By Indiewire | Indiewire April 27, 1999 at 2:00AM
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
With the rise of IndieWood, there are fewer and fewer theatrical outlets for
feature films by emerging filmmakers. While some would legitimately argue
that there is an increasing lack of quality "distributable" movies being made by
first-timers, the bar is constantly being raised and even work by younger
filmmakers that has some merit and could attract a limited audience is often
not making it to the local arthouse.
Increasingly, first-timers seeking a traditional theatrical release are setting
their sites on smaller companies that can facilitate getting their movie into
theaters -- looking beyond Miramax at smaller distributors who are sometimes
their best bet. Looking for an example? Consider Art Jones and his film, "Going
Nomad" -- the movie has just been acquired by The Cinema Guild and will be
released this fall.
Three years in the script stage, the "Going Nomad" was shot over the course
of a year, and financed through the filmmaker's work on industrial films. A
print of the film, which stars Damian Young ("Amateur," "Simple Men"), and
Victor Argo ("Next Stop Wonderland," "Smoke") and features the work of DP
John Inwood ("The Daytrippers," "Six Ways to Sunday"), was stuck one year
ago and the movie debuted at a festival in Providence.
After screening at the "Dances with Films" festival in Los Angeles, the movie
was propelled by a review in Variety (penned by indieWIRE critic Danny Lorber),
while spotlights in the New York Times and on BBC News helped as well. Last
summer, Bob Balaban turned Hampton's Film Festival programmer David
Schwartz onto the movie and it was on the road to a run at the October
festival -- it also screened in Palm Springs and San Jose's Cinequest.
Over the last few months, Jones began to weigh his theatrical options. "We
knew early on that we were not destined for Miramax or Fine Line," Jones told
me by email yesterday, "Nomad" will not, nor was it intended to, play multiplexes
or the Big Indie circuit." The message offered a unique window into the tough
decisions filmmakers are forced to make when the "Big Indie circuit" is not an
"In the end, distribution for the small indie picture is not really about a
'deal' or big money. If you're lucky, your film plays a few screens in key
markets throughout the country. And you've got to fight to achieve even that,"
Jones continued, "For me, your film is your child, and 'Nomad' is my baby. So
it's not about getting a distributor, it's about finding good adoptive parents.
'Are you going to take good care of my boy here?' becomes the question."
Jones turned to established doc distributors The Cinema Guild, who recently
launched a division for fiction features -- the company has recently released
"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" and "SlamNation." According to the
filmmakers, the company intends to release the movie in NYC this fall and then
take the film to other cities, as well as colleges and then video and TV. Sandy
Mandelberger is on board to handle foreign sales.
Jones, who spoke with friends about their experiences dealing with distributors
before deciding to go with the distributor explained, "My decision to go with
The Cinema Guild came down to 'integrity' -- a really strange consideration in
the film world -- because I've experienced the run-around with distributors,
it's like a string of really bad blind dates. Within that mix, you appreciate
those who shoot straight. From the start, the Cinema Guild dealt with respect
and an even hand. They have a clear vision for the film. They're open to my
desire to stay active in "Nomad's" marketing. Good adoptive parents I'd say."
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