Mark Pogachefsky is a publicist with an independent streak

He has helped guide the promotion of some of the most memorable independent films, including 'sex, lies, and videotape' and this year's Oscar hopeful 'Milk.'

February 22, 2009|William Heisel

The gig: Co-president of the high-powered Los Angeles public relations firm mPRm. Pogachefsky, 49, has helped guide the promotion of some of the most memorable independent films, including "sex, lies, and videotape" in 1989 as well as two films with Oscar hopes this year, "Milk" and "The Visitor." He and business partner Rachel McCallister oversee a 40-person shop from their penthouse suite on Wilshire Boulevard.

Education: Bachelor's degree in radio, television and film from Temple University in Philadelphia.

The early show: Loved film from a young age, catching black-and-white tributes to Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn and Clark Gable as a kid in Philadelphia. "I would take the paper ticket stubs and write the title of the movie and then give it a star rating," he says.

First big break: A college friend of his met a woman in a coffee shop who was starting an in-house magazine for Paramount Studios. He called Pogachefsky, who had just graduated and was working at a Sam Goody record store in Philadelphia while writing features for a free weekly newspaper. He flew out in June 1982, interviewed for the job and got it. "This was a great time to be at Paramount," he says. "It was 'Flashdance,' 'Footloose,' 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' 'Cheers,' 'Family Ties.' I learned so much in just a few years on that job."

Pitching himself: "It became clear to me that being the assistant editor of the Paramount News was something of a dead end," Pogachefsky says. He started sending out his resume to land his first job as a publicist. But not just any resume. He put together a package with the teaser "Hire New Publicist, Receive Fabulous Prizes." What was the prize? "It was me." A boutique firm, Clein + Feldman, called him, liked him and hired him.

'There are no little films': That was what his first boss told him, and it stuck. When Pogachefsky was pushing "Kiss of the Spider Woman," a 1985 movie about two men who have a homosexual relationship in prison, he booked the sexy Brazilian actress Sonia Braga on talk shows, even though she had relatively little screen time. More recently with "An Inconvenient Truth," which is mostly a slide presentation by former Vice President Al Gore, his firm screened the movie for every environmental activist group it could find to start a grass-roots campaign for the film.

Life and limb: The first day of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Pogachefsky had to shut down his office and send all his employees home after people smashed windows in the building. But he also had an important date with a potential client: Oliver Stone. It took him hours, but after making several detours, running into barricades and having close calls with rioters, Pogachefsky made it to Stone's Santa Monica office. "And the important thing is that he signed."

Friendly competition: Pogachefsky says he would want "Milk" to win the best picture Oscar tonight even if he hadn't been its publicist when it was released. But after so many years of shaking hands and making friends, Pogachefsky says he would be happy for director Danny Boyle if he won for "Slumdog Millionaire." Pogachefsky worked hard to turn Boyle's first film, "Shallow Grave," into a critical favorite. "There are films where you work really hard and nobody goes to see it anyway, and then there are films where you know you made a difference. That was a film where I know I made a difference. So when I see him at the awards shows now, there's always a connection there."

Four lessons: "Treat the little people like big people. Drama belongs on the screen. Work on your writing. And try to know a little bit about the history of whatever it is you're trying to get into."


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