News Column

Erie Times-News, Pa., Kevin Cuneo column

September 5, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 05--When Eric Hollenbeck was growing up in Horseheads, N.Y., near Elmira, he remembers carrying a JVC video recorder wherever he went.

Hollenbeck said he used the camera to make his own movies, TV shows and "just goofy videos of my friends." But it fueled his desire to create something meaningful that he could share. And, if he was careful with his films, they could last a long time.

Flash forward 20 years and Hollenbeck enjoys a burgeoning a reputation as an independent filmmaker. He was one of the producers of "The Kings of Summer," which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently purchased by CBS Films.

That's a big deal for filmmakers because it means their movie has made it. "The Kings of Summer" had a wide release, although it never made it to Erie, and received nice notices from several of the nation's most influential film critics.

It was a major accomplishment for Hollenbeck, 29, who helped raise money to finance the picture and had a hand in almost every phase of production. Before "The Kings of Summer," he worked on such films as "The Avengers," "The Ides of March," "Super 8," "Jack Reacher," "Promised Land" and more than a dozen others.

Hollenbeck, who started his career in advertising, has worked exclusively in film and TV work for the last seven years. "I didn't have an uncle or another relative in the business," he said by phone from his home in Cleveland. He just pursued his passion for movies and learned from every person he worked for.

Hollenbeck will bring "The Kings of Summer" to Mercyhurst University's Taylor Little Theatre on Sunday. It's part of the Langer Film Series, and following the 2 p.m., showing, Hollenbeck will lead a discussion of the movie.

For the filmmaker, it will be a triumphant homecoming, as he returns to the college from which he graduated in 2005. "I owe a lot to Mercyhurst, which gave me a well-rounded education," Hollenbeck said. "A lot of people I know who went to film school have one-track minds. I feel I can bring a little different approach to the business."

Hollenbeck, who's been heavily involved in the writing and casting of films, would like to direct movies. "I have my own production company and am working on a sci-fi thriller that takes place along Lake Erie," he said.

Hollenbeck enjoys living in Cleveland with his wife, Anne, and the couple's 8-month-old son, Jude. "This is a good time to be a filmmaker because there are so many ways to see movies," he said. "You can watch them in theaters, on DVD, on TV, on your computer, iPad -- you name it."

He's right, of course, and who knows what other platforms for viewing will be available three years from now?

Because of film preservation efforts, classic movies as well as new films should be available to viewers across the world.

Hollenbeck works on film projects for months at a time -- sometimes great distances from home -- but he enjoys having Cleveland as his base. "I can always jump on a plane to New York or Los Angeles, but I like having a normal life with my growing family here," he said.

He enjoys seeing young actors coming up through the ranks and thinks about discovering the next Robert De Niro or Matt Damon.

"It's a highly competitive business, but it's so exciting to be a part of it. And I'm still learning," he said. "That's the best part."

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(c)2013 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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