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Real life keeps butting in.

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Filmmaker Steve James paid $5,000 to include the song "Happy Birthday""Hoop Dreams" director Steve James tells Nancy Ramsey at the New York Times: "When I was starting out, documentaries were under the umbrella of journalism…Now, the more commercially successful documentaries have become and the more they’re in the public eye, the more they’re perceived as entertainment." Fair use no longer, not when docs are more audience friendly and profitable than ever — Ramsey’s piece on the rising and nearly unavoidable cost of rights-clearances for docs is a slap in the face of anyone who would cheerfully gurgle on about the freedom that comes with digital video and DIY post-production. After all, as Ramsey reminds us, the well-publicized $218 it cost Jonathan Caouette to make "Tarnation" doesn’t include the approximately $230,000 Wellspring had to pay to clear the music rights, and other worthy docs like miniseries "Eyes on the Prize" are lost in legal limbo now that some of the rights to materials used in the film have expired.

Of course, the same paper reminds us that hiring writers and actors doesn’t make things any safer — Lewis Beale‘s listing of the various production undone by the fact that the real world would insist on going on is equal parts depressing and a schadenfreude delight. We imagine people were likely kicking themselves while simultaneously trying to convince themselves it would be all for the better with this one:

Storm on the Bayou

Opens in June.

A documentary shot in the Imax format about the disappearance of the Mississippi Delta wetlands and what would happen to New Orleans if a major hurricane hit the city.

PROBLEM Filming ended May 30. Two months later, Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

RESPONSE Revise – big-time.

The production company hired a crew to film the destruction and did a complete rewrite of the script, with more emphasis on the hurricane part of the story. "The film is about three people, an alligator family and what happens before and after the hurricane hits," said Greg MacGillivray, whose company, MacGillivray Freeman Films, made the movie. "The film is changing to be more about the hurricane and its impact on the wetlands," he added. "Everything was hypothetical in the script, but now we know, and it makes the film more compelling and real."

On that note, Spike Lee is planning on making a documentary on the Katrina aftermath using "factual journalism, not creative narrative," though Richard Satran at Reuters (who, it seems safe to say, is no fan of the filmmaker) still manages to make it sound like he’s got a flamethrower on one shoulder and a boombox blasting "Fight the Power" on the other.

And, also in the New York Times, Sharon Waxman details James Mangold‘s slow teasing out of the life stories of his friends Johnny and June Carter Cash, while the couple’s son, John Carter Cash, writes in the London Times about his father and about Joaquin Phoenix‘s playing his father in "Walk the Line."

+ The Hidden Cost of Documentaries (NY Times)
+ Based On and Bested By a True Story (NY Times)
+ Spike Lee, filmmaking "provocateur," targets Katrina (Reuters)
+ The Secrets That Lie Beyond the Ring of Fire (NY Times)
+ The line behind Dad (London Times)


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.