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Below-the-liners make the fest scene

Fierberg at Toronto for 'Year,' 'Oranges'

Steven Fierberg, the d.p. who shot “Ten Year” and “The Oranges,” both screening in Toronto, has a fantasy: “There’s a brilliant director in the audience watching my movie. He comes up to me right afterwards and says, ‘Oh my god, that was so perfect. You have to shoot my next picture.'”

But that’s not really the way things work, said Fierberg, who went to Toronto on Friday to help promote both films. While festivals are all about creating buzz for films and pedestals for stars and directors, below-the-line talent benefits less directly.

“I can think of times when I’ve interviewed with a director who said, ‘I saw that movie in a festival and it looked great. I’ll hire you.’ But it didn’t matter that I was at the festival,” Fierberg said.

Yet many d.p.’s, production designers and other crew trek to Toronto, Sundance and other fests — most often on their own dime — not just to help promote films they’ve worked on but to network and advance their careers.

“Everybody’s there so I try to meet as many people as I can,” said editor Jake Pushinsky, who also worked on “Ten Year,” an ensembler that stars Channing Tatum, Kate Mara and Rosario Dawson. He can’t make Toronto this year, but he’s traveled to Sundance and Tribeca.

“It’s all about promoting yourself,” he said. “That’s how I stay in this business. I even met my agent at Sundance.”

Indeed, below-the-line agents often use fests for their own kind of prospecting. Over the years “I brought back several clients from Sundance, many of whom I still rep,” said one agent.

Editor Annette Davey, who went to Toronto this year to tubthump “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best,” attends fests to network — and to possibly repeat her 2007 Sundance experience: After “Waitress” screened there, “I got a call for a job during the festival. Being there raises your profile.”

D.p. Bobby Bukowski regrets he can’t get to Toronto, where Oren Moverman’s “Rampart,” which he shot, is having its premiere. Nonetheless, “I’ve never found going to festivals serves to secure new jobs,” he said. “I’d like to think a director wants to collaborate with me based on my body of work, not my personality.”

Another d.p. who won’t be in Toronto is Martin Ruhe, who shot the fest’s “Page Eight,” helmed by David Hare. Ruhe did attend Cannes when “Control” opened, and went to the London fest for the premiere of “The American.” But Ruhe doesn’t actively promote himself at fests. “I enjoy the parties, but I’m not good at walking up to people,” he said.

Mark Dornfeld’s vfx shingle Custom Film Effects worked on two pics screening in Toronto — Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” with George Clooney, and “Butter,” starring Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Garner — but he sees no point in attending. “I’m in my studio, working,” he said. “We get business mostly through existing relationships, like with Alexander and his editor Kevin Tent.” “Descendants” is his third pic with Payne.

Bookings & Signings

Jonathan Silverman, now with Global Artists Agency, has brought onboard d.p. Jeffrey Kimball (“The Expendables”) and production designer Maria Caso (“Deadwood”).

Paradigm signed producers Dean Jones (“The Help”) and Mark G. Mathis (“Precious”); second unit director Clay Staub (“300”); editor/director Steven Sprung (“Community”); and production designer James Philpott (“Smallville”). Agency booked producers Bill Beasley on Allen Hughes’ “Broken City,” Ken Ornstein, returning, on ABC Family’s “Melissa and Joey” and Scott Lumpkin on Malik Bader’s “Crush”; second unit director Stephen Woolfenden on Jonathan Levine’s “Warm Bodies”; editors Niven Howie on Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Resident Evil: Retribution” and Anne McCabe on Stuart Blumberg’s “Thanks for Sharing”; and costume designer Wendy Chuck on Akiva Schaffer’s “Neighborhood Watch.”

Innovative Artists signed editor Michael Andrews (all the “Shrek” films). Agency booked line producer Butch Kaplan on Barry Levinson’s “Gotti: Three Generations”; d.p.’s Shawn Maurer on John Whitesell’s “Crossover” and Alex Nepomniaschy on D.J. Caruso’s “The Goats”; production designer Doug Kraner on TNT pilot “Gateway”; and costume designers Ruth Carter on Salim Akil’s “Sparkle” and Genevieve Tyrrell on Andy Fickman’s “Us and Them.”Eastern Talent booked editors Pat McMahon on A&E’s “Bag of Bones” and Peter Devaney Flanagan on Ernie Barbarash’s “Six Bullets”; costume designer Soyon An on an untitled Benson Lee project; and first a.d. Craig Borden on “Six Bullets.”

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