What Day Is It? Digest

By Rebecca Green

I’m not one to procrastinate, but I have been overwhelmed with the rapid changes happening in our industry, which has made it difficult to know what to publish. I’ve been compiling articles for my monthly digests as usual but have hesitated in sharing. Information that is relevant today often isn’t tomorrow. But I have had “digest” written on a Post-It note for two months now so here you go. (It’s a lot, I apologize.) 

Out of everything I’ve read during quarantine, there has been one piece that has stuck with me…

In Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over. published by The Paris Review, author Sabrina Orah Mark poses the questions, “What does it mean to be worth something? Or worth enough? Or worthless? What does it mean to earn a living? What does it mean to be hired? What does it mean to be let go?” I have been thinking on these questions deeply. 

I was also extremely moved by Oprah’s Facebook commencement speech and got goosebumps when she asked, “What will your essential service be? What really matters to you? How will you use what matters in service to yourself, your community, and the world?”

You are my community. You matter to me. 

In service of you, I have been using my time in quarantine to help the indie film community in the ways I know how with the resources I have. This Friday I will be hosting Dear Producer’s third webinar Reimagining Film Festivals for the Future, which I hope will challenge the old ways in which festivals operate and spark new ideas for rebuilding. Register now to join the conversation. And you can find the replays for the first two webinars on the Dear Producer Vimeo page

I hope you are safe and sound and ask that everyone please be careful and go slow as the country begins to open back up for business. 

Keep Going, 


Hollywood Is All But Writing Off 2020. What Does That Mean for the Future of Movies?
Inside Hollywood’s corridors of power, the industry shutdown due to COVID-19 has come to be known by various nicknames. The studio executives and talent agents responsible for keeping the business part of showbiz beating ever forward against the tide have referred to the worldwide pandemic as “nuclear winter.” “Doomsday,” even.

Prepare For The Death & Rebirth of Hollywood
Production, exhibition, and good old fashion power are all being violently uprooted in tinsel town and where we land twelve months from now is going to look very different from the last twenty years. Cue creepy music and a slow track into a crystal ball.

The Last Time Hollywood Faced a Shutdown (That Wasn’t Due to a Strike)
Unearthing the story of FDR’s Depression-era bank holiday and how it changed Hollywood and the Film Academy forever.

Sheltering in Place: The Independent Film Community Faces the Coronavirus Shutdown
An extensive account of the independent film community confronting the coronavirus shutdown, from filmmakers to below-the-line to production to non-profit heads to funders.

How The World’s Biggest Producers Are Plotting Their Way Out Of The Pandemic
Deadline has spoken to the UK-based bosses of eight of the biggest production groups in the world — production groups that boast combined revenues of more than $10B.

Virus Crisis May Spur More Hollywood Studio Mergers, Analyst Says
“We have a strong belief that the production and distribution of media content will be permanently changed by this crisis,” Michael Nathanson wrote about the coronavirus pandemic in a Friday report entitled “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.”


The Next ‘Parasite’? There Isn’t One, and Other Lessons of the Berlin Film Market
Just as local audiences flocked to this year’s Berlinale on its 70th anniversary, its European Film Market attracted more than 11,000 visitors, up 500 from last year — even after over 60 Chinese delegates withdrew. That said: Sales were down.

Netflix Agrees to Pay Royalties to Creators of German Series in Line With EU Directive
Describing it as “a milestone for the film and television industry,” Netflix said the deal ensured that creators and performers benefit financially from their collaboration with the streaming platform “by guaranteeing a fair and appropriate performance-based remuneration for the creatives.”

Disney+ Hits 50 Million Paid Subscribers Globally
Streaming service Disney+ hit 50 million paid subscribers globally within five months after its U.S. launch, Disney said, calling it a “new milestone.”

2020 IATSE Low Budget Theatrical Agreement Changes
Every three years, the IATSE and AMPTP ratify the IATSE Low Budget Theatrical Agreement. To help you prepare for budgeting, hiring crew, and discussing benefits for your future productions, we’ve outlined the most recent primary tier, wage, fringe rate, and position changes.


What is ‘force majeure’? The legal term you’ll be hearing a lot during the coronavirus crisis
Businesses that find it impossible to fulfill contracts may be saved by clauses that void the contract due to acts of god. But “not all force majeure clauses are created equal.”

Reopening Hollywood: From Insurance To Testing, Crowd Scenes & Craft Services, Here Are The Pandemic Problems Studios Are Trying To Solve Before The Re-Start
Entertainment is a major portion of the California economy and, with the production shutdown just crossing the one-month mark and layoffs, furloughs and paycuts implemented by reeling studios, there has been a growing discussion among executives and producers about how to ease back into production

Coronavirus Production Insurance? No Such Thing. Here’s How Hollywood Will Cope
No one knows when coronavirus will allow film and TV production to start again, but here’s what we might expect when it does: More production assistants, to manage disinfecting and hand sanitizers. Fewer crew members, to reduce the risk of infections. And no new production will be covered for coronavirus via traditional production insurance or completion bonds.

COVID Crisis Task Force Working To Resolve The “Scandal” Of Production Insurance
PACT chief John McVay has been working with broadcasters and leading production firms as part of the BFI’s coronavirus task force, which was set up in response to the pandemic.

Reopening Hollywood: Will Prohibitive Insurance Hobble Production Restart & Will Government Have To Step In?
Insurers already absorbing thousands of claims from film and TV productions that shut down abruptly in March (and across myriad other industries) aren’t even sure how deep their losses run. So they have hit pause on policies covering COVID-19.

Film Production is Shut Down but Documentaries Are Still Being Made. Here’s How.
While there are still no clear answers on when and how production could resume on Hollywood’s scripted movies, many documentary filmmakers have been able to continue working.

The Race to Make the First Coronavirus Documentary Has Begun
At least 20 coronavirus-related documentary projects of various lengths and formats are either currently shooting or seeking funding, spearheaded by acclaimed documentarians. 

The Ethics of Documentary Production in a Pandemic
Whether or not we are conscious of it, the work we do as journalists and filmmakers is laden with ethical decisions. Can independent filmmakers safely produce in the field right now?

SAG-AFTRA Tells Members They Should Get Its Approval Before Accepting Jobs During Pandemic
SAG-AFTRA, in an urgent safety notice, is telling its members that they should not return to work or accept a contract for new employment without first getting the okay from the union. It’s the first time the guild has ever required that of its members.

UK Broadcasters & Producers Join Forces To Publish Coronavirus Safety Guidelines
The 15-page document (which can be viewed in full here) is the work of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ViacomCBS, Sky, Pact and others, and is designed to supplement protocols that will be published by the British Film Commission.

New York State Film Tax Incentive Renewed But Trimmed; Many Lower-Budget NYC Independent Films No Longer Eligible
The New York State film tax credit was reduced from 30% to 25% and qualification requirements made tougher in budget legislation signed last week by Governor Andrew Cuomo.


Cannes Vs. Coronavirus: If the World’s Biggest Festival Is Canceled, Here’s What Happens
Cannes says it’s business as usual, but it faces an unprecedented situation that could impact every level of the industry. We asked festival leaders, and this is what’s at stake.

Should Filmmakers Accept Online Festival Premieres?
The coronavirus crisis may be prompting more festivals to migrate online, but not all filmmakers are on board. 

Premiering Documentaries in a Pandemic
It may sound hyperbolic, but there has never been a worse time in the history of the world to be launching an independent documentary into the marketplace.

How Film Festivals Can Navigate the Risks and Rewards of Reopening — Analysis
Veteran festival director Noah Cowan explores the range of options that festivals face in the months ahead.

SXSW Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over Ticket Refunds
The suit claims breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not offering refunds to 2020 ticket buyers after the festival’s cancellation due to COVID-19.

Where’s the Filmmaker in the Online Fest Planning?
With all of these online versions of film festivals popping up, I keep getting asked by filmmakers – “should we participate in this?” Or more often – “am I missing something? Why would we do this?”

Paul Schrader Wants Netflix and Amazon to Save the World’s Biggest Film Festivals
As the filmmaker considers the future for his unfinished movie, he explains his big idea for a one-time solution.


Study Shows 70% of Consumers Would Rather Watch New Movies at Home
A new consumer survey reveals deepening dread over public venues — and some surprising changes in popular taste.

How the Producers of ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ Made Peace With VOD
Barry Jenkins and Adele Romanski explain what “Moonlight” taught them about getting difficult stories to mass audiences.

Finally, Here Are Some Real VOD Box Office Numbers — and They Show Promise
Kudos to Kino Lorber streaming platform Kino Marquee, which released initial revenues for its first eight titles. “Bacurau” leads the pack.

Now or Never? Doc Industry Pivots to Lock in Buyers, Audiences During Coronavirus
With the global premiere of National Geographic’s “Jane Goodall: The Hope” on Earth Day (April 22) and the April 19 premiere of the first two episodes of Michael Jordan series “Last Dance” — a ratings slam-dunk for ESPN — it’s deceptively easy to think all is right in the documentary world.

AMC Theatres Refuses to Play Universal Films in Wake of ‘Trolls World Tour’
The threat came after comments made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell regarding the on-demand success of the family film and what that means for the future.

Is ‘Trolls World Tour’ Really Going to Destroy Movie Theaters? 
Universal says the kids’ movie had $100 million in PVOD rentals in the past three weeks. That has it rethinking its distribution model, and the cinema chains aren’t happy.

Theaters Prepare to Reopen with TSA-Style Check-in, Temperature Screenings, and Plexiglass
Guests will be carefully screened for entry at select movie theaters reopening in Texas, and eventually Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Alamo Drafthouse Launches Their Own On-Demand Service
With their theaters (and almost all theaters across the U.S.) closed, Alamo Drafthouse launched an “Alamo-At-Home” initiative at the end of March, featuring their distinctive programming series with a “Virtual Cinema” option.

Sources Say Amazon Wants to Buy AMC Theaters, but Does the Deal Make Sense?
Stock in AMC, the biggest movie theater chain in the U.S., rocketed by as much as 56 percent and ended trading up 30 percent Monday after reports that Amazon was considering purchasing the ailing exhibitor. 

Golden Globes Updates Film Eligibility Rules
The organization implemented new rules last month that are in effect until April 30. However, the HFPA announced on Tuesday morning that the date has been extended indefinitely because of theater closures.

Oscars Keeping Show Date But Make Big News As Academy Lightens Eligibility Rules, Combines Sound Categories, Ends DVD Screeners and More
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its board of governors, meeting virtually, have approved rules changes for next year’s 93rd annual Academy Awards, including lightening eligibility requirements for films debuting on streamers and VOD

Oscars: Doc Branch Revamps Eligibility Requirements for Contenders in COVID-19 Era
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is bailing out documentary features that had their Oscar eligibility plans impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.


Against Productivity in a Pandemic
Why are we being told—by bosses, by fitness apps, by ourselves—to optimize this “new” time to get things done?

No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear
In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent. By Toni Morrison

Two Errors Our Minds Make When Trying to Grasp the Pandemic
Disappointment and uncertainty are inevitable. But we don’t have to turn them into suffering.

I’ll Be Right Back. How to Protect Your Energy During Zoom Meetings
With incessant videoconferencing, the opportunity to recharge and rest your eyes between meetings is increasingly important.

Don’t Fight the Boredom
Monotony may be one of the hardest things about living in lockdown, but it has its upsides.