The business of independent motion picture production and distribution reaches its peak every year at the American Film Market. The global film industry converges in Santa Monica for eight days of deal-making on films in every stage of development and production, as well as screenings, conferences, networking and parties.
With 7,000 industry leaders from more than 80 countries, 500+ screenings of 300+ films and the industry’s largest Conference Series, AFM is the pivotal destination for producers, distributors, writers, directors, financiers, industry executives, talent, the international media and all those who provide services to the worldwide motion picture industry.
The AFM isn’t all work and no play. Though not as lavish as they once were, there are still parties galore though. And there is also music. For the past nine years, a rock band made up of AFM sales representatives have made a tradition of performing a live gig at Rusty’s on the Santa Monica Pier. Know as The Blueshouse Outfit, the band’s popularity has grown and they’re gig has become an event not to miss at the American Film Market each year.
We caught up with Mark Vennis, one of the founding members of the band as well as a producer and a partner in the British film distribution firm, Moviehouse.
Splash: Hi, Mark. Who had the idea to put this band together?
Mark Vennis: D’Arcy Conrique, Gary Phillips and I had the idea to put some music on at Rusty’s when we were sat outside having a beer and listening to a fairly terrible band playing inside. It was a “we can do that” kind of attitude. This was about 9 years ago at the AFM. In forming our band we went for a bar band mentality as opposed to a show band that did perfect covers. We envisioned a night where our musicians could relax and there was a good inclusive vibe open to everyone from the Market.
Splash: Who were the original members and has that line up changed?
MV: Its pretty much stayed the same and we’ve also had had some additions….but the core band are Doug Hansen, Eric Briggs, Jim Stein, Eric Kurtz, Danny St Pierre, Britt Draska, Eamonn Bowles, Lars Bjorck, Steve Monas, Michael Roban, Michael Levine, Michael Kananack, Michael Ryan, Anthony DeMattes and D’Arcy and myself. Its a big band!
Splash: Where was your first AFM appearance?
Splash: Has the American Film Market changed much since the band got started?
MV: Yes, the market has changed. The independent sector has suffered, but people still want quality content so good films are still getting made and sold at the AFM.
Splash: How do you see the future of indie film sales?
MV: Tricky. Volatile. But quality films will always find a way.
Splash: What films are you excited about on your current slate at Moviehouse?
MV: I produced two films this year both of which premiered at the London Film Festival in October. One is called FUNNY COW starring Maxine Peake and Paddy Considine with music by Richard Hawley that was very well received. The other is a documentary about the punk band The Slits, called HERE TO BE HEARD. We are selling both of them here at the AFM.
Splash: Since most of you don’t live in L.A. how often do you guys get to rehearse for your yearly AFM gig?
MV: Twice if we are lucky.
Splash: And what about you? What are you personally doing back in the UK with regards to expressing yourself musically?
MV: I am in my own band for which I write and compose. It’s called Mark Vennis & Different Place. We have an album out in December.
Splash: And how do we find it?
MV: Check out www.facebook.com/differentplaceband for up to date info.
Splash: Can we expect to see you back at Rusty’s again next year?
MV: We’re planning on it.
Splash: Thanks for chatting with us, Mark.
MV: My pleasure.
Photos by: Peter Foldy