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FIRST PERSON | Sony Pictures Classics EVP Dylan Leiner Says We Need to Put Filmmakers First

By Dylan Leiner | Indiewire July 16, 2012 at 12:23PM

This weekend at the Galway Fleadh's Real Deal, Business of Creativity Conference, Sony Pictures Classics Executive Vice President Dylan Leiner told the filmmakers and industry professionals convened that it's time to put filmmakers first again.
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But now, there are so many experts - lawyers, agents, sales reps, distribution consultants - all working for filmmakers, that information and access have become extremely compartmentalized. It's now MORE important, not less so, for filmmakers to understand the business, the options, and the risks involved in distributing such personal works of art. And even if you don't have ten thousand hours to dedicate to mastering the art of film distribution, you can find other filmmakers more than willing to share their experiences, good and bad, and industry veterans (like Ben Barenholtz, Simon Perry and Dominique Green who are here at the Fleadh this year) and workshops and talks (like Film Independent's Filmmaker Conference in LA in October and some organized by Galway this year) to help walk you through some of the options and teach you how to protect your film. No one knows your film the way you do and there is no one size fits all strategy for the distribution of your film, but by doing the research about your options BEFORE you're at a market you and your film will ultimately be the better for it.

So, business aside...

Start by finding and telling stories that are your own. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Slumdog Millionaire, A Separation - these are movies that don't aim at the centre. They tell stories that reflect their unique cultures but with an intelligence and humanism that makes them universal.

As New York Times columnist David Brooks recently said in relation to Bruce Springsteen touring in Europe, "Don't pretend you're a member of every community you visit. Don't try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come."

The challenge we face together - you as filmmakers, me as distributor - like any great marriage, is to seek each other out, work hard to engage with one another, and ultimately make each other better.

James Earl Jones famously said, "If you build it, they will come." Well, technology and new platforms will keep coming, but it is you all, our storytellers, our unique voices that will draw people to these models. And all the while, Sony Pictures Classics is excited to be there to help.

Go raimh maith agat do an Galway Film Fleadh, the Irish Film Board, James Hickey, Alan Maher, Teresa McGrane and Sarah Dillon for having me. I’m honored to be here and look forward to a fantastic festival!”

This article is related to: First Person, Sony Pictures Classics , Filmmaker Toolkit






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