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Interview with Producer Brian Beckmann of Arclight Films at 72nd Cannes Film Festival

Interview with Producer Brian Beckmann of Arclight Films at 72nd Cannes Film Festival

CFO & COO of Arclight Films, Brian Beckmann, is a prolific producer in his own right, whose recent titles include: 'Dog Eat Dog' (2016), 'First Reformed' (2017), 'Guardians of the Tomb' (2018) and 'Triple Threat' (2019). With a background in rocket science, he was one of the men to put Pathfinder on Mars and has been headhunted by the likes of Elon Musk. But aerospace engineering aside, his passion is film. At Arclight Films ('Crash' 2004, 'Bobby' 2006, 'First Reformed' 2017, 'Hotel Mumbai' 2018), he is a Wizard of Oz like magician behind the curtain, keeping the wheels spinning. He annually attends the world's most prestigious film markets- Berlin, AFM, Cannes- where he works at the front lines of production and distribution in the ever-evolving film industry.

I spoke with Brian at Cannes. Here is what he had to say:

 

You had a background in science. What made you leave to make movies instead?

BRIAN: I left the world of aerospace after 11 years thinking that I should get into an industry that’s more stable with better growth potential. I was born and raised in Southern California, so I was always surrounded by the entertainment industry which looked exciting and promising. I left aerospace and entered the world of independent film making. The jury is still out if that was a good decision.

 

Is film producing scientific in a way? 

BRIAN: I’m not sure if film production is scientific in the same way that aerospace is, but I have learned that my extensive background in systems and protocol is certainly a foreign skill set in film making.

 

Can you tell us a bit about Arclight Films and your role there?

BRIAN: Arclight Films is one of the world’s leading international sales companies for theatrical, television, and home entertainment. We currently have over 200 films in our library and have worked on such films Best Picture Oscar® winner “Crash”, Best Screen Play Oscar® Nominee “First Reformed”, and Golden Globe® Best Picture Nominee “Bobby”. I’m currently the acting CFO and COO of the company, which means I spend most of my time chasing money and trying to get projects off the ground.

 

Can you name some of the titles the company is most proud of having worked on?

BRIAN: We’ve had a very exciting 12 months. We released the Best Screen Play Oscar® Nominee 'First Reformed' written and direct by Paul Schrader; as well as released the highly anticipated 'Hotel Mumbai' starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, and Jason Isaacs. We were also able to get two projects into production in the first half of the year and we have two more projects that will be going into production by the end of the year.

 

What does Arclight look for when considering acquiring? 

BRIAN: We look at a number of key elements when acquiring films. Perhaps the most important is the film’s commercial appeal from an international perspective. This includes the story, genre and the talent attached to the project. The industry is wildly competitive, so a project needs to have the right combination of talent and story to be successful. Buyers are very selective, so you have to really listen to what they are asking for and what they want (or might want) in the next 12 – 24 months. That’s extremely difficult, especially in this constantly changing international industry.

 

Many producers think they can handle distribution alone. Why should a producer use a sales agent?

BRIAN: I get this question all the time. There’s one thing that this industry is not short on and that’s egos. So many producers think they can do everything, and they end up becoming the single biggest obstacle in getting their film made. Don’t kid yourself…it takes an army to develop a movie, arrange financing, produce the film, sell the film worldwide, deliver to distributors, collect from those distributors, market the film, release it, and then monitor its performance for 15-20 years. A good sales agent can be your greatest partner in this journey.

 

Was the Cannes market a good one for Arclight?

BRIAN: We’ve been fortunate over the last several years to have a great mix of product that the buyers have been receptive to. Each market continues to be challenging, but we have been very lucky to be in a great position to take advantage of it.

 

What new projects will Arclight be working on next?

BRIAN: Stand by! We have some amazing project we plan to announce later this year. 

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon

 

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