By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act February 10, 2013 at 8:40PM
TO - So, given how immersed you have been in the work itself, do you pay close attention to trends? Do you concern yourself with what others are doing? Do you worry about what might be keeping others up at night, like shifting market trends, the web and how that's changing the business of cinema, in terms of content creation, distribution and exhibition?
RS - Absolutely we are paying attention. For example, we follow what genres of film that are making money and are being sold, so that does have an effect on the projects that we're looking at. I also care about the ever-changing landscape of distribution. When I first entered the business, the concept of day-and-date releasing wasn't common, but a lot of producers now are even distributing their films themselves. And when it comes to the web, as an example, right not I'm a big fan, supporter of and investor in this indie African American web series called The Abandon, by Keith Joseph Adkins. He's actually the person that wrote that first sci-fi screenplay that I still want to develop into a feature. And I'd love to shoot sci-fi, which is one of my favorite genres. So, yeah, I definitely pay attention to all those things as well. We definitely make an attempt to keep our heads above water.
TO - Predictions on where you think the industry as a whole is heading; you've likely heard talk about the death of cinema, amongst some people anyway, and how some new platform is going to emerge from this web/cinema/tv mish-mash, and nobody really knows what that's going to be exactly. So how do you think we're going to be making, consuming and distributing films, looking out over the next 5, 10, 20 years.
RS - I think, somewhere down the line, the methods of delivery are going to get smarter, faster, and so we'll be able to consume media regardless of where we are. I envision being able to have some kind of apparatus where I'm able to be more immersed and involved heavily in the experience of consuming media. I think with gaming through X-Box 360, holographic imaging, streaming over the internet, and all that, we're all going to arrive at one place where eventually we're all going to be part of the storytelling. So I don't think it's that cinema is dying; I think it's always going to be transforming - in terms of where we see it, how we interact with it, and who's creating it. I think that no matter where we go in the future, there's still always going to be a need for interesting artists who are creating interesting content. I think reality TV has its own place in the world. I think they're always going to be there. But I think that artistic storytelling will always be part of our culture, and how we consume content will continue to be ever-changing. With social media, Facebook, Twitter, and technologies like Facetime, all happening in real time, I think there's unquestionably going to be a strong need for us to be heavily involved in whatever new media exists.
AYT - People are always going to want a good story. And I think everyone will start adapting in the same way that Amazon and Netflix are starting to make their own projects. I think the various mediums will adapt and find different ways to get stories out to people. And the creators of those stories, all they'll have to do is worry about telling them.
TO - I know we're running out of time, so finally, any last words, or words of wisdom to share, information audiences need to have, etc...
AYT - I'm always saying this in my blogging, or when people ask me about the business: The time you spend complaining about someone else's story, is time you can spend either writing yours, or supporting one that you do like. Stop yourself, and find something good, and invest in it. There's lots of brilliance and goodness if you look for it.
RS - I just want to say that Tambay, I really appreciate your blog commentary on what's going on out there, so I've always learned from following your writing - who I should pay attention to, who should I go see that's off the beaten path, or not quite made it up yet, but have some artistic merit. So, yes, I'm really glad that you're out there doing what you're doing, because it's very much needed and appreciated.
AYT - I also like the way that you link different sources that are non-traditional; and you have a spin about what one particular artist is doing, whether it be an actor, filmmaker, cinematographer - you engage in conversations across disciplines. And it's a wide and extensive view, which I find very interesting.
Naturally I immediately expressed my many thanks to both Ron and April for their very kind words, which are always good to hear. When one is so immersed in the work, it's nice to know that it's appreciated, especially from those you appreciate and respect.
And on that note, I'd like to thank Ron Simons and April Yvette Thompson for spending over an hour with me. It's always great to talk to those who are on the inside, but still existing, and doing so with success, somewhat on the outside.
And I also would like to thank publicist Adam Kersh for arranging the conversation.
Both Night Catches Us is currently available on a number of home video platforms, so look for it if you haven't seen it yet. Gun Hill Road will be available in a month or so.
As for the company's recent titles, Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired North American rights to Andrew Dosunmu's Mother Of George, at the Sundance Film Festival last month, while I'm anticipating news of a Blue Caprice pick-up, hopefully soon.
In closing, I'll echo April in reiterating that, if there's one thing to take away from this entire conversation, it's to be aware that the negative energy you invest in films that tell stories, or depict characters you reject, is much better off invested in films that tell stories, or contain portrayals of characters that you appreciate.
As Ron Simons rethinks his approach to branding his company, reluctantly entering and embracing the public spotlight, maybe we should all consider rethinking how we react to the content we consume.