IN Pictures, the Manhattan-based producer's rep and sales organization, will announce at Sundance an alliance with BMG Video North America that will allow it to branch into North American theatrical distribution of independent films.
BMG, which already has staked a claim in the home-video marketplace with a series of exercise and children's tapes, will advance acquisition funds and P&A costs to IN Pictures for 12 to 24 films over a two-year period. Under the deal, IN Pictures will then use its relationships with established distributors to strike P&A deals for the films or will release the films themselves. BMG will retain U.S. home video and soundtrack rights to the titles.
IN Pictures President Jamie Ader-Brown comments, "With the consolidation now sweeping through the distribution of specialized films in the U.S., there is a serious need for a new distribution outlet like the IN Pictures/BMG Video alliance that will provide substantial financing and specialized handling of new films and filmmakers."
The first film to be acquired by the IN Pictures/BMG Video alliance is Richard Schenkman's romantic comedy The Pompatus of Love. (Think of the Steve Miller Band and you'll get the title.) The company is also expected to announce a release of Nick Broomfield's HBO film Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam. Previously, IN Pictures has worked on such pictures as Federal Hill, Claire of the Moon and Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer.
IN Pictures begins its foray into distribution as it continues to work with Boxer Capital Management to raise a production fund to produce a slate of films.
A recent survey conducted by Kodak of its production customers seems to indicate that Super-16 is gaining increased popularity with filmmakers. Kodak plans to begin filling orders for 16mm Camera Negative Film with Single Perf (1R) product unless Double Perf (2R) is specifically requested. This change is due to the fact that Double Perf cannot be used for Super-16, yet Single Perf is compatible with both 16 & Super-16. Clearly this is good news for Super- 16 DPs as the 1R inventory will be increased.
Camera manufacturers, laboratories and post-production facilities were contacted by Kodak to determine if they could identify any situations where Single Perf film would cause problems for customers with their equipment. According to N.Y. Kodak executives Robert Mastronardi and Michael Brown, all indicated that except in special cases such as high-speed, time-lapse and animation photography, there would be no identifiable difficulties observed in film performance. Filmmaker magazine encourages readers to fax comments and suggestions regarding this transition to (212) 631-3470 Attn: Bob Mastronardi. [Publishers Note: See "Superior 16? A Wide Angle on Super-16" - Filmmaker, Winter 93/94, Vol. 2, #2.]
Catherine Tait, the IFP's Executive Director, recently announced the appointment of two new staff members. Mary Davies, formerly Director of Theatrical Film Sales at England's Jane Balfour Films, is the new director of the Independent Feature Film Market, and Ellen Cotler, formerly Director of Business Operations at Triton Pictures, has been hired as Corporate Relations director.
"Mary's broad international experience and knowledge of the sales environment for independent films make her perfectly suited to grow the IFP Market," commented Tait. "Similarly, Ellen's background in independent distribution gives her a first-hand understanding of the issues facing industry supporters."
"I've always been completely knocked out by the enthusiasm of the filmmakers attending the IFFM," said Davies. "And while I've attended the Market in the past as a buyer, I've been looking for films to sell, films that can have a place in the international market." Davies says that while the IFFM will continue to provide a forum for "exciting discoveries - films that no one else has seen yet," the IFFM will continue to develop programs like this year's "No Borders" which seek to hook up American filmmakers with projects in development, financiers and distributors with their international counterparts. Davies plans to use her ties with European buyers to encourage them to come to the Market. "I want to keep a dialogue going with Europe and the rest of the world," she says. "The IFFM is a real resource for buyers. U.S. independent filmmakers are a phenomenal pool of talent."
This Winter, as the birds fly south, so do the film festivals. The Tenth Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival took to the air this year to present, in cooperation with Carnival Air Lines, their "Festival in the Skies." From November 3 to 7, Sergio M. Castilla's family comedy The Girl in the Watermelon was shown on scheduled Carnival flights to Ft. Lauderdale. On the suggestion of Carnival's promotion person Gabriel Gabor, the festival's executive director Gregory von Rauch secured Castilla's film at the Montreal World Film Festival. "The film," according to Castilla, "was at the end of its festival run, so I [was] glad to keep it going." After voluntarily cutting out three scenes that might be unsuitable for airline viewing, Castilla joined von Rauch, Carnival Airline executives, a bevy of press and filmmakers, as well as the airline's usual pre-cruise customers, this past November for an in-flight ceremony of speeches, film-cutting, free champagne and the film's premiere at 30,000 feet. Never short on ceremony, the festival has created a new venue for independent film which guarantees few walk outs.
The Independent Feature Project is looking for interesting short films to screen in conjunction with its features and documentaries at Independents Night, the IFP and Film Society of Lincoln Center's joint screening series. To submit a film, send a VHS tape with a cover letter, bio, and SASE to Independents Night, c/o IFP, 104 West. 29th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10001.
Well, you know, I don't want to move to Los Angeles," was the line of choice at New York indie film cocktail parties this past fall. It seemed like whoever you asked about the search for a new president of Fox Searchlight following Tom Rothman's move over to production head at Fox issued the same coy response. Was everyone on some giant headhunting list? Of course not, but the several weeks it took to name a replacement allowed everyone to play would-be studio exec for a day. Finally, after verifiable names like producers James Schamus and Robert Newman, as well as ICM agent Bart Walker, appeared on the horizon, the job went to Lindsay Law, long rumored for the post. With Law's flight west comes the definitive demise of Playhouse International Pictures, the production outfit created from the remnants of American Playhouse. Playhouse Pictures had a deal at the financially-strapped Goldwyn and its first batch of pics, including Alan Taylor's Venice-prize winner Palookaville, Mary Herron's I Shot Andy Warhol and Philip Haas' Angels and Insects, await release.
Four Minnesota filmmakers received a total of $75,000, in addition to free film stock and lab services for their next film, by way of the Minnesota Blockbuster Film Fund, a program created by the Minnesota Film Board and administered by the IFP/North with funds from Blockbuster Video. The winners were Blue Kraning's Tooth and Nail, Paul Zehrer's The Threshold, Julia Rask's Blue Earth and Wendell Jon Andersson's With or Without You. Recipients are either Minnesota or former Minnesota residents and received the funds towards the development of their projects. Applications for the second year of the Minnesota Blockbuster Film Fund must be submitted by May 1, 1996. Contact the fund via the IFP/North, 401 North Third St., Suite 450, Minneapolis, MN 55401. Tel: (612) 338-0871; Fax: (612) 338-4747.
The IFP/West continues its 1995-96 producer series on January 10 with a seminar entitled "Working within the System," which will focus on the mechanics of studio financing. "Legal and Business Options, Contracts, and Deal Points" will be discussed on February 7 and April 24's seminar will cover "Markets and Festivals." VIP passes for the series are still available at $110 for IFP/West members and $195 for non-members. Individual events are $25 for members and $45 for non-members. Also upcoming at the IFP/West is a month-long series of seminars on the business of writing. "A third of our membership are writers who may not want to direct. This program is designed to help them negotiate their options and agreements as well as protect their creative rights," comments IFP/West executive director Dawn Hudson. The program runs on four Saturday afternoons: March 2, 9, 16 and 30. And finally, John Pierson will read from his book and discuss independent film on February 15. For locations and more information, contact the IFP/West at (310) 392-8832.
Film Forum is New York's first independent cinema to go on-line with a new World Wide Web site they say will be updated daily. Featuring calendar text as well as photos, reviews, interviews with directors and other items associated with their programming, the site can be reached at http://www.filmforum.com.