Famed film producer donates archives to the University

Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 5:03pm

Renowned film producer Ira Deutchman announced Wednesday he would donate archives spanning his 40-year film career to the University’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection.

As founder of the companies Cinecom and Fine Line Features, Deutchman has produced more than 150 films, including the critically acclaimed works “Matewan,” “The Player” and “sex, lies, and videotape”.

His donation to the University will include personal documents, e-mails, photographs and memorabilia from art house exhibits, the earliest dating back to the early 1970s.

In addition to being a film studies professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, Deutchman works as an independent producer and consultant in independent film marketing and production. As a consultant, he has represented companies producing a variety of film genres including documentaries, operas and ballets.

Accordingly, his donation to the University will also include a collection of film festival catalogues and posters from films he has represented.

In a statement, Deutchman said he believes his contribution will add depth to the study and discussion of the independent cinema industry.

“I believe that it is important to understand the role of marketers, distributors, exhibitors and curators in the support and creation of film culture in the U.S.,” he said. “Without that part of the independent film ecosystem, it's hard to imagine how these maverick filmmakers could have survived. By bringing this part of the discussion to their collection, the University of Michigan is making a huge contribution to the study of independent cinema."

In an interview with the Daily, Philip Hallman, curator for the Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection and the film studies field librarian for Hatcher Graduate Library, lauded Deutchman’s contributions to the film industry.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “(Deutchman) is very well positioned in the film industry that he’s worked in for over 40 years, and possess such a vast, tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge.”

In a press release, Daniel Herbert, associate professor of screen arts and cultures, said Deutchman’s papers serve as a testament to the vast creativity within the film industry.

“Ira has had enormous influence on the shape of independent cinema in various capacities, and he has a real eye for quality,” Herbert said. “This collection will demonstrate that film directors are not the only creatives in the film industry, and that one can also be a visionary in the business sense.”

Hallman said an initial use for the archives will be in Herbert’s courses on film production and marketing.

“The archives will give students an idea of the kind of discussion that goes on in how a film gets marketed, distributed and financed,” he said.

Deutchman’s archive collection will join the works of other popular filmmakers within the Unviersity Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection, including Orson Welles, Alan Rudolph and John Sayles.  

Hallman said museum officials will now work to sort the collection, with the goal of having it ready for a June 2017 Mavericks & Makers symposium and exhibition that will highlight some of Deutchman’s work.