Pierson, John

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PERSONAL: Married, 1983; wife's name Janet; children: Georgia and Wyatt. Education: New York University, B.A. (film), 1976.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Grainy Pictures, 75 Main St., Cold Spring, NY 10516. E-mail—info@grainypictures. com.

CAREER: Filmmaker. United Artists, Los Angeles, CA, specialized distributor; Bleecker St. Cinema, New York, NY, repertory exhibitor; Amercian Mavericks, festival director; Film Forum 2, film programmer; Wim Wenders, tour driver; Grainy Pictures, Cold Spring, NY, founder and copresident, 1994—.

Film producer's representative for Parting Glances, Cinecom, 1985; Sleepwalk, First Run Features, 1986; She's Gotta Have It, Island, 1986; Working Girls, Miramax, 1987; Living on Tokyo Time, Skouras Pictures, 1987; Anna, Vestron, 1987; The Thin Blue Line, Miramax, 1988; Roger & Me, Warner Bros., 1989; Sidewalk Stories, Island, 1989; Slacker, Orion Classics, 1991; Laws of Gravity, RKO, 1992; The Tune, October Films, 1992; Just Another Girl on the IRT, Miramax, 1992; Amongst Friends, Fine Line, 1993; Go Fish, Goldwyn, 1994; My Life's in Turnaround, Arrow, 1994; Clerks, Miramax, 1994; Crumb, Sony Classics, 1996. Executive producer of Chasing Amy, Miramax, 1997. Creator of Split Screen, Independent Film Channel, 1997. Coproducer of How's Your News?, HBO, 2001.


Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour across a Decade of American Independent Cinema, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

Contributor to the VideoHound Independent Film Guide and to periodicals, including the Los Angeles Times and Premiere.

SIDELIGHTS: John Pierson is a producer's representative for independent films. He reports that he has been called an indie "guru, dealmeister, scout, shaman," even a "miracle maker." Pierson, along with his wife, Janet, run Grainy Pictures. Through his company, Pierson represented two dozen career-launching independent features, including Roger & Me, Slacker, and Clerks. Being at the forefront of the explosion of independent films, Pierson was more than qualified to document it in his book, Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour across a Decade of American Independent Cinema. The book's subsequent tour spurred Split Screen, a magazine-format television show. Over 120 filmmakers produced segments of Split Screen and eventually sixty-six episodes were aired on the Independent Film Channel from 1997 to 2000.

Pierson's Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes is a guide to independent film through a decade, 1984-1994, ending with Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, a movie Pierson believes "blurred the definition of independent film" because it starred two major movie stars, cost $8 million to make, and was distributed by Miramax, a division of Disney. Robert Cashill from TCI wrote, "Pierson says his book is more of a how-come than a how-to." The book offers such advice as writing a script that fits your budget, have a real budget on paper, use free or cheap sets, locations, and actors, and edit as inexpensively and professionally as possible. Cashill called the book "fun" and declared it a must-read for "the Tarantinos of tomorrow . . . if the mechanics of do-it-yourself moviemaking appeal[s] to you and you'd rather not mortgage your future before starting out." Alex Tresniowski from People also enjoyed it, "Pierson's years spent watching movies helped sharpen his skill at turning the dry subject of film financing into a fresh, funny, even suspenseful story." Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris commended the book as "sly, knowledgeable" and "deeply entertaining" and concluded, "Pierson and most of his colleagues genuinely seem to love good filmmaking." Not all critics agreed; while a reviewer from Publishers Weekly noted, "There is much of value here for aspiring filmmakers," the review continued, "Pierson's penchant for business jargon . . . will alienate readers outside the film industry." Thomas Wiener, writing for Library Journal, thought the book to be "maddeningly incomplete" due to the extensive details about some deals but not enough information for others. Yet Wiener noted the book to be "honest." David Ehrenstein, of the Los Angeles Times, praised Pierson for being "intent on blowing away most of the cigar smoke from the independent end of" filmmaking. He also found the book to be "upbeat" and a "sure-fire show biz saga."



Entertainment Weekly, January 19, 1996, Mark Harris, "Independent Days," pp. 46-47.

Library Journal, December, 1995, Thomas Wiener, review of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour across a Decade of American Independent Cinema, p. 112.

Los Angeles Times, February 25, 1996, David Ehrenstein, "Big Shots, Little Shots and Golden Boys," p. 4.

People, March, 4, 1996, Alex Tresniowski, review of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes, p. 40.

Publishers Weekly, December 18, 1995, review of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes, pp. 38-39.

TCI, April, 1996, Robert Cashill, review of Spike,Mike, Slackers & Dykes, p. 60.*