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Snake Tales: Is There a Distributor in the House?

by Beck Finley

Dateline: 2/11/00

Francesca Talenti's independent movie Snake Tales previewed at the Fine Arts Theater near Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday, January 14, 2000. The movie, based loosely on both Boccacio's The Decameron and Cheherazade of The Arabian Nights, is the brainchild of Ms. Talenti. As writer, director, and producer, Ms. Talenti invested over three years and $100,000 in the project. The film was shot on 16 mm in 28 days of actual filming during the summer of 1998. The money came from a lawsuit settlement, a few grants, and funds from private investors.

Aside from a professional director of photography and a professional sound person, the cast and crew consisted of students. Ms. Talenti edited the film at The University of Texas at Austin where she is an assistant professor of film production. She literally elbowed her students for room on the equipment, such as the AVID machine. All told, post-production took over a year--that's a lot of students to elbow. Now, Ms. Talenti has one print of the film. It is officially her feature debut.

She's got to be asking herself one question: "Now what?"

Everywhere and nowhere at once -- that's how one of the movie's characters feels about her deceased lover. The same can be said for both the storyline of Snake Tales and Ms. Talenti's search for distribution. With a meandering plot involving many storytellers and lots of coincidences and chance meetings, the movie has been entered in several festivals and has done surprisingly well. There were negotiations with Time-Warner cable, which fell through when the main negotiator at the company quit his job. The Independent Film Channel is still negotiating for television rights.

Could it be that the sometimes amusing, sometimes boring story (forget about that New Age bit with the Blue Woman) just isn't good enough to attract the interest of a distributor? Or maybe it's just extremely difficult for any movie to get distribution, someting we might have forgotten in the wake of such success stories as The Blair Witch Project and American Beauty. Either way, Ms. Talenti should be applauded for her efforts and the risk she took in realizing her project.

Beck Finley is a freelance writer and critic. She lives on the Missouri side of Kansas City with her husband, Ryan Kegley, and dog, Tummy.

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