His job, says USC Cinematic Arts professor Jason E. Squire, is to keep up with “everything” in the movie business. Want proof? He created and edited an encyclopedic guide to the industry, The Movie Business Book, and has kept it current in the global media marketplace by completely rewriting it with each new edition.
The ink is just dry on his latest edition, the fourth, and it is being launched Monday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove with a rare gathering of movie industry experts – all of whom have lent their expertise to chapters in the book.
The diverse array of experts, who will speak at a panel discussion at the bookstore, include Rob Aft, CEO of Compliance Consulting; Linda Benjamin, former executive vice president, business and legal affairs at Relativity Media, currently president of global strategy and business affairs of RRKidz, Inc.; Barbara Boyle, associate dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; Eric B. Fleischman, USC Cinematic Arts alum and producer of two 2016 Sundance premiere films; Ilan Haimoff, a partner at Green Hasson Janks Accountants who has audited more than 200 studio movies; Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios; Stephen M. Kravit, executive vice president, business affairs of The Gersh Agency; Steve Mangel, president of UniFi Completion Guarantors; and Steve Montal, a film festival consultant.
Squire enlisted them all, and several others, to collaborate on this insiders’ guide to producing, marketing and distributing films. His experts cover the pros and cons of various business models, deal-making, micro budget films, release windows, revenue streams, studio accounting and online self-distribution, among other topics.
Squire teaches “Film Business Procedures and Distribution,” screenwriting and “The Art and Industry of Theatrical Film.” The latter is a case study course held at night, which allows him to bring in various industry experts. In the fall semester class, he focuses on a big-budget film. In the spring, it’s a tiny, DIY project. For each film, his guests are key department heads such as production designer, visual special effects supervisor, director of photography, producer, director and an accounting executive.
“The book contains the expertise of high level executives” said Squire. “I always defer to the experts.” His method is to identify a well-informed executive and conduct an extensive interview. Squire then converts the interview into a chapter, which bounces back and forth between him and the executive for several rounds of editing. He then adds new material and refines language into teachable chapters so that the book conforms to a 15-week course.
The 628-page book is published by Routledge/Focal Press.
Previous editions of The Movie Business Book have been used at textbooks at American universities ranging from Yale University to UC Berkeley to New York University, as well as many others around the globe, with translations in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese (translated by scholars at Beijing Film Academy, where Squire has been a visiting professor). Readers other than cinema and business students are young professionals breaking into the industry and movie buffs.
The public is invited to the book launch, which will be on the third floor of Barnes & Noble at The Grove.