TIFF is well under way with lots of celebrity press coverage, insightful panel discussions and, of course, amazing talent. One of the top highlights I’ve seen in these initial few days is this first installment of their “Talent to Watch” series with Mattieu Denis (Corbo), Andrea Dorffman (Heartbeat), Jeffrey St. Jules (Bang Bang Baby), Jacob Tierney (Preggoland):
New Directions For Directors
A great panel which discusses the ever-growing conversation of digital cinema vs. film and how the digital medium has changed, not just the way films are being made but also how they are marketed, viewed and distributed.
Where is My Audience?
In this second installment of ‘Talent to Watch’ Michael Gubbins answers a question we, as filmmakers must and have been asking ourselves since the emergence of digital cinema. “The idea of the broken business model,” he suggests, “is something we’ve been discussing for a long time. […] And now is the time we need to be talking in real terms about the fact that engagement audience models are where our business is gonna have to be. But there’s an existential element in this as well. It isn’t just money. If we cannot connect with audiences, I would argue, we’ve got the kind of challenge to the idea of film now that could be catastrophic in the long term.
“This is the world’s best time to be a fan[…] you can discover things and have access to things you never could have had 30-20 years ago. You have access to the whole of history. But how do we create a new generation of fans?” Michael’s answer to this last question might surprise you:
Master Class with Barry Levinson
Although, in my opinion, this was more of a nostalgic trip down memory lane for Mr. Levinson with various “small talk” questions from interviewer, we do get down to something fairly resembling a Master Class with this well-accomplished writer/director. If you forward to minute 25:00, we get a peek into what drives the creative side of a man like Levinson.
“Some directors, writers like to work in a genre, and a genre in itself doesn’t interest me. I’m just sort of interested in stories and characters and where ever that may be. […] I’m not looking specifically for anything other than something that just stirs my imagination.”
On working with actors Levinson had this to say; “I think there’s nothing better [as a director] than if you have some kind of theatre background. So I think the two years that I studied [acting] was helpful because sometimes you get into a scene that an actor is having a problem trying to figure out. And if you can find something that could help, then you might take it to the next step.” Sometimes by solving the problem, as Barry explains happened with Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, you end up adding character traits that work wonderfully for the film that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of unless you understand the actor’s needs.
My picks for TIFF Films to look out for in 2015: