Tag Archives: Independent Film

Getting Ready for your premiere at TIFF

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the Filmmakers Bootcamp, an annual event at the TIFF Lightbox to prepare the Canadian filmmakers for their experience at the Toronto Film Festival. Given the nature of the event, I decided to emphasize practical advice about making the most of the experience. Since the audience was limited to Canadian filmmakers, the good folks at TIFF recorded the session and have made it available on line. Here it is in its entirety, with the hope that it might be of help to others of you who might be navigating Toronto for the first time.

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A Song to Cinema

With all the bad news floating around about movie theaters going out of business, this video, courtesy of the Traverse City Film Festival, stands as a reminder of why we need to preserve the theatrical experience. Kudos to The Treefort Collective for a great job creating the video, and for putting me in a starring role alongside Wim Wenders!

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Filmmaker Magazine on the Columbia Film Program

The following article by Charles Lyons appears in the current issue of Filmmaker Magazine. Click on a thumbnail to get started…

Here’s a link to PDF of the piece.

(reproduced with permission)
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25 Years of the Columbia University Film Festival

As many of you know, this year marked the 25th Anniversary of the Columbia University Film Festival. We decided to mark the occasion with a huge celebration at Alice Tully Hall. As Chair of the Film Program, I had the honor of being the host. It was an opportunity to reflect on our history and to talk about who we are and what we do. While I would have like to have had my opening speech videotaped for posterity, the folks at Alice Tully make such an endeavor way too expensive, so instead I decided to share the text of my opening remarks. I welcome your comments.

Opening Remarks at Alice Tully Hall, May 4th, 2012

Good evening…

If you’re wondering why I’m dressed like this, it’s because we run a very democratic institution and the student committee (I’m told) voted to have me dress this way. So, who am I to argue?

The fact that I am standing here as Chair of the Film Program as we celebrate this momentous occasion, is an accident of fate. I am simply a representative of the amazing faculty of the Film Program, a group of groundbreaking writers, director and producers who have truly dedicated themselves to mentoring the next generation of filmmakers. I don’t have time to mention you all by name, but let’s have a round of applause for the Columbia Film Faculty. (more…)

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Let’s Focus on the Grown Ups

I just got back from a trip to Brussels, where I gave a master class at RITS on “New Business Models in the Digital World.” The audience, a combination of students and professionals from all over Belgium was managing to stay awake as I spouted off about all the various disruptive forces that were moving the film business in new directions. I talked about diminished windows, squeezed margins, pricing disparities, consumer confusion, conflicting technologies and much more.

During the Q&A period, a fellow raised his hand and challenged one of my earlier statements. I had mentioned that theatrical box office was trending upward only because of increasing ticket prices–mainly due to the premium paid for 3D–and in fact, the number of actual admissions had been trending downward for decades. (more…)

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The Digital Transition & What It Means for Indies

With more and more studios moving away from 35mm prints, can art house cinema survive in a digital world?

This article was originally published on the Tribeca Future of Film web site, and was reprinted at Thompson on Film, among other sites. However, I decided to post it here as well, to make it easier to find and for archival purposes.

That sound you’ve been hearing over the last month that resembles the  opening strains of the soundtrack from Jaws is a collective moan from  true independent distributors and the mission-driven exhibitors who play  their films. The catalyst for this distress was a letter from Fox  Searchlight, which is now widely referred to as “the Searchlight  letter.” (more…)

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The Art House Convergence

Here is a video created by Doug Tirola and his team at 4th Row Films for the Art House Convergence. For those of you who don’t know, this is an organization of all the mission-driven art houses from around the country every year. It’s one of my favorite events because I get to hang out with other folks who are devoted to showing movies of all types on the big screen. I’m looking forward to being there again this coming January. If you are involved with a local art house, you should be there too! Oh, and extra points if you can find me in my little cameo, being my usual cynical self.


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Master Class: Independent Film Financing

Last week, I moderated a master class on Independent Film Financing at the IFP’s Independent Film Conference. The panelists were Nekisa Cooper, producer of “Pariah,” Philipp Engelhorn, founder of Cinereach, Pat Kaufman, the Executive Director of the New York State Film Office, Richard Sheehan from HSBC Bank and Jonathan Gray, Senior Partner at Gray Krauss Des Rochers. It turned out to be an interesting overview of how to piece together financing in the current environment. I only wish it had lasted longer. You can read more about it at indieWIRE.

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More from the Traverse City Film Festival

Here’s a fun video from the Traverse City Film Festival. It’s the “Traverse City Lipdub.” I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered this phenomenon, but it seems to have caught on at college campuses, especially in the midwest. Just try searching for the word “lipdub” and you’ll see. This one is particularly well done. It shows off all the highlights of Traverse City, starting at Michael Moore’s theater, continuing up Front Street and ending up at the all the recreational areas on the shores of Lake Michigan. It also stars what seems to be the entire population of the city. Enjoy!

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Looking Back at the Last 15 Years of Distribution

The video below is of a panel that I participated in last weekend at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. It was in honor of the 15th anniversary of indieWIRE and the idea was to reflect on the changes that the film distribution business has undergone during that 15 year period. In spite of the large number of people on the panel, a lot of information was discussed. It was fun seeing all these people in one place (and several other prominent folks in the audience) especially because we’ve all worked together at one time or another. Anyway, enjoy!

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