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BFM: What youre saying is that you
think its good business to serve an underserved niche?
TR: Well, its not only that we have an
underserved niche. Look at the facts. Last year, over 550 movies
were made. Only probably eight can be classified as truly black-produced,
created, or financed movies. And of those eight, probably four were
distributed through any means of theatrical distribution. Well,
we made one of the four. So, in other words, we were responsible
for twenty-five percent of all the black films distributed this
past year. Thats sad in one respect because it tells you that
the major studios are not going to cater to an audience that is
a massive audience. Twenty-five percent of every ticket for every
movie in America is spent by someone of color. That audience is
certainly not getting its credit for the money that it spends. Somebody
has to service that market, and we think that theres a business
in servicing that audience.
BFM: Because the entire industry has been
consolidated under five gigantic conglomerates, do you think that
you have carved out this unique niche for yourself? As recently
as 96, the independent movement has all but really disappeared.
In some respect, in America, New Millennium Studios is the only
independent studio operation with the ability to go from concept
to distribution on whatever size screen. How does that make you
feel looking at your future and the history that youre building
TR: Well, it makes me think that I should get
my phone number to Sumner Redstone [the chairman of Viacom]!
[laughs] I dont know. Theres good news and bad
news in that. And the good news is we know the model works, and
a company thats able to hang in and build up their worth and
have a few successes will become a very valuable company. Thats
the good news. The bad news is that I dont know that its
good for America or good for the world to have major conglomerates
in total control of independent thought and independent creativity.
As a matter of fact, it is even good business for the conglomerates
that there is an independent movement in whatever field is successful,
and they should be behind it. The only reason theyve gone
after the independents is because they were embarrassed a few years
ago when all the top awards were given to independent companies
like Miramax. The majors were making this schlock hundred million-dollar
making a lot of money, but what they didnt have
was prestige. So, could they create prestige? No. What do they do?
They do what they always do. They bought it. And in buying it, theyve
eliminated the very thing that produced the prestige. They absorbed
the independents into the system. Look at the last two years of
independent filmmaking. Its been the worst that its
ever been. And why? Well, theres no longer any independents,
so youre not going to get the kind of movies made that fosters
the creativity that makes people feel proud.
BFM: Or the ingenuity?
TR: Creativity never comes out of conglomerate
structure. It always comes from those maverick thinkers. Look at
Microsoft, Apple, and Dell computer. They started in garages. It
wasnt started in a laboratory or in a major IBM corporate
office. It was started in a garage in Santa Clara. Apples
guys took what existed and created a box that revolutionized the
look of PCs. People were going, "Hey, thats cool."
So, the same thing with Palm Pilots. A little company in another
business makes something in another business and revolutionizes
hand-held equipment. Throws the whole industry upside-down. The
Internet. Napster. A bunch of college kids. It wasnt MCA music.
It wasnt Warner Brothers music. It was a little guy in a college
dorm. Didnt even have a job and didnt even know how
to make money with it. So, revolution never comes from conglomerates.
What do they do? They buy it, squelch it, and take it down to where
it has no servable purpose. They end up losing what theyre
trying to gain. So, now that there are very few true independents
left in America. I hope that were able to survive and build
a company and service and also make innovative and interesting product.
If we try to follow the Hollywood curve in the road just because
we want to be financially successful, then I think we will have
BFM: Do you think that the dot-com, the
Internet is doomed for the same kind of control?
TR: Well, I think the dot-com industry is already
over. I mean, the dot-com did not work. Venture capitalists, theyre
the only people who really made any money out of this whole thing.
Its like a chain letter. Now, the bloom is off the rose. Definitely,
the innovation for film and entertainment is not going to come out
of the Internet. The Internet is just a marketing tool and a distribution
tool that will be certainly interwoven into the fabric of technology.
But as far as it being and fostering entertainment and taking it
to another level, it aint gonna happen. There are too many
amateur people who can make movies now. I mean, there are guys making
movies for fifty, sixty thousand dollars, putting them on the Internet
with digital DV cameras, and theyre horrible.
BFM: Whats going to turn it all
around? Whats going to make the movie business exciting for
you in the twenty-first century?
TR: I think whats going to have to happen
is that independent thinking people are going to have to buckle
down and make the kind of movies that move them, and weve
got to get back to storytelling. There will always be a Blair
Witch slipping through. There will always be
I mean, theres
a lot of creativity out there, but people are going to have to be
passionate about getting these movies made and not cave into the
system. Its going to come back around. Some independents
going to slip through and literally exist for awhile, and then Sumner
Junior will buy them out.
BFM: Do you think it will be you?
TR: I hope so. I mean, I could stand about two
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