With Deutchman as Chairman, IFP/New York Touts New Producers Group Advocating for NY Filmmakers
by Eugene Hernandez
In a time of change within the broader Independent Feature Project coalition, IFP/New York is aiming to unify New York film producers by launching the new IFP/New York Producers Group, a coalition of qualifying producers and IFP/New York members that will have their first official meeting later this month. Additionally, IFP/NY recently named Ira Deutchman from Emerging Pictures as the new chairman of its board. Producers Anthony Bregman from This Is That and Tim Williams from GreeneStreet, Paul Trijbits who is head of the New Cinema Fund from the UK Film Council, and marketing consultant Jeanne Berney, joined the IFP/New York board.
A call from producer Jason Kliot of Open City Films and HDNet Films inspired the IFP/New York Producers Group, set for its first formal meeting on April 19th, to IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd last summer. An informal group came together to address the many challenges facing low-budget, independent producers in New York. About 60 producers participated in that first discussion last year, among them Kliot and his partner Joana Vicente, Ted Hope and Anthony Bregman from This Is That, John Penotti from GreeneStreet, Pam Koffler from Killer Films, and others. Byrd began weekly meetings with a smaller group that would become the new steering committee for the larger group, including Jake Abraham from InDigEnt, Allen Bain from The 7th Floor, Adam Brightman from Blue Raincoat Productions, Katie Roumel from Killer Films, and the aforementioned Kliot and Williams. Last fall discussions began about formalizing a group within IFP and earlier this year the group began reaching out to more producers. A call for additional applicants is currently underway.
"The group was born out of an urge by a group of independent producers to have a way to approach the city and others as a unit, to show that independent producers represent a much larger segment than people realize," explained board chairman Ira Deutchman in a conversation with indieWIRE following the IFP/New York quarterly board meeting Tuesday in Manhattan.
Among the IFP/New York Producers Group's activities so far have included talks about alternative IATSE models to enable more low budget productions in New York, developing a proposal for training subsidies with New York's small business office, and planning a forum for sharing information on tax incentives.
Countering the image that the IFP only serves people who are early in their careers, Deutchman emphasized that the formation of the Producers Group shows that, "The IFP can become a centralized force for making the case for independent filmmakers."
"To band together to do something that might support independent filmmakers (in this way) is kind of a new direction for this organization," commented Deutchman, who was named to the chairman post two months ago. Asked about the current situation, given the recent news that IFP/Los Angeles is considering a change in its name to distance itself from the other IFP's, Deutchman added, "These organizations have been around for a long time and there has always been a certain amount of change that's been necessary." Continuing he added, "We take our cues from the membership."
Deutchman explained that the moves by IFP/NY are a clear step in support of filmmakers. "I was one of those people who questioned the relevance of the IFP for reasons that had to do with the appearance that true independent filmmakers seemed to be getting left behind," he explained. "Whatever shakes out from the recent developments between the IFP east and west, I think it is very clear that we are going to re-examine our agenda and continue to move forward serving and advocating for independent filmmakers."
Reiterating the commitment, Deutchman added, "We are continuing to devote ourselves to the needs of independent filmmakers, as an organization." Whatever happens with the IFP/Los Angeles, Deutchman reiterated, "I don¹t think it's going to affect us all that much."
Existing IFP/New York board members include attorney Steven Beer of Greenberg Traurig, Nelson George of Urban Romances, Jeff Levy-Hinte of Antidote Films, David Linde from Focus Features, Sheila Nevins from HBO, actor Rosie Perez, Carole Radziwill, former United Artists chief Bingham Ray, Carole Rifkind from Parnassus Works, John Schmidt of ContentFilm, and Susan Stover from Headquarters.