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WATCH EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ira Deutchman’s Sundance Art House Convergence Keynote on Independent Marketing

WATCH EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ira Deutchman's Sundance Art House Convergence Keynote on Independent Marketing

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.

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Russ Collins

Congratulations and thank you for your wonderful Key Note address Ira! Those who attended the Art House Convergence last January got the full impact of his address. This web posting is outstanding for those that missed it (thank you Ann Thompson and Doug Triola for creating this post). Please spread the word about this posting so that every North American Art House and cinema lover has the opportunity to see Ira's Convergence Key Note.
Among the many things he said were:
* Showmanship is paramount;
* Marketing is hard;
* Keep it local and develop appointment based cinema in your community;
* Never take the easy road.
I take issue with only one dynamic of Ira's presentation. To assure longevity and flexibility, the community-based, mission-driven Art House can be operated as a community cultural institution — like a regional theater company or an avant-garde or folk or jazz music society or local visual arts center of museum; in other words a non-profit cultural center. This is the most viable business form for most Art House cinemas in the 21st century. God bless the operators of for-profit Art Houses, but a non-profit Art House is a highly effective vehicle for the exhibition of outstanding cinema programs and the teaching of moving-image (film) appreciation.
So, in addition to the four bullet points above, I would add the following as a key management aspect for local Art Houses to consider as they look to survive and be great:
* Become the best cultural organization in your community at raising philanthropic (contributed revenue) support.

Russ Collins
Director, Art House Convergence
CEO, Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor

Karl Shefelman

Ira Deutchman…you are my new hero. Just watch your Sundance Keynote videos and you are a true champion of indy film and, I paraphrase, "doing that which everyone tells you is impossible and making it a huge success". You give me hope as an indy filmmaker, still trying to make feature films. Thank you sir.

Karl Shefelman


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