Monday, May 11, 2009

CineVegas Cafe Series

I went to the CineVegas Café Series over the weekend. The featured speaker was Trevor Groth. I’ve known him for about seven years, although I am not sure he knew my name for the first few. As a long-term volunteer for the festival, I have seen many changes. I think Trevor was one of the best. He has been involved with the Sundance Film Festival for many years: first as a volunteer, then as staff, then programming and he was recently promoted to Head of Programming for Sundance. I told him that he was the first person that I had seen interview on the Sundance Channel that I actually know.

As Artistic Director for CineVegas, he discussed the upcoming festival and opened the conversation to questions. I asked him what he thought of the article in the WSJ about the tightening of funding for independent films.

According to the article “Indie Films Suffer Drop-Off in Rights Sales” from the WSJ April 20, 2009, “In the latest challenge to the American movie business, a crucial source of funding for independent films -- sales of foreign-distribution rights -- is rapidly drying up… But today, due to factors ranging from the credit crunch to burgeoning online piracy, even the biggest names aren't always enough to sell an American film abroad.”

Trevor said, “ With the challenges of the domestic economy combined with the paradigm changes brought on by digital media and downloading, the industry is trying to figure out how to monetize films and filmmaking. While this is going on, the festival circuit may offer an opportunity to get your product out and be seen by the marketplace.”

Once upon a time, records (now cd’s) were the focus of the recording industry. Artist toured to promote their record sales. Now it is just the opposite. Recording and downloads help promote the touring and concert industries.

Again, from the WSJ article, says Mr. [Graham] King [a Hollywood film producer who won an Oscar in 2007 for "The Departed]. “With credit drying up across the globe, many foreign distributors simply don't have the capital to buy… At some point these buyers have to find some product for 2010 and 2011, so Cannes and Venice will be interesting,"

Certainly, the conversation on Saturday supported this contention. Trevor said that the submissions for both Sundance and CineVegas have never been higher.

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