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David Poland

By David Poland

IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP

Variety reports that Dawn Hudson is finally tired of having to put up with those fussy New Yorkers (and others) who built the Independent Feature Project into a force for independent cinema over the decade or so before IFP/LA was anything more significant than an occasional seminar in L.A.

Sadly, this is no surprise. Back in November, when I seemed to be the only journalist in the country interested in the back room battle, Dawn Hudson refused to even discuss what was going on. To her credit, Dawn’s opposite number, IFP/NY’s Michelle Byrd, did sit down with me, though she refused to be tough on Dawn while still acknowledging the tensions that have always been a part of the national organization since Dawn took a dominant position in L.A.

The four month old Hot Button story is here, though Peter Rice will be unhappy to see the story back in front of people, as he later made the case for Sideways being made for only $16 million so effectively that I never broached the subject again.

The sad part of this seperation is that New York’s hands on efforts wil suffer. And NYC’s substantive indie filmmaking clique will be unable to take sides, since the marketing opportunity in L.A. is too much to turn their backs on. Even worse… they can’t blame this on the majors. Drat!

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6 Responses to “IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP”

  1. bicycle bob says:

    we don’t need no stinkin west coasters

  2. Chester says:

    While I don’t claim to have any insider knowledge anymore, I was heavily involved in IFP West ten years ago and can surmise from where some of the current issues have arisen. Back then, I could see that the most powerful person in the whole office was not necessarily the office’s director, Dawn Hudson, but rather the head of development/fundraising. It was clear even then that fundraising – most particularly around the Independent Spirit Awards – took precedence over anything else going on around the office year-round. The heart-and-soul functions that constitute IFP’s real mission took a seat WAY in the back.
    Its office at the time was a dump on the second floor of a West Los Angeles walk-up building. It was fittingly grungy, and I don’t recall anybody there ever seriously complaining about the creature comforts. Now, almost heretically, the organization seems to be far more luxuriously ensconced on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, some of the most primo real estate in the country. I can’t say that I’ve been to their current offices, and for all I know the place may be a condemned tenement. But the address alone speaks volumes.
    Then as now, independent film leaders and aficionados often argued about what qualifies as an independent film. At the same time, IFP West was trying to define its own place within those parameters. Just as the waters have been muddied further over the past decade by corporate takeovers of the indies, it often seems that IFP West has lost its aura of independence as well.
    By all appearances, the organization seems to be a little too satisfied with its celebrity donor list, annual super-hot-ticket status, and all-too-comfortable berth in Beverly Hills. I hope it at least still provides free parking there for those members who are struggling against the odds to produce their cinematic visions and find their places in the film business. You know, the ones who can’t afford a ticket to the Spirit Awards.

  3. bicycle bob says:

    no on rambles incoherently like our chester the molestor. u have to give him credit

  4. David Poland says:

    Seemed pretty coherent to me…

  5. Chester says:

    Thanks, Dave. One last thing about my experiences at IFP West. I always found Dawn Hudson to be a very personable, reasonably intelligent person. But having sat through many a group meeting with her, I found that, no matter the audience, she never once was the smartest person in the room. Not even close. While she was always a very good listener, she was never an impressive, forceful talker (which may explain why she’s avoided you, Dave). I think those characteristics probably served her well over all these years because they enabled her to project a moderate sensibility. But I believe that sensibility has also resulted in the kind of stunted personal leadership and vision I associate with her tenure.

  6. L&DB says:

    Nothing to see here people. Let’s move on to new
    pastures. WOO TO THE HOO people! WOO TO THE HOO!

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

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So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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