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Indie Film Producer Jon Kilik Challenges Spielberg, Lucas and Soderbergh in IFP Speech

by Ryan Lattanzio
September 18, 2013 3:05 PM
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Jon Kilik

Independent film producer Jon Kilik is having a busy year, with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" and Spike Lee's "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" all coming out in November and December. In a keynote speech at an IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) conference on September 15 in NYC, the prolific producer of past films like "Babel" and "Inside Man" delivered controversial remarks regarding the current state of film. 

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

This has been a topic of much debate in talks given by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Steven Soderbergh, who've all discussed an imminent "implosion" in the film industry, or an "assault" upon cinema by studios. (Check out Soderbergh's SFIFF talk from earlier this year here.) A roundup of highlights from Kilik's challenging remarks below.

According to these great titans, CINEMA is in danger of disappearing from the theaters and MOVIES are to be relegated to a lurid sensational experience akin to a theme park ride or Las Vegas Dinner Theater.

The advent of Color was supposed to eventually doom Black and White... Television was supposed to doom the theatrical experience ... Cable TV and DVDss were supposed to do the same thing.  Video on Demand and companies like Netflix were supposed to do it again. It hasn't happened--what has happened is that we now have more ways to make movies and more ways to get people to see them than ever before.  

So my advice to us, all of us, from film students to Spielberg, Lucas and Soderbergh, all of us who make human movies that we care about, my advice is to ignore the prophecies, don't retire, and keep on making films and showing films by any means available.   Build and they will come.

On social media's place in the industry:

Social Media finds like-minded individuals and bonds them together in the formation of these communities.  That’s another word for an "audience".  And in this way, there may be more opportunity for independent film than there ever has been in its history.  All of this sets the stage for a renaissance in Independent Filmmaking.  Instead of being on its last legs I would argue that the Independent Film is about to spring to life.

Why all the doom and gloom about the film industry:

Yes it's true that movies have become a crass commercial commodity at times and studios have crowded these spectacles into theaters at a disproportional rate.  But it's also true that sensitive, brave, personal, and courageous work is being done everyday.  For every tent pole being built pixel by pixel in a Hollywood Laboratory, there is a young filmmaker like Benh Zeitlin going into the bathtub of New Orleans with a small cast and crew and a 16MM camera to create a uniquely personal vision.

For every sequel that’s being churned out, there is something new and original fighting to be born.  It's never been harder and it’s never been easier.  I guess it's been like that all along.  


  • poland | September 20, 2013 6:25 PMReply

    Kilick is spot on. Spielberg and Lucas were reflecting on the world within which they reside, which is the studio world. They sound like the theatre owners who denounced sound. They may be showing their age, as the film world is having a content explosion that far exceeds anything in the history of cinema. Distribution may not be as organized or as familiar as it has in the past, and the content may not be to everyone's liking, but it makes the 60s and 70s look positively pubescent. Filmed entertainment remains this country's largest export and American filmmakers are continuing to provide ingenuity the rest of the world, as usual.

  • Brian | September 19, 2013 10:38 AMReply

    I miss westerns. The kind with gorgeous cinematography, expansive locations like Monument Valley, and iconic stars on horseback galloping across the screen. All these geniuses debating the future of the cinema and none of them says a word about westerns.

  • John W. Comerford | September 18, 2013 11:24 PMReply

    John Kilik is a hero.

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