September 28, 2016

Film Festival: Santa Barbara Gold

27th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival - American Riviera Award Tribute to Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese at the Santa Barbara Film Festival

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
On its website, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival calls itself “a cinephile’s paradise—an eleven day celebration of cinema at several historical theaters on the American Rivera(sic) in beautiful downtown Santa Barbara…”
The festival presents “more than 200 films to over 75,000 film enthusiasts—an audience that includes industry professionals, leading reporters and critics from Variety, Hollywood Reporter and IndieWire as well as local and regional cinephiles, film students and independent filmmakers….

“Just a few days after Sundance and well-timed a few weeks before the Academy Awards, (the festival) has become a must-stop for frontrunners on the awards season fast-track.”

Over the years, the festival has “honored the artistic achievements of Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Amy Adams, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Lawrence, Christopher Plummer, Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Viola Davis, Martin Scorsese, Colin Firth, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Helen Mirren and many more.”

The nonprofit organization that oversees the film festival hasn’t done too badly, either.

Between fiscal 2006-07 and 2012-13, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Inc., generated more than $20.5 million in total support, according to Form 990 documents the nonprofit is required to file annually with the IRS.

In fiscal 2012-13, the festival reported total revenues of $3,520,974 and total expenses of $3,310,907.

Like Palm Springs, another tourist Mecca which runs its own successful film festival at the height of the movie awards season, Santa Barbara is able to draw on its proximity to Hollywood for celebrities and media attention.

Indeed, the upscale coastal enclave is home to many celebrity and studio executives so it’s little wonder that the studios and indie distributors are eager to showcase their movies and talent at the film festival since so many Oscar voters live in the Santa Barbara area.

At this year’s 29th annual festival, the honorees included Cate Blanchett, who would go on to win the Oscar for best actress for “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett was honored with the festival’s Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. Also honored were Oscar nominated actor Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), who received the festival’s Modern Master Award, and Oscar nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio and best director nominee Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), who picked up the festival’s Cinema Vanguard Award.

The festival is run by executive director Roger Durling and is overseen by a board of directors that includes Ivan Reitman, who has directed such hit comedies as “Meatballs,” “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters.”

Presiding over the board is Douglas R. Stone, a founding partner and managing partner in the Beverly Hills law firm Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder, LLP. Stone is no stranger to the world of cinema. His practice centers around two areas: talent (he reps Daniel Craig and Halle Berry) and production companies.
Stone is also a principal of Traction Media.

“Traction is a company created by Stone, Meyer, Genow, Selkinson & Binder, LLP to further the interests of independent filmmakers,” his festival bio states. “Traction represents films for sale of distribution rights as well as produces and packages feature film projects. In addition, Traction assists equity financiers seeking film projects and works with production companies that need help packaging and/or setting up their projects. Through Traction, Mr. Stone has been involved in the sale of dozens of films.”

The company’s website notes that “Traction Media has produced, executive produced and/or acted as domestic or worldwide sales rep on over 35 independent features. These films have premiered and screened at festivals including Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, San Sebastian, SXSW, Tribeca, Berlin and Slamdance.”

Some of the films Traction Media represents also have screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival: “Short Term 12” in 2013, “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “Sassy Pants” and “Romeo Eleven” in 2012, and “Good For Nothing” in 2011, according to the festival’s website.

Stone, who once worked in the motion picture and television department of the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP, was named one of the “Power 100” entertainment attorneys by the Hollywood Reporter in 2007, 2008 and 2011, notes his festival bio.

Stone and the board do not receive compensation for their festival duties.
In fiscal 2012-13, according to the SBIFF tax filing, the nonprofit engaged in a business transaction with Traction Media in the amount of $25,000 for “consultation services in support of the SBIFF acquisitions program for September 1, 2012-February 15, 2013.”

HollywoodNews reached out to Stone and his representative for comment but received no replies.

Founded in 1985, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s mission statement is to support film education and appreciation through a variety of programs in Santa Barbara through the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cinema Society.
(Note: HollywoodNews.com is owned by Los Angeles businessman Carlos Abreu, the founder and former executive director of the Hollywood Film Festival. He is the executive producer of the annual Hollywood Film Awards black-tie gala at the Beverly Hilton, which is attended by top movies stars. Dick Clark Productions recently invested in the Hollywood Film Awards and plans to televise the awards show on CBS later this year).

With its focus on local programs, it’s not unusual that the Santa Barbara International Film Festival does not list any grants on its tax filings between fiscal 2010-11 and 2012-13.

For the same three-year period, however, the festival does list $65,469 in expenses for “various small programs for youth.”

As part of its community outreach, the festival conducts a program called “Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies”, a one-day program during the festival that educates 4,000 fifth and sixth grade Santa Barbara County students. Founded by cinematographer Mike DeGruy, the event “explores how to use the art of filmmaking to stimulate creative, confident and culturally award thinkers and empower students and teachers with a creative approach to education.”

Meanwhile, students currently enrolled in Santa Barbara area high schools and colleges are also invited to submit a five-minute sample of their best filmmaking efforts on DVD to their school’s representative if they’d like to qualify for a filmmaking competition called 10-10-10.

The festival also offers free family oriented programming called AppleBox. In 2013, the festival website states, over 60% of the AppleBox guests come from low-income families. This year’s AppleBox featured screenings of Disney’s “Frozen,” “The Croods,” “Despicable Me 2” and “Monsters University.”

On the weekend following the festival, there are also free screenings held on a first come first served basis at the Riviera Theatre.

Along with the festival, Santa Barbara movie buffs can also join a Cinema Society, which was founded in 1998 and presented by SBIFF. The Cinema Society allows the community to celebrate the art of cinema throughout the year. According to the festival’s website, the Cinema Society presents screenings and special events at which filmmakers and celebrities introduce films and participate in post-screening discussions. In 2012, the Cinema Society had about 900 members.

Cinema Society members are invited to, on average, 25 films per season with filmmakers and/or talent coming for Q&A’s. “Premiere Members” are invited to private receptions for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and an opportunity to meet the talent. A premiere membership for two costs $1,600.

Passes to the most recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival came in various prices.

For $7,500, a “Private Access Pass” admitted a passholder to all screenings with reserved seating, opening and closing night films and galas, all panel discussions and tribute events, access to the UGG Australia Pavilion (daily happy hours and post-tribute parties), the Rosebud Suites at Hotel Santa Barbara, the pre-tribute VIP receptions, all private VIP after-parties, personal concierge service, VIP backstage access, photo opportunities with celebrities guests, private gifting from festival sponsors and easy access parking.

A “Concierge Pass” went for $5,000; a “Platinum Pass” for $1,650; a
“Cinema Pass” for $600; and, a “State Street Pass” for $325.

Spotlight on portions of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s tax returns:

2012-13:
Total revenues: $3,520,974
Total expenses: $3,310,907
Net assets: $249,992

Expenses include:
*$250,896—Catering
*250,365—Decoration
*$245,607—Guest services
*$241,011—Contract labor

Business transactions involving interested persons include:
*$25,000—Doug Stone, president of the SBIFF and owner of Traction Media, vendor of SBIFF. “Consultation services in support of the SBIFF acquisitions program for September 1, 2012-February 15, 2013.”

Grants: None listed

Salaries, other compensation and employee benefits: $739,687

Roger Durling, executive director
*$128,333—compensation

2011-12
Total revenues: $3,141,161
Total expenses: $3,115,788
Net assets: $39,925

Expenses include:
*$302,400—Catering
*$281,335—Equipment rentals
*$233,902—Decoration
*$229,073—Contract labor

Business transactions involving interested persons:
*$40,557—Karen Earp, an employee of the Biltmore, a vendor used by SBIFF for purchase of catering (Note: Earp is general manager of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara and a member of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival board of directors)

Grants: None listed

Salaries, other compensation and employee benefits: $656,682

Roger Durling, executive director
*$146,667—Compensation

2010-11
Total Revenues: $2,849,838
Total Expenses: $2,771,624

Expenses include:
*$313,383—Contract labor
*$274,334—Catering
*235,714—Equipment rentals
*$219,370—Guest services
*$163,112—Prizes

Business transactions involving interested persons:
*$34,850—Karen Earp, an employee of the Biltmore, a vendor used by SBIFF for purchase of catering.

Grants: None listed

Salaries, other compensation and employee benefits: $535,549

Roger Durling, executive director
*$140,000—compensation

About Robert W. Welkos

Executive Editor: Robert W. Welkos is an award-winning journalist who covered the entertainment industry for 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. During this span, he wrote extensively about the movie industry from turmoil in the executive suites, the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and box office hits and bombs to visits to movie sets as well as profiles of top stars and A-list directors, cutting edge features on the newest indie films and visits to famous film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Prior to entertainment, Welkos worked as a reporter and assistant city editor in The Times’ Metro section where he undertook major investigations for the paper as well as covering breaking news and writing in-depth features. Before joining The Times, he worked for the Associated Press in Reno, Nevada, and City News Service in Los Angeles.

Follow us

Breaking Hollywood News   


UPDATES BY EMAIL

Comments are closed.