Reel World

International Film Financing Conference, George Kuchar, Write It

A Simple Plan
It'll be easier than usual to find a seat in your favorite cafe this Friday, Jan. 14, as local filmmakers crowd into Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for Open Day of the seventh annual International Film Financing Conference (IFFCON). Open Day is a mini-Cannes for aspiring auteurs -- an adrenalized marathon of panel discussions, pitch sessions, and nonstop schmoozing with mucky-mucks from production companies, distributors, and cable TV outlets. Tough questions will be asked about the hot topic -- funding and distribution of digital movies, IFFCON co-founder Wendy Braitman promises.

IFFCON continues through the weekend in a more intimate vein for 60 producers from around the country whose projects and/or track records earned them front-row access to front-line industry execs. Open Day, however, is the only aspect of IFFCON that's open to the public (at $170 a pop), and should be even livelier than usual with a pair of case studies. "Filmmakers telling their war stories is almost the most useful information," Braitman muses. "Plus, it's a way to get information to filmmakers without boring them to tears." Call 978-2787 or register at the door.

Ascension of the Demonoids
Had enough of the pompous pseudo-profundity of The X-Files? Local legend George Kuchar, who's been variously praised for his "cheesy brilliance" and "arthouse validity" (thank the New York Post for that one) has the antidote. In Secrets of the Shadow World, Kuchar's Rockefeller Foundation-funded video opus, we hear at length from John Keel, a twinkly eyed aficionado of flying saucers, Bigfoot, and other mysteries of everyday life. In lieu of Chris Carter's addiction to shadows and smoke, Kuchar's piece drips with sunshine, garish colors, and overripe movie music. What, Kuchar seems to be asking, is there to be afraid of?

"There's a whole pool of information from [paranormal] investigators, and it's dispersed to the public in entertainment shows, which makes it even more preposterous," says Kuchar. "It's a blurring of the real and the fake." Secrets of the Shadow World has its world premiere at Center for the Arts on Jan. 15. "Eating's OK," Kuchar says, "if you don't eat too many crunchy things." By the way, Being John Malkovich was shot by one of Kuchar's former S.F. Art Institute students; he's taught there since the early '70s.

In a Lonely Place
The real writers out there will hock their Christmas presents and sign up for "Write It: The 6-Week Screenplay Workshop." "There are a lot of very good teachers out there, but they teach structure, character, and story development," says screenwriter and instructor Sam Scribner, who runs the screenwriting division at Academy of Art College and has led his own workshops for five years. "These are all important things. But there are a lot of brilliant scripts that never see the light of day because the writer doesn't know how to get it into an agent's hands." Scribner, therefore, wraps "Write It" with a meet and pitch session with hisL.A. agent. "Write It" begins Jan. 18 and costs $525; call 951-0121 to claim one of the 10 slots.

Michael Fox is co-host ofIndependent View, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.

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