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IFP Takes on B-Side’s ‘Festival Genius’

IFP Takes on B-Side's 'Festival Genius'

UPDATED AT 7:42 PM, ET — Festival Genius, a major initiative of recently shuttered B-Side has found a new home with IFP.

The New York-based independent film advocacy group is teaming with NYC-based company Slated, which recently acquired B-Side’s intellectual property, and has licensed B-Side’s Festival Genius product to IFP. Former B-Side execs, including Chris Hyams, have joined Slated, and other former B-Siders have joined IFP. Slated will take over B-Side’s business of providing market research services to independent film producers and distributors and plans are in the works to roll out new products and services later this year, according to the company.

Festival Genius provides infrastructure to support film festivals and filmmakers through various areas, including an online program guide that it hosted spotlighting 200 international film festivals, relaying moviegoer feedback on 40,000 feature films from an audience totalling over 3 million annual visitors, while compiling a registered membership of 200,000 film fans.

Joana Vicente, the new head of IFP, told indieWIRE Thursday evening that the organization had been looking to work with B-Side prior to its closure and connected with them through William Morris Endeavor’s Liesl Copland who negotiated the deal on behalf of Duncan Cork of Slated. The pact came together in the last four weeks, she added.

IFP will take on the operations of the online film festival program guides and plans to expand its reach, while – it says – maintaining minimal cost. IFP will continue the former B-Side’s policy of sharing Festival Genius audience data with the festivals themselves, and plans to also share that data with IFP members.

Fformer B-Side festival partners, including the Sundance Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Austin Film Festival, Independent Film Festival of Boston, Newport Beach Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, and NewFest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival have committed to using Festival Genius again this year at its new home, according to the announcement.

Vicente said that she would like to expand the reach of Festival Genius and IFP to a worldwide audience. Currently, the program is weighted toward U.S. festivals. She also noted that Festival Genius is a “perfect fit” for IFP since it had been operated at low cost at its former B-Side home, so it fit their non-profit model.

“This is a game changer for IFP and our mission,” commented IFP executive director Joana Vicente in a statement. “Festival Genius is an essential service for the independent film-making community – for festivals, film-lovers and filmmakers. IFP has always been the place where filmmakers, the film industry and audiences intersect. This partnership is an exciting step forward in our mission, in that it literally places IFP where audiences interact with filmmakers on the web. We now have the potential to reach all of Festival Genius’s 200,000 film fans worldwide. These fans will be offered a one-year free IFP membership and we will host a network of sites that is in contact with 3 million independent film-goers a year. We are confident this is a tremendous growth opportunity for IFP and that we are uniquely situated to expand the potential of the Festival Genius platform.”

B-Side founder Chris Hyman told indieWIRE Thursday that after it became apparent the former company would close, it was high priority to find new homes for films that lived with B-Side on the distribution side. Meanwhile, on the technology side, he aimed to figure out a good match for the work the group had developed with festivals over the previous five years.

“We wanted to find the right organization that had a track record of working with festivals, which aren’t organizations like any other company. We also wanted Festival Genius to have as permanent a home as possible,” he said, continuing, “Actually, we were surprised by the level of interest, which was nice quite frankly – there were a lot of companies that were interested. IFP had reached out to us before going out of business and they were the first people we spoke with that [fully understood and appreciated] the keys to this technology and what it’s all about.”

About the newly formed Slated, for which Hyams is now working, the former B-Sider said the company has a range of ideas and initiatives that it’s currently formulating and is not ready to disclose the scope of its future operation – only saying it will be comprehensive.

“We’ll be talking more in the coming months about what we’re doing,” Hyams added.

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