LONDON -- "It's always difficult. Life is a struggle," Michael Barker, co-prexy of Sony Pictures Classics, told an audience of producers and film financiers during the keynote address at the Film London Production Finance Market, which runs Oct. 16-17 in London.
Survival in the independent film market depends to a large extent on detailed management of costs, revenues and profit. "If we didn't do that we wouldn't be here," he said. "You have to pay attention to every revenue stream."
The skill of the producer and the distributor lay in making the right decisions. "It is all in the choices you make. How to make the film and how to distribute it," he said.
Barker used the example of Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," which SPC had decided to release in the middle of summer, after consulting with producer Letty Aronson. The distrib managed to harness social media to stimulate interest among the audience for niche films at a time when most screens were filled with blockbusters.
SPC also managed to use social media to reach the fanbase of two of the film's stars, Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay, which widened the potential audience for the film.
Barker said that film critics still had a role in directing arthouse audiences toward hidden gems. "I do believe arthouse audiences pay attention to critics," he said. Social media, he added, may help to boost the attention paid to film critics, whose numbers have declined rapidly in recent years, and ensure their survival.