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January 12th, 2012

Lauren Greenfield Sued For Defamation By Documentary Subject

Photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is being sued for defamation by the subject of her new documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” which is set to premier on the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute is also named in the suit, filed on January 10 in Florida District Court, as is Greenfield’s husband, Frank Evers, the executive producer of the film. The suit, which seeks $75,000 each from Greenfield and Sundance, as well as unspecified damages, was first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

The content of the film is not at issue; the lawsuit is over the press release for the film.

The plaintiff is timeshare developer David A. Siegel, whose family is the subject of Greenfield’s documentary. “The Queen of Versailles” tells the story of the billionaire Siegels as they attempt to build the biggest house in America, only to struggle as the economic downturn threatens their business and their 90,000-square-foot dream home.

The suit claims that the original press release made three false and defamatory statements: That “[the Siegel's] timeshare empire collapses”; that “[the Siegel's] house is foreclosed”; and that the film tells a “[rags-to-riches-to rags story.”

Lawyers for Siegel took exception to the wording of the press release. It was amended and publications that covered the news, including The New York Times, were contacted to correct the information. However the suit alleges that the damage to Siegel’s reputation, and that of his timeshare business, Westgate Resorts, LTD. had been done because the original description had already spread far and wide via the internet, appearing on more than 12,000 Web sites, according to the complaint. The suit also alleges that Greenfield kept the false description on her personal Web site after receiving notice from Siegel’s lawyers.

“Taken individually and collectively, these [false] statements portray Siegel and Westgate as essentially broke and out of business,” argue Siegel’s lawyers, GreenspoonMarder, in the complaint.

The suit alleges that Siegel and Westgate Resorts have suffered damage to their reputation. It also states that “various owners” and “potential customers” have questioned the financial security of Westgate as a result of the press release.

October 19th, 2011

Leica Sells 44% Stake to Private Equity Firm Blackstone

US-based private equity firm The Blackstone Group has reached an agreement to buy 44 percent of Leica Camera AG in a deal to be completed by the end of the year, Blackstone and ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH, Leica’s parent company, announced today.

Blackrock investment funds will acquire the stake through a holding company, the announcement said.

In a statement, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, the chairman of Leica’s supervisory board, called Blackstone “an experienced and internationally established strategic partner.” The deal, which is likely to be completed by the end of the year pending approval from government regulators, will help fund Leica’s “growth plans into new markets such as Asia, South America and the Middle East,” he added. Leica is coming off a 2010/2011 fiscal year when they turned record profits, the company reports.

Axel Herberg, Blackstone senior managing director, also emphasized a focus on emerging markets in his statement. “We are very excited about supporting Leica to secure long-term commercial relationships, specifically in emerging markets, and help strengthen the company¹s operational and retailing capabilities globally,” he said.

October 14th, 2011

Photog’s Motion Project Built Using 48 DSLR Cameras Firing Simultaneously

With the help of a grant, 48 interconnected DSLR cameras, and some long hours of editing, Ryan Enn Hughes produced a pair of videos that combine thousands of still photographs into a 360-degree look at ballet and “Krump” dancers. Check out the results and the behind-the-scenes production video below. We corresponded with Hughes via email to find out a bit more about the project, and how and why it was made.

PDN: What interested you in creating these 360-degree videos?

Ryan Enn Hughes: The 360 Project stems from a proposal I wrote and received for a Chalmers Arts Fellowship—a funding body in Canada that supports extraordinary research and creation projects in the Arts. My proposal was to “explore the structural elements of the moving image,” which is in its essence the still photograph. My background is in Film Production/Cinematography —it wasn’t until late in University that I immersed myself in Photography. Over the last few years, more than ever, Motion Pictures and Photography have started to cross-pollinate—digital capture, digital software, and digital presentation methods in both media make the integration of the two fields seamless. Coming from a film background, I’ve always had a desire to push the still image further. The 360 Project is where I ended up.

Working with dancers is something I’ve been doing for a few years now (RGB Move, Ballet!, C-Walk, etc). I’ve always been taken by the concept of capturing a “peak moment of action,” and dance really lends itself to that concept. The way I view the project is like this: it is constructed of still photographs that when assembled like a flip-book create a motion picture, which end up resembling a type of rotating digital statue, which we in turn edited together.

PDN: Can you give me a rundown of the equipment you used?

REH: The gear used was 48 Nikon D700′s, 4 Broncolor Pulso G 3200J Lamp Heads, 4 Scoro A4S Packs.

PDN: How long did you spend editing the project?

REH: Post-production was a very big undertaking. There were several steps necessary to get to the end product. Before we could get into any actual editing, each frame in every 48-frame set had to be Photoshopped—painting out all the cameras that were visible in the original captures was a time consuming process, but enabled us to have greater control over the images. The editing process and sound design (Zelig Sound) was undertaken at the same time—it was a back and forth process exploring various editing techniques and sound design elements. Fortunately this project was not on a hard deadline, and our timeline was designed to allow our team to explore creative options.

PDN: In applying for the grant, what was your pitch in terms of the value of the project as a technical and creative innovation?

REH: I suppose the biggest factor in pitching this project was its interdisciplinary approach—the fact that it combined ideas, tools and methodologies from a variety of media. Another exciting factor was that what I proposed wasn’t a normal method of production—the gear, software, and know-how to create a project like this hasn’t been overly accessible in the past for arts based projects—it has certainly been around, but the availability, particularly the software to handle this type of project, I feel is new to a broader group of creatives.

PDN: Now that you’ve completed a pair of these projects, how do you imagine using this experience and this style of production in the future?

REH: This has definitely been the most technically challenging project I’ve undertaken to date. It’s definitely set a new bar for me personally in terms of where I want to take my work—both technically and creatively. I’m very interested in pushing the editing style used in “Krump 360″ and “Ballet 360″ further—making edits more complex, faster, and integrated with sound. I’m very interested in taking this style of production and applying it to Music Videos and Commercial Work.

KRUMP 360 (The 360 Project) from Ryan Enn Hughes on Vimeo.

BALLET 360 (The 360 Project) from Ryan Enn Hughes on Vimeo.

The 360 Project – Behind the Scenes from Ryan Enn Hughes on Vimeo.

August 31st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: On Assignment with Jimmy Chin in Yosemite

Adventure photographer Jimmy Chin recently shot a feature story for National Geographic about the derring-do of modern day rock climbing, and Renan Ozturk of camp4collective.com made this behind-the-scenes video of Chin at work. It’s full of spectacular views, sweaty palm moments, and insight about how Chin works while dangling from a climbing rope on El Capitan and other Yosemite cliffs.

June 24th, 2011

Judge Orders Ft. Lauderdale to Allow Photos Near Movie Set

A Florida state court judge has ordered the city of Ft. Lauderdale to quit barring photography in public places around a Hollywood film set. The emergency order, issued on Tuesday, was in response to a lawsuit filed last week by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the the publisher of South Florida Gay News (SFGN). They sued the city because Ft. Lauderdale police, who were reportedly moonlighting as security guards for the production of the film “Rock of Ages,” starring Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin, were preventing photographers and citizens from taking pictures of the set from public sidewalks and streets nearby.

Broward County circuit court judge Michelle Towbin-Singer wrote in her order that the city and its police chief “shall not prohibit or inhibit the taking of photographs at or from any public area surrounding, near or adjacent to the film set…For purposes of this order, the term ‘public area’ shall include any area where members of the public have a right to be, but shall not include areas that have been lawfully closed to access by members of the public.”

The film production began June 6. Police had posted signs around the film set that said “Warning. No Trespassing. Photography of this area is strictly prohibited. Strictly enforced by FLPD. Violators subjet (sic) to arrest. City Ordinance 16-1.” The SPJ and SFGN sued on the grounds that the ban was a violation of first amendment rights. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) subsequently joined the lawsuit, after the city failed to respond to its request to lift the ban.

Production for the movie ends today, but NPPA attorney Mickey Osterreicher says the plaintiffs will continue to press the lawsuit in order to get a declaratory judgment from the court, stating that such bans violate the constitution. “If we don’t get a declaratory judgment, this will happen all over again” the next time a Hollywood film production comes to town, Osterreicher says. A declaratory judgment by itself won’t prevent city officials from banning photography in the future, he explains, but it would deter such a ban by making it difficult for city officials to claim ignorance and by exposing the city to costly civil penalties.

Related: Ft. Lauderdale Photo Ban: Bought and Paid for by Hollywood?

June 15th, 2011

LOOK3 2011: A Defining Moment for LaToya Ruby Frazier

At this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, VA, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier made her intentions as an artist and activist clear in a powerful presentation of her work that combined diaristic snippets about her relationships with her grandmother and mother with stories about the community of Braddock, PA, where she was raised. Frazier’s reading, reminiscent of a prose poem, was intensely personal, heartfelt and, at times, forceful and defiant, drawing on the history of Braddock as a once-prosperous steel town, and on its current state where poverty, joblessness and pollution-related health issues plague the largely African-American population.

Frazier’s work has previously been included in high-profile group exhibitions such as the 2009 Triennial at The New Museum and a 2010 group exhibition at PS1 MoMA, and she has had solo and two-person shows at her gallery, Higher Pictures in New York, and elsewhere. The work she has presented thus far has been comprised primarily of self-portraits and portraits of her grandmother and mother, whom Frazier taught to photograph and considers a collaborator. Yet the full breadth of her work and her ambition for it has not been widely known, she says.

“Until I spoke today, I don’t think people were aware of what the work was about, because it’s complicated,” Frazier told PDN after her Master’s Talk. “Today was a huge breakthrough to be able to come here and talk to people.” (more…)

May 19th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: The North Face Manifesto

The North Face Brand Manifesto from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

The above video, created by Camp 4 Collective for The North Face under the creative direction of Factory Design Labs, was a video winner in this year’s PDN Photo Annual.

Camp 4 Collective create adventure and expedition-based films that follow athletes to some of the most beautiful and remote locales in the world. Another of their films, “As It Happens,” recounts a climb a pair of Camp 4 climbers/filmmakers made in Nepal, which they documented in real time, sending dispatches via a satellite modem powered by solar energy. “As It Happens” was recently a Vimeo editor’s pick.

April 20th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Tim Hetherington’s ‘Diary’

Diary (2010) from Tim Hetherington on Vimeo.

This 20-minute film was created last year by photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington, who was killed on April 20, 2011, in Misrata, Libya. Hetherington died covering the conflict between Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

Hetherington wrote of the film: “’Diary’ is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It’s a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media.”

Editor and director Magali Charrier did the editing and sound design.

Related: Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

March 31st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Fall & Winter

Fall and Winter Trailer from Matt Manderson on Vimeo.

Photographer and filmmaker David Black, a member of the 2011 PDN’s 30, is part of the team producing a new documentary film, Fall & Winter, about the global environmental crisis. Through interviews with a wide range of experts, the film presents an “analysis of our failing institutions and culture so we may be equipped to handle drastic collapse and foster a vital, fundamental rebirth in the way we live on this planet.” The film is written and directed by Matt Anderson, and is scheduled to be released this fall. For more information visit: www.fallwintermovie.com.

March 22nd, 2011

The Bang Bang Club Trailer Released on iTunes

On April 22 Tribeca Films will release “The Bang Bang Club,” a film based on the true story of conflict photographers Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva, who worked in South Africa during the final years of apartheid.

The film follows the four journalists through South Africa’s segregated townships as they document the violence between supporters of the Africa National Congress and Inkatha Freedom Party leading up to the country’s first free elections.

Written and directed by South African documentary filmmaker Steven Silver, the film is an adaptation of a book, The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, by Marinovich and Silva, which was first published in 2000.

The trailer for the film can be seen exclusively on iTunes, here.

Related: Photographer Joao Silva Wounded In Afghanistan

Related: Greg Marinovich leads 30 African photojournalists in coverage of the 2010 World Cup