This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Real life keeps butting in.

Posted by on

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)

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

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.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

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

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More