Sag Harbor Cinema Names Gillian Gordon as Executive Director

Gillian Gordon

Gillian Gordon’s first summer job as a teen was working in the box office at Guild Hall, a position that gave her the opportunity to meet artists of all varieties and interact with patrons at East Hampton’s hub for arts and culture. This summer, the Springs resident will take control of a different box office, although with a few more responsibilities behind her title.

Ms. Gordon was appointed this week as the first executive director of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. A film executive and producer in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia for the past 28 years, she has worked in numerous facets of the film business from education to production.

The former chief operating officer of Harmony Pictures in Los Angeles, Ms. Gordon was a trustee and co-chair of Filmaid UK. She has also served as the executive director of the charity, Youth Culture TV; has been a film festival judge for BAFTA, mentored young filmmakers as a film consultant for the Singapore Media Development Agency; and has produced successful television drama for BBC and ITV, among others.

As director of graduate studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, Ms. Gordon, who is a graduate of New York University, led a program in practical creative producing as well as screenwriting, script development, production management and global film finance. As an associate arts professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia from 2009 to 2012, she chaired the graduate international media producing program in Singapore.

“Gillian’s qualifications were stunning, but what especially impressed those of us on the search committee was the way she quickly began inspiring us with her new, fresh ideas both for fundraising and for the Cinema itself,” said April Gornik, head of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center Board.

“Her profound knowledge of and active participation in film and filmmaking,” she continued, “and her devotion to education and insistence on participation for every age group and cultural background in the Cinema, were determining factors in her hiring. We were entirely won over by her dynamism.”

While Ms. Gordon’s resume is global, her roots are quite local. Her father was World War II veteran Ernest Gordon, the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Amagansett, where the family settled after moving to the South Fork from Scotland. The Gordon family left Amagansett, although retaining their home there, when Mr. Gordon became the dean of the chapel at Princeton University. Ms. Gordon currently owns a house in Springs, where she will live full time when she takes her position leading the Sag Harbor Cinema this summer.

“I think it is more than just a cinema and that is what is so exciting about it,” Ms. Gordon said in an interview this week from London. “It is a shopfront, and a beautiful one at that, for all kinds of films and activities from screenings of what I like to call ‘smart house’ films like ‘The Favourite’ to films that are being distributed in first-run houses; and then we want to have retrospectives and themed and genre-based films, but I can also imagine events like a ‘Star Wars’ weekend. We want to look at all genres and there is a huge opportunity there. If you are crazy about horror films, we are going to have horror films, we are going to have fright nights. We will have films and programming for kids, sometimes old stuff, maybe your favorite films from childhood.”

Ms. Gordon said the Cinema will also look to innovate and educate — experimenting with virtual reality experiences, special events and opportunities to introduce the art of filmmaking to area youth. With a café planned in the cinema space, she added she also hopes for the space to become a gathering point for whole community.

“Most importantly, to me, above the diversity of programming and really looking for an all-ages audience, we want to have a strong educational presence,” Ms. Gordon said. “I have been involved in charities and working with kids in film. Teaching digital, for even the most complicated kid, it can ignite something in them.”

Ms. Gordon will officially begin work July 1 but is hoping to arrive in Sag Harbor in June.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to work in what I love doing more than anything else in the world,” she said. “And I am incredibly impressed by the board [of the cinema]. I think what they have done is an absolute miracle.”