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MADSTONE ANCHORS TRIO.

NEW YORK Madstone Films, a new Gotham hothouse for first-time digital directors, has put its first three filmmakers under contract.

They are Joan Stein, who won a student Academy Award for a short called "One Day Crossing"; Swedish helmer Lisa Siwe, who directed the short "Happy Birthday and Other Catastrophes"; and Aaron Woodley, nephew of David Cronenberg and director of four shorts, including "Bed and Breakfast" and "The Wager."

More than 1,000 filmmakers vied for the Madstone Director Package, submitting their short films, or feature treatment with scripts, during a seven-month window that began in May. Entries were accepted through film schools and festivals in addition to the company's Web site, www.madstonefilms.com.

A digital production and distribution company founded by Wall Street financier Chip Seelig and producer/exhib exec Tom Gruenberg, Madstone burst onto the Gotham indie scene in May with ambitious plans to provide a uniquely collaborative environment for new directors.

Two year deal

The filmmakers, who are to work in a Fifth Avenue loft, are given a two-year production deal and full financing for features budgeted from $500,000 to $1.5 million. They also receive a $50,000 salary, a 401(K) plan and profit participation.

The films will be distributed through Madstone's Digital Distribution Network, a group of locally programmed, digital theaters.

The three directors arrived at the offices in mid-November. "The idea is they'll interact in a way that's natural and works for them," Madstone exec Eva Kolodner says. "Lisa, Joan and Aaron bring a tremendous variety of talents, styles and story-telling skills to their filmmaking and we can't wait to bring their vision to the big screen."

Woodley's feature will roll out in the spring, with Siwe's and Stein's staggered thereafter. Madstone plans to select its next crop of first-time directors in the spring.

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Author:BING, JONATHAN; SHIRKANI, K.D.
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 4, 2000
Words:303
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