Thursday, May 21, 2009

Robust Cannes sales for CMG

Ed Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group has reported robust sales on his slate, led by a UK deal with G2 on the action title Blood And Bone.
Noeltner negotiated the deal for Blood And Bone, starring Michael Jai White, with G2’s Nick Hedman and Alan Partington after fielding at least four other offers from UK buyers.
The film also went to: Australia (Eagle Pictures); South Africa (Nu Metro); Eastern Europe (SPI); Brazil (California); Turkey (Horizon); India (PVR); and the Middle East (Front Row).
The 3D animated title Khumba sold to: Russia (Luxor); Portugal (VC Multimedia); the Middle East (Front Row); Turkey (Film Pop); Czech/Slovak Republics (Hollywood); and Poland (Vision).
Noeltner closed deals on the racial drama American Violet in: Australia (Eagle Pictures); Scandinavia (CCV); the Middle East (Front Row); Turkey (Horizon); and Poland (Vision).The film is in US release through Samuel Goldwyn Films.  Animated film Zambezia went to Nu Metro in South Africa and Hollywood for the Czech/Slovak Republics.
“We’ve had four new films for the market and each one has found key independent buyers,” Noeltner said. “We had price expectations that were met and everyone’s happy.”
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Khumba teaser launches at Cannes

Triggerfish has just completed production on a teaser promo for their second animated feature film Khumba. The promo will be launched at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival as part of the National Film and Video Foundation's 10th Anniversary campaign by Los Angeles-based Cinema Management Group (CMG), which also handles all sales on Triggerfish's first film, Zambezia.
Production of the 3-minute teaser was made possible through the generous assistance of the NFVF. It had to be completed in under 3 months in order to make the Cannes deadline, so the challenge was to create and design the various Karoo settings as well as rig and animate a herd of zebras (each with their own personality) in time. "We had an efficient and dedicated team and it is thanks to their combined efforts that Khumba will be on screen at Cannes at a time when Pixar's Up is opening the festival," says writer/director Anthony Silverston.
The 3- month production is fast compared to the 3-year scriptwriting process (the script was developed with the assistance of the UK Council and NFVF after winning a major script competition in the Zero to Hero category). "People have always responded positively to the concept," says co-writer, Raffaella Delle Donne "...but after the many years developing Khumba on paper, it has been extremely rewarding to see him come to life on screen."
A strong cast lends their voice talent to the teaser including ex-South African Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Wolverine) who happened to be shooting in Cape Town at the time of recording, Zolani Mahola, lead singer of internationally acclaimed Afro-fusion band Freshlyground and Nik Rabinowitz, SA Comedian of the year 2008. Voice performance is always key in animation, and although the feature will most probably be dubbed for North American audiences, it was important to the creators to maintain a level of authenticity even with this promo. "Audiences should have time to become accustomed to the various accents on the full-length feature," says Silverston. "It is a challenge that has been with this project from the start - how to maintain authenticity of the very local flavour that the story and setting require, while still retaining worldwide commercial appeal - and I believe we have achieved that with this piece."
Sales will be handled by international sales agent Edward Noeltner of CMG. Triggerfish producer, Stuart Forrest, says "we have built a healthy relationship with Edward over the last year while he very successfully represented Zambezia - making almost a million dollars in pre-sales - and we are extremely excited that he has agreed to represent Khumba as well."
To find out more information go to

Khumba Teaser Promo from Triggerfish Animation on Vimeo.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Solid Foundation

When South Africa's National Film and Video Foundation emerged 10 years ago, the need for such an organization might have been strong, but there was no lack of skepticism within the local film sector. After all, it had been only five years since the country had finally escaped Apartheid. Given that, many in the industry were wary of a government body becoming so directly involved in the film business.

"There was a lot of skepticism initially because of South Africa's past," says Eddie Mbalo, CEO of the organization, which serves as a mediator between the interests of the state, the industry and South African society, assisting in everything from financing to script development, production and distribution. "Filmmakers did not believe that government wouldn't interfere with their creativity in terms of censorship. It took about two years before the CEO was appointed and it took another year or two before tangible results were seen."

A decade later, the NFVF has played a pivotal role in the evolution of South Africa's burgeoning film sector, and without it the country's indigenous film movement might not even exist.

"The NFVF helps South African filmmakers see the value of investing time and resources in developing their scripts," says Edward Noeltner, president of Santa Monica-based Cinema Management Group, whose full-length animated feature, "Khumba," will be launching in Cannes this year. "They bring on script editors who then work with the writers to create a marketable product. Many young and upcoming filmmakers lack the resources to spend a long time at scriptwriting stage. The NFVF provides funding to see that this stage is not neglected."

In addition to development funding for the screenplay, the NFVF partnered with the U.K. Film Council and provided script workshop sessions with British writers and script editors.

"Many young and upcoming filmmakers lack the resources to spend a long time at the scriptwriting stage," Noeltner says. "Our South African partner, Triggerfish Animation, has benefited tremendously from the NFVF involvement in their projects. Through their script development program, they've given Triggerfish a structured approach to developing their scripts which has meant that we've ended up with tighter, more polished scripts with clear character arcs and story progression."

"The NFVF has supported writers through programs like SEDIBA, which was aimed at developing aspiring feature film writers and developing script editing talent," adds writer-director-producer Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat, whose latest effort as producer, "Master Harold ... and the Boys" recently shot in South Africa. "I was a participant in the first workshop and my knowledge of writing and story made quantum leaps after the program."

In addition to assisting with script development, the NFVF also provided funding for Goodman-Bhyat's 2007 release "Confessions of a Gambler" and selected him to be their representative at the Rotterdam festival producers lab in 2006.

Raising the profile of South African filmmakers on an international level has been a key focus of the NFVF, and for Goodman-Bhyat this has played a pivotal role in the long-term development of local talent.

"The NFVF has made part of its focus exposing S.A. talent to international film festivals, sales agents and distributors," he says, "so their greatest contribution has been to the development of indigenous voices in the S.A. film industry and creating opportunities for the talent to network internationally."

According to Goodman-Bhyat, the NFVF is mindful of backing local projects that will properly represent contemporary South African values . "They seem to typically prefer funding projects that are indigenous stories of cultural or historical significance that do not glorify colonial rule," he says.

For Mbalo, the NFVF's success during the past decade might be a source of personal pride, but he still sees plenty of work to be done.

"The successes have been very rewarding and I am grateful that I have been part of this journey from Day 1," he says. "I think that there is greater awareness of the developing South African film sector, more and more people are being trained with more sustainable skills that will contribute to the film industry into the future. (But) we need the government to understand that the content industry is a growth area and job creator. The responsibility still lies with the industry to justify its existence to politicians."

By Kevin Cassidy
taken from:
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