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Tuesday, 20 May 2014 18:30

New Media Film Festival Honors Roger Corman

Written by  Gordon Meyer
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What do Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich and Francis Coppola have in common?

In addition to the obvious fact that all are award winning filmmakers, they also all got their start making low budget movies for Producer Roger Corman, who will be honored this year at the 5th Annual New Media Film Festival, which runs June 10 and 11 at the Landmark Theatre in West Los Angeles.  Fellow cinema legend John Carpenter will present the 88 year old Corman with the Legend Award as part of the Closing Night schedule on June 11.

Corman’s career as producer, director and studio head spans seven decades, beginning with low budget movies like The Swamp Woman (1955), The Terror (1963) and the original Little Shop of Horrors (1960).  In addition to being one of Jack Nicholson’s earliest screen appearances (playing a masochistic dental patient) and serving as the source material for a successful off-Broadway musical and big screen musical remake, Little Shop of Horrors is also famous for being shot in only three days on sets left over from another low budget movie that Corman’s brother Gene was producing.  When it looked like the latter project would finish ahead of schedule, according to legend, Roger bet Gene that he could shoot an entire feature in the remaining three days the set would be available.

As a director, Corman is also revered for his series of eight gothic horror movies inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe, beginning with The House of Usher (1960) and ending with The Tomb of Ligea (1964).  Vincent Price starred in all but one of the Corman Poe movies.  Co-stars in the series included cinema legends Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone and future legend Jack Nicholson, who played Lorre’s son in The Raven (1963).

In 1970, Corman founded New World Pictures, which produced and distributed the early films of Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard and Joe Dante.  While most of New World’s output was the kind of low budget action fare popular at drive-in theatres in the 1970s and 80s, Corman’s New World was also the American distributor for films from international legends like Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. 

The New Media Film Festival has become a successful platform to find new talent in filmmaking that uses new media to tell stories. Entries are broken down into 19 categories, including 3D, animation, apps, documentary, LGBT, mobile, music videos, shot on RED, student-made and web series. The New Media Film Festival, whose slogan is “Honoring Stories Worth Telling,” has become an increasingly prestigious showcase for new media producers.  Festival judges include top executives from Fox, Pixar and other prominent companies.

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