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IFC Films’s Jonathan Sehring on the ‘Boyhood’ Oscar Battle

IFC Films's Jonathan Sehring on the 'Boyhood' Oscar Battle

IFC Films and Sundance Selects president Jonathan Sehring openly spoke on topics ranging from Richard Linklater’s critically acclaimed “Boyhood,” to being called names by director Abel Ferrara, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. What are the six important takeaways? We’ve got them below. 

On the biggest changes seen in the industry during the 12 year production of “Boyhood”: 

“A lot of people came in and out of the business. Digital technology exploded. [Linklater]’s solution as a filmmaker was really prescient. He wanted ‘Boyhood’ to look the same, feel the same, which is why he chose to shoot on 35mm — knowing that if he had chosen digital, digital would change and look different [as the technology evolved]. Today, you can’t find 35mm film to shoot on. And you can’t find the cameras.”

On being called a “punk” and a “vampire” by Abel Ferrara for not releasing the NC-17 version of “Welcome to New York”: 

“I’ve been called names before. I’d rather not comment that much on it other than to say we’ve been in business with Abel for a long time and are big fans of his. We got involved in this movie with our producers knowing that for the type of investment we were [making] what we had to do. But aside from that, I’m a big Abel fan. He’s a great filmmaker.”

READ MORE: IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring Wants You to Know a Few Things 

On new film distributors stepping out on the scene:  

“Everyone’s a competitor. The studios are releasing fewer films, and everybody sees it as an opportunity to come into this space because there are still a lot of movies being made. But it’s a challenging business. Everyone who’s getting into it thinks they have a new formula, and they may.” 

On starting the day-and-date release business model: 

“Profitability on a movie can last 15, 20 years. We had a tough time trying to figure out economically how you could make just traditional theatrical distribution work on a consistent basis. We couldn’t. It turned out most independents and in-studio specialty divisions couldn’t at that time either, but they were slower to [change]. We had the ability to move a little quicker, and when we launched VOD, we thought the best way to look at the success of a film was not box office but taking a look at the whole pie, the whole revenue stream and the whole expense pie.”

On why he thinks the film industry is too box-office focused: 

“Because that’s not where the majority of the revenue of any movie comes from. The revenue flows for 15 years. We’re in a long-term business. We have a very substantial library, and I am a firm believer in that long tail theory. I started my professional career at Janus Films, which is now the Criterion Collection, and that’s a library that is 75 years old, has films from the ’20s and ’30s that are still producing revenue.” 

On IFC Films in the Oscars race: 

“We have a great team. But we are a David vs. Goliath. We’re up against huge movie studios that do this for a living every year. We’re not going to be spending tens of millions of dollars in an Academy campaign. That’s not who we are. But we know the Academy has rewarded movies like ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘The Hurt Locker,’ so we feel we’ll be in the conversation. We’ll be rereleasing the movie theatrically during the awards season.”

READ MORE: ‘Boyhood’ Producer and IFC President Jonathan Sehring on Finally Releasing ‘Boyhood’: ‘I feel a huge responsibility.’ 

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