"Life Itself" Makes Oscar Shortlist, PGA, NBR, BOFCA, NYFCO, WAFCA and EW Top Ten
"Life Itself," Steve James' documentary about the life and legacy of iconic film critic Roger Ebert, has been earning wide acclaim ever since its debut at Sundance this past January, and has made the Oscar Shortlist, which qualifies it to be nominated for an Academy Award. It is also garnering various other honors as the 2014 awards season goes into full swing.
Out of 134 eligible submissions, the documentary branch of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences picked "Life itself" as one of the 15 official selections on its shortlist. Five of the titles will be chosen as the Best Documentary nominees on January 15th, 2015.
Once Roger committed to the project, he told Steve James to make it a candid portrait of his life in all of its dimensions. Having championed James' past pictures including "Hoop Dreams" and "The Interrupters," he knew the director would utilize a cinema vérité approach, and the resulting work embodies Roger's belief in cinema as an empathy generating machine. This film resonates with audiences on so many levels.
"Life Itself" was named the Best Documentary of the year by the National Board of Review, who will celebrate their picks on January 6th, 2015 in New York. The film also won the Best Documentary award from the Chicago Film Critics Association, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Online Film Critics Society, African-American Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Online, the Boston Online Film Critics Association and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. It was also the runner-up to "Citizenfour" in the Los Angeles Film Critics' awards. Stephen Rea of The Philadeplhia Inquirer named "Life Itself" as one of the year's five best documentaries, hailing it as "inspirational in so many ways."
The Broadcast Film Critics' Association nominated "Life Itself" for Best Documentary, with the winner set to be honored at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards ceremony on January 15th. The Producer's Guild of America nominated "Life Itself" in the category of Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures, with the winner being announced on January 24th. The other nominees for the Producer's Guild are "Merchants of Doubt," "The Green Prince," "Particle Fever," and "Virunga." Among the other critics groups that nominated "Life Itself" in the Best Documentary category are the St. Louis Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Detroit Film Critics Society, San Diego Film Critics Society, Phoenix Film Critics Society and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association.
In addition to these honors, "Life Itself" was a nominee for Best Documentary at the Gotham Independent Film Awards ("Citizenfour" won), and was screened in the Cannes Classics section of the Cannes Film Festival this past May. It was heralded and premiered in London last month at the Dogwoof Weekender. It won a Founder's Prize at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival, earned a Jury Prize at the Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand and the Best Documentary prize at the 5th American Film Festival in Wrocław, Poland. Cinema Eye included the film on its annual list dubbed "The Unforgettables," highlighting "the year's most notable and significant nonfiction film subjects," and is nominated for a total of five awards at the Cinema Eye Honors, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature of the year. "Life itself" took the number 4 slot in Entertainment Weekly's list ranking the year's ten best films, and was also included on Time Out New York's list of the Top Twenty Movies of 2014.
Roger would've been deeply honored to see his film praised by an industry he spent his life championing. No doubt he is in a faraway screening room right now, tallying his own Oscar picks.
Vagabond Audio mixer Drew Weir
joins Another Country
Last week, audio engineer Drew Weir of Vagabond Audio joined Another Country, Cutters’ sound division, while his wife and partner, Rise’ Sanders, opted to keep the Vagabond brand going and the office doors open to accommodate her clients for the seeable future.
Weir and Sanders, a writer and documentarian, had owned and operated Vagabond Audio boutique for 10 productive years. Even when their six-story sprawling riverside building was sold in August, they had every intention to remain in their 3,000-sq. ft. second studio.
Although the building was going to be developed into residences, a hotel and office space, they felt secure, with a lease in hand that ran another four years, until 2018.
Red Car editorial, their neighbor and good client, however, had apparently used the building sale as an opportunity to cease their Chicago operations. When Red Car left and noisy demolition started, Weir and Sanders had to face the reality of their situation.
“We had to figure out what we wanted to do,” Sanders says. “We could move somewhere else and build a new studio,” but that would have been costly and caused a serious business disruption of several months.
Then, in early September, Tim Konn, executive producer of Another Country, Cutters sound division, stepped up after hearing about Weir’s plight.
“It just happened that we had an open room and had been looking around the country for a seasoned mixer – and there was Drew. I had known him for a long time and respected his work,” Konn says, “so having him join us was win-win.”
Weir joined Another Country Sept. 25, bringing with him a McDonald’s job for Burrell he’d been mixing. “The feedback about Drew being here has been really great,” Konn says.
With Weir seamlessly settled, Sanders made the decision to remain at their River East studio and continue operating out of Vagabond offices as headquarters for her writing and production business.
Another Country has four engineers: John Binder, a Cutters partner, David Gerbosi who’s been with Another Country for four years, Erik Widmark, a recently promoted assistant and Weir.
Another Country’s room had become available after engineers Ben Leller and Robert Marshall, left a few months earlier to form their own company, SumOne Audio.
--By Screenmag 10.03.13
Another Country welcomes producer Joanna Woods
Joanna Woods has joined Another Country as a producer, the company announced this week.
Originally from Kentucky, Woods came to Chicago five years ago. She started in this industry as a receptionist for CRC. She quickly moved into a producer role and found her true love.
Post-production, especially sound, is a natural fit for this singer and artist, She’s excited to join the Another Country staff, with the bonus of learning the gamut of post that Cutters Studios offers.
“I love being around creative people,” she said. “Those connections you build stay with you for a lifetime and it is great to be closer to watching and learning about Cutters Studios’ design and editing work.”
Woods will work closely with Executive Producer Tim Konn.
“Joanna brings such an awesome positive vibe,” Konn said. “She really gets that this is a client service business and she has a great sense of what that should be. And technically she’s ready. She won’t miss a beat.”
--By Screenmag 12.19.12
Ad of the Day: State Farm Kids offer their take on Hurricane Sandy in concert-timed spot from DDB and Joe Pytka
Mixed at Another Country
Last night, a long list of legendary musicians got together at Madison Square Garden to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief. The median age of the artists—a group that included such icons as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, The Who and The Rolling Stones—was approximately 75. So, it was a welcome departure from the evening's geriatrics when State Farm reminded us about another important demographic affected by the superstorm: children.
In a spot from DDB Chicago and director Joe Pytka titled "State of Hope," State Farm interviews a classroom full of kids whose lives have been shaken by Sandy's devastation. But it's not the weeks without power and heat, the flooding or the damage to their homes that they're concerned with. It's the seaside amusement parks.
"I liked eating the cotton candy and licking my fingers," recalls one of the children, who could be out of the classroom scene in Annie Hall. "The roller coaster was as big as the Empire State Building," adds a student with questionable depth perception. "My brother threw up," reports another. But thanks to Sandy, those days are over, the beaches eroded, the boardwalks broken, the roller coaster in Seaside Heights swept into the ocean.
But these resilient kids are already looking ahead, imagining a future with a new, bigger, better roller coaster. One with lots of loops. And maybe even a stronger foundation that can survive the apocalyptic weather we're stuck with for the remainder of our time on Earth. Because, in the wise words of State Farm, "Hope can never be washed away."
--By Emma Bazilian 12.13.12
An Apocalyptic short film - the Most Cinematic Beer Commercial Ever
Mixed at Another Country
STEVENS POINT, Wis., Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A provocative new branded short film starring Stevens Point Brewery's Point 2012 Black Ale is captivating online viewers across the country. Visually iconic and emotionally charged, "The End or The Beginning" depicts two young lovers struggling toward each other amid angry demonstrators, menacing police and mysterious masked onlookers. Overlooking the chaotic street scene as asteroids crash into buildings is a fire-breathing Mayan chieftain, apt symbolism for Point 2012 Black Ale, a robust dark ale inspired by the ancient Mayan "Long Count" calendar that ends ominously on December 21, 2012, prompting various doomsday predictions.
Navigating the chaos, the young couple meets in a romantic embrace featuring Point 2012 Black Ale.
Created and produced by Rascals & Rogues, a Chicago-based production company, "The End or The Beginning" has fascinated thousands of viewers since its May 17 debut on YouTube.com. Shot in downtown Chicago's LaSalle Street financial district on a cold winter day, the apocalyptic vignette showcases Rascals & Rogues creativity and technological expertise. "Kudos to Director Kerry Shaw Brown and Executive Producer Ritch Wedeking and everyone at Rascals & Rogues for their expert execution of this edgy visual adventure." said Joe Martino , Stevens Point Brewery Managing Partner. "2012 Black Ale continues to intrigue ale lovers and it takes the brand's identity to a new level."
According to Brown, the apocalyptic theme is a natural fit with Point 2012 Black Ale's branding. "We love the unique character of the brand and really wanted to create something very cinematic to capture its soul." He said. "Seriously, if the world is about to wind down, it's the kind of ale you want to have in your hand and 'The End or The Beginning' makes that point perfectly clear."
Rascals & Rogues is a creative partnership lead by Wedeking and Brown, who develop and produce film, TV, commercial, Web and corporate content for marketers worldwide. Based in Chicago, Rascals & Rogues works physically as well as virtually for clients and has production partners in Los Angeles, London and Shanghai.
The Stevens Point Brewery, founded in 1857, is the third oldest brewery in America. One hundred fifty-five years later, the Stevens Point Brewery continues to successfully brew quality beer, just as the brewery's founders, Frank Wahle and George Ruder , did in 1857. More information is available @ www.pointbeer.com.
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1xgVk)
Read more at prnewswire.com
Ad of the Day: Kellogg's Rebecca Soni pitches cereal with a different kind of backstroke
Mixed at Another Country by John Binder
IDEA: Bored by breakfast? The Crunchy Nut is here to save you. Dreamed up by Leo Burnett for Kellogg's Crunchy Nut cereal, the zealous masked faux superhero—outfitted in skin-tight yellow and red latex, with matching cape, belt and boots—appears out of nowhere in a plume of smoke, swings on ropes, and hands out bowls of goodness to citizens afflicted by poor-tasting villains like bran, whole grain and granola. "It's flakes and honey and some peanuts. We don't make any health claims on it at all," said Burnett creative director Mike Doyle. "We thought, what if we created a character who was not so much a shill for the brand but an ambassador or enthusiast who just loved Crunchy Nut and made it his life's mission to bring fun back to breakfast?" The Crunchy Nut does just that in a 30-second spot that launches a whole intricate and appetizing campaign on- and offline.
COPYWRITING/SOUND: The character was inspired by the old superhero shows of the 1960s and '70s like Batman and Spider-Man. "They didn't take themselves too seriously, even though the mission was serious," said Doyle. "That's where some of the humor comes from. Adam West [as Batman] plays it straight, even though everyone knows it's kind of silly. Or look at Bill Murray from Ghostbusters—these are characters on a mission who brought drama to it based on their seriousness and dedication." The 30-second launch spot is almost like the opening credits to the campaign. It shows the Crunchy Nut saving one guy from a bowl of oatmeal—and features a jingle whose lyrics explain the character and his mission, much like the old Spider-Man jingle did. The tagline is, "It's super delicious."
Read more at Adweek.com
--By Tim Nudd 8.7.12
Ad of the Day: Kellogg's Rebecca Soni pitches cereal with a different kind of backstroke
Mixed at Another Country
What do you call it when Olympian Rebecca Soni swims the breastroke in reverse? The backstroke, you say? Wrong. You call it a Kellogg's commercial.
During Friday’s opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Games, the cereal giant debuted the centerpiece spot from its sponsorship campaign, created by Leo Burnett Chicago, around Team USA hopefuls. The brand’s first Olympic creative to air since 1991, the ad opens with Soni, a 2008 gold medalist and breaststroke world record holder, on the starting block, lined up against her competitors. The gun snaps, they dive off into a slow-motion race, and the voiceover philosophizes about the human obsession with winning. “Why does the finish get all the glory?” it asks. As Soni touches the far end of the pool, the footage snaps into rewind, following her path in reverse, and eventually cutting to a shot of a little girl—symbolizing a young Soni. Meanwhile, the narrator switches gears to muse on beginnings. "There's no finish without the most important part of the day," says the voiceover. "The start," says the girl. "Kellogg's," pronounces the narrator. "See you at breakfast," says the girl.
Subtext: If you want to be a winner, start your day with Kellogg's. As grandiose as the execution is, it's on point for Kellogg’s and the event. The visuals are gorgeous; Soni's performance, in particular, is riveting. Yes, the copy feels a bit forced at moments—no goodbye without hello?—but gets its point across. The childhood ending makes a clear grab at the heartstrings of moms (and dads) headed for the shopping aisle. And if there’s a time for ads to slather on schmaltz, it’s probably during the Olympics, when the heightened drama of the games primes viewers to soak up the melodrama of advertising.
--By Gabriel Beltrone 7.20.12
Louder than a Bomb makes Roger Ebert's list of the Best Documentaries of 2011!
Mixed at Another Country
Poetry slams began in Chicago in 1984 and have become an international phenomenon. They're poetry readings as a spectator sport. Individuals and teams are scored by judges on the Olympic 10-point scale. "Louder Than a Bomb" is about the 2008 Chicago-area slam of that name, the nation's largest. Teams and soloists from 60 high schools compete, and the finalists face off in a city-wide slam that fills a theater usually used for rock concerts. The suspense that year initially centered on Steinmetz, a troubled inner city school that had never entered before it won the 2007 Bomb in a thrilling upset. Can Steinmetz and its coach, James Sloan, repeat?
The film was directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (Gene's nephew), who followed several competitors for months and guessed well in choosing those they focused on. Like earlier docs about spelling bees and Scrabble tournaments, but with more showmanship and energy, it focuses on individuals and builds great suspense. Shown at Ebertfest 2011.
--Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times 12.25.11
Ozzy Osbourne records for Brisk Iced Tea
Rocker and former MTV reality TV star Ozzy Osbourne visited Chicago's Another Country Studios on Thursday to lend his voice to a claymation web film for Brisk Iced Tea. Brisk is bringing back its claymation campaign, which in the past has included Rocky Balboa, Bruce Lee and Elvis Presley. The web film will debut in its entirety on January 16 on Brisk Iced Tea's website and Facebook page.
--Luis Arroyave Chicago Tribune 12.10.10
photo credit: Paul Beaty, AP
Another Country's Sound Four
Video by Jay Patton of Dictionary Films