SOAPIFF hosts veteran movie executive–producer at Pellissippi State

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Adam Leipzig is the former president of National Geographic Films, a past senior vice president at Walt Disney Studios, and a longtime film and theatre producer. Many of the films he has been directly involved with—“March of the Penguins,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”—have become household names. He has also launched more than 300 theatre productions and performance events, written for the New York Times and other publications, designed and built four successful businesses, and consulted with dozens more. He currently serves as the publisher and managing editor of the popular online magazine Cultural Weekly.

You want to make that movie? You need an insider. You need someone who knows filmmaking and Hollywood and sits comfortably at the intersection of creative culture and business.

Meet Adam Leipzig, a former movie executive, an independent producer and the speaker for the Seventh Annual Southern Appalachian International Film Festival at Pellissippi State Community College.

The film festival runs Nov. 12-17 at the college’s five sites: the Hardin Valley, Division Street, Magnolia Avenue, and Strawberry Plains campuses in Knox County and the Blount County Campus.

Leipzig’s remarks follow the showing of the classic film “Dead Poets Society,” a movie he was directly involved with, and they precede the screening of another popular project he acquired, “March of the Penguins.” He’s set to speak at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Hardin Valley Campus.

With 25 years of experience making movies, Leipzig has plenty of insights about the process of filmmaking.

“I will share behind-the-scenes stories about each movie,” he said. “I’ll pull back the curtain about how movies really get made and what happens off screen.”

Leipzig rose through the ranks at Walt Disney and saw it grow into a big studio with more productions and critical successes. Initially, Leipzig was one of eight executives working in the creative group, which also included legendary Hollywood executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner.

“After six years, those eight people had become 130 people and we split into three different divisions, and I had been promoted up and up,” Leipzig said. “I was no longer doing at the studio what I came to do, which was make movies. I had been promoted up so far that there were lots of people intermediating the process.”

Leipzig struck out on his own as an independent producer and got the chance to lead a new venture, National Geographic Films.

“In 2003, National Geographic asked me to design a strategy for their successful presence in the motion picture business, which I did. Then they asked me to become the president of that company,” he said.

These days, Leipzig consults, writes, and talks about something integral to moviemaking and close to his heart: creativity. He currently serves as publisher and managing editor of the popular online magazine Cultural Weekly ( The publication examines how creative culture intersects with media, money, technology and entertainment.

He also believes in sharing his experiences with aspiring filmmakers and college students. To that end, he is writing two books on filmmaking.

“Inside Track for Independent Filmmakers: Get Your Movie Made, Get Your Movie Seen, and Turn the Tables on Hollywood” will be available as an e-book in December and as a trade paperback in January 2013. He will be pre-selling autographed first editions at the festival. Leipzig is also co-writing “Filmmaking in the 21st Century,” a new college textbook for Bedford/St. Martin’s (Macmillan). He anticipates its publication in late 2014.

Leipzig’s visit is sponsored by SOAPIFF, the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, and Pellissippi State’s Art and Media Technologies programs.

View the SOAPIFF screening schedule for Pellissippi State at To learn more about the college, visit or call (865) 694-6400.