Forecasting The Future Of Independent Film

Aug 3, 2015

Recorded on: July 31st, 2015

Air Date: August 3rd, 2015

Three speakers will explore the road ahead for independent filmmaking. Indie films are those for which the “Director’s Cut” is the final cut, because no producers own the rights to creative control and financial issues do not determine the way the story will be told. They will discuss whether Hollywood is more attuned to the wealth of creativity among filmmakers who insist on artistic integrity.

This year’s big winners at the Academy Awards were mostly low-box office productions, unfamiliar to most multiplex patrons. Although films like “Wild,” filmed in Oregon and written by a Portland author, may not be completely independent productions, their path to success shares much with the seat-of-the-pants approach independent directors must take to finance and produce one’s vision for the screen. Film festivals have come to play an ever-increasing role in sorting out who is funded and who is not, what will be shown in the big theatre chains and what will struggle in the small art movie houses.

Thanks to technology, distribution opportunities have become more diverse. The big theatres and big screens of the 1930s may have made cinema a powerful cultural force, but other viewing venues now rival them for influence. Cable television, streaming video, DVDs by mail or vending machines all offer alternative approaches to distribute and finance the films that appeal to a diverse society. A successful popular television series like “Portlandia” can be enough to develop a community of filmmaking professionals that makes possible ongoing regional production of independent films. In Oregon it has. The speakers will talk about the potential for Portland’s success to filter down to Eugene.

Richard Herskowitz is a nationally recognized film festival administrator and programmer who has served as director of the Virginia Film Festival and the Cornell Cinema program. He currently serves as artistic director of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and the Cinema Pacific Film Festival in Eugene, where he is an instructor of Arts and Administration at the University of Oregon.

Joshua Purvis is Executive Director for the Eugene Film Society, an organization that supports our local community of professional and aspiring filmmakers, and promotes film literacy in education. 

Edward Schiessl is Owner and Operator the Bijou Art Cinemas in Eugene. As Programmer for six screens in two smaller theaters, he must navigate a difficult landscape of film distribution contracts that favors the big players in the filmmaking industry and the multiplex chains that generate much of the revenue.

City Club members will engage in a Q&A session with the speakers at the end of the meeting.