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in Filmmaking
on May 3, 2008

The Hollywood Reporter hosts a roundtable on the economics of independent production with five noted players: Newsweek film critic David Ansen; Kirk D’Amico, president and CEO of Myriad Pictures, a production and sales company; Cassian Elwes, co-head of William Morris Independent; Mark Gill, CEO of finance and production company the Film Department; and Avi Lerner, co-chairman and CEO of Nu Image/Millennium Films. Stephen Galloway leads a conversation that, by my read, offers a pretty accurate and succinct take on the American independent film market at the moment. They discuss overproduction, the demise of New Line, foreign markets, the plight of the Sundance film, and more. I was particularly taken by this exchange at the end, when, after a discussion of the rise of local production abroad, Galloway asks, “What should America do to protect its own independent film culture?” Elwes and Lerner both suggest the kind of non-free market solutions that European governments have embraced and that may be necessary to preserve a more vibrant indie sphere in America:

ELWES: I would love to see the government help small distribution companies and subsidize them so that they can grow and allow the independent cinema to be vibrant in this country.

LERNER: They should make a law that the television networks have to buy a certain amount of movies from the independents. All the basic and pay television, 99% is from the studio — it is like a cartel. Otherwise, at the end of the day, it will all be controlled by the studios.

The full conversation can be found at the link above, and a video excerpt can be watched here.

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