Recent buys: “Lord of the Rings,” “Spy Game,” “Magnolia”
What prior job or experience best prepared you for film acquisitions?
“Thanks to my father, who was in the movie business, I have a strong film background. But it was in the ’80s with my video company Delta Video that I really picked up the skills of acquisition and distribution. At the time, video was seen as revolutionary and theaters were wary of selling rights to us, so I plunged my head into the world of rights and figured out that it would be advantageous to buy up theatrical rights and then use them for video distribution, too. We ended up buying about five movie rights a month, about 60 titles a year in total, of which 10% were released theatrically.”
How would you rate the acquisitions climate?
“There’s a bit of a frenzy going on a the moment in which production companies are having to greenlight films much more quickly than usual because of the overhanging implications of strikes. As a result, a lot of product has been pushed onto the marketplace because of this added impetus.”
What’s your advice to filmmakers vying for your attention?
“The script is the No. 1 factor. I would advise them to focus all of their energy on the script, make sure it has a strong story and characters, and to send it in as finished a form as possible so that things can get moving straight-away.”
What’s your favorite place to screen a film?
“Cannes, because it has the glamour of a festival alongside the market activities, and has great locations for screenings. Toronto comes second for its wonderful mix of world cinema in a nonmarket context.”
Which film do you wish you’d picked up but didn’t?
“I’ve always got what I wished for! If there was one film I would love to get the rights for, though, it would be Michel Gondry’s film ‘Human Nature,’ which is in Cannes this year. But I believe Canal Plus is keeping the rights, and I don’t blame them! Gondy is a guy I’ve been following closely for a while.”