DID YOU READ

Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age.

Film’s shifting definition in the transmedia age. (photo)

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As I was watching Jeff Deutchman’s documentary “11/4/08” a few weeks back at SXSW, it occurred to me that his “consensual piece of cinema” — shot by professionals and amateurs on Obama’s inauguration day and ending with a title card asking for more footage to be collected online via the film’s website and eventually added onto the existing product — wasn’t a film; it was some new hybrid of the medium in which the movie was only one piece of the puzzle.

With that in mind, “11/4/08” should most certainly be the one of the selections of the inaugural DOC NYC Festival, “New York’s first and only festival celebrating documentary storytelling across the fields of film, photography, prose, radio and other innovative forms” curated by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, the minds behind the IFC Center’s ongoing Stranger Than Fiction documentary series. There will be all the staples of a traditional film festival with panels, world premieres and retrospectives during the festival’s November 3-7 run, but as Powers told All These Wonderful Things’ AJ Schnack, “We very specifically did not call it a film festival.”

Coincidentally, this news came on the heels of the Producers Guild announcement of the union’s rare ratification of a new credit for their members to pursue: “Transmedia Producer,” which for the majority of the public will mostly mean that those names you see on the bottom of movie posters just got a little bit longer. But for the movie industry, it marks a new way of recognizing that movies are no longer limited to what you’re seeing on screen. The new tag applies to any “narrative project or franchise consist[ing] of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM.” (Understandably, marketers will not be allowed to apply for the credit, despite the fact that the viral campaigns for films like “Tron Legacy” are getting to be as narratively ambitious as what they’re promoting — and scrutinized as such.)

04072010_SouthlandTalesPrequel.jpgOf course, the lack of an official title hasn’t prevented filmmakers from going beyond the scope of their films in the past. Richard Kelly famously penned a prequel for “Southland Tales” and Zack Snyder, realizing he couldn’t make a five-hour “Watchmen,” went the animated route to tell the “Tales of the Black Freighter,” which would eventually be reincorporated into his ultimate cut of the film on DVD.

Yet by turning what was once a luxury for multimedia-savvy filmmakers into a professionally recognized credit, the Producers Guild legitimized a whole new field for storytellers where film isn’t the center of attention. Not surprisingly when Liz Shannon Miller at NewTeeVee collected professional opinions on the subject, the consensus emerged that the new “transmedia producer” credit would be likely applied most to franchises from the major studios, since they already are part of major conglomerations with the ability to compliment each other on a bunch of different platforms. However, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum who could benefit from this most — artists who have long prized film as a medium but are burdened by budget and tight shooting schedules could be more encouraged to flesh out their stories elsewhere as as the stigma of parallel platforms subsides. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord.org is threatening to become a pioneer in this particular arena.)

It’s not that transmedia is a new concept; movies, after all, are a collision of many different artforms and now can be seen in a variety of different ways. But between a festival and an official title in its honor, it’s well on its way to becoming the text rather than being viewed as an addendum to it.

[Photos: Doc NYC, DocNYC.net, 2010; “Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga,” Graphitti Designs, 2007]

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.