The newest Vegas film festival arrival is the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. What the new draw lacks in quality films, it makes up in sheer volume of screenings at the Brenden Theaters at the new Palms Hotel and Casino, akimbo to the Strip. The festival has been held for over eight years in New York, and I hope it catches on in this uncultured landscape, because the potential for it is enormous. Even though the screenings are limited to one theater, each day saw over 10 films at two hour intervals. Four films were actually produced, filmed or written for Vegas, by Vegans: 'Grip' by Vegas filmmaker Ron Atkins; the premier of 'Angel Blade,' by Michael Hemenway who is presently shooting his latest local opus, 'Terror on the Strip'; tennis docudrama featuring local home town tennis hack Andre Agassi in 'Beyond the Baseline'; and 'If I Could,' a documentary about social problems.
More than 150 short and full-length films from 4,000 entrants were picked to be screened at the NYIIFVF event at the Vegas stop of tbe festival, which was also presented in New York and Los Angeles.
The Nevada Film Commission presented a short seminar on screenwriter tips that could have been covered in a flyer. Nothing was in-depth at Screenwriting 101. But the Commission offers a yearly film-writing contest on Nevada-based possible film subjects. This year's winner was submitted three times, rewritten, and finally won with the changed title, 'Cape Nevada', a Sci Fi wannabe that the Commission assisted in optioning to Hollywood.
Vegas is coming together and receiving acclaim as a film center, location venue, and film festival draw. Even former mob lawyer and now Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, got in the act with a cameo in the prostitute murder mystery 'Angel Blade' that also featured washed-up casino mogul Bob Stupak. In fact, many former film legends and washouts turned up in this indie circuit, including Margot Kidder, from Superman fame, and Tippi Hendrin, an Alfred Hitchcock thespian. It goes to show that everyone wants to be a star on some level. Now the mayor wants to turn the former downtown post office into a Mob Museum, which should be a real calling card, and I am sure hizzoner's movie poster mug will be at the entrance, and he will be selling hot buttered popcorn, along with cheap D street wine. Can a Hoodlum Film Festival be far behind?
Las Vegas has increased its film noir allure beyond the green felt jungle film titles of yesteryear, such as 'Casino,' 'Viva Las Vegas' (Hey, Ann-Margaret still performs here), and other gambling genre offshoots. Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire are still great locales for Sci Fi thrillers and dopey westerns, so if you are hiking the trails, bring your video clips for a possible audition.
Revolution Film Works CEO and Executive Producer of Angel Blade presented a short seminar on film distribution during the festival; it was an insight in the difficulty of actually getting a film on the silver screen; indie filmmakers will know how to pay back all that money advanced on their credit cards to produce their brainchild.
Independent filmmaking, and viewing, is a strange mix of bad acting, low budgets, lousy lighting and sound, and ennui. Occasionally a gem pops through, but most celluloid should be left on the floor or the digital delete button hit with repetition. What most indie's need is a good eye for editing.
I had to walk out of this year's NYIIFVF award winner. 'Beneath The Skin, The Untold Story.' It was a story that should not have been told. The plot was rigid and repetitious and bland. You know the screenwriter is addled when the actors respond in a predictable question and answer dialogue format.
The tickets for the festival were free from noon to 6 p.m., and $10 for 6. 8. 10 p.m. screenings, and $10 on the weekends. For more information visit NYIIFVF.
EAT'M supplies an entertainment marketing crossroad and the venue, backed with solid representation from major entertainment companies. EAT'M offers a great way for artists to get lucky. Venues are placed through the Vegas Valley for the three-day, late May event. Marketing entertainment, be it a filmmaker/producer or musician/artist, is one of the toughest aspects of the business, with minute acumen on the part of most artistes, themselves. EAT'M takes, as it bills itself, "another bite out of the music biz." It hones the business side of the entertainment coin. Now, I just need to dust off that old accordian (Myron Florin even plays Vegas) and get out those yellowed contracts, and write some snappy lyrics.
This year's EAT'M participants include: Minister Benjamin Mohammad, Executive Director
of the Hip-Hop Action Network Summit; Bob Ezrin, ARTISTdirect; Berko, VP A&R Maverick; Dann Huff, Producer, Parasol Music; Dave Adelson, E! Entertainment Television Network; Eric Hunter, A&R, Geffin Records; Fred Rosen, Key3Media; Gary Arnold, Redline Entertainment; Gary Smith, Pollstar; Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times; Gregg Latterman, Aware Records; Greg Soders, VP, Creative/ Warner Chappell; Harvey Leeds, Epic Records; James Newton Howard, Emmy award-winning composer; Jay Samit, EMI Capitol New Media; jeff Blue, VP A&R, Warner Brothers; Jeff McClusky, JMA and Associates; Jon McHugh, VP Creative Development, Jive Records; Kathy Nelson, President, Film Music, Universal Group; Kenny MacPherson, Sr. VP Creative, Warner Chappell; Kevin Lyman, 4-Fini Inc./Immortal Entertainment Group; Marc Geiger, ARTISTdirect; Michele Bernstein, William Morris Agency; Miles A. Copeland III, CEO, ARK21 Records, Artists Management; Pete Ganbarg, VP A&R, Epic; Ron Laffitte, VP of A&R, Capitol Records; Ron Shapiro, co-President, Atlantic Records; Shelley Bunge, Executive VP, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Ted Cohen, EMI Recorded Music; Tom Storms, VP A&R, Atlantic Records.
The event draws enthusiastic talent, brings some business savvy to an event , and the songwriters and bands are offered around the town venues, performing before agents that could change a grunge band into a knee slapping hit..