Say that you’re an aspiring moviemaker, fresh out of college or high school, looking for that perfect film school—the one that will give you all of the experience, training and contacts you need to help you find a great job in the industry when you graduate. If that’s you, then Jonathan Krane knows how you feel. Krane, producer of more than 40 films, former studio chairman and college educator, believes he can lead you to where you need to be.
The Krane Academy of Motion Pictures, located in sunny Palm Beach, Florida, strives to give students the best overall knowledge and training available in the art of motion picture production. The program is comprised of 14 courses, based on Krane’s 450-page Treatise about the Film Industry, which contain his landmark “Five Fundamental Principles,” a guide that Krane claims will finally demystify the moviemaking process.
MM spoke with Krane about the business of making movies, his remarkable career and why The Krane Academy could well be the film school for you!
Lily Percy (MM): At the age of 15 you enrolled at St. John’s College. You lived in Europe for a year studying Civil Liberties in the European criminal justice systems. You then went on to graduate from Yale Law School a Doctor of Jurisprudence. This is not the average movie producer’s resume. How did you make that first transition into film and what made you want to do it in the first place? Has film always been an interest?
Jonathan Krane (JK): I made my first transition into film by creating the profession of the producer/manager. I approached a friend of mine, [director] Blake Edwards, and became his manager/producer. The reason I wanted to do this was I wanted to recreate the ’40s style studio, which had distribution under one roof. Lou Wasserman at MCA did this using an agency for talent and I was going to use a management company for talent.
MM: Has film always been a passion of yours?
JK: Film has always been an interest of mine as a viewer. I grew up above Hollywood Boulevard in the hills and walked to two double features every weekend. I also had very intellectual avocations that I decided to follow in my life and education. It really wasn’t until I met my wife, [actress] Sally Kellerman, that I decided to pursue my goals to become a producer, a manager and a studio head of a new version of the ’40s-style studio.
MM: After founding the first production/management company in the film business, Blake Edwards Entertainment, and your own production company, the Krane Group, what made starting your own film school, The Krane Academy of Motion Pictures?
JK: In between starting Blake Edwards Entertainment and the Krane Group, I started MCEG, which was the ’40s-style studio I previously discussed. Wall Street took this company public. I was one of the youngest chairmen and CEOs of a public company and in MCEG’s first full year it was the best performing entertainment stock.
Then I started the Krane Group, which produced studio and independent films, and I decided, after 25 years in the industry, that I had to write the first textbook on the movie industry because none existed. When I was finished it seemed like a natural next step to create a film school that used the book for its curriculum. I always taught while I was working, e.g., 13 or 14 years at the UCLA Extension School, guest lecturer at film schools, on television, in newspapers, and magazines. Having my own academy was the logical next step, because the goal was to provide graduates with a producer credit on a feature film and create a new type of producer—one who knows everything about the movie business. Because The Krane Academy creates ideas, develops scripts and produces feature films (and ultimately will be a distribution company), to certain markets it copies the format of MCEG, but in an academic setting rather than as a public company.
MM: Your film textbook is called “A Revolutionary Approach to the Art and Science of Moviemaking: A Treatise on Fixing the Accidental Industry.” To what does “fixing the accidental industry” refer?
JK: The motion picture industry is the only century-old, multi-billion-dollar industry with no self-regulation, no defined terms, articulated functions, job descriptions, etc. Things happen by accident not by design. Quite simply the movie business is just like any other manufacturing assembly line with talent being raw material, manufacturing being the five stages of production and distribution being distribution to all end-users such as television, theaters, videos, etc. Fixing the accidental industry refers to defining all job functions, processes, rules, activities and job descriptions and making the industry follow the assembly line in a rational way.
MM: One of the staples of your textbook, and The Krane Academy, is the “Five Fundamental Principles.” Can you give a brief description of what these principles are, where their history began and why you believe them to be so significant?
JK: The Five Fundamental Principles of the movie industry are: 1) Production of a film is made up of five distinct stages—finding or creating the idea, developing the screenplay, packaging the screenplay, financing the film and physically producing the film 2) An independent film is one with no studio financial involvement, either in production or distribution 3) All power derives from three sources—talent, production and distribution 4) One must understand the cash flow from all of the distribution corridors 5) Everyone must be able to master creative problem-solving in the accidental industry where problems are often Kafka-esque.
These five principles were derived from inductive logic based on my years as an international tax lawyer for motion pictures and my representation of talent as an attorney. They were further defined and solidified by my years as a manager and a producer and finally as an independent studio head. From there deductive reasoning cemented all of the rules, defined the functions and activities that are the essence of the treatise. I believe them to be so significant because they are the frameworks with which anyone can understand the entire motion picture industry.
MM: How will The Krane Academy further the understanding of these principles? How will your students apply these principles in their own careers?
JK: The Krane Academy will further the understanding of these principles because the curriculum and syllabus are based on the textbook. The students will apply these principles first with the Academy, where we will make 10-minute films, 30-minute films and ultimately feature films using these principles. The students will graduate as real producers, with producer credits on a feature film. And if they apply these principles after graduation it is my hope and belief that they will find success as producers.
MM: What separates The Krane Academy of Motion Pictures from the other film schools out there? What makes it unique?
JK: What separates The Krane Academy from other schools and makes it unique is: First, the use of this book as the curriculum text; second, I will teach every course with my background as a producer of 44 films, manager of 150 actors, writers and directors, head of an independent studio, etc.
Finally, this will be the only Academy, I believe, where students will graduate having produced a feature picture rather than producing just a short film. In addition to the above, someone considering a career in film should consider the Academy because all graduates will also have a management relationship with me, if they so wish.
MM: What is the greatest lesson that you hope to impart to your students? Is there any particular advice that you find you always give to aspiring moviemakers?
JK: The greatest lesson I hope to impart to my students is that passion and vision are the two most important traits anyone in the industry must have. Desire for fame and fortune are the two worst. The advice I always give to aspiring moviemakers is that if you have the talent, the passion and the vision, do not give up. One needs perseverance as well as a thick skin and a short memory.
As difficult as this business seems, it can be beaten. Occasionally I tell students or clients that if you can’t beat them, join them… and then beat them. I decided to start a film industry in Palm Beach with the hope that I can fix the accidental industry to some degree at the same time.
For more information, visit www.kraneacademy.com.