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People on the Move: Max Fried
05/06/2008 - By Tobi D. Tesoriero
Motion Picture Industry Icon
A movie industry pioneer, Max Fried has rubbed elbows with the great talents of Hollywood...A movie industry pioneer, Max Fried has rubbed elbows with the great talents of Hollywood. Through the ages he has been photographed with legends of the silver screen and has crossed paths with many very famous actors and actresses, including Sophia Loren, Meryl Streep, Quentin Tarantino, Gina Lollobrigida, Matthew Broderick, Marcel Marceau, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sylvester Stallone. Max has been working in the motion picture industry for more than 77 years! He is a recognized icon in the industry and is even listed in the New York Times Directory of Film. He has also been featured on the show “The Art of Living.”
At 97 years young, Max still works every day. He is vibrant and remains involved in numerous pursuits, both professionally and recreationally. His can-do attitude and never-tiring work ethic are exemplified by his philosophy that “brains are the same as luck.” According to Max, you have to use your brains to get luck!
He holds the distinction of being the oldest living member of the Motion Pictures Bookers Association, and is the booker for the Beach Cinema in Bradley Beach, New Jersey. He tracks daily receipts and customer sales, and arranges their movie bookings as well. Despite being from an earlier generation, Max is computer literate; he uses modern technology in his job and remains current in the industry.
Motion picture bookers are responsible for the movies we see in theaters – they facilitate the placement of movies from the studios to the theaters. Years ago, according to Max, movie distribution was conducted differently than it is today. At that time, studios would produce a limited number of copies of a production. He stated, for example, that only 80 copies of a film were made back in the day. Those copies were then distributed to theaters that were given both geographic and time “rights,” referred to as clearance. For instance, if a theater had a contract with a major studio like Warners, Paramount, or RKO, it would receive the movie first. No other theater in 40 miles would be able to show it, nor would any other theater be allowed to show it for 30 days. Bookers also determined what movies would fare well in specific markets. There were restrictions on admittance prices, too. Today, according to Max, there are far fewer restrictions in all areas of booking.
Max has been a founder of professional organizations. He started the movie industry publication “Cinema Scoop” and was also a founder of Women of the Motion Picture Industry (WOMPI), an international organization dedicated to meeting the needs of women in the field.
In addition to professional organizations, Max has always been and remains a man devoted to service. He has been involved with (as a member or founder) numerous organizations. He is involved in Variety Club, the Motion Picture Club, the Will Rodgers Foundation, B’nai B’rith, and the Ronald McDonald House. He has served as an officer in the Cinema Lodge of B’nai B’rith and in the Four Chaplains Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, which was founded to honor four chaplains: Chaplain George L. Fox, Methodist minister; Alexander D. Goode, Jewish rabbi; Johnny P. Washington, Irish priest; and Clark V. Poling, minister of Reformed Church in America; these four men gave up their life jackets and their lives to save American servicemen after a transport was torpedoed by the Nazis. He has also been involved with the War Fund and the Blood Bank…the list goes on and on. And his are not just historic contributions; Max continues to be actively involved with various charities to raise money and awareness through golf outings and other such events. For his service to charitable endeavors and ongoing contributions, Max has been named the Variety Club Man of the Year on three occasions, and has also been honored as a Hall of Fame inductee.
On a lighter note, he loves performing. Max has participated in plays in his Greenbriar community as well as through his professional organizations. But despite his enthusiasm for his career and community, Max’s greatest love and passion is clearly his family. He keeps albums of family photos readily accessible and prominently displayed alongside his industry awards, and loves to share tales of family anecdotes and history.
Men of Max’s age are often asked their secret to longevity. Max shared – without prompting – that he feels his involvement in doing for others is what helps keep him young at heart.
Favorite restaurant: The Homestead, Bridgeville, NY
Favorite musicIAN: Itzhak Perlman
Favorite movie: 12 Angry Men
Pet peeve: I don’t have any; it [a pet peeve] implies that you feel you can pass judgment and are better than someone else
Three people you would like to have dinner with: Definitely my family…I like too many people to just pick two more!
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