EXCLUSIVE: Spotlight production co Topic Studios is teaming with journalism outfit Field of Vision to offer $250,000 in emergency financial help for struggling documentary freelancers during the coronavirus lockdown.
The two companies are divisions of First Look Media, the org set up by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar with doc heavyweights Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras.
Industry freelancers have been particularly hard hit by the economic aspects of the crisis, with film and TV production halted around the world. As such, the fund is aiming to support the most vulnerable by providing life assistance grants, such as for rent, healthcare, bills, groceries, for those who have experienced financial hardship from loss of income or opportunity. The money comes from the operating budgets of the two companies.Field of Vision / Topic Studios
The fund will offer individual grants of up to $2,000 in two chunks, initially in April and then again in May, as the situation evolves. It will open for applications between April 8 and April 10 or until the companies receive 750 applications and then again between May 6 and May 8 or until a further 750 applications are received.
Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Field of Vision, Charlotte Cook said, “This is an incredibly hard time for the documentary field and we're hoping the fund is able to offer some relief. We started with our virtual mentorship and consultation service to try and be as available to filmmakers as possible, but felt it was vitally important to also provide financial assistance. We want to support the artists working in the documentary field every day, but especially now, and will continue to build and add more resources as we can over the next few weeks and months.”
Executive Vice President of Topic Studios, Maria Zuckerman added, “We at Topic Studios are proud to launch this initiative in partnership with our close colleagues at Field of Vision. We hope to respond to the needs of our collaborators in the documentary community and look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when our main focus will again be on making great work together.”
It looks like Martin Scorsese is missing his pals at Netflix. The streaming giant essentially gave Scorsese a blank check to make The Irishman, and now that the legendary filmmaker is back working with a regular studio, he’s reportedly getting nostalgic for that Netflix freedom. Scorsese is currently working on Killers of the Flower Moon, which stars both Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. The movie already has a budget over $220 million dollars, which is rumored to be giving studio Paramount more than a few sleepless nights.
Richard Rushfield broke this story in his Ankler newsletter, stating that there are rumors swirling that Netflix could swoop in and grab Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Rushfield states these are nothing but rumors for now, but does add that even if Netflix doesn’t come to the rescue, Scorsese would sure like them to. As the story goes, Paramount is nervous about Flower Moon‘s current $225 million budget – and not even the presence of box office draw Leonardo DiCaprio is soothing these worries.
Scorsese had money to burn and a wealth of freedom on the Netflix-released The Irishman, and Paramount’s worry over the budget seems to have him pining for that sweet, sweet Netflix support system. Again: None of this means Netflix is going to ride in on a white horse and take Killers of the Flower Moon away. Still, it’s interesting to learn how fond of Netflix Scorsese has become – and who can blame him? He’s been making movies the old fashioned way for decades, and then Netflix went ahead and gave him tons of money and freedom to do whatever the heck he wanted. Who wouldn’t want to return to that?
Based on a true story, and the book of the same name by David Gran, Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the Osage murders of the 1920s. At the time, the Osage Nation in Oklahoma had become extremely wealthy due to oil being discovered beneath their land. Then, as the book jacket explains “one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.” The FBI, still in its infancy at the time, began investigating, and sent in a former Texas Ranger, Tom White, to try to find the killer or killers. White put together an undercover team to get to the bottom of things, and ended up exposing a conspiracy in the process.
As a lifelong Scorsese fan, I’m of the opinion that studios and producers should give him as much damn money and freedom as he wants to get his films made, but hey, that’s me. Scorsese is set to start...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...