August, 2011

WHY FILMMAKING CANNOT BE A HOBBY

Blast! Director Paul Devlin on the IRS’s battle with documentary filmmakers.

Read the full article here!

Last year at a summit meeting of the independent film community called “The Conversation,” Ira Deutchman was compelled to propose, “Filmmaking has never been a business…it’s a hobby.” Sentiments like this are not uncommon after the hardships filmmakers have faced in recent years, the multiple threats to our business models that accompanied both technological change and the global economic crisis. In fact, many filmmakers have been forced to re-evaluate the economic viability of their entire enterprises.

Soul-searching in tough times is important, but our community must be extremely careful with our language and avoid using words like “hobby.” Why? Because the IRS is listening! If you are deducting filmmaking expenses from other sources of income on your tax returns, then you must identify your filmmaking as a for profit business and not a hobby.

Documentary filmmakers have become especially vulnerable to the perception that they are engaged in a hobby rather than an activity for profit. Because development takes so long and revenue sources are so difficult to sustain, filmmakers often endure losses over many years. They persevere because they become so passionate about their subject matter and the need to spread their message to the world that generating a profit may not seem primary.

Unfortunately the unfair and incorrect perception that documentary filmmakers are not interested in profit has resulted in unsettling scrutiny of our industry by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In a case now in U.S Tax Court in Arizona, the IRS has been asked to demonstrate whether or not the primary purpose of documentary filmmaking in general is “to educate and to expose” and is thus “an activity not engaged in for profit.”

This may sound absurd, but it is very serious. If the IRS wins their case against Arizona filmmaker Lee Storey (Smile ’Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story), documentary filmmakers may no longer be permitted to deduct expenses associated with making their films from other sources of income. Furthermore, filmmakers who have already deducted these expenses may be faced with potentially ruinous audits.

Read the rest of the article at FilmmakerMagazine.com!

SlamNation Extra - Spending a Morning With muMs

Guest post by Thomas Poole:

First of all it was an honor to videotape muMs in the neighborhood and home he grew up in. I had been working at the Nuyorcan Poets Café and had watched muMs work his poetic magic for years.  When Paul and I asked muMs to tape at his house he was a little hesitant. He made it clear that he didn’t let a great deal of people inside his personal life. This clip gives a little glimpse of muMs in his native and beloved Bronx.

One thing not shown in this clip (but is in the final movie SlamNation) was muMs telling how proud he was that his mother finally recognized him as a writer. He showed me pictures of his family, especially his father, a locksmith who was a first generation immigrant from the Caribbean islands, who never knew about his son’s literary accomplishments. Although, muMs was a highly rated football player destined to play in college on an athletic scholarship, he felt his father would have been just as proud about his writing achievements as his athletic ones. Back then, on stage, muMs portrayed himself as an urban guerilla style samari poet (even in this clip he is wearing solider like clothing) which served him well in getting acting roles in films like Bamboozle and the television series like Oz. However, this clip shows a more serene side of him even in the midst of him describing some unsavory aspects of his block. After that morning, I became more aware that the heart of his work is rooted in his devotion to his family and neighborhood.

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

Beau Sia - "MEMORY SUCKS"

Here’s a moving new poem from our friend Beau Sia, one of the stars of SlamNation.

Notes from Beau Sia:

"if u want to help support our work, one way is to download the audio here.

this is a poem i wrote. a video eyad zahra made. music that dawen created and played beautifully in order to give the piece an emotional depth i am moved by. please check out dawen and eyad's other work. it's pretty rad stuff. many thanks to a.r.t., lien, and you for taking the time to listen to what i have to share."

Music Video - Fury in the Slaughterhouse - "Every Generation got its own Disease"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

This song by a popular German band was a hit in its day, and played a lot on MTV.  But the real star was the director of this video, Doug Aitken.  He went on to become a major visual artist, exhibiting his work in top museums worldwide.

I did both the offline and online edit and it was a thrill to work with Doug, whose task was to make an American version of the original German music video. Many of the visual effects he achieved in-camera shooting himself with a 16mm Bolex. For example, he purposely threaded the film incorrectly to achieve the "flutter" effect in some of the images. He was also very open to my experimenting on the edit which was a lot of fun.

FOOTNOTE:  This was back in the day when Avid was new, Final Cut Pro didn't exist and many non-linear systems were vying for acceptance. For a freelancer, the more systems you knew, the more work you could get. This was off-line edited on an Emc². Anyone remember that one? It was left in the dustbin of non-linear history.

 

Max Vanderwolf in Last Man Standing & Naked Sun

Posted by Paul Devlin:

I met my good friend Max Vanderwolf at University and made this music video of his band Naked Sun when we were both living in New York in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. I’m proud of this piece, shot on Super-8 film, because it captures the flamboyant, edgy East Village that I remember so well, but which no longer exists.



And the second part shows Max still at it, making great music with his latest band, Last Man Standing.

2006 US Open - Women's Preview

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Much of my work at CBS Sports involves putting together very short pieces that get rolled into a live show such as the NFL Today.

Editing the U.S. Open Preview Show is a nice change. Not only do I get to create fun pieces like this one that set up the live event, I also work with a producer to assemble the entire taped show from start to finish. A half hour of network television, all ours.

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