The Buying Game; indieWIRE's Guide to Acquisitions (Updated)
by Brian Brooks
Last September, prior to the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE published a list of film company buyers, the people who attend festivals (in addition to other events) scouting for projects that will fit their respective companies' distribution goals. The list is designed, we hope, to give insight to indieWIRE readers, especially emerging filmmakers and producers, who may not be familiar with some of the people behind this fundamental aspect of the film business. Additionally, this buyers guide should give some knowledge on the acquisitions process and also many of the people who play a large part in determining what eventually appears in theaters.
The following profiles are a somewhat updated version reflecting some of the changes that have taken place since the list first appeared in iW. Artisan Entertainment, for instance, was removed because the company merged with Lions Gate, and TLA Releasing as well as Roadside Attractions were added to the roster. Also, some individual buyers changed positions, so those changes were also reflected in the list. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overhaul of the profiles; that will happen again before Toronto.
There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind when reading the profiles. The most obvious is that the majority of the responses are specifically timed to when the questions were originally sent late last summer. Profiles were not changed for individuals who are still in the same position, so the film titles they refer to may not be the "latest releases." Still, they should reflect a 'philosophy' that is relevant. Additionally, it should be noted that although this is a list of buyers from various companies, that DOES NOT mean the individual(s) represented for each company constitutes the entire acquisitions team. Indeed, in the case of Miramax, Sony Classics, and Paramount Classics (and others), there are more people who do the work of buying etc. Essentially, the list profiles one or two people each company gave indieWIRE to participate in this roster.
Also of note, many of the people profiled are "acquisitions executives" and not heads of companies, except in the case of some more specialized outfits and in the case of Paramount Classics which chose to have their co-chiefs in the profile.
[Eugene Hernandez, Wendy Mitchell, Chaya Kornreich, and Claiborne Smith contributed to this feature]
Udy Epstein, 7th Art Releasing
Jason Resnick, Focus Features
Sarah Lash, IFC Films
Jason Constantine, Lions Gate Films
Eamonn Bowles and Tom Quinn, Magnolia Pictures
Matt Brodlie, Miramax
Bob Berney, Newmarket Films
David Koh, Palm Pictures
Ruth Vitale and David Dinerstein, Paramount Classics
Doug Witkins, Picture This! Entertainment
Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff, Roadside Attractions
Dylan Leiner, Sony Pictures Classics
Marcus Hu, Strand Releasing
Daniel Katz, ThinkFilm
Richard Wolff, TLA Releasing
Jack Turner, United Artists
Paul Federbush, Warner Independent Pictures
Marie Therese Guirgis and Rob Williams, Wellspring Media
Emily Russo, Zeitgeist Films