside Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Akerman plays Lara Axelrod, a former nurse who is now married to billionaire Bobby 'Axe' Axelrod (Lewis).

The story is a fictional tale of the high finance world, examining what happens when Lewis' brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund king character collides with hard-charging, whip-smart U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti). Filming is now underway in New York. [Source: THR]

Fun House

Nicholas Braun ("The Perks Of Being A Wallflower") will join Tina Fey and Margot Robbie in "Fun House" at Paramount Pictures. Braun will play the cameraman who works with Fey's character.

An adaptation of Kim Barker’s wartime memoir "Taliban Shuffle," Fey plays a journalist and self-confessed adrenaline junkie who recounts her six years of reporting on terrorism and international affairs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. [Source: Deadline]

Things You Missed While You Were Gone

Jena Malone
See full article at Dark Horizons »

‘Ben-Hur’ Adds Moises Arias; Luna Blaise Joins James Franco’s ‘Memoria’

  • Deadline
‘Ben-Hur’ Adds Moises Arias; Luna Blaise Joins James Franco’s ‘Memoria’
Exclusive: The Kings Of Summer actor Moises Arias has joined the cast of Ben-Hur, the historical epic Timur Bekmambetov is directing for MGM and Paramount Pictures. Arias will play Gestas, a teenage Jewish zealot whose family has been murdered by the Romans, who is desperate to fight for his people’s freedom. Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, and Toby Kebbell star in the production which will lens in Europe ahead of a February 26, 2016 release. Arias is an alumnus of Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place who starred in Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-nominated The Kings Of Summer. He also lent his voice recently to Despicable Me 2 and appeared in Summit’s sci-fier Ender’s Game. Next up is a role in the Sundance 2015 drama Stanford Prison Experiment opposite Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, and Billy Crudup, in which Arias plays one of several university students tapped for the
See full article at Deadline »

Child of God Movie Review

  • ShockYa
Child of God Movie Review
Child Of God Wellgo Releasing Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten. Data-based on Rotten Tomatoes Grade: B Director: James Franco Screenplay: James Franco, Vince Jolivette, based on the novel Child of God by Cormac McCarthy Cast: Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally, James Franco Screened at: Dolby88, NYC, 7/23/14 Opens: August 1, 2014 Living close to nature is not what it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, it’s fine for a week, if you’re into camping, but when you have to live like a feral animal in the hills of East Tennessee, virtually homeless with nary a shack within a mile, you could get mighty [ Read More ]

The post Child of God Movie Review appeared first on
See full article at ShockYa »

'Child of God' Trailer from Director James Franco

  • MovieWeb
'Child of God' Trailer from Director James Franco
Although he is still much better known as an actor, James Franco continues to rack up more credits as a director, including recent indie offerings such as Sal, Interior. Leather Bar. and As I Lay Dying. The actor/filmmaker returns with the first trailer for his latest offering, Child of God, which he co-stars in, directs and produces, along with co-writing the screenplay adaptation, based on Cormac McCarthy's 1973 novel.

Scott Haze stars as Lester Ballard, a maniacal loner who slips into a downward spiral of violence and disorder. Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack and James Franco's co-writer Vince Jolivette co-star in this upcoming indie thriller, arriving in theaters August 1.

A dispossessed, violent man's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.
See full article at MovieWeb »

‘Child of God’ Review

Stars: Scott Haze, James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Fallon Goodson, Vince Jolivette, Jeremy Ambler, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally, Ciera Parrack, Boyd Smith, Wade Williams | Written by James Franco, Vince Jolivette | Directed by James Franco

I first read Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road) at the end of the nineties and was blown away by it. Since then it has become one of my favourite novels and one that I’ve re-read a dozen times or more. When I heard that James Franco (Pineapple Express) was directing a feature adaptation of the novel I was concerned, excited and concerned some more. Franco, someone I had seen nothing by in terms of directing, seemed like an odd director and it worried me that a story of such darkness wouldn’t be given the proper respect.

Fast-forward to this week and the DVD release
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

‘Child of God’ DVD Review

Stars: Scott Haze, James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Fallon Goodson, Vince Jolivette, Jeremy Ambler, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally, Ciera Parrack, Boyd Smith, Wade Williams | Written by James Franco, Vince Jolivette | Directed by James Franco

Do not mistake Child of God for being a film on a religious topic. It follows Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) who, after a rough childhood, now lives on his own in the forest after being rejected by society. Living by his own rules, Lester is almost feral, his crimes slowly getting worse and more depraved as the film progresses and we follow his life as a man outside of society, and out on his own,

Having never read the book of the same name, written by Cormac McCarthy, I cannot say how closely the film stays true to it. So let’s just say that there is a book and you can check it out if you want.
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

Casting Net: Ben Affleck to direct and star in Africa-set thriller; Plus, Rachel McAdams to replace Reese Witherspoon, more

Casting Net: Ben Affleck to direct and star in Africa-set thriller; Plus, Rachel McAdams to replace Reese Witherspoon, more
Warner Bros. and Pearl Street Films have set video game writer Will Staples (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3) to pen the script for an Africa-set geopolitical thriller for Oscar-winner Ben Affleck to star in and direct. The story is about a group of mercenaries hired to kill a warlord. Affleck is currently shooting the big screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl where he plays lead Nick Dunne. After that he’ll direct and star in Live By Night and then tackle his role as Batman in the Man of Steel follow-up. [Deadline]

Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) is in talks
See full article at - Inside Movies »

Sam Dillon Joins James Franco, Thomas Mann in Indie Drama ‘Memoria’

  • The Wrap
Sam Dillon Joins James Franco, Thomas Mann in Indie Drama ‘Memoria’
Up-and-coming actor Sam Dillon has been cast alongside James Franco and Thomas Mann in the indie drama “Memoria,” TheWrap has learned. Vladimir de Fontenay and Nina Ljeti are writing and directing the movie, which Franco is executive producing under his RabbitBandini Productions banner. Franco met the filmmakers while enrolled at New York University. Dillon and Franco recently worked together on Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” which was based on Franco’s book of short stories. “Memoria” is one of three feature films being adapted from Franco’s short stories, along with “Killing Animals” and “Yosemite.” It is specifically based on the short stories “Memoria,
See full article at The Wrap »

Tracking Shot October: Barthes’ Madame Bovary, Renzi’s Franny, Bonello’s Saint Laurent, Bell’s Shiva & May

  • ioncinema
“Tracking Shot” is a monthly featurette here on that looks at a dozen or so projects that are moments away from lensing and this October we see a couple of items that we could certainly circle as potential Cannes 2014 bait. Thanks to our friends at Production Weekly for the helping hand in curating our list of future must see items.

Among the top foreign film productions, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover‘s Peter Greenaway is looking at a late October, possible November start to begin filming a fragment of the great Soviet master filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s bio timeline. Eisenstein In Guanajuato will cover the portion of the filmmaker’s post Battleship Potemkin career, with Eisenstein landing in Mexico after Hollywood studios balked at the idea of working with him and in its place finds romance. The Girl Who Played with Fire‘s Daniel Alfredson
See full article at ioncinema »

James Franco Is Doing the Crowdsourcing Thing Too -- For Charity

  • NextMovie
It looks like Zach Braff must've rubbed off on James Franco when they were making "Oz: The Great and Powerful."

Roughly a month after Braff raised $3.1 million from fans to fund a new movie, Franco has taken to Kickstarter rival Indiegogo to generate cash for a series of three films based on his 2010 book of short stories, "Palo Alto: Stories." The book is named after the California town where the super talented actor/writer/college student/avid reader/whateverelsethisweek grew up. (A pretty cool band named themselves after the town, too). Franco enlisted directors Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung and Gabriel Demestree to work on the "trilogy" of sorts. He's trying to raise a half million dollars, with some fun incentives for fans, of course.

Ten bucks will get you regular updates from the sets and PDFs of each scripts. If you've got $10,000 laying around, you can be
See full article at NextMovie »

James Franco launches 'Palo Alto' film crowd-sourcing campaign

  • Pop2it
James Franco has officially jumped on the crowd-sourcing bandwagon. The actor-writer-producer-director-student-artist-et cetera announced on Tuesday (June 18) that he is trying to raise $500,000 to fund three films based on his short-story compilation, "Palo Alto."

Using the crowd-sourcing site, Indiegogo, Franco has launched the "Palo Alto Stories" campaign, set to run through July 17. The project consists of three films: "Memoria," "Killing Animals" and "Yosemite," all based on stories in Franco's book.

Rewards and perks are being offered for those fans who donate to the campaign itself. From the lowest donation of $10 (for which a donor gets e-mail updates, a Pdf script and the chance to feel generous) to the highest of $10,000 (an executive producer credit, an all-expenses trip to have dinner with Franco and various goodies), the "Palo Alto" campaign is hardly stingy.

With more than $28,000 raised within the first few hours (as of this writing), some fans are definitely responding to Franco's call.
See full article at Pop2it »

Will Movie Star James Franco Face Blowback for Seeking $500,000 in Crowdfunding to Adapt His Short Stories to Film?

Will Movie Star James Franco Face Blowback for Seeking $500,000 in Crowdfunding to Adapt His Short Stories to Film?
James Franco, ever the multi-tasker willing to try something new, has latched on to the crowdfunding trend. He's seeking $500,000 from backers on Indiegogo to adapt his own book of short stories, entitled "Palo Alto," into a trilogy of films. It's important to note that Indiegogo allows for "flexible funding" -- i.e. a project receives whatever is raised by its deadline, regardless of whether it meets its fundraising goal. Franco has enlisted several emerging filmmakers (including Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung and Gabriel Demestree) to turn the book of short stories into a series of films. No word on whether Franco will direct. So the question is: Will Franco receive the same negative reaction as fellow famous crowdfunder Zach Braff? The argument can be made--Emily Best of Seed and Spark made it Monday night at the Los Angeles Film Festival's Indiewire Influencers reception-- that it's not the
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

James Franco To Crowdfund A Trilogy

James Franco is using crowdfunding via Indiegogo to seek $500,000 to fund a trilogy of films.

Entitled "Memoria," "Killing Animals" and "Yosemite," all are based on his own 2010 book of short stories entitled "Palo Alto".

Up-and-coming filmmakers like Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung and Gabriel Demestree are involved in helping to adapt several of Franco's short stories onto film.

It is presently unknown if Franco himself will either star in or direct any of the three features. Filming aims to begin by August.

All profits made from the films will go to the nonprofit "Art of Elysium" with whom volunteers dedicate their time to children who are battling serious medical conditions.

Source: THR
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Will You Give James Franco $500,000 So He Can Make A Trilogy Based On His Own Short Stories?

The subject of celebrities crowdsourcing to get their movie projects funded has been debated constantly throughout the year. The “Veronica Mars” movie and Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” both managed to have successful Kickstarter campaigns despite many complaints and negative feedback the projects may have gotten. Now James Franco looks to get in the mix, this time using Indiegogo to crowdsource his project. Franco has become quite prolific, and as he mentions on the Indiegogo page, has directed six films in the last three years. For this particular project, Franco looks to finance three more movies and he’s asking for $500,000 to fund all of them. The films are all based on Franco’s book “Palo Alto,” which is a collection of short stories that were inspired by his high school experiences growing up in Palo Alto, California. He’s enlisting four directors to helm the projects. Nina Ljeti
See full article at The Playlist »
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