Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Ira Deutchman
January 14, 2014 4:27 PM
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Art House Convergence Kicks Off: Here's Why Art Houses Need to Be Advocates

Here we are all these years later, and it’s amazing how much has been accomplished as a result of this annual event.... Thesharing of information, the spirit of cooperation and the growth of participation in the Art House Convergence has most definitely had an impact on what you all do on a day to day basis. The health, or dare I say, the survival of the business depends on more of the same.

But there’s a legitimate question of where do we go from here. How do we harness the spirit of cooperation, and the potential power of a group that keeps growing year after year?

What we have in this room are a group of committed people who are self-identifying as "mission driven," while actually having many different missions. You also self-identify as Art Houses, which is also somewhat ill-defined since one person’s art is another’s trash. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing, but it requires some understanding in order to take this group and maximize its potential.

There are people in the room representing institutions that are well established and quite successful. Others are just starting out and are trying to understand how things work on a very basic level.

There are those of you whose mission revolves around preserving the cinema experience in its purest, most pristine form. There are others who are working out of storefronts and trying to make the most of limited facilities and resources.

There are those of you who are devoted to the preservation of the traditional notion of cinema as an art form. There are those of you who are devoted to saving a particular venue, perhaps a classic and neglected movie palace, perhaps a simple neighborhood theater, and art films seem like they might be a solution, or part of a solution to make sure the building doesn’t get thrown on the scrap heap of real estate development.

Some of you have access to studio films and some of you don’t. Some of you don’t care.

Some of you are from big markets with obvious interest in more challenging films. Others of you are from smaller markets that are desperately in need of such content for its cultural value, but are hard pressed to find enough audience to support it.

So, clearly, there is not a SINGULAR mission in the room.

However, there is enough common ground that the number of venues in the room continues to multiply year after year.

So, as this Convergence begins, I would like to get things going by offering you a challenge. If the first 7 years of the Convergence were about best practices, I would like to see the next 7 years be about advocacy. Let me leave you with some thoughts about some initiatives that have been on my mind.

First off, we deserve and should demand a “place at the Grownup table.” What do I mean by that? When the studios and the major chains have their next sit-down over technological standards, and start making deals that change the fundamental economics of the business, this group deserves a place at the table.

Putting on my Producer hat for a moment, every time I read in the press about the latest round of negotiations with the film unions, and I see that they refer to the negotiating body as “the producers,” it infuriates me. Who is representing me? Some studio lawyer?

I feel the same way about being force-fed the results of the DCI initiative. We deserve a place at that table.

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