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Making the “Connection” in the movie business

by Mark Burger

For its first event of 2015, the Artistic Connection will bring together a panel of talented animation artists to discuss the boundless possibilities for this billion-dollar industry right here in North Carolina.

The event will take place Tuesday, Jan. 20 at Altair Casting & Production in Winston-Salem. Scheduled to attend are Dennis Nikolaidis, noted animator and founder of Animusing Productions; Mark Bradshaw, a 3-D artist who works with Serious Games; and Charlie Breakiron of Breakiron Animation & Design.

This event is open to aspiring and current industry professionals, those interested in the ongoing strides made in animation, and those who perhaps hope to make a career change into the field. Attendees are encouraged to bring business cards and resumes.

The Artistic Connection, which celebrates its first anniversary in March, has previously held events featuring producers, writers, actors and technicians, encompassing many aspects of film production. It’s a way to bring together industry professionals to discuss and perhaps demonstrate their areas of expertise, talk about projects (past, present and future), and exchange ideas and opinions about the current state of filmmaking here in North Carolina and abroad.

“We are averaging 25-30 people per event currently and growing,” notes Amanda Hoey, the Artistic Connection’s founder and organizer, “(and) we are showing a success rate of about 95 percent getting paid work. We really want to help as many as possible.”

Like many industry professionals and observers, Hoey expresses concern by the state’s implementation of its new Film and Entertainment Grant program, which supplants the earlier tax-incentive program. Beginning in 2015, productions are eligible to receive 25 percent of their qualified in-state spending with a maximum yield of $5 million available to feature films and TV series’ and $250,000 for commercials. A minimum spending of $5 million is required for feature films, $250,000 per television episode, and $250,000 for commercials. The grant program is capped at $10 million.

“People aren’t looking at the arts as a ‘career’ choice; they are seeing it as a ‘hobby,'” observes Hoey. “This is proven by the fact of the revoking of the incentives.

If people fully understood the gravity of the business that the arts had on the community, they would not have given the incentives a second thought.

“Those who take this industry seriously and think of it as a career are having to go wherever it is,” she laments. “Sadly, for some this means leaving the area. We at the Artistic Connection will do all we can to help those who want to work in North Carolina, all over North Carolina.”

TROMA WANTS YOU!

For filmmakers here “” and elsewhere “” Troma Films is offering the chance to have your movie screened at the 16th annual TromaDance Film Festival, which will be held in New York City in June.

Troma Films, which last year celebrated its 40th anniversary, is the legendary low-budget studio that has produced such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger (and its sequels), Class of Nuke ‘Em High (and its sequels), Squeeze Play (alas, no sequels), The First Turn-On, Tromeo & Juliet, Surf Nazis Must Die and Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.

Some of the luminaries who have graced Troma films over the years “” usually very often in their careers! “” are Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Billy Bob Thornton and Vincent D’Onofrio. Some of the filmmakers who plied their trade at Troma are multi-Oscar winner Oliver Stone and James Gunn, who directed 2014’s Marvel Studios blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy.

For the last 15 years, Troma and its indefatigable founder and principal filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman have hosted “TromaDance,” a full-blown, full-tilt film festival devoted to the works of up-andcoming filmmakers. Originally held in New Jersey’s beloved Asbury Park, last year’s festival crossed the river into the Big Apple (Brooklyn, specifically) “” and this year’s festival will again be held in New York City (official dates and venue yet to be announced).

The TromaDance festival is devoted entirely to filmmakers and fans. There is no charge to submit a film for consideration. All screenings are free and open to the public. There are no VIP reservations, preferential treatment or special requirements. Admittance to screenings, parties and other events is strictly on a firstcome, first-served basis. The only “VIPs” are the filmmakers themselves, whose work is on the screen for all to see.

TromaDance is, in its own words, “the first and only film festival of the people, for the people, and by the people.” (You know, you can almost hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” echoing in the background “¦) The deadline for film submission is March 15, so if you’ve got a movie and you think it can meet Troma’s standards “” and, remember, we’re talking Troma, which distinctly has its own set of standards! “” this could be a way for you and your work to be discovered. For all the details, check out www.tromadance. com. !

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