Derby Kings, written and directed by Valerie Bischoff


Feuding brothers Ace and Jim collide at a local demolition derby

Synopsis: Derby Kings is a 2012 short film written and directed by Valerie Bischoff, produced by Mayuran Tiruchelvam, starring Tatanka Means (Tiger Eyes, Sedona) and Jerry Wolf (Four Winds). The film follows Jim Sundell (Tatanka Means) as he struggles to make sure his younger brother Ace (Jerry Wolf) appears at an impending trial. Ace, a demolition derby diehard, has other plans. With the local demolition derby looming, Ace makes a bold move that forces Jim to step far outside of his comfort zone. Derby Kings gives audiences insight into the struggles two Native American brothers face and explores how the ritual of the derby reinforces strained family bonds.

For more information and to view the trailer please visit: http://www.derbykingsmovie.com/

    Director’s Statement
    After witnessing my first demolition derby at the Nevada State Fair in 2009, I instantly became fascinated by this bizarre American ritual. As I watched the brutal spectacle of crashing cars, multicolored smoke, and a roaring crowd of colorful characters, I was seduced by the inherent drama that was unfolding before my eyes and became obsessed with the idea of creating a film set in this world. Before I could start writing a script I had to understand the motivations of these drivers. Who would partake in this strange ritual and why? Wanting to fully immerse myself, I started making a small-scale documentary on the subject.

    My background is in television news and documentary filmmaking. Incorporating these skills into my approach as a narrative director has been crucial. The work I have done within the community has given me an opportunity build relationships and understand the true motivations of the drivers. In rural and impoverished areas of Nevada where unemployment has risen to 12%, the highest in the nation, the derby serves as a crucial family ritual, reinforcing bonds that are strained by bleak external factors including a poor economy, lack of education, and high crime rates. This is especially true in American Indian communities where broken treaties and a lack of resources have further broken the family unit. There can be no future without the strength of the family. Derby Kings will give audiences insight into the struggles these two American Indian brothers face and how the love of participating in the demolition derby is their first step towards reconciliation despite overwhelming external factors.

    The brother’s ability to mend broken relationships in the face of hardship will undoubtedly inspire others. I want audiences to connect with their struggle and ultimately gain an understanding of how ingenuity and pride can sometimes trump the most difficult of circumstances.

    Valerie Bischoff

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Alice Perry on cinematographer Janusz Kaminski

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James Carville once said about his relationship with Mary Matalin, “You can hate the sin but love the sinner.”

I feel the same way about Janusz Kaminski, Steven Spielberg’s longtime cinematographer. Mr. Kaminski is a real artist, a real painter of light. His sin? Working with Steven Spielberg, one of the more heavy-handed (think of a sledge hammer repeatedly whacking your head) directors.

Independent filmmakers almost exclusively use the digital medium, but we can all learn a few things from a master manipulator of celluloid like Mr. Kaminski.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mr. Kaminski described how he made “Lincoln” look like a timeless movie—not by CG effects but by simply moving the lights.

“I felt you had to pull back a bit, so as not to jar the audience,” he explained. “One way of achieving that is to not light the walls. They were not 100% unlit, but enough so that the colors of the walls and carpets were muted. You have to think about the philosophy of light. It’s supposed to be motivated by natural sources. But if that logic doesn’t work for dramatic reasons, you adjust.”

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“For example, the gas lamps of Lincoln’s time wouldn’t give enough illumination for the cameras, which are not as sensitive as the eye,” he continues. “You cannot photograph a Spielberg movie using just candlelight. Stanley Kubrick did some shots like that, but with special lenses and just in certain scenes. If you light with just an oil lamp, you will see only the lamp and the face next to it. So I used the natural light in the scene and moved the film lights back. It’s a trick, a cheat. But it works.”

Mr. Kaminski also explained why some people believe that the acting was better during the black-and-white film era.

 “In color movies, actors are not always the main objects of illumination. Sometimes they’re not lit much at all, and audiences start appreciating things that aren’t the most important to the story. In black-and-white films, there’s no color to distract viewers. Consequently, actors in black-and-white movies are the main focus of the frame because they are often the brightest element in the frame. Because you’re not lighting the actors in color films, some attention is drawn away by that absence.”

Perhaps the use of black-and-white film in “The Artist” was the nudge that pushed the Oscar into Jean Dujardin’s hands last year.

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

NYCFF Film & Finance Forum 2013

Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2013
7:00pm
Alley NYC
500 7th Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY

New York City Film & Finance (NYCFF) will continue its popular annual gathering at AlleyNYC, one of NYC’s best co-working environments. Their facilities are conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan near the Fashion District. This gathering is designed to foster productive relationships between our attendees as well as provide an unbiased insight into the business of film and film finance. The event features a powerful roster of highly topical panelists from film & finance industries as well as guests who represent Film Festivals & Crowdfunding. We are delighted to welcome real-world financiers among our guests! The evening’s panel discussions address key issues relevant to filmmakers, financiers and anyone interested in the economics, business mechanics, and financial dynamics of both feature & independent film. Each panel is followed by a Q&A with the participants. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact & network with our featured experts and fellow attendees.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Entrepreneurs, consultants, attorneys, bankers, investment managers, venture capitalists, angel investors and other professionals with an interest in the movie business will find this event worthwhile. Everyone who cares about independent film is cordially invited to join us. Are you considering taking an active role in film, or would you like to expand your current involvement? Don’t miss this high-value yet low-cost learning experience and the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers. Established & aspiring filmmakers looking to raise capital for their projects, production companies, movie slates, film funds or other ventures are, naturally, more than welcome as well.

WHY ATTEND?
New to film finance? Need to brush up your topical knowledge? Want to deepen your understanding? Care to participate in an ongoing conversation & community dedicated to the subject? This uniquely valuable gathering is right for you! Gain crucial insights from leading experts in their field. Network with fellow film & finance professionals. Meet potential collaborators and future business partners. All this at a price that is hard to beat.

For complete information visit: http://nycff13.eventbrite.com/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

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