‘Rust’ Shooting Updates, ‘Eternals’ Pulled From Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, IATSE Contract Ratification Vote Will Begin Nov. 12, Results on Nov. 15, Film Festivals After Virtual Events And Black Filmmakers Look to Capitalize on International Demand for More Diverse Stories

By Demi Vitkute

November 10, 2021

Every week, new details are being revealed about the Rust shooting. Rust armorer’s attorneys claim they’re investigating whether a live bullet was placed as sabotage on set.

Eternals was pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait because of a scene featuring gay character Phastos kissing his male partner.

IATSE has set a date for a ratification vote for its new three-year contract. Voting will begin on Friday, Nov. 12, and the results will be announced on Nov. 15.

Pandemic streaming has caused panic that people will continue to prefer at-home viewing instead of going to a movie theater. What’s next for film festivals after a pandemic of mostly virtual events?

Finally, the success of non-U.S., non-English language content, like Netflix’s Korean series Squid Game, displays a growing global interest for films and shows coming from outside the “mainstream.” Filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal, the Pakistani-born director, said the hardest challenge for creators from marginalized communities remains “access to funds and access to eyeballs.”

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These are the stories of the week.

‘Rust’ Shooting Saga Updates

The attorneys for Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who is being investigated by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s department in the wake of Halyna Hutchins’ death from a prop gun discharged by Alec Baldwin, told NBC’s Today that they’re looking into whether a live bullet was placed in a box of dummy rounds with the intent of “sabotaging the set.”

“I believe that somebody who would do that would want to sabotage the set, want to prove a point, want to say that they’re disgruntled, they’re unhappy,” Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney Jason Bowles told Today. “And we know that people had walked off the set the day before.”

You can watch the full 10-minute interview with the attorneys here.

Deadline has confirmed that Matthew Hutchins, the husband of late Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, has hired L.A.-based firm Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi, which specializes in personal injury and wrongful death litigation, with partner Brian Panish acting as lead counsel.

A rep for the firm would not comment if Matthew Hutchins’ legal plans are going forward against the production, however, it would not be shocking if a wrongful death suit is filed.

Alec Baldwin has stated that police officers should be employed on all film and TV sets that utilize guns.

Tweeting from his now private account, and also sharing the same message on his personal Instagram page, Baldwin wrote, “Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety.”

Typically, the burden of responsibility for firearms safety on a film or TV set is placed with the props master or armorer.

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You can follow all Rust movie accident updates on Deadline.

‘Eternals’ Pulled From Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait Due to Gay Superhero

‘Eternals’ Pulled From Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait Due to Gay Superhero

Marvel’s Eternals will not screen in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Qatar, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The all-star superhero film, which was due for release across the Gulf region on Nov. 11, was met with a series of edit requests by local censors. Disney refused to comply.

The movie was pulled because of a scene featuring gay character Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, kissing his male partner. Phastos is the first gay superhero to ever be shown in a Marvel movie.

The movie is also the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) installment led by a woman of color: Chloe Zhao, who is Chinese and made history when she won an Academy Award this year for directing Nomadland.

Usually, big blockbusters like Eternals are made to be easily edited to comply with foreign cinema guidelines. Arab nations typically cut sex, homosexuality, or religious scenes from movies, but this time Disney wasn’t willing to make the alterations.

Variety reported that director Chloe Zhao has said in several interviews she personally didn’t want to see Eternals altered to comply with foreign guidelines, saying that Phastos’s homosexuality is an integral part of the film.

Rather than edit Phastos out, Disney elected not to release Eternals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or Kuwait. It can still be viewed in the United Arab Emirates, however.

IATSE Contract Ratification Vote Will Begin Nov. 12, Results on Nov. 15

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has set a date for a ratification vote for its new three-year contract. Voting will begin on Friday, Nov. 12, and the results will be announced on Nov. 15 -- Variety reported.

Voting will be conducted electronically, and the deadline for members to cast ballots is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 14.

The union’s leadership is urging its 60,000 members to support the contract, which provides a 54-hour weekend rest period and a pay increase for the lowest-paid workers. The leadership reached the deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Oct. 16, averting a nationwide film and TV production strike.

But many members have said they will vote no because the contract does not do enough to address quality of life issues. In particular, they have objected that the deal provides only 10 hours off between shifts — which most workers already had under the previous agreement.

Members have taken to social media to oppose the agreement. If they reject the agreement, the bargaining would start over again, and it could once again lead to a strike.

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To counter the opponents, union leaders are looking for members who are willing to publicly support the new contract in short videos and written testimonials, which will be distributed on its social media accounts.

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In a memo to members last week, IATSE acknowledged the opposition, but argued that division at this stage will only serve the employers’ interests.

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The union is seeking approval of two contracts: the Basic Agreement, which covers the 13 West Coast locals, and the Area Standards Agreement, which covers another 23 locals around the country. To be ratified, each contract must win a majority of union delegates, with the delegates’ votes determined by a majority vote within each local.

What’s Next for Film Festivals After a Pandemic Year of Mostly Virtual Events?

What’s Next for Film Festivals After a Pandemic Year of Mostly Virtual Events?

Live screenings, panels, and community events are back at film festivals in 2021, even if some virtual elements remain — The Wrap reports.

Pandemic streaming has caused panic that movie fans will continue to prefer at-home viewing instead of going to a movie theater. But Lela Meadow-Conner, executive director of the Film Festival Alliance, told The Wrap the live experience is central to the film festival experience.

The Film Festival Alliance has about 250 members, but Meadow-Conner said there are thousands of small film festivals around the country. Unlike the larger “market” festivals such as Sundance, she said regional festivals still emphasize the screening experience with panel discussions and chances to mingle. “Our member organizations are very rooted in their communities for 15 or 20 years; they were very much missed in their time off,” she said. “They have community support.”

Last year around this time, some festival directors told The Wrap that virtual programming In 2020 and early 2021 was so successful that it would likely remain a major part of future festival planning, pandemic or not. But others had a different opinion.

Ojai Film Festival founder and director Steve Grummette was one of those disappointed by the reality of virtual events. Last November, before the all-virtual 2020 Ojai fest, he was excited about the potential. He told The Wrap he thought that online screenings and other events would allow for global connections that would otherwise be impossible for small festivals and independent filmmakers.

As the 22nd Annual Ojai Film Festival approaches next month, Grummette said he and his team did not take into account the multiple difficulties that come with a virtual event. They discovered that virtual events need “a much larger marketing push.”

“Now you have to reach the whole world, not just people who might be able to come to your little community where the festival takes place,” he said. “Based on previous years, I think it’s safe to say the turnout would have been better if we’d done it live.”

Grummette said another mistake they made was trying to replicate the live screening experience by only streaming films at specific times, rather than allowing virtual festival-goers to log in and stream the film on demand.

This year, the festival will still have some virtual screenings, but with no set streaming times. Live Q&A sessions will also be available with any screening, although the audience will not be able to ask questions unless they are either attending the live event or live streaming it.

On another hand, the New York Film Festival (NYFF) had a successful turn out last year. In 2020, its attendance increased by 9% from 2019. Over 70,000 people attended the 2020 New York Film Festival, which was among the most-attended ever in its six-decade history.

Although attendance numbers aren’t yet counted for this year’s festival, which took place from Sept. 24-Oct. 10, Leslie Klainberg, executive director of Film at Lincoln Center, the nonprofit that oversees NYFF, said a live festival is definitely the preferable option for the future. The audience makeup skewed younger than usual this year, she said, possibly because older filmgoers are still warier about returning to indoor cinemas during COVID-19.

“It’s a part of our mission that we want to present in a way in the manner in which a filmmaker intends, the best possible projection in the best theaters possible. That’s what we’re about,” Klainberg told The Wrap. “We really embrace the ability to be able to get back into our theaters.”

Klainberg said live screenings are also a preferred choice for studios and distributors when booking a new film.

Another drawback, Klainberg said, was “No popcorn. Maybe that’s the hardest.”

She’s right. Last winter, while streaming a movie, I burned my popcorn in the microwave and almost set my apartment on fire.

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AFM: Black Filmmakers Look to Capitalize on International Demand for More Diverse Stories

AFM: Black Filmmakers Look to Capitalize on International Demand for More Diverse Stories

The Hollywood Reporter covered a series of panels at the American Film Market (AFM) last week. There was an important discussion about the challenges faced by filmmakers from marginalized communities in getting their stories made and seen.

The success of non-U.S, non-English-language content, like Netflix’s Korean series Squid Game, displays a growing global interest for films and shows coming from outside the assumed “mainstream.” Yet the myth remains that diverse stories don’t sell.

“Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s all a myth, it’s not true,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, UCLA. “The global audience looks a lot more like American diversity than Europe, I mean Europe is only about 18 percent of the world’s population and maybe 22 percent of the world GDP. All the rest is this rainbow around the world who want to hear diverse stories. And one of the things we’ve seen in the U.S. context is that, as diversity has become more common on-screen, diverse audiences flock to it, they want to see that. They’re not going back now.”

Speaking on an AFM panel organized by the NAACP, Hunt blamed Hollywood gatekeepers for not greenlighting more diverse content.

“All of our data shows that 92 percent of studio heads and CEOs are white, and about 87 percent are male. That freezes out a range of voices,” he said. “White supremacy is real, and it works in many different ways – some of it is intentional, some of it is implicit bias … some of it is lack of imagination to appreciate and recognize a quality story when you see it because your experience does not support it. That’s why it’s important to have diverse voices in the executive suites for greenlighting these stories and we just don’t.”

Filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal, the Pakistani-born director of Against the Grain and I’ll Meet You There, said the hardest challenge for creators from marginalized communities remains “access to funds and access to eyeballs … of course, it is harder to [find money to ] make movies from marginalized groups and when you do make those stories it is harder to get them out to audiences beyond those groups.”

Her advice to filmmakers wanting to tell these stories? “Find your voice … be more commercially minded to keep your investors. And find the right money. Because the right money is going to care for your message and not just an ROI (Return on Investment). And then the ROI will come.”

All agree that streaming has been a game-changer for the industry. Hunt pointed to a report that showed that the list of the top 200 films worldwide released last year was the most diverse in history. This, he argued, was because many smaller and more diverse films were released via streaming platforms and because theaters were largely shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Group and an African industry pioneer, said Netflix has been a trailblazer by embracing global content, including African content. “They’re on the [African] continent because, you know what? They don’t want to leave anything on the table. There is a massive audience there,” she noted. “There are a billion people living on the continent, the internet is spreading around the world, they are getting subscribers, so they are deciding to invest in local stories for local and local stories for global.”

The opportunities are there for Black and other diverse stories to reach the global mainstream, Abudu argued.

“We have to, as Black content producers, find our Squid Game and find those big projects that make studios realize that we are worth investing in.”

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Demi Vitkute writes the weekly entertainment industry news blog for Productions.com. She’s a journalist who has covered entertainment, fashion, and culture. Demi is a founder of The Urban Watch Magazine and has written for The Washington Post, Inside Hook, and Promo Magazine, among others. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Emerson College.