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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

It Was 11 Years Ago Today…

Happy Button birthday to me.
I usually write some sort of heavy perspective column at this time of the year, but… nah.
The column was inspired by the lack of daily commentary from anyone but Army Archerd. I was online because of the late, great Andy Jones recruiting me from EW for a weekly. The support of TNT’s Scot Safon was critical. The anger from most of the staff in Atlanta, once the column caught on, was palpable.
Six months or so off for The Miami Film Festival. VoicesOfHollywood.com. And then Movie City News.
Eleven years later, I am still having the same arguments with Moriarty… ten years of Wells doing my schtick (19 months of not reading him or communicating with him as a result of the prior 100)… about three years of blogs transforming the daily marketplace into something else altogether… the insanity (mostly offline) of Nikki Finke… and the desperation of an group of mainstreamers to be just like her, still not understanding that the opportunity of the web is to be so much better than smears and gossip.
Through the whole 11 years, I have not only done as I like, but I have always had very clear ideas of what I don’t want to be doing on the web, regardless of how it might spark bigger numbers or greater popularity. What I have had to fight off has changed, year by year. People and sites have come and gone. Overresponding to “threats” happens… and I think I have retreated to my real standards each time. (Welcome to the jungle, Sharon Waxman. Good luck.)
Of course, it is the people read my endless musing that make it all possible. It is the eyeballs of the industry that has allowed me my independence and made MCN a viable home not just for me, but for an entire somewhat underpaid staff of writers and other creative people. I couldn’t be more proud of or thankful for our staff, led by my partner in MCN crime, Laura Rooney.
Every year has been a little different. The Hot Blog came along about 3.5 years ago and 3000 entires and over 90,000 comments later, it has become the primary release valve. Lunch With David, now known as DP/30, soon to be known as something else as we take the 30 minute interview on the web to its next step, has been an absolute joy, even though it occupies part of my workspace that used to be spent grinding out copy. I love working with the only traditional editorial cartoonist working weekly on the film beat, RJ Matson, as we continue to seek out new ways to expand the boundaries of web editorial.
I’m healthy. I’m married. I’m busy. I’m still learning every day. And I am always looking for the next thing that will feel fresh and worth the effort.
I am happy.
And I thank you all.

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas