What is Filmmakers Symposium?
---Filmmakers Symposium takes place at NEW JERSEY AMC LOEWS MOUNTAINSIDE, MONDAYS 7:15 PM, Sept. 18 - Dec. 4, as well as NEW JERSEY MULTIPLEX CINEMAS AT TOWN CENTER PLAZA, EAST WINDSOR, WEDNESDAYS 7:15 PM Sept. 20 - Dec. 6 (five or ten week subscription). Complete schedules can be found at www.PrivateScreenings.org or call 1-800-531-9416.
We will see one or two films each night. It's considered a class because we
have a discussion/Q&A usually with the director or one of the actors
following the screening. I try to combine entertainment and information by
interviewing guests about their particular experience and expertise on the
film just screened. Over the last fifteen years, we have hosted 1,132 movie
premieres. Past attending filmmakers and actors include: John Sayles,
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Kevin Smith, Frank Darabont, David Strathairn, Ethan
Hawke, Viggo Mortensen, Connie Nielsen and many more. The series appeals to
anyone/any age who loves movies.
How did you get started doing this film series?
---Way back when I was a film student at the University of Southern
California, Arthur Knight conducted a similar symposium; one night our guest
was Alfred Hitchcock; that night changed my life. My background covers both
coasts. I have film degrees from NYU and USC; worked in production as a
cameraman and director, authored 23 screenplays, was chosen to be in the
Warner Bros. Writers Workshop, written for "The Hollywood Reporter", held
faculty positions at Seton Hall, Adelphi, and New School Universities, and
am currently commissioning original work for and editing the anthology, "The
Greatest Movie Ever Made."
How is your series different from other film festivals or film classes?
---We try take it to the next level and make every week a new adventure.
This is accomplished by the variety and diversity of films and guests we
have; if it's a screenwriter, we'll start with the idea and try to find out
how it evolved into a solid structure; if it's an actor, we'll trace the
very personal journey of creating a character from words on a page. Each
film has its own process of discovery. We will explore traditions and
myths, describe style and technique, discuss the link between art and
commerce, and try to illuminate the creative process as it applies to each
What films are you most enthused about screening and talking about
---I could give you a different answer every day, but for today... JESUS
CAMP, ISLANDER, LITTLE CHILDREN, RENAISSANCE, 51 BIRCH STREET, SWEET LAND,
FLANNEL PAJAMAS, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, PAN'S LABYRINTH, THE GOOD GERMAN, and
How do you select films for the series?
---I try to keep track of every interesting film project on the planet from
the script stage to fine/final cuts to festival screenings. I have
developed a network of cohorts and supporters who work in development,
production, post-production, acquisition, marketing and distribution; as
well as journalists and critics who cover both coasts and festivals all over
the world. I pick their brains. They make my job easier.
You like to emphasize that you are not a film critic. Why?
---Critics are forced to spend eighty percent of their lives watching and
writing about bad movies. This is a horrible perversion which tends to rot
their brains. I have also discovered that even some of the smartest, best
educated, most outstanding critics in the business cannot talk about a movie
without reviewing it. Very few have any screenwriting or production
experience. Many got into reviewing films by writing obituaries for a
newspaper, and were first in line when the previous reviewer died.
Tell me about a favorite (crazy, surprising, or otherwise memorable)
moment from past Filmmakers' Symposium.
---After doing this for 15 years, it's hard to pick one, but I'll never
forget... in my Fall 1993 session, I was fortunate enough (honored really)
to be the first to screen SCHINDLER’S LIST; nobody had a clue how
powerful/unforgetable/awesome it was going to be, ...then as my guest I had
Helen Rosenweig, who was Amon Goeth’s (played by Ralph Fiennes) actual maid
(composite character Helen Hirsch, played by Embeth Davidtz) during World
War II; ...she had never publicly told her story, and right when she agreed
to be my guest, she decided, after 50 years, to tell it. It was even more
mind-blowing than the movie.