Showbiz Sandbox 22: The Trouble With Indie Films, Roman Polanski and Hollywood Guilds

September 28, 2009


When the Toronto Film Festival concluded last week only one of its official selections had been picked up for distribution. This touched off a string of articles and blog posts from the likes of Anne Thompson and Roger Ebert on the state of the independent film industry. One of the more interesting blog posts came from indie producer Ted Hope who has produced over 60 films in a career which spans three decades. He joins us on this week’s episode with independent film producer Christine Vachon.

Hope has worked with such filmmaker as Ang Lee, Michel Gondry, Hal Hartly, Todd Solondz, Ed Burns, Todd Field and Tamara Jenkins while producing films like “In The Bedroom”, “The Ice Storm”, “Eat Drink Man Woman”, “The Brother’s McMullen”, “American Splendor”, “21 Grams”, “Happiness” and “The Savages”. His production company This Is That has produced more than 17 films since it was founded in 2002.

Vachon has also produced an astounding number of indie films, including Todd Haynes’ “Poison” and “Far From Heaven”, Larry Clark’s “Kids”, John Cameron Mitchell’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, Todd Solondz’s “Storytelling” and Kimberly Pierce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”. Along with Pamela Koffler, Vachon has been running the production company Killer Films for the 14 years.  She has written two books; Shooting to Kill and A Killer Life: How an Independent Film Producer Survives Deals and Disasters in Hollywood and Beyond. Recently she helped launch, a site which helps independent filmmakers collaborate on projects, organize their productions, share resources and knowledge.

At this week’s box office, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is still seeing sunny days, but Bruce Willis’s “Surrogates” and the remake of “Fame” were disappointments. Entertainment journalist Michael Giltz saw all three, and he tells us what to see and what to skip (here’s a hint. . . “Fame” is not going to live forever).

The breaking news of the week was the arrest of director Roman Polanski for his 30-year-old child rape conviction. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Polanski’s, he was arrested when he arrived in Switzerland to accept an award at the Zurich Film Festival. After 30 years, why was he arrested now?

We already know what’s happening with some of the new fall TV shows – they’re being cancelled. Or at least one is – the CW’s “The Beautiful Life.” So we decided to play the game “Hiatus or Back 9”. Or, to put it bluntly; which shows will be cancelled, and what shows won’t (at least not yet)?

It may be a moot point if the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, the Director’s Guild and the Writers Guild strike in 2011. Entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel of TroyGould joins us to explain what the recent guild elections mean and whether their new leaders will help prevent work stoppages in Hollywood.

18 Actions Towards a Sustainable Truly Free Film Community

After Several Tries, U.S. Officials Finally Nab Roman Polanski In 1970s Rape Case

The CW Cancels “The Beautiful Life”

Ken Howard Elected as President of SAG