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The Global Film Village: Jeremy Thomas delivers Keynote at Film Independent Filmmaker Forum

by Marla Lewin


Dawn Hudson opened the Film Independent Filmmaker Forum at the DGA by stating that, “the objective of this weekend is to build a community of filmmakers and to inspire”. She then introduced Jeremy Thomas who delivered the event’s keynote address. Dawn said “He grew up in movie royalty, but he was a rebel and went out on his own”.


Jeremy Thomas said “I was very lucky. I left school at 17 to make movies.  I crossed paths with people like Ken Loach, Julian Temple, Nicholas Roeg, and Steven Frears. We made films together about things that were interesting to us like the sex pistols. These are difficult times to make films but aside from a few years at the beginning of the home video business, they have always been difficult times. Today everybody has two businesses movies, and doing something else to pay their bills. I have been seen as an auteur producer, but In order to be successful you need to have a  sense of the market,  but do not create films made for the market because it is always changing. We tried to be in charge of our own destiny. We’ve always needed to find money. It’s always been a terrible problem. David Cronenberg’s “Crash” took me eight years to put together. I stick with an idea or a filmmaker. I am persistent.  I often look at young producer’s projects and realize it is hopeless and want to tell them to give it up. You have to be realistic.  You can stick with it, but it may never happen. It is very important to get the right elements. You have to have great material to work with it all starts with the script. You must always embark on this as a business”.


“I knew nothing at the beginning. My first picture was  a disaster.  You need to understand the marketplace. Choose films people will want to see. When I begin looking at a project I am thinking about how to make this attractive to people.  Everything needs to be tailor made. Quality Control is important”.


“Studio executives are saying DRAMA IS DEAD. That is rubbish. These are not experts. People saying that are stupid. The world is in a great depression right now. Life is bleak at this time, everyone is down and depressed. Adult drama is not in vogue. We are in a changing moment. The communal experience is changing. Out of this will come a new home video experience but Cinema will continue. People enjoy seeing movies in large groups”.


“People have not stopped being interested in the types of films that I make. The market will come back with new companies. Be optimistic. There is always a wall to break through because that is the nature of indie filmmmaking. The 80s was a bad period. At the time I was making The Last Emperor it was very dry period there was no money available. Today there is a lot of alternatives for leisure time. There is free film on the internet. But with downloading and streaming as it exist right now there is no money for producers”.


“I was surrounded by a tribe of fashionable filmmakers when I started out. Build your own tribe. I have no partners. But I need a lot of people ot help me make films”.


“Luck is key. Having some smarts about how you put it all together is also crucial. The foreign sales business is a global business. You need to understand the entire world market. Think of it as One place. One planet. You must be ambitious or find something else to do”.


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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.


Los Angeles

United States

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