When she officially joined Arclight Films just before last November's American Film Market, Liz Mackiewicz brought a wealth of experience to the Los Angeles-based international sales and finance company.
While Arclight may have established itself as a significant international sales player in its first five years of operation, its new executive vice-president of worldwide distribution has a track record that goes back much further.
Mackiewicz started in the UK TV commercials business, an experience, she says, that 'cured me' of any desire to work in production.
Moving into the international sales sector back in the US, she worked at Cannon during its 1980s heyday and did stints at Kodiak Films, Prism, First Look and, just before becoming a consultant to Arclight, Media 8 Entertainment.
During the international sales boom of the 1980s, she recalls, 'We were able to pre-sell just off ideas, and the advent of home video and the launch of private TV channels created a huge need for product.'
Seeing the bust that for many companies followed the boom was an experience that still resonates today, Mackiewicz says: 'It keeps me level headed. I don't feel I know it all.'
Today's marketplace is more challenging, she observes, with DVD sales declining in certain territories, local production providing fresh competition, and revenue streams from VoD and streaming or downloading not yet filling the gap.
Still, Arclight, Mackiewicz suggests, has the right kind of structure and product to face the challenges. Founded by Victor Syrmis and managing director Gary Hamilton, the company also has offices in New York, UK, Australia (where it recently set up a production operation), Canada and Hong Kong. Its slate includes projects from the US, Europe, Australia and Asia, with budgets running the gamut from under $5m up to $40m.
Titles include the now completed UK film The Bank Job, with Jason Statham; soon-to-be completed drama Flashbacks Of A Fool, with Daniel Craig; Long Weekend, now in production in Australia, from Arclight's Darclight genre label; and Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon, from the company's Easternlight label for Asian films.
Sales duties on the slate are now divided between Mackiewicz, Los Angeles-based Hamilton and Arclight's Toronto-based vice-president of international sales, Lina Marrone.
A few months into her new job, Mackiewicz is preparing for Berlin's European Film Market (February 7-15), her first major market with new Arclight product. And from her experienced perspective, she is optimistic that buyers made wary by the threat of extended strikes in Hollywood will be more confident by the time they arrive in Germany.
'I think by Berlin - or even before - it will be very clear what's happening with the strike,' she says. 'Then the buyers will know what's real and what's not real. I think Berlin is going to be very good for us.'