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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Paul Allen's revamped Vulcan: Sharing the Hard Candy

In the Seattle P-I, Winda Beneditti takes stock of “philanthropist, arts enthusiast and all-around rich guy” Paul Allen‘s revamped Vulcan Productions, starting with production of Hard Candy, which they consider “a wicked little gem.” Of Allen’s Seattle-based independent film company, Beneditti writes, “it’s the first Vulcan [film] finished under the company’s new production model—one focused on making feature films on lean budgets and with [an] egalitarian revenue-sharing plan. Michael Caldwell, director of motion-pcture production, thinks the company’s new approach will allow it to make films that are “genuinely original and financially responsible.”redriding45l.jpg “We want to put great stories onscreen and we want to do it in a way that emphasizes tackling the basics of film—great scripts, great directing, great acting,” says Richard Hutton, Vulcan’s vice president of media development.” Vulcan, born Clear Blue Sky Productions, had produced six films for $5-$15 million each, she reports. Far From Heaven, while critically acclaimed and a recipient of four Oscar noms, was she reports Caldwell saying, “financially it was a break-even type film.” “Hutton says they were inspired by the low-budget/revenue-sharing model created by [InDigEnt]. Through this production company, filmmakers agree to work with downright anemic budgets and under specific technical limitations and, in exchange, they’re given total creative freedom. Meanwhile, the entire crew shares in the revenues generated from the first dollar grossed… Hutton says Vulcan Productions decided to do something similar — that is, make films with budgets under $1 million and then split the revenues generated with the people who helped make the films from the get-go.” [More at the link.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch