Preview - Strength and Beauty - at Indie Grits tonight!

strength and beauty In the 90-plus minute long film, Strength and Beauty:  Three Ballerinas. Three Voices, filmmaker Chelsea Wayant focuses on three different dancers from Charlotte's North Carolina Dance Theatre, each at a different stage of her career. After 17 years of dancing, Tracy finds herself unable to perform some of the more challenging roles in her repertoire with the ease she once did. Alessandra, on the other hand, is just now beginning to be cast in those difficult roles. And Melissa, a contemporary ballet transplant, has just joined the company for her first season. We follow the women across two seasons with NCDT as they discuss many of the topics found most commonly on the minds of professional dancers:  body image, relationships, physical challenges, life outside of ballet, and inevitably, transitions.

A beautifully constructed film experience, Strength and Beauty provides both ballet-lovers and ballet novices an intimate look at the intellectual and emotional machinations of professional ballet dancers. The story arcs are well developed and executed, and the subjects are lovely and engaging. Some innovative camera work and the clever use of Super8  film during which each dancer performs what are clearly improvisational pieces makes for some of the most tender moments in the film.

Jasper advises you to check Strength and Beauty out tonight at 7 pm at the Nick. Following the film Jasper dance editor (and CCB soloist) Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, CCB principal dancer Regina Willoughby, filmmaker John Kirkscey, dancer Dylan G - Bowley, and Columbia Classical Ballet dancer Madeline Foderaro will be discussing the film as part of a panel led by Jasper editor Cindi Boiter.

7 - 9:30 pm at The Nick  -- Check out the Facebook event for even more info.

 

Columbia native Jeff Miller's latest film premieres at the Nickelodeon on Sat. June 8th

Filmmaker Jeff Miller was sitting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles brainstorming ideas for a new screenplay. “Paul Bunyan came to me,” said Miller. “Why do people think he's so friendly? I mean, here's this giant guy that walks around carrying an axe. There could be some sinister back story there.” From that thought, Miller wrote his first draft of Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan. The film tells the story of young adults at a first-time offenders’ boot camp who discover that the legend of the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan is real, but is much more horrifying than they could have imagined. The film stars B-movie legends Joe Estevez and Dan Haggerty (TV’s Grizzly Adams).

Miller's film will have its South Carolina premier at the Nickelodeon Theater on June 8th at 9:30 PM.

 AXE-GIANT-theatrical-poster-8x11

Miller is a Columbia native, and a graduate of the University of South Carolina's Media Arts program.  While in Columbia, he produced three horror films: Freakshow and Hellblock 13, directed by Paul Talbot, and Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader, directed by Miller himself.  The success of these films encouraged a move by Miller to Los Angeles in May of 2001 to continue his filmmaking efforts. At first the experience was not what he expected. “I spent a lot of time taking meetings at studios and nothing would come from it. It felt like a waste of time,” Miller says.

Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, had also starred in Miller's film Hellblock 13.  Hansen and Miller remained friends, and stayed in touch with each other after Miller moved to Los Angeles.   “A few months after I moved to LA, Gunnar introduced me to Gary Jones.” Jones had made a name for himself working in the special effects department on films such as Evil Dead 2 and John Woo's Hard Target. Miller and Jones had lunch, and found out they shared a love of horror films.

Jeff Miller (left) with actor Dan Haggerty (TV's Grizzly Adams) at the Texas Frightmare Weekend Convention

Their first project together was the film Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove. The film was eventually sold, and aired on the Sci-Fi Channel.

So when Miller pitched the idea of a new twist on the Paul Bunyan tall tale, Jones was interested in tackling idea. “We started the project in 2007”, Miller explains. “At first it did not work out the way we had planned. We went back and completed many drafts of the script before eventually getting a draft we were happy with.” The pair also made a change in how they approached raising funding for the film. “I went back to the old way of how I financed my films - raising money from friends and family.”

With financing in place, production began in late 2010, and completed in early 2011. Filming took place in southern California outside Los Angeles, and on location in Ohio and Michigan. “Post production was a different process. We have over five hundred visual effects shots in the movie,” Miller explains.

The film was completed two days before its premier at the Shockfest Film Festival of Hollywood in 2012. At the festival, the film received the Audience Award for Best Film, and Miller received the Best Writing award for his screenplay.

After the festival, Miller was contacted by a company in Minnesota who offered to distribute the film theatrically. “I told him please try to get it in the Nickelodeon in Columbia.” Due to scheduling conflicts Miller won't be able to make the trip back home, but to have his latest project screen in his hometown excites him. “It's a great feeling to have it play in Columbia. I know friends and family will be excited to see it.”

Film notes:

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan

Nickelodeon Theater - June 8th at 9:30 PM

Tickets are available online at www.nickelodeon.org , or at the theater box office.

~ Wade Sellers

More from those crazy Nickelodeon guys -- Andy and Isaac

Read on to hear our final thoughts on the festival and to  enter to win the official Sundance Film Festival bag!
After a week to decompress from the festival, Andy and I had the chance to finish the final day out strong seeing films like Magic Magic (also w/ Michael Cera).  Looking back at the festival, we wish would could have eaten better things than granola bars, and had more sleep, but the real reason was to see films so we could help bring better options to the Nickelodeon. 
Andy and I both agreed with the Sundance Jury in that Fruitvale needed to win an award for its brutal honesty, and dynamic storytelling. In the end  it won the coveted U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, and we know we will be seeing this film at the Nickelodeon sometime later this year.
One of the great surprises of this year’s festival was Chad Hartigan’s This is Martin Bonner, Andy mentioned it earlier in a post, but we loved the film, and audiences agreed.  The film took home the Audience Award in the “Best of NEXT” category.  Again, if you have a chance to see his first film, Luke and Brie are on a First Date, we recommend it highly. It played at Indie Grits, and the film also features the wonderful Ronnie Gunter (briefly). 
If we had to guess other films that should eventually make their way to our screen, we would guess In A World..., Crystal Fairy, Afternoon Delight, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Spectacular Now. Of course, we are in the transitional limbo where films are being bought and distribution being set before we know what we will be available to bring to Columbia and when these films will arise.
Thanks for reading our blog, and as an added bonus, if you share this article with your friends on Facebook or Twitter and tag the Nick AND Jasper (@nicktheatre , @jasperadvises) you’ll be automatically entered into winning the Sundance Festival bag filled with the Sundance program, water bottle and other postcards!
We’ll see you at the movies, Andy and Isaac

More from Andy at Sundance

 
Yesterday the Convergence wrapped up and it always feels like the last day of camp. Kind of. You're all kind of exhausted, do a few more panels, get your picture taken and then pile on to a bus. But, the fun part is most of the delegates head over to Park City for Sundance. It's about a 30-minute drive to Park City and then we were dropped off at festival headquarters. Talk about a big shift in pace. From the quiet solitude of the Zermatt resort where the Convergence is held, the festival headquarters is always bustling. It took us a little while to get our credentials and then make our way to the condo. We're sharing a place this year with Landee and Cory from Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah, KY and Lawren from Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem.
After unpacking we made the 20-minute trek down to the Yarrow Hotel to see how bad the walk will be.  It basically involves a crossing a snowy golf course without clearly marked paths. We were too late to catch the first film of the evening so we headed down to Park City's Main Street where we ate at one of our favorite festival spots, the Wasatch Brewery.
After a quick meal we took the shuttle back up to the holiday cinema which is where most of the press and industry screenings are held to catch our first film of the festival : Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus and 2012.
The film features Michael Cera as a 20-something American on an extended drug vacation in Chile. His mission to try a hallucinative cactus leads to arid trip with three Chilean brothers and an over-the-top new age American hippie named Crystal Fairy (played by Gaby Hoffman). Directed by Sebastian Silva (whose last film The Maid played the Nick a few years ago), the film is filled with terribly awkward moments (not a big surprise for a Michael Cera movie). Overall it seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

More from The Nick's Andy Smith blogging for us from Sundance Film Festival

 

I started this morning by participating in a panel put together by Gary Meyer, one of the cofounders ofLandmark Theatres and one of the directors of the Telluride Film Festival. Together with folks from the Alamo Drafthouse, LA's Cinefamily, and Miami's O Cinema, we all talked about how we pay attention to customer service in our theaters particularly with an eye towards creating a special experience. I was able to talk a lot about the Nick's special place in Columbia, serving as much more than just a movie theater, but also as a place where people have gathered for decades to share ideas and passions.

Next, Isaac and I went to a panel on repertory programming, featuring last year's Indie Grits juror Sarah Finklea (of Janus Films) and Seattle's Clinton McClung (the guy who started the sing-along craze years ago by coming up with the Buffy sing-alongs. We are really excited about launching more rep programming at the Nick and getting to hear some of the really great ideas our peers are implementing around the country is really inspiring. (And by the way, our "And I Feel Fine" series got a shout out from one of the panelists as a creative approach to rep programming).

Guest Blogger Andy Smith Keeps Us Posted from Sundance

It was by all accounts a full afternoon.  After lunch, we were treated to a great keynote by David Bordwell, who provided a really interesting historical perspective on the digital transition. I read a lot of Bordwell in college, and it's pretty cool to get to meet him in person. His interest in our field is really great.
It was a bit of a surprise but after talking to Ava DuVernay this morning, she asked if I'd be willing to sit on her panel on Race and the Art House this afternoon (one of the panelists had flight problems). The panel ended up being really great. There are some clear issues with diversity within the art house world and Ava's story of frustration as a film maker was really revealing. As an exhibitor, I spoke of some of the traditional excuses used to avoid showing work by filmmakers of color and stressed the importance of taking a more wholistic and genuine approach to diversifying our audiences. It was a real honor to get to sit next to Ava and look forward to working with her more in the future (by the way, I told Ava the price of me joining her panel was her agreeing to record a short video for the nick pushing her film. If you haven't seen it, it's on our Facebook page.
Following our panel was a really great session with Tim League from Alamo Drafthouse. They've become the leaders in the commercial art house world and are expanding their theaters at an impressive rate. The session focused on useful metrics and I found myself drooling throughout, wishing we could implement these measurements at the Nick (I know, this probably sounds dreadfully boring to most folks).
Dinner was a big highlight tonight. The chicken was surprisingly tasty and moist and some guy named Robert Redford spoke. He seemed pretty cool. I sat next to Gary Meyer at dinner, founder of the Telluride Film Festival, who has organized a panel in the morning on customer service that I'll also be sitting on. After dinner, we were treated to a special performance by Cripsin Glover. Crispin has been doing these performances at different art houses around the country, and Isaac and I are pretty convinced we need to bring him to Columbia. Lots more to come tomorrow...

The Nick's Andy Smith Guest Blogs from Sundance Film Festival - Part 1

Andy Smith, executive director, of our very own Nickelodeon Theatre is sending dispatches from Sundance Film Festival for the next few days. It's not his first trip to Sundance, but each time he comes back with ideas and initiatives that not only enhance our experiences at the Nick, but also the Indie Grits Festival experience.
First up, Andy's posting about Art House Convergence's 2013 conference, which brings leaders of art house theaters from around the country together, always just before Sundance kicks off. Want to know even more? Follow Andy on Twitter: @andysmithsc, Isaac Calvage, the Nick's marketing director: @calvage, and of course, the Nick: @nicktheatre.
From Andy: 

I simply love the Art House Convergence . It's an incredible opportunity to have a little "check-in" with the field, learn from peers across the country and share our accomplishments (and occasional failures) from the past year. The past few years have really seen the prominence of the Nick shoot up, and when we first attended this conference we saw ourselves as maybe a bit behind the curve. We are now often seen as leaders due to our successful Move the Nick capital campaign, the opening of the new theater and the transition to digital.

With last night things kicked off with your typical conference socializing and catching up with friends from across the country, and things really got going this morning.  Russ Collins, from the  Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI, welcomed all of the delegates this morning showcasing the theme of this year’s Convergence: The Brave New American Art House. Stressing the importance of being community focused, mission driven theaters Russ spoke enthusiastically about our roll as community builders. The cinema, he said, can no longer be seen as a new art form, but the specialness of the theatrical experience, seeing films on a big screen, is still a great experience. It's up to us to continue to provide that.

Juliet Goodfriend, from the Bryn Mawr Film Institue presented one of my favorite parts of each Convergence - the unveiling of survey data collected from attending theaters. The Nick was singled out as being one of only a handful of theaters to have participated in the survey every year (yes, we try to do our homework).  The data covers everything from ticket sales, revenue breakdowns, seating capacity, programming offerings and more.  My favorite statistic is always how much ticket sales increase with the adding of additional screens.  The big take away again this year is that we should all plan to add additional screens, not additional seats, to generate more revenue. It all just makes us so excited about the eventual opening of our second screen.  Other data of note is that the Nick’s per capita concessions sales figures are about on par with our peers and our ticket revenue for only a single screen is also near the national average.

Ava DeVernay with members of the cast of Middle of Nowhere.

I just had the chance to chat with Ava DuVernay, director of  Middle of Nowhere (playing at the Nick through Thursday). I'm really excited that she's here at the Convergence this year and am looking forward to her panel on race and the art house.

 

Jasper's love affair with The Nick, Christopher Walken, and Frank Capra

We have no idea why we love Christopher Walken as much as we do, but we know why we love The Nick, Columbia's very own art house - plus theatre.

Walken is funny, sure. The characters he's created on SNL alone have made him an American comedic icon -- think The Continental, Behind the Music record producer Bruce Dickinson during a recording of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" and, our favorite, Colonel Angus.

And he's a highly skilled dramatic actor, winning an Oscar for his role in The Deer Hunter and renown for majorly memorable scenes in such films as Pulp Fiction (a soldier, he delivers a watch to the son of a dead comrade in arms explaining to the boy how many men had hidden the timepiece in their rectums over the course of battles), and the Sicilian scene in Tarantino's True Romance.  He was nominated for a Tony for his role in Martin McDonagh's Behanding in Spokane.  And, he can dance.

Sure, he never turns down a role and has appeared in some pretty hideous films, Joe Dirt and American Sweethearts not even being the worst of them. He says it's because he and his wife of forever never had kids and if he's not working and someone offers him something, he'll take it -- he's an actor.

All this brings us to why we love both Chris Walken and The Nick.

After having mentioned in passing to the good folks at The Nick several weeks ago that we'd love to see Walken's new film, A Late Quartet in which he stars with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Katherine Keener, at the Nick, we got a message this morning from Nick director of marketing, the lovely Isaac Calvage, saying that the film will be screened there January 4 through 10!

It's nice when a wish comes true. And even nicer when a person takes a hot second to let you know that it has,  the way that Isaac did this morning.

This is an example of one of the many reasons we love The Nick. Other examples include Hitchcock (12/21 - 1/3) and, seriously, they're showing It's a Wonderful Life (12/22 - 12/24). And let's face it, showing a film like It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen -- a film that you can purchase at Target for a few bucks -- is, in our opinion here at Jasper, pretty much just an act of love. Love for the film -- by anyone's account one of the best and most beloved films of all time (the newel post alone gets us in the gut every time) -- love for the art of filmmaking and the art of film-viewing (let's talk about that sometime), and love of the theatre's clientele who have the opportunity to walk right off the city sidewalk and into the theatre, buy a box of popcorn, and settle in for the show just like viewers did in 1946. (Except that you can also buy some vino or a brew to go with your corn.)

Sigh.

Thus ends our love letter to The Nickelodeon, but not our love for the theatre or for the enigmatic Christopher Walken. We may not know why we're so crazy about Walken, but with the Nick, it's pretty clear.

Note: Here's what The Rolling Stone says about A Late Quartet. It should also be noted that the director of photography is one Fred Elmes, who also did the beautifully filmed Broken Flowers (starring another one of Jasper's enigmatic art crushes, that bad boy Bill Murray) and the kinkily filmed Blue Velvet. And, while the actors learned a bit about playing their musical instrument props in the film, the lion's share of the music was performed by the Julliard-heavy and exquisite Brentano String Quartet.

 

-- CB

On the Road with the Nickelodeon - Part 2 of a Guest Blog Series

Our Friends at the Nick have taken to the highway and are out on one of the greatest of American adventures – the ROAD TRIP! Happily, they’re sharing their news from the road with us via the Jasper blog. Below is the second installation from the great adventurers’ travel(b)log.  

It is 8am CST and we are about to leave beautiful Memphis for Paducah, KY and the River's Edge Film Festival.  Yesterday was a day full of surprises.  We started our day off with a stroll down legendary Beale St. to a little coffee shop named Starbucks.  It appears we had missed our chance to see Justin Bieber.

After we got our caffeine fix, it was back to Holly Springs, MS to get Andy his lifetime membership to Graceland Too. While the experience was a bit of a disappointment, it did gain Andy his lifetime membership card, and gave us this wonderful picture.

The whole trip, the name John T. Edge has been on our minds.  He runs for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and hired the new Belle Et Bete in Columbia to produce a short piece about BBQ. We tried the awesome Saw's Thursday, so yesterday we went to a legendary Memphis no frills BBQ joint called Payne's, the food was delicious, unfortunately, we ate it all before we could get a picture.

After another decadent meal, we were off to knock out some short films and features at Indie Memphis.  We had the opportunity to see an entire short film program with Memphis-only made shorts, and a feature that follows the route of Southern Circuit.  The festival has really helped us gain an understanding of what we do well at Indie Grits, and what we can improve on.

One thing is for sure, we can't wait to have a full marquee outside the Nick like the sign they used for Indie Memphis.  That reminds us, if you have heard of our Design the Sign Contest, head over to our website for more details.  We can't wait to get a breakfast in, and hit the road.  Stay tuned tomorrow.... who knows what's in store!

On the Road with the Nickelodeon -- Part 1 of a Guest Blog Series

Our Friends at the Nick have taken to the highway and are out on one of the greatest of American adventures - the ROAD TRIP! Happily, they're sharing their news from the road with us via the Jasper blog. Below is the first installation from the great adventurers' travel(b)log.

Hello Columbia!

 

It is a pleasure to be writing this from the road in Memphis, TN.  We would like to thank the wonderful staff at Jasper Magazine for allowing us to take over their blog for a little while. This week, Andy Smith, Heather Bauer, Claire Sumaydeng-Bryan and myself (Isaac Calvage) are currently on a tour of southeast film courtesy of a travel grant from the amazing people at Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC).  The goal of our trip is to gain some knowledge of how other film festivals of similar size are run (Indie Memphis and River's Edge Film Festival), and to learn how one of our favorite peer theaters works in Nashville (the Belcourt).  We are hoping this trip will provide valuable insight to make everything that happens at the Nickelodeon Theatre, a little bit better.  Here is a mini travelogue of our trip so far...

Our day kicked off at 6am out of Columbia.  We were very tired, and even had to get ourselves a pick up meal at Bojangles.

Which promptly had everyone asleep afterwards.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

We then powered on to Birmingham, AL to meet up with Heather Bauer's friend and eat at the legendary Saw's Soul Food Kitchen.

Along the way to see Graceland Too, for which the proprietor was out, (sad face), we saw a sign that already had us homesick

After the initial disappointment, we finally pushed through to Memphis and checked into our hotel.

We then went to the Indie Memphis Film Festival and had the opportunity to see a film called SUN DON'T SHINE last night which stars Indie Grits alum, Kentucker Audley.  Today, we are going to try to go back to Graceland Too, so Andy Smith can become a lifetime member, like Hardy Childers (you have to go three times). Then we will continue our quest to see some other good films, and hopefully find a few that may even play at Indie Grits 2013.  What is next for the coming week?  Hopefully some more pictures with people, and a lot of new knowledge coming our way.

Until then, signing off from the Road,

 

         -Isaac Calvage, for the Nickelodeon Theatre

(ed. note: Tune in tomorrow for another installation in the travel(b)log of those wacky film aficionados - On the Road with the Nickelodeon, right here at What Jasper Said.)