Indie Fest/Accolade Competition Helps All For Liberty Find A Distributor
A moving portrait of Revolutionary War heroes
by Alex A. Kecskes
All for Liberty, an Accolade Competition winning independent film feature has entered into a distribution agreement with John Mclean Media which will rep the film in worldwide broadcast, cable, VOD, DVD rental and educational markets. The Accolade Competition is the Indie Fest’s sister international awards competition.
John Clean Media largely represents independent producers of video content from all over the world to buyers and distributors of broadcast, satellite, cable, VOD and home video material. The company's growing list of international clients include Artsworld UK, BBC Worldwide, Discovery International, France 5, Globsat Brazil, ITV Digital Channels UK, RAISAT Italy, TVB Hong Kong, Living Channel New Zealand, Al Jazeera Children's Channel, Halogen TV, First HDTV Russia, and Voice of America.
"We're excited to add All For Liberty to our line-up of feature titles," John Mclean said, "The film is well-made and has a lot of potential from an educational as well as an entertainment standpoint. It illustrates what is one of the most important events in US history through the story of a figure many people may not be acquainted with." Mr. Mclean added, "This could give rise to some exciting opportunities in educational video distribution markets as well as television broadcasts."
Executive producer, Clarence Felder said, “We’re very happy to have had the Accolade Competition/Indie Fest advising and repping our feature film at American Film Market and at NAPTE in Las Vegas. The advice and guidance from the Accolade Competition/Indie Fest’s Coordinator was invaluable for advancing the film into the world market. We are very grateful to him and Accolade/Indie Fest for their amazing support and inside information for independent filmmakers.”
Director Chris Weatherhead and Producer Ron Mangravite created a personal, emotionally charged portrait of America torn by violent civil conflict. The film stars Clarence Felder, an established film and stage actor and direct descendent of Captain Henry Felder. Based on a true a story, All for Liberty, chronicles the heroic stand of Captain Felder and his militia in the backcountry of South Carolina from 1776-1780. Their courage was instrumental in diverting British troops and energies while George Washington's army lay nearly defeated far to the north. All for Liberty was shot on location in South Carolina and Georgia, using the actual historical sites wherever possible. The film will premiere at the 2009 Beijing International Film Festival.
Mangravite's background is long and varied. He taught at the American Film Institute, the Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley. He also worked in Hollywood as a script doctor (independent features), story analyst (NBC, Disney, CBS, HBO) and screenwriter. He has written eight stage plays, all produced professionally, and he directed or produced over forty professional stage productions in New York and in regional theatres nationwide. Mangravite's current creative projects include a feature film to be shot in Miami and a Spanish language children's television project in Colombia. His award winning short films include My Father's Hopes (writer/producer/director) and The Queen of the Sea (writer/director).
Asked if he always wanted to be a filmmaker, Mangravite replied, "My parents, my aunt and uncle were all involved in the movie business before I was born. But filmmaking really wasn't on my mind until high school when I made this gargantuan bootleg film version of Arlo Guthrie's song 'lice's Restaurant. I didn't know about permissions or copyrights or even basic courtesy. I just went ahead and made it with one camera and one actor, ended up with four camera units and 1,100 extras. From there, I produced or directed several documentaries and short films. But I didn't trust the business aspect of filmmaking and I got into acting and directing theatre instead. I discovered, theatre could be just as shady, except the budget numbers have fewer zeros. So I circled back to filmmaking in my late thirties."
Asked what drew him to producing a historically themed film, Mangravite explained, "I wanted to help our director, Chris Weatherhead, who is the true visionary. I had directed, produced and performed in several theatre projects set in the 18th century so this era felt very familiar-the history, the technology, the clothing, the weapons."
How did he settle on the specific topics and subjects for his films? "Someone recently described my films and scripts as centering on how the past haunts the present," said Mangravite. "That's very true in All for Liberty. These people suffered and did so much, yet they have pretty much disappeared from national memory. We walk the ground they did (or park on it) but rarely connect with what happened on that ground. What most people don't realize about American history is that, number one, it wasn't that long ago; and number two, it was real people taking huge risks in their lives. The American Revolution was actually more of a civil war that the Civil War. The South in the Civil War just wanted to secede, they didn't want to take over the government, and they didn't have an ideology to impose on the North. In the American Revolution, it was neighbor against neighbor and it got pretty ugly, some of which was portrayed in All for Liberty. It was a huge struggle of patriots against the Torries."
What challenges did he face filming a movie set in another age? "Authenticity was a big issue, of course," noted Mangravite. "But Chris did a lot of research and had excellent historical advisors. The big production issue was sound. Modern America is noisy. Cars and airplanes are everywhere. We had to replace much of the production dialogue in post-which was very time consuming."
What about casting and funding, how did this film get made? "Our production model, in a sense, replicates Felder's fight," explained Mangravite. "It was sort of a guerilla, volunteer, living-off-the-land kind of effort. We didn't have the money or the power of a big studio behind us. Everyone pitched in for the love of getting this story told."
What was it like working with accomplished professionals like Clarence Felder who happens to be a direct descendent of Captain Henry Felder, the most important character in this story? "I've known Clarence for over thirty years," noted Mangravite. "We used to perform Shakespeare together as Hal and Falstaff, Clarence is a 'one-take' pro. He nails his scenes with no muss, no fuss. Yes, he is a ninth-generation descendent of Captain Felder. It was this family connection that got this all started. He conducted some family research, then wrote a play "Captain Felder's Cannon," which was the basis for the film."
What most surprised him about the historical period of this film? "The "cultural diversity" of early America," said Mangravite. "We tend to think of that era as being just WASPs and black slaves and natives. But there were all sorts of different immigrant groups in South Carolina at the time. Felder was Swiss, there was a Jewish community in Charleston, as well as French, Italians and Dutch. There were also free American and Caribbean blacks owning businesses and sometimes owning slaves."
An original score was commission for this film. How expensive was that? "Like everything else on this project, we had very little funds to work with," noted Mangravite. "But I knew we could get great music working with Tony De Ritis, our composer and conductor. He and I clicked working on a theatre production in Berkeley. I knew he was very creative, and exceptionally resourceful. He's the chair of the music department at Northeastern University and used his personal contacts to pull together an orchestra in Boston to create this great, haunting score.
Will the Accolade award help in promoting the film and his career? "It's too soon to tell about the effect on my career," said Mangravite. "But I know for sure it's helped promote the film! Because, it's an international competition and not limited to the particular mindset of a festival. Also, because it's a competition, not a festival, an Accolade win does not disqualify us from entering festivals that require premiere status."
Advice from successful filmmakers is always welcome. Any tips for up-and-comers? "First, know that you can make your movie one way or other," advised Mangravite. "You don't need permission from 'the industry.' Second, plan, plan, plan ahead. Third, accept that everything you do will take five times longer than you figured. Fourth, realize that traditional movie distribution has broken down and prospects for 1990s style big payoffs to filmmakers are just about nil. You'll most likely have to recoup your cost by selling your picture DVD by DVD. If your costs are low, if your story interests a dedicated niche audience and if you have determination, you will succeed."
Any failures that were particularly instructive that you'd care to share? "Make sure you stay on a location as long as you need to shoot enough coverage to edit the picture," replied Mangravite. "Always work with a script supervisor to maintain continuity. And always record 'dirty' production sound even if you know you won't use it-otherwise, the sound editor has nothing to use as the basis for dubbing in post."
Asked about his next project, Mangravite offered several interesting hints, "I'm planning to shoot a modern day drama set in Miami. No armies, no cannons, no crowds. But after that, I'd like to make a picture about what happens when the Founding Fathers suddenly find themselves in modern America. It's based on a play I wrote some time ago, about Lewis and Clarke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton all just somehow ending up in present day America."
Ron Mangravite Coral Gate Media, LLC, 1825 Ponce de Leon Blvd. #454, Coral Gables FL 33134, coralgatemedia (at) gmail.com, 305-284-5219