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New film to feature Taharka Bros. Ice Cream food truck launch

Baltimore’s Taharka Bros. Ice Cream is launching a Kickstarter campaign June 12 to raise $35,000 for their new “Vehicle for Change” food truck. And a new movie by Oscar-nominated directors will document their effort in a new, yet-to-be named movie that highlights businesses that support social change.
“We don’t have a retail shop and a lot of people ask us to have a retail shop or ask how to get our ice cream,” Taharka CEO De'Von Brown says. “So this is a way for us to reach our audience, to have something that’s out in the community.”
Taharka Bros. serve up more than just the typical cookies and cream ice cream flavors. They serve what they call “food for thought,” flavors based on social movements. Their goal is to spread the message of inspiring movements and people in history through ice cream, such as a flavor named after Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.”
Taharka has had a presence at festivals such as the Baltimore Book Festival and Artscape. They have also held events at their factory in Hampden, Baltimore and their products are available at over 65 restaurants in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. But a food truck will allow it to make appearances at more festivals, corporate events and colleges.
“Hopefully the food truck will be a way to reach people in terms of a physical one-to-one type of outreach. It’s a community outreach vehicle,” Taharka Creative Director Darius Wilmore says.
Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, who directed “Detropia” and “The Boys of Baraka,” have just wrapped up filming of a yet-to-be named movie on Taharka’s Kickstarter campaign. The movie will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival next spring. The movie will also document Taharka’s collaboration with actress and comedienne Rain Pryor to craft a flavor named after her late father Richard Pryor, whose comedy often addressed class and race. The flavor is tentatively being titled “A Richard Pryor Moment.”

Writer: Daryl Hale
Sources: De'Von Brown and Darius Wilmore, Taharka Bros. 

Maryland Film Festival highlights movies with Baltimore ties

Baltimore’s underground band scene and city kids on dirt bikes are among the themes featured in movies with local ties at this year’s Maryland Film Festival. Taking place May 8-12, the festival will host 50 features and 80 short films.
The following movies have local ties:
•  Matthew Porterfield’s “I Used to Be Darker,” which was filmed in Hamilton, Roland Park and Ocean City and has won festival awards in Nashville and Buenos Aires;
• “Hit & Stay,” which tells the story of priests and nuns in Catonsville who challenged U.S. intervention in Vietnam;
• “12 O’Clock Boys,” a documentary about a Baltimore dirt-bike rider, which just won the HBO Emerging Artist Award;
• “If We Shout Loud Enough,” a movie on Baltimore’s underground music scene and the band Double Dagger; and,
• “I Am Divine,” a documentary on the legendary drag icon that features interviews with John Waters.
The film festival added an extra day of movies in response to demand from the audience, says Maryland Film Festival Director Jed Dietz. Many people were turned away from films they wanted to see so festival organizers added more screening times.
Gabriel DeLoach, one of the filmmakers behind “If We Shout Loud Enough,” says the movie highlights the great music coming out of Baltimore.
“There’s a lack of cutthroat-ness and everyone is really encouraging of one another. There’s all these opportunities for musicians to put themselves out there.”
DeLoach lives in Charlottesville and became familiar with Double Dagger and other bands while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art. The band will be present for a Q&A after its Saturday evening screening. 

Says DeLoach, "It's a film made in Baltimore about one of Baltimore's best bands, so I think its only fitting that it screens there."

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Gabriel DeLoach

Entertainment startup Kithly marketing to event promoters

Kithly LLC, a startup entertainment website, is kicking off a new business strategy to make money. 

The free website asks users to input their preferences for entertainment and then Kithly culls through its own list of activities and events that fit users' lifestyle. Kithly is now opening up its website to even promoters for a fee, giving them access to the people most likely to attend their events, says Co-founder Devin Partlow.
During the month of April, event promoters can sign up on its website to have information about their events sent to Kithly users for free. After the free offer ends, event promoters will hopefully stick around and continue to use the website, at a fee of $5 per event. 
“Everyone knows about the big shows and concerts in Baltimore. We are interested in the small and local events,” says Partlow of promoters and organizers who usually don’t have the budget to do much advertising.
“Instead of going onto a campus and hanging up posters or passing out flyers to whomever walks by, we are helping them reach their target market,” he says. “We used to recommend only things we could find for the site. Now, promoters and organizers will pay us to market to our users."
The change in business strategy is another evolution of Kithly since Partlow founded it in 2010. Originally called Hooopla, the idea was to let users of its website share information about events. It then broadened its reach to include information obtained from Facebook and Meetup groups. The company is one of four that graduated from Baltimore City's startup bootcamp Accelerate Baltimore.  
Partlow says he now has 6,000 recommendations on the website of places to go and things to do. The recommendations are constantly updated, and include events around the country. Most, though, are in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Kithly’s home base.
“We analyze our users, what kinds of events they like and run it through our algorithm. We recommend things they wouldn’t necessarily hear about,” he says of local comedy clubs and band appearances.
In the last two months, Partlow says that the number of website users and clicks to the website have grown by 70 percent each. He says there are now about 300 users.
Last year, Kithly moved into the Emerging Technology Center in Canton. Kithly received a $25,000 Accelerate Baltimore award from the Canton incubator. Partlow met his cofounder Stacy Weng and advisor Ben Lieblich through CoFoundersLab.com. 
Partlow is focusing Kithly on entertainment but may add other areas like sports events in the future. “We are starting with that niche and we’ll see how it works before expanding,” he says.
Source: Devin Partlow, Kithly LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

University of Maryland Student Wins Ron Howard Film Contest

An amateur photographer in Maryland has won a national film contest sponsored by director Ron Howard and Canon USA. University of Maryland, College Park senior Dylan Singleton submitted a photograph to Project Imaginat1On, a combination photo contest and short film series that will be made by celebrity guest directors and shown in a film festival next year. 

Singleton’s winning entry was culled from thousands of photographs submitted by the public. Musician James Murphy, one of the celebrity directors, picked Singleton’s moody, atmospheric photograph of a swimming pool at night for inspiration, much to Singleton’s surprise. Eva Longoria and Jamie Foxx are among the other celebrity directors involved in the project. 
“I sent in a couple of photos. One day, I got a call that I was a potential finalist. I’m still in a bit of a shock,” says Singleton, a Columbia resident who is majoring in sociology. “I’ve been swamped with papers and finals. It hasn’t set in.”
James Murphy is best known as the leader of the Grammy-nominated band LCD Soundsystem. He also cofounded the DFA label, which released the band’s catalogue, and he provided the original soundtrack for the 2010 film, “Greenberg.” Most recently, he was executive producer of “Shut Up and Play the Hits,” a feature-length film chronicling LCD Soundsytem’s farewell show at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2011.
For Singleton, a fan of online music blogs who has worked at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., being chosen by Murphy was a particular thrill. Has Murphy called to discuss the photo or his film?  “I’d love it but I’m sure he is a pretty busy guy,” says Singleton, who won a $500 credit to the Canon online store and two tickets to the film festival.
Murphy’s film will go into production next year. The location and date of the Canon Project Imaginat1On Film Festival has not yet been announced.
The photo contest was open to the public, who could submit photos in 10 categories with titles like “Backstory,” “Time,” “Mood” and “Obstacle.” Singleton entered “The Unknown” category.
The public voted on the winners – 10 winners in nine of the categories and a single winner in the 10th category – for a total of 91 winners. The celebrity directors will make 10-minute films that are inspired by the photographs they chose.
Source: Dylan Singleton, winner “Project Imaginat1On”
Writer: Barbara Pash




National Endowment of the Arts Awards Grants to Station North Artists

Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. announced the third, and final, round of projects to receive funding for its “Think Big” initiative, which helps artists and musicians advance their projects.  

Station North, at 1800 North Charles St., received a total of $42,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

"A lot of projects are done on a small budget of $100 or so. With the funding, we could give them $1,000 or so and get to the next level," says Station North Project Manager Rebecca Chan. 

Chan says the funding was about evenly split among the three rounds. A panel of judges chose the winners, aiming for a mix of performing arts, visual arts and community outreach in each of the rounds. "Think Big" funding started in October 2011 and, as word got out, Station North received an increasing number of proposals from which to choose. 

Judging from the first two rounds, "Think Big" also succeeded in bringing more people to Station North and its venues. "We had great audiences at all the events," says Chan. "There was an increasing level of energy and activities."

Ben Stone, executive director of the community-based nonprofit, says more than 40 applications were received for the third round. "A lot of the [grant recipients], like theater companies and dance companies, have regular events so people can come back again,” says Stone. “More and more people see Station North as a destination.”
He says winners highlight the artistic talent and diverse venues in the Station North District. They include:

“Vacation,” works by 11 artists, curated by Elena Johnston, at the Pent House Gallery in Station North District, through August 30.

“Submit 10 Baltimore,” created/produced by Rachel Hirshorn, writers present short segments of current works, Monday evenings at Liam Flynn's Ale House.

Mosaic Makers’ mural at 201 E. North Ave., site of Project PLASE’s men’s shelter.  

“Akimbo,” professional dance series organized by Nicole Martinelli and Sidney Pink, on Aug. 31, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19 at Station North.

“New Lens” video screening and panel discussion about youth employment, Sept.29, 10:30 a.m. at Charles Theatre.

”A Drop of Water” by Sarah Doherty, sculptural transformation of a vacant lot on the 2100 block of Charles St.

Hosted at the The Load of Fun/Gallery, “Speaking” with Johanna Drucker, lecture, workshop and exhibition on weekend of Sept. 7 and 8.

Baltimore Rock Opera Society “Pitch Party II,” vote on next productions, Sept. 29.

High Zero Foundation/The Red Room Collective screening of experimental film and video, 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Charles Theatre.

Organized Sky Space Project’s Nights Lights, star-gazing and arts event, organized by Rachel London, 9 p.m. on Aug. 24 and Sept. 7.

Source: Ben Stone and Rebecca Chan, Station North Arts & Entertainment
Writer: Barbara Pash

Filmmakers Wanted for Movie Contest

The 29 Days Later Film Project is accepting entries through Wed. July 11 for its Baltimore-based filmmakers' competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, whose films will be screened on August 21 and 22 at the Creative Alliance. The screenings are open to the public for this fourth annual event.

Anyone can enter, amateur or professional. The fee is $75 per team. Dean Storm, who cofounded the project with Dawn Campbell, says 27 teams, ranging from one person to a dozen people, have entered to date. Teams are mostly from Maryland, and especially Baltimore, but a few are from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The kickoff for the project will be held July 11 at the Creative Alliance in Patterson Park. The teams then have 29 days, to August 9, to shoot and edit a four-to-eight-minute-long film on any topic of their choice. The one proviso is that they use a prop that will be given out at the kickoff event. Storm says that even he does not know what the prop is until that night. Everyone gets the same prop that, in past years, have included a pinwheel and a kitchen timer.

The films can be dramas, comedies, documenaries or animation. A panel of three judges will decide the winners. The winner of each day's screening will receive $150. There is also a grand prize of $500. Filmmakers retain the rights to their films.

Source: Dean Storm, 29 Days Later Film Project
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Film Festival, WYPR, Kick Off Film Series

A packed audience greeted the arrival of Baltimore’s latest cultural attraction, a new film series that doesn't yet have an official title or regular schedule. 

The Maryland Film Festival  and National Public Radio affiliate WYPR 88.1 FM are partnering in the series, which kicked off earlier this month. 
Organizers plan to hold the second filming in the series in September. After that, the film will be screened between one to three months apart. The site and ticket arrangement are still in the works, says Jed Dietz, director of the Maryland Film Festival.
The series’ first screening, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a Sundance favorite, was held June 5 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Attendance was by word-of-mouth. On July 13, an interview with Lucy Alibar, the film’s screenwriter, will air on WYPR.
Dietz says that each screening will include an interview with someone involved in the film, whether screenwriter, director or actor. The interview will be recorded and then broadcast as part of the station’s “Maryland Morning” program, airing every weekday from 9 to 10 a.m.
Katherine Gorman, producer of WYPR’s “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast,” says the series will focus on contemporary themes, hopefully with a Maryland connection, but availability of films is dependent on distributors.
The film series format follows that of the “Maryland Morning” show, which had interviews with filmmakers with a connection to the state, either filming here or from Maryland.
“We like that connection to Maryland. We’re trying to branch out, to have a national reach,” she says. 

Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Katherine Gorman, WYPR-88.1 FM
Writer: Barbara Pash

State to Review Biz Tax Credits Under New Bill

Newly passed legislation allows the state to review tax credits for individuals and businesses and to evaluate whether the credits are benefiting the state. 

The legislation eliminated a provision to "sunset", or automatically terminate, tax credits after businesses initially opposed the bill.

Tax credits have become a powerful tool in attracting businesses in film, biotech and other industries. Though the tax revenue lost from the credits are small, the number of business tax credits have increased, according to a legislative report on Senate Bill 739/House Bill 764. There are now a total of 30 different tax credits in Maryland, the report states.

The 2012 General Assembly passed the Maryland Program Evaluation Act. Gov. Martin O'Malley has not yet signed the legislation but is expected to do so. The business community opposed one of its provisions, to automatically end tax credits for about 20 to 30 entities on a rolling, five-year basis. The provision was deleted from the final bill.

"Not only would the provision have killed the tax credit, but in order to get the tax credit restored, the General Assembly would have had to act legislatively," says Brian Levine, vice president government relations, Technology Council of Maryland Inc. "The portion [of the bill] that impacted business negatively was removed."

About 70 entities and business-related activities are subject to periodic evaluation for tax credits. Originally opposed by the business community, the Maryland Program Evaluation Act went through several changes before getting the business community’s approval.  

The provision for automatic termination was removed from the bill, which, instead, sets up a process and an evaluation committee of members appointed by leaders of the Senate and House of Delegates that works in consultation with state agencies.
The committee must submit reports to the General Assembly if the tax credit should be continued, with or without changes, or terminated. Public hearings are also required. The onus is on the committee to show why the tax credit should be removed, says Levine, rather than having it happen automatically.

Levine says that legislators “worked with the business community to craft a compromise. We are pleased with the outcome. In the end, we did not oppose the bill.”
Levine says the Tech Council and the business community opposed the automatic termination provision.

For example, he says, the state has an $8 million biotechnology tax credit to help early-stage companies. In the original statue, the biotech tax credit does not have a termination date. Had the provision remained in the bill, it would have meant that "every five years, this tax credit would be terminated automatically and could only be revived through legislative action,” says Levine. “We felt that was untenable.”
Ronald Wineholt, vice president government relations for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, calls the tax credits “one of the most important economic development” tools.

But, he says of the original bill, “We were concerned that automatic termination of tax credits could limit the usefulness of businesses that were considering coming to Maryland.”
Sources: Brian Levine, Tech Council of Maryland; Ronald Wineholt, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tax Credits Spur Thousands of Film Jobs

Film production in Maryland has increased thanks to $7.5 million in tax credits. Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, part of the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development, credits legislation that went into effect this year with attracting new productions.

Gerbes listed productions that were or will be filmed in the state this year. They are Season 1 and 2 of the HBO series, “Veep;” the Netflix series, “House of Cards;”  the HBO original movie, "Game Change;" and two independent films, one of which is "Jamesy Boy,” which was scheduled to begin filming in Baltimore last month.

He calculated the economic impact to the state of these productions to be nearly $200 million, and to result in approximately 5,500 jobs. For example, the economic impact of "Jamesy Boy" is estimated at $5 million and 400 new jobs for crew, actors and extras.

In 2010, the film office had funding of $1 million in tax credits. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation that, beginning in 2012, increased funding to up to $7.5 million in tax credits for each of the next three years. “This is the most funds we’ve ever had to attract productions,” he says.

The law stipulates that the production company must spend at least $500,000 in direct production costs in the state to be eligible for 25 to 27 percent tax credit.

With 45 states offering incentives, Gerbes says the funding enables Maryland to compete effectively for production companies. “Producers used to ask me, ‘Do you have the location and crew?’ Now they ask, ‘What’s the incentive program?’” he says.

“Producers still want you to have the right locations,” says Gerbes. “We actively market that we are near Washington, D.C.”

Source: Jack Gerbes, director, Maryland Film Office
Writer: Barbara Pash

Local Filmmakers Create Documentary on Chesapeake Bay

Local filmmakers have made a documentary about efforts to preserve the Chesapeake Bay tributaries.
The film airs on Maryland Public Television (MPT) April 17 and will be on permanent view at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Executive Producer Tim Junkin says he plans to send the documentary to churches and other organizations after the airing.
Originally budgeted at $100,000, the documentary was produced for “almost nothing,” says Junkin, thanks to “donated time and pro bono” work.
Junkin, executive director of the nonprofit Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, served as executive producer and writer of “Let Our Rivers Flow,” a 25-minute-long, color film about the Midshore rivers, which include the Choptank, Miles and Wye rivers and Eastern Bay.
Junkin says the documentary describes the rivers, their history and current ecological status, and what people in the communities are doing to preserve them.
Last year, a shorter, 18-minute-long version of the documentary was shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, in Easton. For the current documentary, which was professionally filmed, edited and scored, several scenes were reshot.
Tom Horton, a former Baltimore Sun environmental reporter and the author of several articles and books, narrates the documentary. Bird Dog Wheeler provides music production; Sandy Cannon-Brown is editorial director and producer; and Patrick Anderson is principal photographer.
“Let Our Rivers Flow” airs during MPT’s Chesapeake Bay Week.
Source: Tim Junkin, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy
Writer: Barbara Pash

Broadcast Sports is Growing, Hiring

Broadcast Sports Inc. is growing.

The Hanover-based company that provides wireless telecommunications services for major sporting events recently opened a  U.K. office and is adding two staff positions here in Maryland.

Broadcast sports is currently hiring a test engineer and a management information systems analyst at its Hanover headquarters.

“The most exciting thing going on is all the new technologies we are working on now that will be deployed at various events this year," says Broadcast Sports Sales and Marketing Specialist Colleen Stanley. Though its U.K. office has only been on a few months, the company has been selected for some major sporting events including the Formula 1 racing series, Stanley says.

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for Broadcast Sports. Already on the slate for this year, Broadcast Sports will be working the Winter X Games, Super Bowl XLVI, the Masters Golf Tournament, the Daytona 500, The Indianapolis 500 and the Summer Olympics in London. With all these events on tap, the company is looking for more help.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Colleen Stanley, Broadcast Sports Inc.

Spark Media Creates Film on Civil Rights Crusader Stetson Kennedy

Spark Media is creating a new documentary film, "Klandestine Man: The Life and Times of Stetson Kennedy". The film will document Mr. Kennedy's actions as he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950's to fight against racial intolerance and hatred and disseminated the secret information of the group to journalists and investigators.

"When we convince audiences that one person can make a difference and empower the individual to be a force for change, this documentary will make it possible to fulfill Stetson's life's mission," says co-director/producer Andrea Kalin.

Stetson Kennedy used his background of Southern privilege to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan of the 1950's at the highest levels. He stayed undercover in the organization for 15 years, and learned many of the groups secrets. The information he gathered about the Klan was widely published and helped to demystify the group. Mr. Kennedy used a variety of means to publicize the Klan's secret information and passwords, even the popular "Superman" radio show.

"We actually interviewed Stetson for our last documentary, Soul of a People: Writing America's Story, about the Federal Writers' Project. Stetson worked on the project in Florida, gathering oral histories and folklore. Some of what he witnessed during this time is what inspired him to fight for the 'little guy' for the rest of his life...It's a story that not many people know about outside of Florida, and a story we thought needed to be told," says producer and lead researcher James Mirabello.

Spark Media will be showing the film at film festivals beginning in 2012. A trailer is available online now.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Andrea Kalin, Jamies Mirabello

Green Product Placement Prepares for Launch

Baltimore native Beth Bell was inspired to start a new business earlier this year by an online chat at the TED forums with one of her film industry colleagues. That chat led to her new business venture, Green Product Placement.

"I had an interest in the new green economy, but wasn't sure what it was I could do exactly to become part of it, when this idea came to me. Now, I'll be able to take the sum of my career experience to not only promote the types of brands and companies I really believe are our future, but also use media to be able to promote sustainable lifestyles," Bell says.

Green Product Placement aims to place green, sustainable, and locally-sourced products in films. Since the inception of her idea in the spring, Bell has been able to partner with several of her film industry colleagues in the US, UK, and Canada to get the ball rolling. Beth and her team are currently working their industry contacts and searching for products that would fit the bill. Locally-sourced products to raise the believability threshold of a movie's setting will be a part of the stable at Green Product Placement as well.

"The idea behind the local angle is this: not only do we support local entrepreneurs, but they help to 'set the place.' Say you're shooting a film in Toronto, but it's supposed to be Baltimore, what makes it 'seem' Baltimore? Local brands; the type of potato chip bag on the kitchen counter, or coffee they use or beer they drink," Bell continues.

Green Product Placement will be moving into the next stage of its plan, a fundraising drive on indiegogo this fall. The company is looking to complete the final startup phases and fully launch in early 2012.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Beth Bell, Green Product Placement

Senator Operators Opt for More Screens Instead of Restaurant

Sometimes scaling back one plan can mean expansion of others. In the case of the Senator Theatre, a North Baltimore landmark with a recent history often centering on uncertainty, a recent change of plans will shift the 1939 art-deco building from mixed-use entertainment site with one movie screen to a multi-screen movie house with a smaller amount of dedicated space for eating and drinking.

On Saturday, March 19, operators James "Buzz" Cusack and Kathleen Cusack announced that 307 new cinema seats will be spread among three new theaters in the building just south of the intersection of York Road and Northern Parkway. Instead of previous plans for a small-plates restaurant in the large contiguous space north of the current movie auditorium, the building will be segmented to allow for a variety of first-run movies with different target audiences to be shown. There is also potential for new screening technology to be rolled out in the smaller boutique theaters, following the Senator's selection for a THX audio overhaul in 2003 that never completely came to pass.

"We're trying to get our hands on a digital 3-D projector for the summer when we're still just a single screen, but they're hard to come by and they're expensive," Kathleen Cusack says. All of the Senator's new equipment will be digital, which marks a major change from its current 35 mm and 70 mm film equipment.

Despite scrapping plans for a full restaurant on the site, the Senator will still add a wine bar and Sofi's Crepes, which also has a location in the Charles Theatre in the Station North neighborhood. The Charles is also operated by the Cusacks, who hold a 40-year lease on the city-owned Senator Theatre.
Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Kathleen Cusack, Senator Theatre operator
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