An Inside Look at Film Production: Advice from Alcon Executives

In Industry News and Interviews, Media and Culture, Posts, Uncategorized by John LaCrosse

(Pictured: Alcon Entertainment is set to release Blade Runner 2049 in October, 2017.  Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the 1982 Blade Runner Film.)

The following article is part of a reflection from the “Hollywood Mentor Series.” Through the Hollywood Mentor Series students in JPCatholic’s MBA in Film Producing program get the opportunity to meet and network with a variety of top executives and professionals in all sectors of the film industry in Los Angeles. MBA graduate Tyler Carlos shares the lessons he learned from these meetings:

 

My classmates and I were lucky enough to meet with not one but three executives at Alcon Entertainment. Alcon is a large and independent production company that has created many successful films, such as The Blind Side and The Book of Eli. They also produce the popular Syfy television series The Expanse.

We first met with Scott Parish, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Alcon Entertainment. Parish discussed the history of Alcon, delving into the rough start and sudden uprising of the studio. When the studio began in 1998, its goal was to create indie films with worldwide distribution. Initially it was a very slow buildup as Alcon struggled to make enough revenue to cover their expenses, until eventually executives decided to change their strategy and look for more projects that could sell internationally. Alcon then produced one of its first successes, My Dog Skip, and later moved onto other big projects, which included launching both a television and music division of the company. According to Parish, Alcon’s current objective is to own content. Parish finished by giving us his advice for young and upcoming filmmakers: “Be flexible. Be opportunistic.”

After meeting with Parish, we met with the Co-President of Marketing, Katherine Pora. She delved into the vital aspects of filmmaking: marketing and advertising. Marketing, she said, is creating a desire for what you want to sell. When marketing films, Pora said you must find the audience, taking the entire world into consideration. She said the trailer is the most important aspect of any film marketing campaign, and a fantastic first trailer is necessary to have a financially successful film. Pora said the next step is researching to determine the audience and where the audience lives. And lastly, a marketing campaign must be consistent. Digital advertising is where the industry is going, but it is not quite there yet. Instead, Pora said traditional advertising media, such as billboards and posters, is still primary. Her professional advice to us was simple: “There isn’t a monopoly on good ideas.” She encouraged us to go out and try different things, by reminding us that good ideas can come from anywhere. Every good project started as a good idea. Pora said what made the difference is that someone went out and built upon the idea.

Our last speaker of the day was Steve Wagner, an independent filmmaker who has partnered with Alcon Entertainment. His primary role is to take scripts and turn them into sellable packages to show other production companies. He creates something to show producers, such as a cast list or attached director. He started at the bottom of the industry and worked his way up. His first job was as a reader, and he worked his way up over 7 years until he found his first executive job. His advice to us was very straightforward – “Access is hugely important.” We, as new professionals in the film industry, must make ourselves available to companies and producers who may be willing to offer us a job or experience. We shouldn’t think short term, because building ourselves up takes time. “It is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.

In summary, the Alcon executives taught us that growing in this industry takes time. Just as Alcon Entertainment started small and changed along the way, we must do the same. We must work hard and know where we want to go. If something isn’t working, then we must adapt and build upon our ideas. It will take time, and we must accept that. But if we use that time wisely, then we can find success.

— By Tyler Carlos, 2016 JPCatholic Graduate–