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Remery Camacho, a 20-year-old film student at St. Johns’ University has always had dreams of being a filmmaker. A native of the Bronx, Camacho comes from humble beginnings but has accomplished a lot through hard work and determination.
“I love storytelling; I’ve always loved being told stories and telling them as well,” Camacho says. “Film is just a crazy form of storytelling. All these aspects are working together and they all serve different devices through the storytelling.”
As a film student, Camacho does acknowledge to an extent that one does not need to go to school in order to become a successful filmmaker. “You can learn whatever you want to learn about online or writing; if you want to learn how to write, just keep writing,” he says.
But Camacho also agrees that going to school for film does have its benefits. “Film school is very helpful and necessary if you want to rent equipment and shoot your own stuff.” Studying film has also allowed Camacho to learn more about the camera, lighting and cinematography.
Camacho realized how passionate he was about film through his father. Starting at the age of 10, him and his father would watch films every Saturday night. “He introduced me to movies that I didn’t even know existed, Genres that I would never even bother to enjoy,” he says. “I just thought there was comedy, horror and action. But my dad introduced me to dramas and dark comedies, real stuff about the human condition and very accurate stuff about people and how they act.”
Camacho got to perfect his cinematic skills a bit more when he joined the Ghetto Film School at the age of 17. A non-profit organization in the Bronx, the Ghetto Film School helps young, aspiring filmmakers get a head start in their careers. Camacho was originally put off by the school’s name but later learned that the school actually had immense connections to the film industry. David O. Russell, Spike Jonze and Jason Reitman have all given lectures there.
At the Ghetto Film School is where Camacho directed his first short film, Former Self. “It was a great experience but also very overwhelming to be a 17-year-old and have a camera put in your hands and then being told ‘This is what we expect of you.’”
Camacho made Former Self a family affair by casting his parents and his two best friends in the story about a family man whose criminal past comes back to haunt him. Former Self was inspired by Camacho’s love of crime films directed by the likes of Sidney Lumet and Quentin Tarantino.
Former Self was selected as one of ten films from Camacho’s class to screen at the Walter Reed Theatre at Lincoln Center. The top three short films won a one thousand dollar prize from Google. Camacho’s film was one of them. “I got to get up on stage and give a speech and thank my friends and family. It was such an Oscar moment,” he laughs. “It’s one of my favorite memories ever.”
For the future, Camacho hopes to get an internship as a production assistant on a professional shoot in order to learn in depth the ins and outs of a film set. After college, Camacho plans to write and direct more short films and perhaps have them submitted to film festivals. “I want to make something so good so I can prove myself to others and say ‘Hey, I can make a film, I’m ready. I’ll pitch my idea right now and you’re going to produce it,’ that’s basically where I want to be after college.”


The Gotham Independent Film Awards kicked off the 2014-2015 awards season last Tuesday. Julianne Moore picked up the Best Actress award for her unflinching portrayal of a Columbia University professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice. Experts and pundits are predicting that Moore will also earn the Academy Award for the film, which was just released for a one-week awards qualifying run this weekend.

Ali Rashti, a production assistant for the film, spoke to The Art House Attic about his experience on the set of Still Alice.

A native of Montreal, Canada, Rashti’s first experience in production came as an editor for the pornographic site, Brazzers and its parent company, Manwin (now known as MindGeek). At Manwin, Rashti edited original content for the web and he re-packaged previous content from the web for broadcast like Playboy TV, as well as Video on Demand. “We would bring past porn content from the web to broadcast level and sort of re-versioned it so it would be broadcast ready,” he says. “Web is the wild west of broadcast. You can just cut something together and put it up. But with broadcast, there are a lot of things that you need to prepare with audio and picture and to take that extra step to make sure that it qualifies to be broadcasted on television.”

Rashti worked with Manwin for about a year and then landed his first job as a production assistant on an independent Canadian film called Black Noise. The film’s plot is similar to Still Alice in that it also features a lead character living with Alzheimer’s. Black Noise did not receive a theatrical release due to its miniscule budget but it did have a VOD release in both Canada and the U.S. The film is also available on Itunes.

Rashti then moved to New York and one of the first jobs he landed was Still Alice. Besides Moore, the film also stars Alec Baldwin, Kirsten Stewart and Kate Bosworth. Rashti describes the experience as very humbling and also speaks fondly of the film’s directors, married couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, whose lives now tragically mirror that of Moore’s character in the film. In 2013, Glatzer was diagnosed with A.L.S., also known as Lou Gerig’s disease. Rashti says that on the set of the film, Glatzer could not talk so he had to use an Ipad to communicate with Westmoreland and the crew. “It was really interesting how they were making this movie about this woman and her family going through a horrible situation and how it paralleled to their own lives,” Rashti says.

In describing his job as a unit production assistant, Rashti recalls assisting in the locations of the shoot and labeling the load in and the load out for the set trucks and the crew. “You’re always the first one on set in the morning and afterwards you’re the last ones there waiting for everyone to clear out. You then begin to take out the signs and the trash, and there’s a lot of trash on set,” Rashti laughs, describing himself as a “set garbage man.” Rashti also recalls some miscellaneous things like shoveling sand from a boardwalk for about three hours in order to allow the wheels on the directors’ tracking camera to fit the boardwalk.

There was also a day when Rashti and other production assistants were used as extras playing students in a scene where Moore gives a lecture in a classroom. “It’s a small, independent production and on that day we did not have enough extras on set,” Rashti recalls. “Most of the P.A.’s have a little cameo in the film which is kinda cool,” he says with a smile.

Since his work on Still Alice, Rashti has moved on to do P.A. work on a much bigger production, a comedy called The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, which is being released next year. Rashti says that working on the set of an indie film like Still Alice, as well as a bigger, studio film like The Intern were both great experiences but for different reasons. “Shooting a studio film is a lot more comfortable. There’s more at your disposal in terms of stuff like cash flow, food services and safety rides,” he says. “But I feel like with the indie films, the projects tend to be more of passion projects as opposed to the studio films.”

The Oscar-winning director of 12 years a Slave, who began his career as an indie filmmaker, has lined up his next film project. The Film Experience

Actress Susan Sarandon writes a post on how documentary films are absolutely vital in contributing to social change and activism in general. Indiewire

Snowpiercer is now available on Netflix. The author explains why the film does a great job showing the systematic class oppression faced by minorities and the poor. Shadow and Act

Author explains how indie films like Birdman, The Imitation Game and Boyhood are making a big splash on this years Oscar race. Variety

Interview with indie cinematographer Bradford Young (Pariah, All Them Bodies Saints) on what it’s like to be an African American in a predominantly white profession. Huffington Post

Film critic Stephen Holden lists his most anticipated films from the DOC NYC Film Festival, which began this past Thursday. The New York Times


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Jonathan Rigler, a film major at Brooklyn College sat down with me to speak about his experience as a film student in New York City, his love of cinema, his short film “A Victim, A Target” and what lies ahead for him as an up and coming independent filmmaker.

A Victim, A Target from Jonathan Rigler on Vimeo.

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With a decade-spanning narrative and a featuring a new spin on the coming of age genre, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has been the breakout indie of 2014. Distributed by IFC films, Boyhood has been both a financial and critical success. Shot during a 12 year period with the same actors, it seems that the film’s groundbreaking concept has captured the imagination of audiences throughout the world.

Boyhood tells the story of Mason, a six-year-old boy who by the film’s conclusion is an 18-year-old young man on his way to college. The film features no gimmicks or plot twists, just simply the passage of time. It shows us how even the littlest and most insignificant moments in our childhood and our adolescence have a profound impact on who we become as young adults. Simply put, it’s like no other film you will ever see.

Critics have been raving and have rewarded Boyhood with an unheard of 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Linklater and his film are now being tipped as frontrunners for the Academy Awards next year. For such a tiny indie film like Boyhood, this is huge deal. Linklater is also being singled out as a potential Best Director frontrunner. He is seemed as overdue after years of great work (Dazed and Confused, the Before Midnight trilogy). The fact that he took 12 years to finish this passion project will only add to the chorus of people saying he deserves to win.

But how will Boyhood, with its miniscule $4 million budget compete with the bigger movies for the gold come awards season? Remember, the film is being distributed by IFC films which isn’t exactly known for putting down money for awards campaigns due to budget concerns. For this reason, independent studios and their films find it hard to compete for Oscars with the bigger studios.

Jonathan Rosen, an employee at the IFC center in New York City says that the film’s heart will be enough to persuade voters. “This is the first film where I have seen grown men crying when they were coming out of the theatre,” Rosen says. “The film’s concept is so simple and it’s themes so universal, that anyone can relate to it.”

He’s right. Whether you relate to the film through your own childhood or through having raised a child of your own, Boyhood will have you reaching for a tissue box by the time the credits start rolling


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David Fincher’s Gone Girl has hit the cultural zeitgeist. It has been the subject of more think pieces and op-eds than perhaps any film this year. And although not really an “indie” film, the timeliness of the film’s subject matter and the national debate that it has caused makes it a good topic of conversation for this blog. Plus, I don’t think there is any credible cinephile out there who would argue that Fincher isn’t an auteur. And that is one of the things this blog does, it discusses the films of our greatest auteurs.

The main and most contentious debate surrounding Gone Girl is the film’s gender politics (warning: spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the film). Based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, it tells the story of Amy and Nick Dunne, a perfect-looking couple from New York whose marriage goes sour after moving to Missouri. After learning his wife has disappeared and perhaps murdered on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect and the focus of an excruciating media witch hunt. But we then learn that Amy has in fact faked her own kidnapping and murder in order to punish Nick for his affair with a younger woman.

Throughout the film, Amy lays waste with any man that comes across her with false accusations of pregnancy, domestic abuse and rape.

So is Amy a feminist hero who is using her power as a woman to get back at the men who have emotionally neglected her? Or is she the embodiment of the worst kind of stereotype of psychotic women who make up allegations of rape and abuse and even commit murder?

I would argue that it’s neither. I especially disagree with the theory that the film is sexist. Amy does not do the things she does because she’s a woman; she does it because she’s a psychopath. Amy is not meant to be a literal representation of all women. The same way that other cinematic psychos like Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter were not meant to be a representation of all men.

Maria Santic, a junior who minors in Women’s Studies at City College in New York agrees. “Why do all women on television and film have to be perfect saints? Women are extremely complex creatures,” she says. “I think Amy Dunne is the most three-dimensional female character I’ve seen in any film this year.”

Santic thinks that we do a disservice to female characters if they’re all portrayed as inherently good. “Amy wasn’t just in the kitchen being the supportive, devoted wife to the male protagonist; she was actually running the film’s narrative,” she says. “Nowadays you hardly ever see that on film.”

Santic points to an article in the New Republic by Becca Rothfeld in which she argues that Amy is a fascinating throwback to the femme fatale archetype of the Film Noir genre that was very popular in the 1940’s. Ironically, this is a decade in which female characters actually had more agency than they do in today’s films. In that article, Rothfeld compares Amy to the grandmother of all femme fatales, Phyllis Dietrichson of the 1944 classic, Double Indemnity.

I would also compare Amy to another intriguing archetype: the male anti-hero that we see on cable television today. Like Tony Soprano, Donald Draper and Walter White; Amy Dunne is a protagonist who does morally reprehensible things while also still maintaining the audience’s sympathy. The only difference is that Amy does it in high heels, and that shouldn’t be held against her.


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This past summer, Bong Joon-Ho’s dystopian sci-fi, action film Snowpiercer captured the imaginations of both mainstream audiences and art-house enthusiasts. The film’s combination of lush visuals and frantic action scenes alongside its very timely message about the socioeconomic battle between the haves and the haves not, made for a striking outing from the Korean director.

And yet, despite its financial and critical success (94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the majority of the chatter surrounding Snowpiercer centered on the film’s very unorthodox release strategy.

Radius-TWC, a sub-division of the Weinstein Co. that specializes in Video on Demand platforms for independent films, distributed the film by releasing it on VOD just two weeks after its theatrical outing. This is obviously not unheard of. VOD has been a go-to release platform in order for independent films to reach a wider audience for quite some time.

Snowpiercer marked a change because the film has the look of your typical and formulaic Hollywood blockbuster. Of course the difference being that its budget was a fraction of the price of say one of the Marvel films.

The result was a success for Radius-TWC. Snowpiercer’s VOD gross was actually higher than its theatrical one. Dozens of think-pieces were written hailing this triumph. Some were calling VOD the smartest way of distribution in order for indie films to not get crowed by bigger films in the marketplace. Others were hinting that VOD is where the future of film viewing was heading anyways.

Tom Quinn, co-president of Radius-TWC, told Entertainment Weekly this past July that Snowpiercer is a “game-changer.”

Some have their doubts though. Derek Carter, general manager at the Angelika Film Center in New York, feels that the studio could have had a bigger financial success if it had released the film in a wider and traditional theatrical form.

“At its peak, Snowpiercer’s widest release was 356 theaters. In 101 days in release it made $4.5 million,” he says. “If they would had released it in at least a thousand screens that movie could had made $20 million”. Carter believes that the studio did not market the film in a proper way in terms of commercials and trailers. And in that point I have to concur. Most casual film-goers that I know had not even heard of the film until I showed them the trailer on YouTube. All of them had interest in seeing it afterwards.

Carter also argues that the studio did not have much faith in the film’s financial prospects, hence the VOD release. “I could hear the proverbial jaws drop when I reported to the studio representative the first-week sales returns. They were actually surprised that it was doing well,” he says. “Trust me, VOD killed this movie!”

Carter argues that the Weinstein Co. similarly “dumped” other films in its indie slate, including: The Immigrant, Tracks and The disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

It’s hard to say if a wider theatrical release would have helped Snowpiercer’s box office numbers. Despite its thrilling action and heart-pounding fight scenes, the film is at its core a very cerebral and dark political allegory that likely would have not appealed to a mainstream summer crowd looking for escapism.

What is clear though, is that this debate on the merit of VOD is not going away.