B-Side Founder & CEO Chris Hyams, in a blog post this morning, announced that the Austin-based distributor, marketing and festival scheduler is closing effective March 1. Rumors were swirling in recent weeks indicating that investors were pulling the plug on the company, founded in 2005, and staff had been pared down.
"On behalf of the entire B-Side team, I am sad to announce that after 5 years in business B-Side is closing its doors on March 1," Hyams said via his blog posted today (February 22). "The timing is especially disappointing, as the past year has been our best ever. In 2009, we opened our New York office and launched a new distribution business, successfully releasing 8 films. We grew to 220 film festival partners worldwide and started off 2010 with our widely praised Sundance collaboration."
Hyams said the continued economic climate had put pressure on the business which had increasingly raised its profile throughout the indie community over the last year, after financial backing had been pulled. "Unfortunately, in the face of the lingering economic crisis and ongoing upheaval in the film business, our investors decided to stop funding the company. Under extreme time pressure, we were unable to secure alternate financing, and are left with no choice other than to shut down."
B-Side launched a distribution platform just over a year ago, but lost its funding this past November, dealing a severe blow to its future prospects. "[Valhalla Partners] had invested $2.5 million but in November, 2009 declined their option to continue financing the company," Filmmaker Magazine reported in an article published today, citing a conversation with B-Side's President of Distribution, Paola Freccero (who joined the company last year from the Tribeca Film Festival). The piece includes a history of the company's various endeavors in its five years of business. "The VC world is one that looks for astronomical success in short amount of time," Freccero told Filmmaker, "but the film business has never been about quick success. It's about who can stay in the business long enough to become profitable..."
"Our immediate focus is winding down the business with as much care and effort as we put into building it," said Hyams in his blog post today. "We are working with our filmmakers to find the best possible homes for their films. We are working with our festival partners to ensure a smooth transition from the B-Side platform. And we are actively seeking the right partner to acquire our Festival Genius technology in the hope that it will continue to connect festival audiences around the world."
Touching on the personal about today's news, Hyams added, "I am sad to have reached the end of this chapter, but am incredibly proud of what we've achieved. I am confident that our efforts will have a lasting impact on this business. I am also confident that the B-Side team will bring their experience to new ventures that will pick up where B-Side is leaving off."