March 16, 2008

All About Timing

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA — I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get the feature film’s name, BAD TIMING changed to something else … anything else. I have been overruled. From the very beginning of pre-production, this film has lived up to its name. There should be a documentary about how much bad timing we endured, oh wait there is!

We officially sent off the application for a MAJOR film festival this week. We both sat down and answered the questions. There was a heated discussion on the film synopsis, another heated discussion about how many actors to list, even a heated discussion on how to ship it overseas. However, the MOST a heated discussion about the title!

hungryHippo.jpgIt feels wonderful to send this movie to Cannes for consideration. We are really pleased with how it turned out. We are happy with the performances of the cast and the excellent work of the crew. We are proud to have produced the first full-length, dramatic narrative feature film based on an award-winning stage play by a Zambian, directed by a Zambian and acted by an all-Zambian cast. It turned out amazingly well for a first production. The passion and commitment of everyone involved is evident in the quality of the final film. I believe it reflects their culture and they will be excited to see it. We know there are 11 million people who will want to see this film! It is THEIR story, their voice, their culture. That is pretty amazing.

So now if I could just get that name changed! Would love some persuasive assistance on this one and perhaps a suggestion or two. I’m all about recognizing the problem, but more committed to solving it. New name, how about HEART OF AFRICA? I like it, but it has been vetoed by the powers that be. Oh, I see it now. Here comes another heated discussion!

September 18, 2007

Load o' Poo

BY CYNDI GREENING, ARIZONA, USA — I've been getting such a load of poo lately for being slow about blogging. As you can imagine, I have had a lot of things going on. I can hear Pamela Jo already. "Oh come on, I know how much time you spend lolly-gagging." I was talking with my sister, Sandy, over the weekend and I was telling her how the whole hearing thing was really wearing on me. The pressure was becoming overwhelming. Sandy said she could tell it was wearing because of how my blogging had been. I was blogging less frequently and there just weren't as many amusing entries. I didn't know it was that transparent. I'd been trying to only write when I was feeling happy and positive. Apparently, my standards had fallen ... my idea of happy and positive just wasn't.

I feel like I've really rounded a corner now. The hearing is done. (All four agonizing days of it.) I know I've done all I could do. I gave it my best effort. Now, it's time to move on. Move forward.

Ironically, some really wonderful things have been happening. GREENing Productions has produced several new projects in the past few months. GL_DD_cover.jpgMy business partner, Pamela Jo (who is always complaining that I don't do enough), and I, have completed a wonderful two-part Art Instructional DVD. This was a project that I conceived over twenty years ago! I had said to my friend, Regina, "Wouldn't it be great if someone had recorded Socrates giving a lecture or, perhaps, Plato, discussing the Republic?" I wanted to do a series capturing gifted instructors sharing their knowledge and their skill. Gingher instructed, we used two cameras to shoot, Pamela edited, I prepped the DVD and did cover design for a wonderful six-part series on Charcoal Drawing. I've always felt like what we did (we fine and occupational art faculty) was really remarkable and that it was unfortunate that only people living in the Phoenix metro area were able to benefit from our efforts.

So, in 2005, when Thompson Publishing approached me about doing a DVD series, I was really excited. But, the amount of work and low, low, low, bargain basement royalties (8%) just didn't make it all that appealing to do more titles for them. On top of that, I was much more accustomed to a lecture structure with hands-on participation. So, the Cool School Interactus series just didn't quite cut it for me. So, we did our own series. And, I must admit, it turned out pretty dang sweet! There are a few other folks who are hoping to continue the series and we're excited to bring it to market. Next, we've got watercolor, portrait drawing and portrait painting coming out. It's all too exciting.

On top of that, we've got a documentary project that's just show up. It's about the Navajo Nation. I'm sure you're getting the awesome visuals in your head already. Canyon de Chelly. Hogans on the plateau. Sunrise. Sunset. The timeless passage of life in the remote desert. I'm really excited about this project and I'm learning NOT to say anything too early because it's really in the nascent stage. Until we get a bit more committed to film, I'll have to keep it under my hat.

DannyDVD.jpgWhile we've been working on the new series, Jeniece has been working on editing the concert that Danny did for the Zambian National Arts Council last September. The final piece was about 40 minutes long. She also edited the FilmZambia Film Shoot that was held at the Le Triumph Dolphin Restaurant on 31 August. She did a really nice job with it. In addition to the two concert pieces, we were able to add his scene from the film AND the performance by his guitarist on set. The only thing left to do is the Color Correction and the Audio Mixing. Then I get to commit them to DVD. I've already finished the cover design.

August 08, 2007

Genocide or Suicide

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA - One of our goals with the Zambia project was to create the possibility of the film industry in Zambia. Upon our return those in the “business” remarked to us how ambitious our goal really was. Of course, in retrospect, our naivete allowed us to believe in our goal and us.

chop.jpgWe have been back for over a year. Since then three more films have been made in Zambia. People write to us asking for our advice for future projects. Others have asked us to sign on as producers for their African projects. So we continue to have a personal and professional interest in the region.

Those who follow global news are well aware of the continued upheaval in the African Nations. It is my opinion that many are using the differences that exist within Africa to divide and conquer. They continue to be successful as more refugees flee to “safe” country's or die at the hands of their fellow countrymen. As refugees flood the economy of these countries it creates more tension and more division. shake.jpgEventually “safe” countries start to drown as more people saturate the countries ability to sustain themselves and the process repeats itself.

Our goal was to unify, educate and promote business within Africa by Africans. We met many who were willing, able and anxious for any opportunity. My advice to the friends I made there is to be careful with who you shake hands. Realize that many who are investing in your country are not investing in your people.

July 28, 2007

Good to Hear from You Zambia

BY CYNDI GREENING, ARIZONA, USA — Santosh! So awesome to hear from you!! Please post the address for the Triumph Dolphin Restaurant on this site or email it to me so I can send you a copy of the segment we recorded with Danny at your wonderful restaurant.

It was August 8, last year, when we came to Zambia. As we approach the one-year anniversary of our journey (can you believe it has already been a year?!), I am surprised at how often I think of all of you! Perhaps it is because I have spent the last year looking at everyone's faces while we've been editing! I would love for you to have a copy of the segment we recorded (so you can show all of your guests while they're doing karaoke). Please let everyone know they can look at the movie trailer to get a sense of how it's coming along.

I would appreciate it if ALL members of the cast would email me at their earliest convenience so I can be everyone has been paid. We've been told all but four (4) have been compensated so I need confirmation from everyone. I need to find the missing four.

I'm looking forward to returning to Zambia to see everyone!

July 20, 2007

Bad Timing @ The Dolphin Restaurant

Hello Cyndi & Crew,

Greetings from Le Triumph Dolphin. This is where we filmed Danny's performance. My name is Santosh, the owner and I got the address from Sotiris (Gino Bonano).

I was wondering if you could give me any info on the film as to when it'll show or if we could get a copy of it. I also extend my warmest invitation to you whenever you are in Zambia... you are welcome at our place.

Looking forward to your response.

Santosh

June 20, 2007

FUNDING IS NOT FUN

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA — There are many lessons I have learned and some I continue to learn from my experience working on the FilmZambia project. The number one lesson? Always use Other People's Money (OPM), preferably a studio's money or a distributor's money. What I am still trying to learn is how to get that money.

Of course there are a few exceptions that encourage filmmakers to believe they will be a member of a rare and elite club. The successful self-financed film members include Morgan Spurlock (SUPERSIZE ME), Kevin Smith (CLERKS), cyndiStripes.jpg and Robert Townsend (HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE). These exceptions tease and titillate filmmakers. The truth is, is every filmmaker believes in "his or her story."

Their story, their cinematography, their editing, their actors. They believe every element will help produce a successful piece of art. With that belief, they are bound and determined to get the money from whomever they talk to including their families, their friends and even ... themselves! There are THOUSANDS of filmmakers who follow that film-financing path into a very dark tunnel. If a distributor or producer gets behind your film, chances are that they see an opportunity for financial success. The problem? First-time filmmakers can be quite naive. They are in it for the art. Yes, they want to make their movie, and they want to earn enough money to buy ... more equipment to make another movie. Eventually they begin to understand that there is a business involved in the art of filmmaking and everyone has to eat food, sleep in a safe place, and buy and use TIDE.

It is hard to accept the experience and decision of the money people when they say "no" to your brilliant story. In our case, it was even more difficult. We were students. It's impossible to get distributors to fund educational projects ahead of time. They want to see the finished product to know if the story hangs together because, well, let's be honest, it's students learning by doing. They're cautious about giving money to that sort of thing. Especially if it is the very first of "that sort of thing."

So, how did Cyndi end up in the rabbit hole that she did? Did she not preach and teach all of her students to avoid this very hole? This is what she said, "Surely I know the rule about OPM. If there's anyone who knows this rule, it is me. When I told my filmmaking nephew that I was well over $80,000 on these two films and was probably going to go over $100,000 by the time they were done, I thought he was going to have a stroke. 'Are you out of your mind?' Jason gasped. 'You used your money? Is that why you sold your house?' he asked." Didn't really answer the question did it? To be honest, it was a bit complicated. Hey Cyn! This would make a great movie!

Well, there's nothing like being called on the carpet by someone half your age. And, if Cyndi wasn't feeling embarrassed before Jason started lecturing her, she surely got there after I put together this little piece.

Cyndi's Houses (quicktime)
Cyndi's Houses (swf)

Don't shoot the messenger! She sat and watched this and started to laugh. She actually has gotten to the point of being amused by her exuberance for the film. I mean to shout, "What are her alternatives?!!" Believe me she has shed plenty of tears. She cries like a giraffe. There is no sound! How very odd. In the middle of the day, I will turn to her work station and find tears rolling down those cheeks! Her motto now is, "If you decide it's a good idea to go to Africa to make two films (and encourage 18 faculty and students to come with you for the learning experience of a lifetime), make sure the OPM you get is waaaaay more than a small educational grant that only covers the flight for about a third of the crew. Unless you don't care if anyone ever actually sees the films that you made.."

If there is anyone who wants to invest in two middle-aged women with bright ideas, tons of ambition and enough energy to get the job done, well get in line or get out of our way. We are comin' through. Thought I might try a unique approach to funding. Is it working for you?

May 09, 2007

Helloooooooooooo Cyndi

Hi Cyndi

Long time no hear. Hope you guys are all fine coz we are.

Just wanted to drop you a quick note and also to try and find out how did BAD TIMING do at the Sundance Film Festival and how is Mr. Jabbes????

You can email me on sotirissc@yahoo.com and my mobile number is +260 97 7 848 420.

Take care and greetings to your wonderful crew.

Gino Bonano

November 18, 2006

Another Film set for Zambia

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - Yezi-Arts Promotions and Productions, a Zambian independent production house is set to produce a ninety minutes film with a working title, “Nkhondo Ya Mkwezalamba, (War of Sacrifice). This is a feature film based on the documentation of human experiences dramatically presented on Zambia’s contribution to the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.

Zambia’s involvements in the wars of southern Africa have had serious political, social and economic implications even today. It was home to many liberation movements, who later formed new governments in the sub-region after dismantling the colonial masters in their respective nations. Self rule dawned in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, with the assistance of this country. In the words of Winnie Mandela: "Zambia was the midwife of the struggle in the region, and South Africa was the last child it assisted in freeing from colonialism and imperialism but this was with a great human, economic and social costs”.

The story is revealed in a dramatic way in contemporary Zambia: ‘Musada a former soldier, now a mental patient, was part of the defense forces during the liberation struggles. He suffered torture and witnessed the waste atrocities inflicted on the innocent villagers during the incursions by rebel soldiers. His mind is lost when he sees crater where his parent’s house once stood, and he ends up on the streets as a vagabond. Picked for a psychoanalysis treatment at one of the mental hospitals, reveals a lot what Zambia had to pass through during the war, highlighting frontline reconstructions with enemy forces; reflecting the answered questions on whether the war was justified or not and ultimately post-war seeking answers on whether Zambia paid the price in vain. Kondwa, his doctor, the psychiatrist, occurs to be one of the internally displaced persons who was served by Musada at one of the villages during a rebel incursion’.

Besides the theatrical movie, Yezi Arts will also produce a documentary which will be more than factual with interesting information that has come their way in this project. There is a lot that happened during this important era in our history, which many of our people are not aware of. Even the basics around who was Maina Soko – what role did she play? And, how did we lose her innocent life? In short, it is shocking that this important era, sometimes less than the cost of the fight for independence, is not part of our political history being taught in schools. In fact, research establishes that most of our citizens below the ages of 35 least know anything about our involvement in the struggle. And, this is not only limited to Zambia, it transcends even in the same countries that have since been liberated.

According to the producers, the film is expected to be produced within a period of six months commencing this coming year. Auditions for the film are expected in early December, followed by training of the different artists who will take up respective roles in the enactment.

“All logistics in place, this film should be available to the public within an optimistic period of six months. It has a budget of close to K270million, and we can safely say we have commitments of approximately K100million. So far we have spent over K40million in the research and part of the pre-production phase. Now we have decided to go public also with the hope that interested individuals, business houses and government may find a way of partnering with us. We hope Zambians can rise to the challenge and assist us in telling this story for posterity’s sake. We are a country and we have a history, and this history needs to be documented and disseminated to the current and future generations”.

Yezi-Arts Promotions and Productions sees this film also as timely with the impending SADC Heads of Summit and chair that Zambia will host in 2007, and it is an opportunity that our political leaders cease an opportunity to be part of our creative industry in which we can chronicle our contributions to the immense but untold role in the region.

Zambian Soap makes it on M-net

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - A Zambian local television soap opera produced by Mwazanato Studios on the Copperbelt, has been signed up by Africa's largest Cable M-net South Africa. The soap entitled 'What a Life', started showing on Africa Magic channel 104 on 07th November 2006. It is being broadcast from Monday to Friday every week.

Mwazanato Studios Head of Public Relations, Nkhondowe Fumeshi announced this in a statement to ZNBC news in Lusaka. What a Life which has been aired on ZNBC TV for the past two and half years will be the first Zambian program to show on Mnet.

The soap depicts an African way of life, particularly Zambian cultures, beliefs and traditions.

November 16, 2006

Morgan Freeman to grace South African Film Festival

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - The Sithengi Film and Television Market has announced that they will be hosting a celebrity roundtable to help facilitate the exchange of ideas between actors, producers and other players in the cinema, television and entertainment industries. Sithengi festival organisers announced on their website that during this year's festival that takes place this week, they will be hosting discussions between American and African personalities in the film industry.

The event, to be held at Cape Town’s Artscape on 16 November, will feature Morgan Freeman as the guest of honour. Freeman will be playing former president Nelson Mandela in the upcoming movie, “Long Walk to Freedom”.

The roundtable will happen during the Cape Town World Cinema Festival, which runs between 14 and 21 November.

In the two days of panel discussions, US entertainment industry representatives will be speaking to leading South African talent, such Tsotsi director, Gavin Hood, and Tony nominee and Yesterday star, Leleti Khumalo. Among the participants in the discussions are Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, SABC CEO Dali Mpofu, Tsotsi star Presley Chuenyagae, actor John Kani, and Anant Singh.

Sithengi CEO, Mike Auret, says, “the discussions will give us an opportunity to learn how to nurture and promote homegrown talent, explore opportunities for collaborations, and speak out about the challenges that both nations continue to face.

“Our US counterparts will also be able to learn about opportunities in South Africa, such as Ministry of Arts and Culture funding for overseas productions being shot in South Africa”.

The roundable will be organised into panel discussions and Q&A sessions. These will include special sessions focused on television, film talent, screenwriting and music video.

Topics under discussion include:

* The challenges entertainers and professionals face in their own countries and the means of overcoming them
* What the US and SA can learn from each other, and opportunities for collaboration
* How a SA company can set up a production company to work in the US, and vice versa
* How new technologies, such as the internet, broadband and video-on-demand, can help promote SA content
* Strategies to protect intellectual property rights and fight piracy
* Television opportunities for US production companies in SA
* How can the entertainment industry promote HIV awareness, safer decision-making and fighting stigmas

According to Auret, Sithengi’s significance in the local entertainment landscape will continue to grow as South African cinema has comes into its own - the recent Oscar victory for Best Foreign Language Film, Tsotsi, and last year’s Oscar nomination in the same category for Yesterday, being two examples. “The country’s diverse locations, affordable, experienced talent pool and use of English have made it an important resource for a growing number of Hollywood films, including Ali, Hotel Rwanda and The Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo di Caprio”.

The Sithengi Celebrity Tour will bring speakers to Johannesburg and Soweto, Kruger National Park for a luxury safari and Cape Town.