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American producer shares his thoughts
on ways to boost Israel's film industry.
he's not going to take his date to a
movie about a depressed girl on a kib-
Special to the Jewish News
butz in 1954 who howls at the moon.
He's going to plunk down his
he Israeli film business is stag-
nant and in crisis — obviously money to see Tom Cruise in Mission:
not the country's biggest prob- Impossible II or Brendan Fraser in The
Mummy Returns — big American
lem, but a frustration to many eager
movies with big American movie stars.
and talented filmmakers.
Another problem: In Israel, there's
Some of the failures of the country's
filmmaking system became clear to me no culture of story development and a
very few story editors and
last summer, when I taught
a master class in movie pro-
What has to happen to
duction in Tel Aviv.
revive Israel's film industry
Here's where I was in my
is the creation of a consor-
career: After the success of
tium of producers who
the documentary The
would attack the industry
Celluloid Closet, which I'd
the same way the
produced, I'd just succeed-
Hollywood moguls of old
ed in selling a project about
(Sam Goldwyn, Louis B.
the formation of the Israeli
Mayer) did it. And the way
Air Force to an American
the new moguls (Barry
Diller, David Geffen) do it
It's a project dear to my
— as entrepreneurs, by
heart, and equally impor-
raising a fund solely devot-
tant to my screenwriter,
ed to developing movies.
Dan Gordon (Hurricane).
If 50 percent of that
Although I grew up in the
Rosenman: The art
development fund were to
U.S., my parents are sixth-
of the pitch.
go toward Hebrew-lan-
generation sabras. Gordon
guage movies, you could
had joined the IAF as an
still preserve the tarbut hayisraeli (the
American volunteer in 1973.
The story of the birth of Israel's air
But the other half should go to cre-
force is part and parcel of the country's
ate English-language movies. There's
psyche. With this blatantly Zionist
no reason Israelis can't develop their
background, we wondered why an
Israeli movie producer had not thought own blockbuster scripts, bring them
to partner-producers in Hollywood
of our idea before.
and have them packaged with
The answer became clear almost
American movie stars.
The country should also encourage
My students, all professionals in the
25- to 31-year-old age range, each had the formation of its own Sundance-type
Institute, a place like Robert Redford's
day jobs and were involved in the
where novice filmmakers could work
Israeli film industry in some capacity.
with old hands in the business.
Yet they had no idea how to pitch a
While they're at it, the Israelis should
story, develop it into a screenplay,
study the Canadian and Australian
make and structure a deal, or any of
models, both hybrid government/pri-
the other myriad necessities of film-
vate enterprise organizations.
Israel's film industry could rank
I began to sense that, because the
with the best in the world. After all,
film industry in Israel is government-
sponsored, it's like being a Soviet artist are we not the People of the Book?
Did we not practically invent the art
— on the dole.
All government-sponsored films
Hello, Genesis! Hello, Exodus! Hello,
must be in Hebrew. But if a teenager
has to spend the equivalent of $16,
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