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.”
More sad news on the Coronavirus front as several actors and artists have passed away from the deadly disease sweeping the globe. Actor Jay Benedict died Monday from the disease at age 68. He is best known in the states for roles in 1986's classic sci-fi thriller Aliens and 2012's blockbuster hit The Dark Knight Rises. Overseas he is perhaps best known for his starring role in the U.K. TV series Emmerdale.
The news of Jay Benedict's death was first reported by TCG Artist Management's Kristin Tarry. She has represented the actor for over twenty years. She had this to say about his death on Monday.'It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear client Jay Benedict, who this afternoon lost his battle with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with his family.'
Jay Benedict's role in Aliens was greatly expanded in James Cameron's director's cut of the 1986 box office hit. He played Newt's father, with a major scene featuring the actor returned in a later version of the movie. In The Dark Knight Rises he played Rich Twit for director Christopher Nolan. On Emmerdale, he played Doug Hamilton in the series, which has aired in the UK. since 1972. He made his first appearance on the show in the late '90s.
The actor is survived by wife Phoebe Scholfield and their two sons Freddie andLeopold. Friend Pierce Brosnan posted a lengthy tribute on Instagram to the late actor. He had this to say about Jay Benedict.'My dearest friend Jay Benedict, brother in this life, has passed on... we were friends for so many years, forty years and change. This is a photo taken last May outside the stage door of the Lyric theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue London. Jay and I played brothers in a Franco Zeffirelli production of Filumena... Life was so much fun with Jay, on stage and off, we laughed a lot at the world around us, at our selves, saw the funny side of life always.' 'He was a courageous man of handsome life force, that shone its light in every room he walked into, down every road he traveled, he shared his joyful radiance of kinship with all who knew him, a fine mind of intellect and compassion, he gave of himself in every way to the craft of acting, but above all else, he gave us all his great love of life, himself.'
Vicki Michelle, who co-starred with Benedict on Emmerdale, also had fond words for her friend, which she posted on twitter.
Jay Benedict was also remembered by actor David Menkin, who went onto say, 'Jay Benedict - one of the greats - passed away today. If you work in ADR, dubbing, voiceovers, theatre or film in London, you know why we're heartbroken; a big voice and even bigger personality has left us.' Benedict is the most recent in a list of celebrities, actors and artist who have lost their lives to the deadly virus sweeping across the globe at this time. Patricia Bosworth succumbed to the disease on Thursday at 86. She acted opposite Audrey Hepburn but was perhaps better known for...
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below: