Michael F. Goldman

International Sales Pioneer, Dies at 80

Michael F. Goldman, who built and owned leading international film sales company Manson International, died June 9th at age 80 in Los Angeles.  He was a lifetime Los Angeles resident and fixture on the independent film sales circuit globally.

Manson was a family business started by his father, Edmund, after leaving Columbia Pictures in 1953.  Goldman joined Manson in 1962 upon graduating from UCLA and took over its operations in 1975.  He built the company into a large player in independent film, selling rights to new projects and movies to overseas distributors on a territory by territory basis.

Goldman was a founding member of the trade organization, the American Film Marketing Association (today, the Independent Film & Television Alliance), representing independent producers and distributors worldwide, and he helped launch the American Film Market in 1981.  He served as AFMA’s first CFO at inception and was elected Chairman of the Board twice: 1984 - 1985 and 1991 – 1993.  He remained active in the organization throughout its first 25 years, serving on the Board and elected to its Executive Committee as Vice Chairman-Secretary from September 1999 to September 2001.

Jean Prewitt, current President and CEO of IFTA, said of Goldman: “Key AFMA programs such as AFMA Arbitration and AFMA Collections had their origins during Michael’s tenure and his fingerprints are all over the governance structure that took AFMA from a loose collaboration to a more formal structure.  The strong Association that exists today grew out of Michael Goldman’s commitment to the independent industry.” 

Under Goldman’s leadership, Manson soared as a leading supplier of independent motion pictures to overseas markets, handling the foreign sales for over 350 titles over the years, taking full advantage of the changes VHS and video brought to the industry.  Goldman personally supervised the marketing of 60 independent feature films in the U.S. 

After 1975, Manson ceased to distribute films in the United States and Goldman had the company focus solely on international licensing.  In the early 80’s, Manson Distributing Corporation became Manson International, a respected authority in international motion picture distribution and sales, and a training ground for many top executives in international distribution.  In late 1986, Manson international was purchased by Winstar, Inc.  Today, the Manson library resides within and is distributed by MGM.

Milestone titles for Goldman during that time included David Cronenberg’s cult success SCANNERS.  He worked closely with Charlton Heston on the global sales and distribution of Heston-produced MOTHER LODE. Goldman acquired from HBO the first film produced by Robert Cooper and HBO Pictures, THE TERRY FOX STORY, which Manson re-titled HEART OF A CHAMPION for the international world. He led the team that discovered Finnish director Renny Harlin and was central to the production of Harlin’s first feature BORN AMERICAN. Manson handled Robert Altman’s film STREAMERS, which achieved acclaim at the Venice Film Festival where the cast won the Best Actor Award.  The company’s big commercial and revenue successes were two Linda Blair films, CHAINED HEAT and SAVAGE STREETS, as well as the precursor to CHAINED HEAT, THE CONCRETE JUNGLE.

Michael F. Goldman was a true internationalist in life as well as in business.  He was born in Manila, Philippines in 1939. He lived in Manila until 1942 and again from 1945 through 1950.  His family moved to Tokyo, Japan where he lived until 1953.  His father, who was born in Shanghai, then moved the family to Beverly Hills where Goldman attended Beverly Hills High School, graduating in 1957.  After a brief stint in the US Army as a military policeman, he attended UCLA where he graduated from the business school in 1962 with a specialty in marketing and accounting. Goldman was a CPA certified in the state of California.

Goldman was a member of the UCLA Chancellor’s Associates and, since 1979, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he served on the Executive Committee of the Executive Branch, the Executive Committee of the Foreign Language Film Awards, and the Executive Committee for the Student Academy Awards.

Among his interests and hobbies, Goldman held a commercial instrument-rated pilot’s license owning and flying small airplanes for many years.

Goldman is survived by his wife Giulia Gagliani Goldman; son Mathew Goldman and wife Junna Matsuda; son Nicholas Goldman and wife Cortney and their sons Lucas and Elliott; step-daughter Letizia Van Peteghem and step-son Gustavo Van Peteghem, a film distribution executive in Rome with Lucisano Media Group.  Also surviving him is his younger sister, Lorelei Shark.

The family is requesting donations be made to the MPTF – Motion Picture and Television Fund (mptf.com/donate or c/o The Wasserman Campus, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills, CA 91364).