Seattle Office of Film + Music

October 8, 2009, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Film | Tags: , ,

Though long expected, Disney’s announcement Friday that it will scale back Miramax was just more downer news for the already browbeaten indie film community. The larger studio will now handle “certain marketing, distribution, operations and administrative support functions from its Burbank headquarters,” Disney said. That translates to an almost 75% reduction in staff to just 20 remaining execs. On the whole, the shrinking indie slots at studios spell ongoing tough times for filmmakers. Some are already crying doom over what the Miramax cuts will mean for acquisitions at Sundance in January. Despite the fact that the label made very few pickups in recent years, the notion that just one more possible buyer was taken off the field is cause for a full indie orange alert. Some say the indies are already on red alert. One sales agent reported that U.S. distribs can now play hardball when it comes to paying filmmakers and sellers. “People are behaving really badly. They’re basically saying, ‘We’ll pay you whenever we want to pay you, no matter what the contract says,’ ” the seller lamented. “There were 20 places to distribute your film before, and now there are 10.”

August 31, 2009, 12:39 pm
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Hollywood Reporter
The indie film business is struggling. For many, the problem in the indie world these past few years, particularly at the higher end of the budget spectrum, is that financiers simply took on projects that the studios cast off. With small nips and tucks to the budgets, producers then went ahead and made the same projects, only without distribution or the financial cushion that a studio might have provided. In other words, the “Burning Plain” model, in which dramas with big names are independently financed at a budget as high as $20 million, is all but dead. In its place is something both bigger and, in some ways, less indie. Movies with budgets in a higher range can still be financed outside the system and seek distribution after they’re made, but they must be made in a far more commercial vein. Festival dramas can still be made and perform well, of course. They just need to be made on tighter budgets. For both distributors and producers, that might be the biggest guiding principle in the current indie climate: Make a more commercial movie. And whether you’re producing or distributing, spend less.

Indie Biz Struggles, but Startups Bloom
June 26, 2009, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Film | Tags: ,

Hollywood Reporter
Boldness is increasingly common among a segment of the otherwise-depressed indie-distributor world, where unlikely players with unorthodox attitudes suddenly are filling the landscape.Execs from gay-oriented media company Here! are getting into the foreign-film business. National Geographic, best known for eat-your-vegetables nature documentaries, is snatching up Sundance dramas for theatrical release, as it did with Cherien Dabis’ immigrant-themed crowd-pleaser “Amreeka.” Traditional players, meanwhile, are furiously trying to reinvent themselves and come up with new ideas. Case in point: Ira Deutchman and his Emerging Pictures aims to outfit art house theaters with digital projectors that will allow exhibitors to break the rigid and expensive 35mm model. Together, they form what might be called the new indie coterie, a mixture of savvy veterans and eager newcomers who see opportunity in a specialty world where studios only have seen losses. For more on this story, follow the link