Ira Deutchman and I came up in the film business together in New York. I started out running the Hamilton College film society Kinokunst Gesellschaft, threading 16 mm projectors and learning that Alfred Hitchcock always filled the house. Deutchman ran one of several rival film societies at Northwestern and worked for United Artists Classics, while my first industry job out of NYU was also at 729 Seventh Avenue, in the
UA publicity bullpen. I eventually went to the journalism side at Film Comment Magazine, while he continued on to run Cinecom and Fine Line Features and most recently, digital distribution company Emerging Pictures and the film division at Columbia University School of the Arts.
It makes sense that Deutchman would wind up in academia–he always had a more thoughtful outside perspective on the industry than most. You can see that on full display in this must-view history of the independents as filtered through his experience. Anyone who is involved in the making, marketing or distribution of movies today should take this free video class. (If you don’t have time to watch all three videos, skip to the third, where he draws his conclusions.)
Anyone wondering about the future of the film industry should also pay heed to Deutchman’s warnings about sticking to the same old ways. They aren’t going to work much longer. Think local and consider appointment cinema, he suggests wisely. “There’s too little commercial product chasing too many screens, and too much good product chasing too few good screens.” And, he sums up: “Distribution is easy. Marketing is hard. Old fashioned showmanship has got to come back.”
The videos were produced by 4th Row Films with David Allen on camera and were edited by Jason Chen.