C-U Biz-en-scène: 01.22.2012

C-U Biz-en-scène” usually appears every Thursday/Friday on C-U Blogfidential to give our readers a succinct snapshot of the cinema activity in and near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA. Please support the artists and their work, attend screenings and events, and otherwise become active in our esoteric little world!


Gonna Wash that SOPA Right Outta Our Hair?

Can you say “media-making maelström,” dearest readers?

On Thursday morning, the Eastman-Kodak Company put long-held rumors to rest as they filed for bankruptcy protection. Reuters outlines the storied history and slow erosion of Kodak’s empire, partly due to the Rochester, NY, firm holding fast to its traditional still and motion picture business and not capitalizing on the digital photography revolution it pioneered, while Kodak has gone live with a Web site explaining their reorganization plans. But wait, there’s more, given that experts in archiving – including the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library Information and Science – have gone on record to say film stock is the most stable storage solution if cared for properly.

A day earlier on Wednesday, Variety posted an announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding the release of The Digital Dilemma 2, a 136-page report warning the producers and distributors of independent films and documentaries that digital production cannot be archived and retrieved securely for the long term using technology available to them. The Academy offers this and the original 2007 report, focusing on asset preservation for the industry at large, as free downloads with an e-mail log-in. So, if indies can barely scratch out the budget to make movies, then barely scratch out the budget to promote said movies, then barely make any money on said movies from self- or contracted distribution, they’re ultimately screwed farther down the line unless manufacturers introduce affordable and infallible gear that has yet to exist. What?

Also on Thursday, the United States Supreme Court upheld a 1994 ruling that complies with the Berne Convention treaty of 1886, restoring copyright to “millions” of works imported to America from other countries and removing them from public domain status. In effect, this bars any entity – including academic and community-based – from using said works in part or whole unless they offer compensation to overseas rights holders. The Wall Street Journal’s analysis implies the gesture is a “good faith” grab to ensure American works are, in theory, treated with the same fidelity across the world, while the New York Times touches on different views of copyright and “the dissemination of existing and future works.” This may force distributors relying on non-American PD material to purge their catalogues simply because they can’t afford the fees or the fuss.

Of course, the most publicized media issue last week involved bills that might have given government the power to disable Internet access for sites allegedly posting or selling media properties illegally. TED speaker Clay Shirky of New York University provides a succinct explanation on why media industries wanted the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Senate’s Project IP Act (PIPA) to pass and dampen how American citizens share and create, Fair Use Act or no. Lead SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and House Judiciary Committee chairman, withdrew it from the table on Friday while the Senate postponed PIPA voting the same day, due to an exodus of political support after Wednesday’s on-line blackout protest led by Wikipedia. The user-generated encyclopedia explains the history leading up to these anti-piracy proposals, first intended to cut off resources for foreign Web sites hosting U.S. created content illegally but apparently drafted with language vague enough they could also be applied domestically. Yahoo! News ruminates about the future and asks, “Is SOPA dead?” The aforementioned Shirky provides the probable answer in the TED video:

“If we defeat these, as I hope we do, more is coming.” Joy.

What exactly does this mean for our friends and neighbors who engage in media production and dissemination here in Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond? First, they had better not rely on the Kodak brand to be around forever, which simply pains us to type. Second, they had better purchase the most stable server or RAID drive they can afford so their grandchildren, let alone the world, can see their present work in the future. Third, they had better be wary of vintage material unquestionably produced outside the United States during most of the 20th century, even when used in “derivative works” or to illustrate critique and social commentary. Fourth, they had better file away proof of ownership for any material they post on-line. Certainly, this super-simplifies the latter situation – we’re really not going to know how broadly a SOPA/PIPA style tandem can be applied unless it is acted upon – but for those who honestly believe “making a movie” starts and ends with pointing a camera and recording … well, it gets complicated once you show it outside the family living room. Always does, always will.

As for C-U Blogfidential and MICRO-FILM, we’re uncertain what ramifications could be in store for us. Taking music and videos out of the equation, since we have yet to actually make any ourselves, we feel relatively secure about what we’ve incorporated in our reporting. Practically everything visual has been obtained from proper sources or self-created, the only text material we have reproduced has been press releases and a handful of book and newspaper excerpts with permission – that is key – while every streaming video appearing here or on our YouTube channel has been accessed from, once again, proper sources with a couple of potential exceptions we’ll remove to keep the peace if we’re asked nicely.

What happens if Johnny Law unceremoniously takes down a site, the owners of which are otherwise playing by the book, because one or two movie clips appearing on that site are deemed illegal? The site loses traffic, the owners lose revenue if they sport advertising or sell merchandise, the editors lose momentum in their writing and posting, and the whole enterprise possibly loses credibility even if they are proven innocent or have their functionality restored after the offending videos are removed, probably all on the owners’ dime. Most people with Web presence who don’t operate as a formal business are very vulnerable to petty corporate persecution that could wipe them out financially, if not off the map.

Like our economy and culture can stand for any more of that to occur.

Onward, comrades!


Design professional Vanessa Burgett will discuss her work next Wednesday, January 25, 12 p.m., in Room C118 of Parkland College; we thought a mention appropriate since Burgett creates motion graphics and video at the University of Illinois, such as this just-released promotion for the College of Fine and Applied Arts. You can read more about her in last week’s Smile Politely profile written by Parkland instructor Paul YoungKimberly Connor of Predestined Arts & Entertainment in Springfield is seeking a sound recordist to join her production crew for the feature JUMP IN from March 17 to March 26 in the state capital. “We need someone that is familiar with the Canon 5D Mark II and separate recording,” she states in a posting to the Champaign Movie Makers Yahoo! Group. Contact kim [at] predestinedartsandentertainment [dot] com to inquire about this paid position … Anyone seeking an alternative screening venue in Springfield might consider the Legacy Theatre as an option. Primarily designed to accommodate stage productions, the new Legacy operating in the old Springfield Theatre Center building projected Yuletide standards just before Christmas including IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, WHITE CHRISTMAS, and several Rankin-Bass television specials … Our “beyond the cities beyond” tidbit for the week is the DC Shorts Film Festival, accepting material in all genres and running 20 minutes or less between now and Friday, May 1, although the Early Bird (e.g.,, cheapest) deadline will arrive shortly on Monday, January 30. The ninth annual edition of the festival will run September 6-16, 2012, in the nation’s capital, while DC Shorts’ companion Screenplay Competition will choose five to seven finalists who will be featured at the screenwriting conference ScriptDC in October …


Given the gloom-and-doom linkages presented at the top o’ the Biz, we’d better bring on the happy to close it out, agreed? For starters, the Sundance Film Festival kicked off this past Thursday, January 19, in Park City, Utah; here is the official Web site and IndieWIRE’s full coverage of the seminal launching pad for upper-crust indie filmmaking. The smaller Slamdance Film Festival, which has run alongside Sundance for years in the ski resort town, commenced its 2012 showcase on Friday, January 20. Those who love Hollywood glitz and glamour probably watched the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony last Sunday; if you avoided it like the plague, you can secretly skim the nominees and winners on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Web site and no one will be the wiser. On the gear head front, MICRO-FILM made the press list of a new Chicago rental house called ProGear which offers complete packages built around DSLR, medium, and large format digital cameras. Also, low-budget professionals caught scratching their heads back in November when Canon announced its EOS C300 “cinema” HD camera – especially after comparing its specs to the rival RED Scarlet-X, per Filmmaker Magazine – were equally stumped last Monday when Canon revealed an asking price of $16,000, apparently less in the bang-for-buck department when compared to another rival, the Sony PMW-F3L, as reported by No Film School. Happy window shopping, everybody!


That’s it for the “business of our scene” this week!

If you have relevant news, opportunities, dates, or promotions that you would like included in CUBiz, please forward the who, what, where, when, and how much to cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com.

Compiled by Jason Pankoke


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“C-U Biz-en-scène” no.78 © 2012 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

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