Atlanta Film Chat Episode 94: Charlie Fisk & Carrie Schrader, Directors of The Founders

Charlie Fisk and Carrie Schrader, directors of the documentary The Founders, discuss the challenges of getting their subjects to open up, learning about golf, documentary writing, and their screening at the Atlanta Film Festival on April 4th!

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Atlanta Film Chat Episode 77: Screenwriter Michael H. Harper (Attack of the Morningside Monster, 3 Minute Activists: The Soul of Slam)

Michael H. Harper talks about his films Attack of the Morningside Monster & 3 Minute Activists: The Soul of Slam, his decision to stay in Atlanta to be a screenwriter, how he got into producing, and much more!

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Atlanta Film Chat's Coverage of the Atlanta Film Festival Continues with Dante's Down the Hatch

Atlanta Film Chat's Atlanta Film Festival coverage continues with Jef Bredemeier's documentary Dante's Down the Hatch! He talks about the challenges of making his first film, his time working at Dante's, and how his life as a painter influences his filmmaking.

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They got it ‘Made’

AMM_JewelryThe latest great Recession has been the subject matter in many a recent film. Many of them retell the way the market crashed and strive to point fingers at the culprits who may have made it happen. In the new documentary, American Made Movie, two Georgia filmmakers also show us some people who make it happen. The difference is that many of the subjects in this movie are thriving in spite of the difficulties presented in the current economic landscape. Vincent Vittorio and Nathan McGill (An Inconvenient Tax) teamed to make American Made Movie which opens in theaters August 30th. They are native Georgians but their movie uncovers many areas of the U.S. and examines the decline in America¹s manufacturing workforce while also highlighting many success stories.

I was able to contact them about their project.

AMM_Sparks 1. What was the inspiration to taking a look at entrepreneurs in America?

Nathan: We both have family that worked in manufacturing. Vincent's wife has family that worked in Detroit, and my grandfather, father and uncles all worked for General Motors at the Lakewood and Doraville Plants in Georgia before they shut down. So, manufacturing has always been a part of our lives. As a company, we focus on bringing important to topics to life and covering these issues in a way that is more story driven than politically driven. We want to give a base of knowledge for the viewer to make their decisions from while offering a practical call to action. We want our viewers to know they can do more than just complain about the problems in the country. As documentary filmmakers, we were tracking several trends; one of them was the organic label.

Vincent: We saw how consumer demand leads to companies and retailers meeting that demand. The organic label is a great example of the difference that demand can make. A few years ago, there weren't any of these products and now there are entire stores dedicated to it. It made us think back to our families and the Made In The USA label they used to talk about. It brought us back to manufacturing at a time where lots of Americans were just starting to pay attention to the issue again. Within a week of green-lighting the film, Diane Sawyer was on ABC World News talking about Made in the USA.

2. Describe the biggest challenges in getting this project completed?

Vincent: The biggest challenge really is now with this release. We know that this film has the power to connect the viewer to this relationship that many people have never thought about. The response at advanced screenings has been outstanding!  But we need to get the audience to know about the film and to go see it, and when you are competing with millions of dollar budgets in a gigantic summer at the movies… it can be a challenge not to get drowned out. So we need everyone that hears about it to follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, and share, share, share! We can all make a difference by getting the film in front of more people!

3. Did you draw on any particular documentaries as influences for this movie?AMM_Slugger

Nathan: In its format and style, I think the film drew from the structure of a Food, Inc. as well as one of our favorite docs, King of Kong. Food, Inc.  is about the Food Industry and we are looking at manufacturing, but where they are similar is in the multiple story lines and characters to take the viewer through the information. We have a central character who's up and down ride in the global economy takes a surprising and bit of a funny twist, and so to tell that story in reverse was a fun process and not many docs do as good a job of connecting the audience to its characters as King of Kong does. - But I would also just add that with each film you learn to do things that are uniquely you. In our last film, An Inconvenient Tax, we told an hour and a half story with interviewees and no narrator. That's insanely hard and while even if no one else recognizes the feat, I'm proud of it. We wanted a bit of that interviewee style in this film to carry over, but depart from what we did in the last film by telling personal and emotional stories of the manufacturers and people who deal with this issue first hand. I think the stories are really where our viewers have been able to connect to the film.

American Made Movie starts Friday, August 30, 2013 at the AMC Colonial 18 Theater in Lawrenceville, GA

For more information on visit,

The Film is a Ghost: An Encounter With “General Orders No. 9”

The notion that General Orders No. 9 is a ghost was born from the necessity to communicate at once the mystery it preserves, the perspective it exhibits, and the polarized reactions it will continue to yield. For some, this equation reinforces their belief that the film is a transparent spook; they can see right through it. It has no factual evidence for its absurd claims, and those who confess to find meaning in it have only witnessed an imaginary projection within their own mind.

For others, they will encounter a ghost; it will be beautiful and haunting. And, even if they don't like what it says, it will speak to them. Their experience with the film will be impossible to fully communicate to others, but the spell has been cast.

General Orders director Robert Persons won't deny he's trying to cast a spell, but he's not quick to confirm what it is exactly. In our conversation he stressed the importance of mystery in General Orders. His devotion to the film's mystery was evident by the caution he took when speaking of it. At one point I – somewhat rudely – snickered at his fear that the film could be spoiled by talking about it too much. If you couldn't guess, it is not a film that relies heavily upon plot points, but after viewing the film I knew exactly what he meant.

Of course, mystery surrounds Persons as well. He grew up in the middle of Georgia, but never said exactly where. He's not a filmmaker that has moved up through the production ranks or put in his time networking within a film community. He's not a young film school graduate who writes a screenplay every 3 months and always has one in his back pocket. Nor is there a film collective who claims him as a member. He literally has appeared to us, seemingly from out of nowhere, film in hand. (In a poetic accident, my recording of our 199 minute conversation was not saved. Some details have been missed.

The spell Persons has cast is old and dead. That does not mean irrelevant or useless, it means the film speaks to us as a force from the past. Half of us were not alive to remember life before the Interstate was built. Many of us have never known someone who knew someone who was alive during the Civil War. Certainly it is difficult for any of us to imagine a time when Georgia was stretched all the way to the Mississippi, or when Native Americans traced the hoofprints of deer. Yet, these are the apparitions that come to us. They arrive in the form of a maps, skulls, sculpture or red die. They warn us about the things to come, and show us signs we don't quite understand. General Orders is a spirit, left behind in this world, unable to rest until these matters are resolved:

What should the new map look like? Which totem will watch over us?

Persons admits that some parts of General Orders are still a mystery to him. Some of the sequences are literally filmed accounts of dreams he stole to waking life. It is a film about his home, and while knowing more about him does not clarify the film, it does provide a map on how to approach it. Persons came at filmmaking in the same way filmmaking came to us: at the intersection of all other art forms. His background in painting, music, and especially poetry met when he discovered Virginia-Highland's “Movies Worth Seeing” video rental store. At this junction he lived off of a steady diet of transcendental cinema, devouring Herzog, Tarkovsky, Bresson, and Haneke (to name a few). So strong was the influence of these films that once the near 40 year old began work on General Orders, he no longer wanted to watch any movies until it was complete. Now, 11 years later, he admits, “I like these Apatow movies. I would watch those.”

It is safe to point out – without any fear of spoilage – that General Orders No. 9 bears no resemblance to The 40 Year Old Virgin. However, I believe Persons is as skilled at creating dense, psycho-geographical, visually stunning film poems as Apatow is at creating crude-but-smart, character driven, adult comedies. Still, there is more to be desired in Persons work. General Orders proves without a doubt that he has no trouble establishing tone, and he understands how to pace a film (a tip of the hat to producer/editor Phil Walker and composer Chris Hoke). No one can dispute the awards the film has received for cinematography. But even Persons surmised that he wants to make films that connect deeper with audiences than General Orders.

For my part, I felt that General Orders sometimes creates mystery by narrowly avoiding questions, thereby leaving some claims unsupported. But as we have learned from science and art, we are no danger running out of mysteries, and mystery is born out of discovery. I'm not willing to say here specifically what moments of the film felt unexplored, but I will say that the passages that concern the city felt intentionally naive. Perhaps that's a product of the narrator's anger, poetic license, my relationship to Atlanta or maybe the point is lost on me, but I have a feeling that anyone who has affection for city life will feel their affinity is under attack.

Still, I remain floored by his command over the material, his continuity of thought, the surprises along the way, the fear I felt during the city passages, and the beauty of Georgia that is invisible from I-75 to Tampa. It is a film that is in all ways refreshing. Fortunately it has been labeled a documentary because it reshapes our expectations of the form, and unfortunately because many will only see that it is not aligned with existing expectations. However, this subversion must continue.

During that awkward part of any interview where you have to ask “what's next?,” Mr. Persons shared with me his excitement that he's “been starting to get ideas lately.” This simple confession was very encouraging. I look forward to seeing more of his work, but I hope I don't have to wait another 11 years. Until then, I will see General Orders No. 9 at least several more times to see if the mystery will unravel.

I hear, that if you visit the old Cinefest Film Theater on the Georgia State campus this Friday and Saturday at 7pm you might see a ghost. (Full schedule of possible sightings below.)

SCHEDULE Friday 8/12 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm - Q&A AFTERWARDS Saturday 8/13 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm - LIVE MUSIC / Q&A Sunday 8/14 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm Monday through Friday 8/15-8/19 5:30pm, 7:00pm Saturday 8/20 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:00pm Sunday 8/21 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:00pm




ATLFF 2011 - Beatboxing pleads the Fifth Element

The Atlanta Film Festival brings a documentary Beatboxing – The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop that documents the history and evolution of Beatboxing. It has become a multilingual, diverse and technically complex form of expression that almost four decades later continues to cross musical genres and influence artists around the globe.

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