By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz March 11, 2011 at 3:30AM
The 4th Annual Art House Convergence, initiated 4 years ago by John Cooper's calling together Art House Theater Owners to brainstorm about how to ensure a secure position in the specialty film market continues discussion in a Google Group. This discussion is all the more relevant in the face of AMC and Regal combining with Tom Ortenberg's Open Road distribution for mid budget films, which are probably NOT art house films. But still, the tug of war between multiplexes with no real love for film or knowledge of how to market specialty films and the privately owned smaller art house theaters is relevant when it comes to booking the higher budgeted art films like The King's Speech which will make more money than the obscure small art film such as Octubre which New Yorker releases next week.
Most notable at the conference was the number of young owned, new art houses opening in not very obvious markets. Though box office is down and the theaters are working so hard to stay on top and blaze a trail ahead of their multiplex corporate competitors, some people are seeing a new opportunity in the art house culture. Even Bingham Ray, who began his career at a theater declares he wants to open a theater when he is nearing retirement...not yet, as now he is consulting with SnagFilms on distribution models for their new acquisitions program.
Ira Deutchman et moi
Denise Kassel's joy at being able to share the wealth because of the the Sloan Foundation's generosity and the Coolidge Corner Theatre's success with the special series "Science On Screen". They are offering grants to other art house theater members to set up "Science on Screen" in their own theaters.
Steve Apkon of the Jacob Burns Film Center, Tara Schroeder of Tampa Theatre and Brian Hunter of Michigan Theater explained their Film Literacy Programs, a natural extension of the Art House mission. These three established and disparate programs showed how to create a program best suited for various types of Art House. The Jacob Burns Film Center (year-round programs for all ages, 27,000 square-foot Media Arts Lab); The Tampa Theatre (Summer Film Camp, collaboration with the University of South Florida’s Instructional Technology program, consumer grade equipment) and the Michigan Theatre (Summer Film Camp, overseen by filmmaker in residence, professional grade equipment. Discussions were about equipment, staffing and space requirements, ideas for tapping into community resources, planning content that elicits positive experiences and good films, group collaboration strategies (especially when not all campers are happy), guiding overzealous ideas to manageable projects. Sample worksheets for idea generation and storyboards were offered to participants. We’ll also watched sample projects.
Every filmmaker wants a theatrical premiere and the ways it can be facilitated was one subject still calling for discussion.
The Art House Survey Project: Benchmarking Year Two
This interactive session includes a report on two years’ worth of statistical information gathered from a wide sample of Art House theaters. Find out how your theater measures up, where it excels and where it could improve. SESSION LEADER: Juliet Goodfriend, Bryn Mawr Film Institute
Film Clubs and Other Informal Audience Development Programs
SESSION PANELISTS: Steve Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center; Brian Hunter, Michigan Theatre; Tara Schroeder, Tampa Theatre
Building Local Art House Community with Alternative Programming
Art House programming is uniquely suited to speak to diverse segments of any community, but how do you reach out to new populations and build new connections? What happens when you add opera, symphony, live performance? What do they add to the art house, what problems are encountered (pre-emption)? What programs and series have the potential to revolutionize your patron base? Is that midnight or that exotic film night idea really a good one for your community? This session will explore various strategies to connect to new potential audiences through cultural programs, live performance, grass-roots marketing, special programming initiatives & other community building activities. SESSION PANELISTS: Julie Borchard-Young, By Experience; Ira Deutchman, Emerging Pictures; Mark Rupp, Specticast; Stephanie Silverman, Belcourt Theatre
Art House Convergence sponsors:
-- Special Program Sponsor: SCIENCE ON SCREEN; COOLIDGE CORNER THEATRE & ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION
-- Key Sponsor: PROLUDIO/LIVING ROOM THEATERS
-- Leading Sponsors: ARTHOUSE MARKETING – BY EXPERIENCE – BOSTON LIGHT & SOUND – EMERGING PICTURES – FILM COMMENT MAGAZINE – COPPER BRIDGE FOUNDATION
-- Distribution Sponsors:
BALCONY RELEASING – EAMMON FILMS – FOCUS FEATURES – FOX SEARCHLIGHT – IFC FILMS – JANUS FILMS –
KINO/LORBER – MAGNOLIA PICTURES – MONTEREY MEDIA – MUSIC BOX FILMS – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC FILMS –
OSCILLOSCOPE PICTURES – ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS – VITAGRAPH FILMS –WREKIN HILL ENTERTAINMENT
-- In-Kind Sponsors AGILE TICKETING – EMMA – SPECTICAST
Best Regards, Convergence Committee
Russ Collins, Michigan Theater-Ann Arbor – Chair
Tori Baker, Salt Lake Film Society – Co-Chair
AmyBeth Leber, Salt Lake Film Society – Co-Chair
Steve Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center, New York
Mark Fishkin, California Film Institute, Mill Valley
Beth Gilligan, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Jeffrey Jacobs, Jacobs Entertainment, New York
Denise Kasell, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Jan Klingelhofer, Pacific Film Resources, Oakland
Deb Lake, State Theatre, Traverse City
Toby Leonard, Belcourt Theater, Nashville
Lisa Ogdie, Sundance Institute Liaison
Tara Schroeder, Tampa Theater
Stephanie Silverman, Belcourt Theater, Nashville
Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Susan Tive, Bellingham, Washington
Connie White, Balcony Booking