A chat with Tim Smit, director of "KILL SWITCH", starring Dan Stevens.

Acclaimed writer-director Tim Smit explodes on to the scene with his futuristic, VFX-heavy feature debut!

KILL SWITCH releasing this June 16th, charts the story of a pilot battling to save his family and the planet, based on Smit’s short What’s In The Box? Set in a future version of the world, the video game style plot follows an experiment for unlimited energy, harnessing parallel universes, which goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, pilot and physicist Will Porter must race through an imploding world to get the Redivider box to a tower, which will save humanity, including his family, in the real world.

We had an opportunity to chat with Tim, here are the excerpts:

- This was a wonderful short, and now a wonderful movie. What inspired you to come up with this amazing & "almost crazy" concept?

Thank you! The main inspiration came from the desire to make homage to the first person shooter game, wrapped in a sci-fi story. The goal was to make this sci-fi story take place in Amsterdam, to provide a not so common combination of elements, such as cool visuals against the typical Dutch streets. So based on these preliminary ideas, I began developing the short and started to figure out how I could do this with no budget and no professional actors. This caused me to delve into the wondrous world of digital effects, allowing me to create some form of production value without the costs that are usually associated with such a production. The feature was actually set up very similar to the short, meaning a low-budget approach with me doing the majority (if not all) of the VFX.

- The film is wonderfully cast. How was the casting for this project?

Casting was new for me, and actually the process is not that easy. There are so many talented actors and I wanted to make sure we assembled a cast that was comfortable working with a POV movie project, as well as a lot of VFX. I met Dan Stevens through my casting director in London. We hit it off talking about science and film. He is very intelligent and loves sci-fi. For the role of Abby I needed an actress that could portray the beautiful, yet darker role, alongside Dan. Berenice Marlohe was an interesting choice for this. Part of the cast is also Dutch, which was a gamble being an international project, but we really lucked out with Tygo Gernardt. An amazing actor, and wonderful human being.

- You have a strong background in VFX. How did that help in making this film?

My VFX background is primarily the result of my background in physics. My love for science sparked my creative brain to develop a sci-fi project, while also sparking my technical side to develop and learn VFX. Without the knowledge in science, I would have had a harder time figuring out how to create the VFX necessary for Kill Switch. I worked on other films as a VFX artist and supervisor in order to develop the skills I needed for Kill Switch. Without this prior knowledge, we could have never made the movie for the low-budget that we had.

- What do you think about future of storytelling in terms of VFX, VR, AR and interactive storytelling?

I believe we find ourselves on the brink of a new medium of storytelling. The advances that are currently being made in the fields of VR and AR are mind-blowing. Projects like the HTC VIVE, OCULUS, PSVR, Magic Leap etc. show the enormous potential of the things to come. I am certain movies will find a unique place in that new future. We will probably see a division between a passive experience like watching a movie in VR, or an active experience by bridging the gap between movies and video games. It depends on what the viewer is interested in at any given point. I would certainly want to be involved in creating content if there is a cool story to be told that lends itself for these new formats. Imagine watching a story on fold right within your own room, and suddenly the room transforms into a digital/virtual world placing you literally in the story...The possibilities are going to be endless. The thing that will determine this success though, is features of the (wearable) VR/AR device (size, capabilities, price etc.) and finding the right form to tell the story with (finding the right balance between whether something should be a game or a movie experience. Active vs. Passive).

- What was the most challenging part as a first time filmmaker? What's your message to other first time filmmakers?

The most challenging part for me was knowing when to compromise or stick to your guns. Making a film is a group effort, even if you end up doing most of the work. So make sure you know how to talk to your crew and where maintain your vision and where not. Also sometimes, especially while filming, it is very difficult to judge when something is correct or not. You can be under a lot of pressure, and things might seem different from that perspective. So you really need to plan everything you can in advance, particularly when you are a first time filmmaker. Another tip I would give; it is said that 50% of the directing job is casting. This is very true. Lastly, don't give up! You will get knocked down a couple of times, and will face difficult obstacles. But if you love your project, don't give up. You will get there!

KILL SWITCH

Directed by: Tim Smit

Written by: Omid Nooshin and C. Kindinger

Cast: Dan Stevens, Bérénice Marlohe, Tygo Gernandt, Charity Wakefield

Distributor: Saban Films, Lionsgate

Release Date: Available on Ultra VOD May 19th, in select theaters and On Demand June 16th

Running Time: 91 minutes

Rating: R

A day out in the park, with Louis CK, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet and the wonderful team of "THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS"

Have you ever wondered what do pets do when you (or the owner, if it's not you) do when you leave. What do they do, when you leave them at home alone, all day, or even days. Well, the writer trio of Brian LynchCinco Paul and Ken Dario wondered about it, and created a story to tell you what it could be. And to be honest, it's sweet, cute, funny and also meaningful in many ways. Directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney make it a visually stunning, emotionally moving and fun family joy ride. 

This wonderful film is the animation movie voice debut of many wonderful actors. You may not expect, but Louis CK is a cute dog, MAX, a Jack Russell Terrier. And he's wonderful. He makes this dog very real. Max is obnoxious, sarcastic, honest-ish and funny, kinda like Louis himself. Max has a great privileged life of a NYC dog, with his owner Katie. He has wonderful friends like Chloe, a sarcastic pet cat (voiced by hilarious Lake Bell), Mel, a over energetic crazy pug (voiced by super funny Bobby Moynihan) and many others. But when Max gets a "new friend" Duke, mongrel, (voiced by the super talented Eric Stonestreet, in his surprisingly amazing voice debut) his world turns upside down. He doesn't like it, and that leads Max and Duke's "day out" and adventure in NYC.

They meet the "flushed pets" and their leader Snowball. Snowball is voiced by Kevin Hart who makes the funniest, craziest badass bunny on screen. Seriously! The fast talking, fast thinking, fast acting, super fast bunny, is more energized than the energizer bunny, thanks to Kevin's performance. Snowball leads these guys into sewers and then to an amazing adventure through the city. However Gidget, a pet Pomeranian, who's in love with Max, sets out ofr his search through city, with help of other pets & new friends. The day just keeps getting better and more fun. There's humor, there's action, there's emotion and there's lot of fun.

We got an opportunity to hangout with the wonderful  team of this film, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. The wonderful view of NYC skyline, on a cloudy and not too hot day, was nice. The entire team was very excited ot be there and talk about this wonderful film. All the actors expressed there joy for being part of a family movie project, since they usually come from comedy or adult comedy world. As parents (Louis, Kevin, Lake), they were very proud of having something they can show and watch with their kids. They also talked about the difficulties and fun of voice performances aka acting alone in a box. The director Chris Renaud, talked about how to make a wonderful animated film and what inspires him. It was also wonderful listening to the writer trio of how this project took shape. More to come soon...

But until then, enjoy this video of Louis CK and kevin Hart talking about Father's Day, being a father, and working in a fun Family Film for first time!

Impact Partners Announces Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship at DOC NYC 2015

Liz Garbus, Morgan Spurlock, Thom Powers, Stanley Nelson, Dan Cogan, Amy Ziering, Julie Goldman, Caroline Libresco and other industry luminaries to encounter documentary’s most promising film producers in yearlong workshop series

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Impact Partners announced today the launch of the new annual Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship, which will be awarded to some of the industry’s most promising new producers at an inaugural ceremony at DOC NYC this fall. With the Emerging Documentary Producers Fellowship, Impact Partners will celebrate the independent documentary producer and foster emerging producing talent by launching a fellows program consisting of a yearlong series of workshops with some of the most prominent luminaries in the field of documentary film.

Guest luminaries who are confirmed to participate in the 2015-2016 fellowship workshops include:

  • Victoria Cook (Page One: Inside the New York Times, The Reluctant Fundamentalist),
  • Geralyn Dreyfous (Born into Brothels, The Square),
  • Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady(Jesus Camp, Detropia),
  • Liz Garbus (The Farm: AngolaUSAWhat Happened, Miss Simone?),
  • Howard Gertler (How to Survive a Plague, Do I Sound Gay?),
  • Julie Goldman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Buck),
  • Amy Hobby (What Happened, Miss Simone?Love, Marilyn), Director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute
  • Tabitha Jackson, Sundance Film Festival Documentary Programmer
  • Caroline Libresco (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs),
  • Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution), DOC NYC Artistic Director and Toronto Film Festival Programmer
  • Thom PowersMorgan Spurlock (Supersize Me,  CNN's Morgan Spurlock Inside Man),
  • Amy Ziering, (The Invisible WarThe Hunting Ground), plus others to be announced in the fall.

The workshops will be moderated by Impact Partners Executive Director Dan Cogan (How to Survive a Plague, Hell and Back Again, The Queen of Versailles). 

Cogan states, “People often say we are in a golden age of documentary filmmaking, and that’s true. The quality of documentary films, and their popularity among audiences, have never been higher. And yet this rising tide has not quite lifted all boats. Amidst growing institutional and popular support for great documentary directors, producers of documentary film are still underappreciated and underserved. At Impact Partners, we believe that just as documentary directors need to be encouraged and supported, so do documentary producers. Through our new year-long fellowship, we aim to support and cultivate a new generation of great documentary producers.”

Thom Powers, Artistic Director of DOC NYC, says, “Documentary producing isn’t something you learn from books. It’s like an occult knowledge acquired through mentors and practice. The most important secrets of massaging finances, personalities, legalities and unexpected situations are only shared in closed rooms. DOC NYC is proud to give a platform to this vital initiative.”

Impact Partners is a leading financier and executive producer of documentary film with credits including The CoveHow to Survive a Plague, Hell and Back AgainThe Hunting GroundThe GardenThe Queen of Versailles and many others. DOC NYC is the largest U.S. documentary film festival.
 
The Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellows will participate in ten development workshops to be held in New York City, guided by eminent producers and industry experts with distinct areas of knowledge. Each session will explore a different aspect of film production facing young producers today. The workshops will cover film finance, festival strategy, marketing and distribution deal making, legal workshops and other critical topics. During each session, luminaries will work closely with each fellow to choose topics and issues with immediate relevancy to their current work, offering hands-on advice, strategies and best practices.
 
Each fellow will also be awarded $2,500.  
 
For the inaugural 2015 program, five emerging producers will be selected. Nominations will be accepted from directors, producers, editors and other key crew members who have worked directly with the person on a previous or current film. Candidates must be nominated by current or former colleagues and cannot nominate themselves.
 
The program is now accepting nominations through October 6th, 2015. Winners of the fellowship will be announced at a special awards event at DOC NYC 2015. For more information on the application and selection process, please refer to details below, or visit:
impactpartnersfilm.com/fellowship
 
How to Apply
 
Nominations are now being accepted from documentary filmmakers and other key crew members who have worked with an emerging producer. A short nomination form is currently available on our website here: 
impactpartnersfilm.com/fellowship. If you know someone you would like to nominate, please fill out the form and send it to fellowship@impactpartnersfilm.com.
 
The deadline for nominations is October 6th, 2015. 
 
If you are a producer who is interested in applying, we encourage you to get in touch with filmmakers you have worked with in the past and ask them to nominate you. As nominations come in, candidates will be contacted with a brief application form.
 
Who is Eligible?
 
This fellowship is created to support emerging documentary producers.

We want to hear from the documentary community — who are the young producers who are creative, resilient and eager to grow? Who would benefit from mentorship and becoming a member of a new network of documentary producers?

Applicants MUST have worked on at least one documentary film in a key crew position such as Producer, Line Producer, Co-Producer or Associate Producer. They may NOT have worked as “Producer” on more than 3 feature-length documentary films. Applicants must be based in New York City, or be willing to travel for all of the workshops. 


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About Impact Partners: Impact Partners is a film fund and advisory service committed to financing independent cinema that addresses pressing social issues. We bring together financiers and filmmakers so that, together, they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives and ignite social change. Since its inception in 2007, Impact Partners has been involved in the financing of over 60 films, including: The Cove, which won the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; How to Survive A Plague, which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; The Hunting GroundThe Queen of Versailles, which won the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Detropia, which won the Editing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Freeheld, which won the Academy Award® for Documentary Short Film;The Garden, which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature and Hell and Back Again, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Awards at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature. Impact Partners was founded by Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous.
 
About DOC NY: Documentary storytelling is flourishing like never before — encompassing reportage, memoir, history, humor and more. DOC NYC celebrates this cultural phenomenon and encourages its new directions.

Among its missions, DOC NYC aims to: 

  1. Curate: guide audiences toward inspiring work.
  2. Cross Fertilize: gather practitioners of many fields — filmmakers, writers, photographers and other storytellers to inspire each other.
  3. Cross Generations: use the festival’s partnership with School of Visual Arts as a means for younger and older voices to communicate.
  4. Cultivate New Audiences: attract newcomers with the excitement of a festival atmosphere.
  5. Expand Distribution: help documentary storytellers make the most of emerging technologies such as video downloads, podcasts and electronic readers.
  6. Create Social Space: bring people together in theaters, lounges, and discussion spaces in Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Make the Most of NYC: foster fresh connections between residents and expose visitors to the opportunities that happen only in New York.

FSLC announces Robert Zemeckis's THE WALK as the opening night selection of NYFF53

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk will make its World Premiere as the Opening Night selection of the upcoming 53rd New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11), which will kick off at Alice Tully Hall. A true story, the film is based on Philippe Petit’s memoir To Reach the Clouds and stars Golden Globe nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit, the French high-wire artist who achieved the feat of walking between the Twin Towers in 1974. The Walk will be the second 3D feature selected for the Opening Night Gala since Ang Lee’s Life of Pi in 2012 and also marks Zemeckis’s return to the Festival after Flight, the 2012 Closing Night Gala selection. Today’s announcement coincides with the release of the film’s trailer, which can be viewed at movies.yahoo.com. The film will be released in 3D and IMAX 3D on October 2, 2015.

New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said: “The Walk is surprising in so many ways. First of all, it plays like a classic heist movie in the tradition of The Asphalt Jungle or Bob le flambeur—the planning, the rehearsing, the execution, the last-minute problems—but here it’s not money that’s stolen but access to the world’s tallest buildings. It’s also an astonishing re-creation of Lower Manhattan in the ’70s. And then, it becomes something quite rare, rich, mysterious… and throughout it all, you’re on the edge of your seat.”
 
Robert Zemeckis added: “I am extremely honored and grateful that our film has been selected to open the 53rd New York Film Festival. The Walk is a New York story, so I am delighted to be presenting the film to New York audiences first. My hope is that Festival audiences will be immersed in the spectacle, but also to be enraptured by the celebration of a passionate artist who helped give the wonderful towers a soul.”
 
Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman said: “On behalf of TriStar and Sony, I want to thank Kent and the NYFF for this great honor. The Walk is a love letter to the Twin Towers, which through the unique magic of cinema, come back to vibrant, inspiring life. But it is also a universal story of the determined pursuit of impossible dreams, told by one of our greatest living filmmakers, and the NYFF has always been a place where such dreams come true.”
  
The film also stars Academy Award® winner Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine, Charlotte Le Bon, Clement Sibony, Caesar Domboy and Benedict Samuel. Directed by Zemeckis, the screenplay is by Robert Zemeckis & Christopher Browne, based on the book To Reach the Clouds by Philippe Petit, and produced by Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, and Jack Rapke.
 
The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Marian Masone, FSLC Senior Programming Advisor; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief,Film Comment; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound.
 
NYFF previously announced Luminous Intimacy: The Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, the first-ever complete dual retrospective of the experimental filmmakers works that will include the world premiere of Dorsky’sIntimations, a new untitled work, and New York premieres of Summer, December, February, and Avraham.
 
Tickets for the 53rd New York Film Festival will go on sale in early September. Becoming a Film Society Member at the Film Buff Level or above provides early ticket access to festival screenings and events ahead of the general public, along with the exclusive member ticket discount! To find out how to become a Film Society member, visit
filmlinc.com/membership.

For even more access, VIP Passes and Subscription Packages give buyers one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival's biggest events including Opening, Centerpiece and Closing nights. VIP passes also provide access to many exciting events including the invitation-only Opening Night party, “ An Evening With…” Dinner, Filmmaker Brunch, and VIP Lounge. Benefits vary based on the pass or package type purchased. VIP Passes and Subscription Packages will go on sale Tuesday, June 9. For information about purchasing Subscription Packages and VIP Passes, go to 
filmlinc.com/NYFF
 

New York Film Festival Opening Night Films


2014    Gone Girl (David Fincher, US)
2013    Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, US)
2012    Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)
2011    Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2010    The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2009    Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2008    The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2007    The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2006    The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2005    Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, US)
2004    Look At Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2003    Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2002    About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2001    Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2000    Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
1999    All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1998    Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1997    The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1996    Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1995    Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1994    Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1993    Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1992    Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1991    The Double Life of Veronique (Krysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1990    Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1989    Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1988    Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1987    Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1986    Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1985    Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1984    Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1983    The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1982    Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1981    Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1980    Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1979    Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1978    A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1977    One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, France)
1976    Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1975    Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1974    Don’t Cry with Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1973    Day for Night (François Truffaut, France)
1972    Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1971    The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1970    The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1969    Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1968    Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1967    The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1966    Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1965    Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1964    Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1963    The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)
 

For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com