Byrd Replacing Tait As IFP Exec Director; Other Personnel Changes Announced; Plan For A Unified IFP Being Discussed
by Eugene Hernandez
Amidst talk of a change in the overall relationship between IFP
groups nationally, Richard Brick, chairman of the board of New York’s IFP,
announced yesterday that Michelle Byrd has been appointed the new Executive
Director of the organization. The move comes in response to the recent
resignation of Catherine Tait, who will become the President and COO of
Salter Street Films in Nova Scotia.
In an interview with indieWIRE yesterday, Brick revealed that the board’s
decision was unanimous, and that Byrd has signed a contract to serve as the
IFP head for an unspecified period of time. According to Brick, Byrd’s
tenure begins in May. In a related move, the IFP also announced that Sharan
Sklar has been named Market Director, heading up the group’s annual IFFM, and
that Karen Schwartzman will serve as the Program Director for the
A major issue facing the New York IFP is clearly its relationship to the
other IFP groups around the country (Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago and
Miami), which are currently run as autonomous organizations. Under a new
plan, revealed by Brick, the New York IFP will seek to create a unified
national organization with chapters around the country. "Many of us on the
board of the IFP (in New York) are interested (in the plan) and have been
talking about this for years," he explained.
"It (the plan) really makes sense," Michelle Byrd said in a telephone
interview with indieWIRE late yesterday. "I don’t want to sound like I am
trying to take over," she said laughing, but added, "Working together a
little bit (more) closely…would be beneficial. The indie community is not
that huge that we cannot benefit from each others programs."
According to Byrd, with over 4,500 members, the autonomous IFP West is the
largest of the five IFP groups. She told indieWIRE that her east coast
organization has over 3,500 members and that the combined membership of all
five IFP chapters is near 10,000.
As the New York IFP approaches its 20 year anniversary in 1999, and new plans
and programs are discussed, Chairman Richard Brick seems optimistic about the
future, and Byrd’s term. Explaining that, "a good executive director
challenges and leads a board," Brick praised Byrd by saying, "Michelle has
tremendous strengths, and brings a very high level of credibility among
filmmakers to the job, which is essential because we are a service
organization that exists only to serve the members."
[What are your thoughts on the changes at the IFP in New York and their plan
for a national membership service organization? Share your views in the
National IFP Discussion group at http://www.filmmag.com/community/discuss/disc