Ron Yerxa & Albert Berger
The following is the text of the keynote address delivered by Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger at the annual Sundance Film Festival Producers Brunch Sunday, Jan. 20. They are the producers of "King of the Hill," "Election," "Cold Mountain," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Little Children," "Ruby Sparks" and "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman," which will have its world premiere Monday, Jan. 21, at the Eccles Theatre.


Ron Yerxa: Good Morning Sundance Comrades and Assorted Friends

We are so grateful that Sundance has created this beautiful ceremony in honor of our 20th anniversary as partners in Bona Fide Productions.

To be totally transparent, this isn't actually our 20th year, it's more like 21 or 23 depending on how you're counting. But our appropriation of this event is in keeping with the central theme of today's talk: "Producers uniquely make the most out of the opportunities we are given." So give or take a couple years, this is our 20-year anniversary party, and it's the only one we'll ever have -- so thank you Sundance Institute.

We're here today not to bemoan the current plight of producers as victims of market forces and rampant technology. Instead we offer an alternative interpretation -- that we producers are the anxious giants of the emerging filmmaking world -- embodying the admirable traits of flexibility, spontaneity and resilience.

True, we are cast adrift into the cruel secular world without a safety net. And yet against all fragmentation and downsizing, we keep creating dramatic content. The French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre was perhaps thinking of the lonely struggle of the independent producer when he wrote, "Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself."

"The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman"
"The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman"

When Anne and Michelle invited us here, we couldn't imagine compressing our thoughts on the transformation of the film industry over the last two decades into just 50 minutes. Then they gently informed us that we have been allotted 8 minutes.

Given this draconian time constraint, the rich array of specific and helpful information on new financing models and the future of VOD that we had planned to present here will instead be embedded in the version of this talk that will be posted on Indiewire sometime soon.

But for now, and because it's Sunday, we want to address a personal question that no one has asked: “What are the emotional and philosophical principles that have guided us over the last 20 years?” During that time, Bona Fide grew from just the two of us in a room sharing a card table, to today, the three of us -- each with our own desk.

Just to break that down from a statistical perspective, that's 50% growth -- well over 2% a year -- just slightly below the rate of inflation. On a sad note, our fees have failed to keep pace.

Albert will now take you through a painfully abbreviated overview of the last twenty years to illustrate some of these guiding principles.