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Howard Cohen

Agent, UTA

On the state of things: The big help we need is money. The hardest thing for an agent and producer is finding the money for first-time-director movies. There’s just very little out there. There’s a danger, with the collapse of the foreign market, that only the tried and true will get made. The studio divisions of specialized movies for their production are talking more and more about genre, and original voices will have a hard time.

The worst thing is the opening-weekend phenomenon. Every single year it’s worse. An independent film has to get really great reviews, and pop some decent numbers in its opening weekend, or it’s gone in a week or two. The merely very good, if it’s being distributed by a very small distribution company, has no way of getting noticed.

Recipes for change: If the exhibitor sector could be persuaded to reserve a screen in larger multiplexes for more adventurous fare somehow. Someone has to persuade them to keep these movies playing even when they’re not the top-grossing movie in the theater. Somehow there has to be an acknowledgement among both the distribution and exhibition community that it is getting worse and there is a need for something, some sort of draconian measure.

I think that the big talent world, the agencies, certainly have to continue supporting indie filmmaking. But I think they do, actually, despite the agencies’ reputation. My experience is that there are actors that are interested in it and there are ones who aren’t. I think actors do independent film for need and for want. Some see it as incredibly nourishing, others don’t. Some see it as a career decision, for an actor who has a very, very commercial track wanting to get more acting credibility. Agents have influence but the bottom line is the actor.

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