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Author Archives: Ira
In 2005, I was invited to a conference in Montreal called Digimart, organized by Daniel Langlois and his team at Ex-Centris. It was a very early attempt to deal with the coming convergence of entertainment technologies, and they invited a star-studded array of speakers that represented the cutting edge of that time. I met many incredible people at the event, and even more the following year, when they invited many of us back for a second time. Some of the folks I met are now good friends and collaborators.
Recently it was pointed out to me that the videos of the conference sessions were no longer on line, so I contacted the good folks at La fondation Daniel Langlois, who are now trying to restore access to those videos. They’ve put back the sessions from the 2005 event, and are trying to locate the ones from 2006. Watching these videos, it’s incredible how far ahead of the curve many of the speakers were, and equally incredible how much has changed. You can find all the 2005 videos at the Digimart site. For a quick taste, below is the panel I was on, which was called, “More Digital Cinema Networks – Alternative & Independent Spaces.” I’ll post again if and when the 2006 videos reappear.
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For the second year, Columbia University has designated a special day to help raise student support funds. They call it “Giving Day,” and all the various schools and programs are competing to get a share of matching funds from the University. This year it’s Wednesday, October 23rd.
Why should you care? It should come as no surprise that financing graduate school at a major university is an expensive proposition. But the students who come to Columbia are some of the brightest lights in a world that needs talented storytellers more than ever.
The results are clear. Our alums are working in just about every aspect of the film and television businesses in the U.S. and all over the world. It would be easy to shout out the names of our most famous alums, but that would miss the point. The point is that the skill and talent necessary to create great art is not necessarily linked to economic riches. This is a point that seems to be more accepted in other countries than here, where success seems to be inextricably linked to Hollywood. (more…)
Those of you who have watched my Keynote at the Art House Convergence may not have have realized that in the interest of time, I ended up cutting out five pages of the planned speech–an entire decade of my experience founding and running Fine Line Features. Coincidentally, several months later I was asked to speak at the University of Michigan in a class entitled “New Line and New Hollywood Cinema,” taught by Professor Dan Herbert. Here is a video of my guest lecture, which fills in the missing piece of my Art House talk. Thanks to Professor Herbert for providing the tape, and to his class for what was a great session.
There is some interesting information in here about the politics of theatrical exhibition, and how that relates to the success of Sony Classics. Please comment and let us know your thoughts… (more…)
The folks at the Toronto Film Festival have just posted my keynote from their annual Filmmaker Boot Camp, a sort of retreat where they prepare filmmakers for their experience at TIFF. This is the second time they’ve asked me to do this, and given that Toronto is one of my favorite festivals, I’m glad to be of service.
The information I presented is a summary of some presentations I’ve made in my classes at Columbia, and at various other events. It’s a quick overview of the current marketplace, followed by some specific strategies one might use to navigate a festival like Toronto, and to make the best of the experience. I hope those of you who couldn’t be there will find something useful in it.
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. (more…)
One of the great things they do at the Traverse City Film Festival is that every year they create these powerful, inspirational videos that are are riffs on the theme of that year’s festival. This year it was “One Great Movie Can Change You.” Check it out…
Oh, and yes, that was me at the beginning. You can comment after the break… (more…)
Don’t get me wrong about David Pogue. Even though his pro-Apple bias sometimes infuriates me, I enjoy reading his weekly column, and I continue to believe that he’s one of the few truly essential technology columnists out there. But that’s part of the problem. When Pogue trashes something, it has an enormous impact on whether a product can survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in an environment where consumers are dubious about buying anything that is not on their proven comfort zone. So the purpose of this post is to say that Pogue really screwed up in his review of Microsoft’s Surface RT. (more…)
For those of you who have commented that film schools need more training in marketing and distribution, take a look at this video about a program that I helped to create with Ben Gibson of the London Film School. “Making Waves” took place at the Berlin Film Festival this past February. Several Columbia students participated along with students from The London Film School, La Fémis (Paris), the dffb (Berlin), ESCAC (Barcelona) and the UNATC (Romania). The students worked in international teams and were assigned a film from the Berlin Market and a territory. It was enormously successful and we hope the program continues in future years. Check it out below…
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In my speech at the Art House Convergence, I talked a great deal about Don Rugoff, who was a crazy, arrogant, difficult genius, and was my first boss in the movie business. Given the impact the man had on the business, it astounds me that he is almost a forgotten figure at this point. Reid Rosefelt wrote about him back in 2011, and ignited my urge to share more of what I knew about the man. So for those of you who would like to know more about the history of independent film marketing, here is a bunch of material to chew on.
This first piece is an audio recording of a seminar that Don did in 1976. It was moderated by Julian Schlossberg, who at the time was a VP at Paramount and had a radio program called “Movie Talk.” You’ll notice that during the Q&A, some of the questions from the audience were not intelligible, so whoever put this tape together dubbed them in. This is a fascinating glimpse into Don’s way of looking at the distribution business, the exhibition business, and mostly about his unique take on marketing specialized films. This was the school I went to, where I learned just about everything I’ve used throughout my career. (more…)
Last week, a lot of eyebrows were raised when Steven Spielberg, of all people, predicted the ‘implosion’ of the film industry. Russ Collins, who is the head of the Art House Convergence among the many hats he wears, wrote the following as an email to the art houses across the country. With his permission, I am reprinting it in it entirety as a guest blog. It’s a must read for anyone contemplating the state of the film industry.
By Russ Collins,
CEO, Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor
Director, Art House Convergence
Artistic Director, Cinetopia Festival
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE IMPLOSION KIND
I am not a doom and gloom guy. However, it is tempting for older cinema artists (like Steven Spielberg and soon to retire artists like Steven Soderbergh or maybe it’s just filmmakers named Steven!) to see gloom in clouds of change. Change is hard. It frequently makes us feel discouraged or unfairly challenged. The shifting sands of change can cause us to see threats everywhere and feel the world as we know it will end. However, maybe we feel this way because it’s true. The world as we know it will indeed come to an end because change is the only constant, and creativity in art, business and all things is frequently born from what might appear to be destructive forces brewed from dynamic change. It is a defining story of living; a baseline truth, an ever repeating cycle of human existence that the Hindu religion represents so effectively in the story Shiva, whose joyous dance of destruction celebrates the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. (more…)
I’ve written many times about how theatrical exhibition has to move more toward special events in order to survive. Here is another example of Emerging Pictures’ efforts in this direction. This past weekend, we premiered Kenneth Branagh’s “The Magic Flute” in theaters across the country, and afterward did a live Q&A with Branagh himself, from his home in the U.K. Now you can watch the entire event below. By the way, the film is still playing around the country, so check out the Emerging Pictures web site for locations.
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