Cowboy Pictures Welcomes Lot 47's Williams As Partner Alongside Vanco
by Eugene Hernandez
Friday evening drinks at the Cowboy Pictures' office emerged as a welcome event for the New York film community last year. Tonight, when the tradition resumes after a hiatus, the company will have something to toast, the arrival of new partner Greg Williams. The exec, who is chief of Lot 47 Films, is joining Cowboy as a partner in the company alongside co-founder John Vanco.
Williams, who will maintain Lot 47 as a separate company, is moving into Cowboy's Lower Manhattan offices along with distribution head Vicki Loughery and finance man Rick Thiedig. Both will join Cowboy from Lot 47.
"Cowboy has always been, for better or worse. absolutely independent," John Vanco told indieWIRE in a conversation late Thursday night. "We are still going to be pretty snooty and centered on working in great cinema, whether it is going to find favor with maninstream audiences or not."
Praising Williams' financial acumen, Vanco explained, "Now with the economy not being so great there are a lot more challenges to face as a small company." Continuing he added, "We will be better able to weather the tough times and to continue to build a strong foundation."
Williams, who maintained his role as CEO of Lot 47 Films and kept the company open after the departure of most key executives last year, has worked as a senior exec at JPMorgan, Salomon Brothers and Deutsche Bank. Company founders Jeff Lipsky, Scott Lipsky and others exited Lot 47 Films last year raising concerns about the fate of the outfit. The company, according to Williams, continues to exploit the ancillary rights of its many titles, including the successful "Atanarjuat" (The Fast Runner). Loughery joined Lot 47 last year from USA Films, while Thiedig is a former VP of finance from USA Interactive. He also handled similar duties at Food Network.
"What makes Cowboy's accomplishments particularly impressive is that the company has never relied on outside capital," said Greg Williams, "John and I believe that our complementary skills and shared love of cinema provide a promising foundation to build on what's already been achieved at Cowboy."
Cowboy Pictures (originally known as Cowboy Booking International) was set-up in New York in late 1997 by Vanco and Noah Cowan. It maintains a large library of films and also acquires new films for release. The outfit has released 40 titles, including the recent "Movern Callar" and "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition," since Vanco and Cowan opened up shop. Cowboy's library of nearly 400 movies includes most of the key work of Akira Kurosawa, D.A. Pennebaker, and Ingmar Bergman. Cowan left the company last year and later announced the formation of the Global Film Initiative.
Upcoming Cowboy releases include "Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)," a doc about They Might Be Giants (in association with Plexifilm), and a 50th anniversary re-release of Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Wages of Fear" (in association with Janus Films/Home Vision Entertainment).
After a few hours of drinks tonight, the Cowboy Pictures gathering will conclude, as always, with a screening of a film print from the company library. On tap is Marcel Camus' "Black Orpheus" from 1959. It is described as "a mythical tale of love set against the color and madness of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival."