Category Archives: Animation

Arri’s expansion of the Franz Wieser Grant Program gives new filmmakers more reason to work harder

One of the biggest camera and imaging giants based in Munich, Arri, has today expanded its grant program, the Franz Wieser Grant program, to accommodate for creativity from aspiring filmmakers and directors.

The Franz Wieser Grant program is in charge of providing aspiring filmmakers access to all Arri products and resources so that can practice and gain experience through shooting documentaries and short videos without compromising their portfolio.

The expansion of this already fantastic program means aspiring filmmakers can now do much more than create short videos, or feature videos or music videos, they can now try their hands at some real filmmaking.

Previously named as Amira Grant Program and Launched nine (9) years ago, the grant program has since been renamed after one of Arri’s hardworking executives, Franz Wieser – a man who never tires of empowering small filmmakers. Franz died in 2019 after which the grant was named after him.

Many rising star filmmakers have been beneficiaries of this grant program and are more often than not being nominated for awards in the filmmaking industry.

Speaking about the expansion, the chairman of the grant program, Ksenia Lappo said, “Our goal is to challenge and inspire filmmakers to create the best projects they possibly can.”

This statement in itself shows there’s still a lot the grant program has for its aspiring talents.

Applying for the Franz Wieser Grant program is open all year round although beneficiaries are chosen by how interesting the grant committee sees their proposal. Once someone is selected to join the program, he or she automatically qualifies for the technical support and equipment package offered by the grants.

Amazon Purchases the Iconic Film Studio MGM for $8.45 Billion

Amazon announces the purchase of the studio Behind the James Bond Franchise, MGM for $8.45 Billion

Amazon and MGM earlier today announced that an agreement, that will see Amazon acquire the studio and rights to all its works, has been reached between the two companies.

Founded in 1924, MGM has gone from being just a movie-making studio to a giant entertainment company with a rich catalog of films under its name. Alongside the announcement of the merger, the two companies added that all the movies and TV shows owned by MGM would be even more easily accessible now that the two companies are together.

While we cannot say which company is benefitting more from the merger, there is one thing we do know for sure,  Amazon Prime Video subscriptions are about to be worth every single dollar subscribers pay for it. What with the addition of over 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows owned by MGM, it is a good time to be a Prime Video subscriber! Furthermore, Amazon Studios would be looking to revive popular old franchises from the studio such as the incredible 007 series among other classic titles.

Speaking while announcing the deal officially to the public, Senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, Mike Hopkins, said that “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of (intellectual property) in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.” During the announcement, Hopkins also briefly mentioned that MGM studios have over 800 global employees, all of whom will be joining the studio to Amazon.

This is not the first time Amazon would be pulling off incredibly expensive acquisitions but the $8.45 Billion deal sure puts it second on the list of Amazon’s expensive company acquisitions.

Although there is no confirmed date on when the merger deal would be approved by a regulatory body governing the whole industry, Variety quoted insiders believe the deal should be done by the end of the year (2021). One of the interesting terms and conditions of the deal is that Amazon will take responsibility for MGM’s debt while the studio will be working as a branch under the Amazon Brand.

In a statement released by MGM’s executive chairman, Kevin Ulrich, he expressed his happiness about the deal saying “I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history, and the idea born from the creation of United Artists lives on in a way the founders originally intended, driven by the talent and their vision. The opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon is an inspiring combination.”

While it is yet to be seen as to whether the next title in the Bond franchise would debut on the Amazon Prime streaming service, there is no denying that the merger can open a whole world of possibilities not only for both companies but also for fans of the various classics mentioned by Hopkins during the deal announcement. Some of the popular titles include Creed; Rocky;  Tomb Raider;  Robocop; Raging Bull; Poltergeist; The James Bond series; The Pink Panther;  Moonstruck;  Fargo (TV Show);  Vikings (TV Show);  The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show); among others, all of which have generated not just huge revenue for the MGM studio and other marketing companies that own rights to them but also amassed jaw-dropping audience all over the world.

Considering Amazon studio has recently adopted an aggressive commercial fare type of production, it would be really interesting to see how MGM and Amazon handle how to run the new “film division”.

Looking back at the Animated Classics: 101 Dalmations

101 Dalmations(1961)

Starring the voice talents of Paul Wexler, Mary Wickes, Barbara Luddey, and Lisa Daniels

This may come as a surprise, but I just saw Disney’s 101 Dalmations for the first time.    And I have to say that after watching this classic,  I was very impressed with the story.

I don’t want to assume that everyone knows the plot, so for those of you are unfamiliar with the movie’s premise, it centers on a Dalmation couple, Pongo and Perdita. The two go on a mission to rescue their puppies from the fashion-obsessed Cruella DeVille.

101 Dalmations not only had a well-paced and impressive story, but the characters’ performances were engaging and memorable. Another particular aspect of this animated feature that I admired was the vast network the canine community created to help any dog in need. For example, when the humans were unable to find the puppies, Pongo’s friend The Great Dane, helped them find their children through his contacts and vast “barking” network.

I don’t want to give away the whole movie, but if you’re an animation fan who wants a good adventure, 101 Dalmations comes highly recommended.   My Score: 8.5/10(Add this to your collection).

Christopher Levy Launches CINEFLIK a new streaming service that cares


The film industry is ruled by companies that value corporate gain over artistry and films that tell real stories. These companies don’t give independent filmmakers a chance. In a time where it is so important that voices are heard through the imaginative minds of the creatives out there with a dream. 
 

I have been in the film industry for two decades. I have seen how they operate with a tunnel vision focus on numbers and sales. Large studios and others are taking advantage of independent filmmakers. They are not given a fair chance to showcase their talents, and they are not being adequately paid for their art. I have been a producer for several studios and I have seen how they turn everything into numbers. There is no creativity, there is no freedom. Everything turned into a walking barcode that depicted your worth. All you look for is the next “big hit”. The old saying that you are as good as your last movie constantly in playback in your head. 

I quit everything in 2019 and set to reinvent myself and what I stand for. I started my own production company to seek out true talent with beautiful stories, now adding to the distribution side, having a presence in Cannes, Berlin, and L.A’s AFM. It is not enough that these films are being made, but they deserve the opportunity to be seen.

CINEFLIK is a streaming service built for people who want exposure, a platform to showcase creativity and talent. Whilst we are not as established as Amazon, HBO max, and others, what sets us apart is that we care. We care about the integrity of filmmaking and the efforts that you have put in, as an artist to create these films. You are not just a number to us, we will also put in our all to make sure your story has the opportunity for maximum exposure. That is why I have also partnered with INFILMS Magazine to promote filmmakers. 

A streaming service that cares about art and also the filmmakers 

With CINEFLIK, the film owners decide on the price of rental and receive a cut of 80%. We will give you a fair price because we understand how other larger companies will try and take advantage. We will not compromise the opportunity for distribution with fair compensation. For example, Amazon pays only 6 cents per hour, for up to 99,999 hours streamed in a period of 365 days, tied in with an exclusive rights clause. Not only are they taking advantage, but they are making sure that you are legally unable to sell or share your stories with others. If you rent your film for $1.99, you will get $1.59 with CINEFLIK as opposed to $0.06 you would get from Amazon, with 100 downloads is a difference between $159 and $6 with Amazon.
We only keep 20% to maintain the site.

Unlike other services we also don’t follow a set of rules and requirements that may restrict distribution. For instance, Redbox has a list of preferred titles and requests, like; Action genre with a recognizable cast, supernatural horror, and family films that are animated standalone features. They only accept “new” titles that have been produced in a rolling two-year time span, they don’t consider films that have previously been available on DVD or via SVOD streaming services, NC-17 ratings and features under 80 minutes are out of the questions and don’t even think about direct television in the Comedy or Drama genre or Foreign Language films or Documentaries. With all these restrictions, they are not accepting of a variety of content, effectively closing doors to many filmmakers. On top of that, they set the price and pay around $2.75 to $3.50 per disc, this is largely dependent on the cast, genre, and a fit for their customers. A factor that is completely determined by themselves, which doesn’t sound fair at all. The film owners would have to pay for the DVDs and they would have complete control of how many times your movie is rented. We do not want to go down this path, CINEFLIK is fair, we set the pricing together with the film owner, we respect that they deserve to have their films and shows distributed at a fair price. We respect and accept all submissions of genres, the audience is always evolving and we want to anticipate what they want by providing a range of films and shows. 

This marks a new chapter to promote independent filmmakers in a way that does not involve bias or pure judgment of how much money they can generate. CINEFLIK carries everything, including, Classic Movies, Independent Films, short and full-length Features, as well as all genres of Television shows. We embrace creativity and have a thirst for real stories and originality. We want your trust in your films. Let us take you onboard and together we can discover a whole new audience for you. I am excited about the future, we can challenge the underlying issues of the film industry together and pave the way for real stories and talent that is often overlooked by Hollywood executives. 

Let’s take this challenge on together, no more waiting, no more negotiations, no more banging on the wrong door. We are here to make it happen.

You can access CINEFLIK here http://www.cineflik.com
Membership is always free.

Avatar 2 delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19


Avatar 2 delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19
The Avatar sequels have been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, James Cameron confirmed Thursday
James Cameron’s long-delayed sequels to Avatar” will now premiere every other December starting in 2022 as follows: “Avatar 2” (Dec. 16, 2022), “Avatar 3” (Dec. 20, 2024), “Avatar 4” (Dec. 18, 2026) and “Avatar 5” (Dec. 22, 2028). The second “Avatar” installment, which was originally aiming to open in 2014, will debut 13 years after the first film.
Disney announced that they are also pulling other highly anticipated films, which include Mulan and The French Dispatch. No release date has been reported.

Jason Momoa in Talks to Voice ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in Warner Bros. Movie 

Aquaman” himself, Jason Momoa, is in talks to play Frosty the Snowman in a movie to be made for Warner BrosMomoa will also perform with Geoff Johns, and Stampede’s Greg Silverman and June Berg. David Berenbaum, who collaborated with Berg on “Elf”, is ready to script the film. “We know Jason is a real man, full of love, compassion, and a deep connection to Ohana; he’s the living spirit of Xmas and Frosty,” Silverman said. 

Momoa’s “Aquaman was a huge hit for Warner Bros, grossing $ 1.14 billion at the worldwide box office. The studio is preparing a sequel. Berg, executive producer of “Aquaman“, said: “We all won from ‘Aquaman‘ as far as his marine success as a land of ice and fire, this time it was just right to feel Jason in the snow. “Berg, who was an executive producer at Aquaman. “ 

The character comes from the famous Christmas song written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson, and was first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950 after the success of Atri’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Momoa will be seen as Duncan Idaho in the next Warner Bruce sci-fi saga “Dune“. The news about the Frosty project was first announced through the deadline

‘Mulan’ Release Date Postponed Yet Again

Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan has yet again seen a change in its theatrical release date. The studio’s change in its highly expected movie is the third time the movie’s release date has changed. This is not much of a surprise considering China, where the movie is expected to be a box office hit, is yet to set a date for the reopening of its movie theaters.

Mulan, slated to hit the big screen on July 24th will instead debut in theaters on Aug 21. This comes after the studio decided a new date was the best way to adjust to the changes the pandemic has caused Hollywood and the entire world. 

Following the change, Disney’s co-chairman Alan Bergman and co-chairman Alan Horn (also the studio’s chief creative officer) said, “While the pandemic has changed out release plans for ‘Mulan’ and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance. Director Niki Caro and our cast and  crew have created a beautiful, epic and moving film that is everything the cinematic experience should be, and that’s where we believe it belongs – on the world stage and the big screen for audiences around the globe to enjoy together.”

This change was announced after Warner Bros. announced “Tenet,” its sci-fi epic movie directed by Christopher Nolan, would no longer debut on its initial scheduled date but will now make its theatrical debut on August 12.

Both Mulan and Tenet were expected to herald the reopening of movie theaters as well as the start of the summer movie season given their initial July release dates. However, both studios have pushed back their movie’s release due to the lingering effects the pandemic still has in some parts of the world.

Warner Bros. Moves fourth Matrix Film to 2022

Off the back of moving Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 to new release dates, Warner Bros. has announced the change in date of another upcoming highly anticipated movie.

This was announced in line with the huge changes Warner Bros. has been making. Matrix 4, which was initially scheduled to release May 21, 2021, is now scheduled for April 1, 2022.  This decision came as a result of the pause in production which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming of the movie was carried out in Germany before the pandemic and is proposed to start next month.

Many of the original casts of the franchise such as Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Neil Patrick Haris are back for the fourth installment of the movie. The franchise’s co-creator, Lana Wachowski, also remains one of the directors of the movie.

In other news, Warner Bros. has removed “Witches” from its scheduled release date and is yet to announce a date for the movie. The movie which stars Anne Hathaway is directed by Robert Zemeckis and was initially scheduled for release on October 8, 2020.

In addition, the sci-fi action movie “Godzilla vs Kong” is now scheduled by Warner Bros. to release May 21, 2021; the date which was originally scheduled for Matrix 4 release. Also, Warner bros. moved its upcoming live-action comedy film, “Tom and Jerry” to March 5, 2021, from December 23, 2020.

 The Hollywood studios also announced it will be releasing one of its untitled horror movies on Jun. 24, 2020 while also removing another untitled Warner Bros. event film originally scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020, to a date later to be announced.

All in all, the studio changed the release dates of 6 of its upcoming movies while also removing two other ones from their scheduled release date with no date yet to be announced. 

2021 Oscars Postponed by two months due to Coronavirus Pandemic

With the world adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic with various events being canceled and the deployment of several health guidelines, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its 93rd Academy Awards event has been postponed.

The announcement came last week the 2021 Oscars which was scheduled for Feb. 28 will be delayed by two months and the new date being April 25, 2021. This announcement is in line with Variety’s report in May in which the report said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was planning on delaying the upcoming event due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released by Dawn Hudson (CEO) and David Rubin (Academy President), they said: “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control. This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark a historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema”.

Also, the academy announced that the annual Governors Awards gala scheduled to take place in November has been postponed with a date later to be announced. Also, the opening of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures building in  Los Angeles, California has been pushed back to April next year.

Alongside postponing the date of their major events, the organization also updated its eligibility rules for the 2021 Oscars Academy Awards. In the new rules, feature films that want to be nominated for an award must have a release date between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb 28. 2021. The new submission deadline for specialty categories has been pushed to Dec. 30, 2020, while submission deadline for general categories (such as Best Picture, Original song, Best Actor and Actress, etc.) is now Jan. 15, 2021.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of changes in the entertainment industry. Many studios have turned to digital distribution platforms for the release of some of their movies due to the shutdown of movie theaters. Some other studios however decided to postponed their upcoming blockbuster movies with dates to be announced when movie cinemas reopen.

There is still no certainty what the future holds for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards telecast but we will definitely keep you updated. 

Los Angeles Sets Strict Rules for TV and Film Production Restart

With many countries now switching from total lockdown to partial lockdown, many activities have now been allowed to resume albeit under strict and extensive regulations.

Film and TV Productions is one such activity set to resume again in some states as early as Friday although with extensive regulations issued by Los Angeles Country. This new extensive regulation is not much of a surprise considering professional football has also restarted behind closed doors.

While productions are allowed to restart Friday, 19th of July, many producers would probably only start filming around July or August.

As would be expected, the first major rule is for cast and crew to maintain social distancing while on sets. The county also sets the use of face masks and coverings as an important detail not to be overlooked by cast and crew members as actors and musicians who cannot perform with face-covering on are expected to be eight feet apart. Furthermore, it mandates that only essential cast crew be present on set at any given time with the directive that actors must wash their hands before shooting any scene.

Also, it discourages all prolonged physical contact that arises from sex and fight scenes and mandates that all actors and crew keep information about any film shooting from the public. The country also directs that all crowd scenes are discouraged.

The rules also direct that makeup artist are only allowed on set when the actors cannot apply makeup to fit the scene. Also, Craft service buffets are temporarily forbidden on all sets.

Talk Shows and Sitcoms also looking to film new scenes in Los Angeles that must follow new rules. The rules now mandate that audience members must sit six feet apart and must not occupy more than 25% of the available space. It also allows paid staff and crew to serve as audience members. And capping it all, the rules set that only the same group of the audience present at the restart of filming are allowed for subsequent productions.

Although the entertainment industry released some rules for crews and cast to follow when production restarts, the rules released by the county are more strict. This is because the entertainment industry task force didn’t mandate many of their rules like the county did.

Following the release of the entertainment industry’s rules and guidelines, Donna Langley – Chairman Universal Film, stated in a statement that the rules, in his words, are “a significant step in getting our industry back to work in Los Angeles County”.

In his statement, the chairman expressed gratitude to the County Board of Supervisors as well as the county’s mayor for their commitment to the region’s economic recovery. He also expressed gratitude to the County’s Public Health Department for their efforts to keep their region safe. He then went ahead to say “Teams across the Studios, production companies, guilds, and unions in every facet of our business have shown and will continue to show innovation and creativity in bringing film, TV and digital production safely back to Los Angeles”.

Though production restart is imminent, there are still several things that will come into play which might delay restart to mid or late August. One of the obstacles production restart faces includes the detailed protocols all guilds and unions are yet to agree to.

Another major obstacle many productions will face pending the restart is whether or not they will be able to obtain insurance. Bob Jellen, the managing director for entertainment at HUB international believes many productions that were underway before the lockdown would be spared from “additional costs that are required to make filming safer for the actors and crew”. In other words, this obstacle is only for new productions that have not yet started filming before COVID-19 lockdown that caused productions to stop. Obtaining insurance is even going to be more difficult for independent filmmakers.

Many in the film making industry have expressed concerns about the difficulty many new productions will face when trying to secure insurance. To this end, Congress has introduced a bill that gives insurance companies the power to sell policies covering the coronavirus shutdown. The bill, however, is yet to pass.