Last week was a very busy one – the start of Sundance and the Oscar nominations coming on the same day, followed by my own personal last day as an employee at Entertainment Partners. And this week brings the start of some new and exciting ventures. Here’s a quick review of what’s been on my mind…

I was truly saddened to see that the best film I saw this year – WAJDJA – didn’t get a nomination for anything. It was a very, very tough field this year but this was a big omission. Please go out of your way to see this movie. Here’s the official site and here’s the trailer. Set in Saudi Arabia, this film tells the story of a young girl who wants to ride a bicycle but is prohibited from doing so by religious law because she is a girl. The film is flawlessly written and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first woman director.

Another film that didn’t get a nomination in the documentary category but will remain one of my personal favorites was TIM’S VERMEER. This is a wonderfully quirky odyssey about a man who sets out to prove that the way Vermeer was able to create paintings that look like photographs was to use technology. He tests his theory and then sets out to re-create one of the master’s famous works. Another film that’s a must see.

Of the crowded award season films, there’s no doubt that HER was my favorite. A film that was at the same time a bit sad and spiritually uplifting. And I will never understand the system of voting that says a film is nominated for best screenplay and best film, but ignores the writer-director. And ignores the star in what is by and large a one man show.

I’m at Sundance this year to announce the launch of Passion First Funding Portal – a new mechanism for filmmakers to connect with accredited investors. This is made possible by the JOBS Act, a piece of federal legislation that seeks to take crowd funding to a new level. Under this Act and through this new portal, money raised via crowd funding is not a donation, but rather a real investment that is regulated by the SEC. At this time Proposed Regulations have been issued and we are in the “comment phase” of the process. Shortly after final regulations are issued Passion First will go online. More on this as it develops…

Finally, my transition out of full-time employment and into the world of freelance producer and entrepreneur is very exciting to me. Thanks to everyone at Entertainment Partners who helped me along the way. I learned a great deal in nearly six years there that will make me a much more effective producer.

As far as producing goes, I’ll have more information coming on the slate of my own passion projects including The Secret Magdalene and Guided Tours of Hell up on this site fairly soon.

I’ll also have more time to work on this site – rounding out the courses and resources, as well as starting podcasts and other special projects. The teaching continues so stay tuned for the latest in-person classes. The next one is coming up at Film Interchange on Saturday January 25th (contact me for more information).

I’m looking forward to all of the challenges and successes these changes will bring!

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