DAILY NEWS: AtomShockwave Slashes Staff; Code Red's "La Cienaga"
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> Atom Shocker: Major Staff Cuts as
(indieWIRE/06.04.01) -- Just two months after announcing its official
"relaunch" as AtomShockwave Corp., the company that was created by the
merger of AtomFilms and shockwave.com in December has made deep staff
cuts. A company spokesperson, one of the many who will be leaving
AtomShockwave, spoke with indieWIRE about the restructuring.
AtomShockwave had a staff of approximately 180 last week, after cuts
and restructuring it will maintain about 50 employees. Cut employees
will be eligible to reapply for about 30 positions that will be filled
as part of the reorganization.
Offices in New York and Los Angeles will be closed, according to
spokesperson Carrie Morris, with the fate of the London office currently
being evaluated. The company is set to remain anchored in San Francisco.
"This is consistent with what we are seeing in the industry, it is
primariy due to the industry and the climate," Morris told indieWIRE,
reinforcing that the company is not shutting down, but that it will
be focusing on its "core strengths."
"We will be significantly de-emphasizing acquisitions and content
creation," Morris said. She added that AtomShockwave will remain
committed to content distribution, ad sponsorships and syndication.
While AtomFilms was an active part of the filmmaking community prior
to its merger with shockwave.com, the role of AtomShockwave and its
visibility certainly shifted over the past six months. It assumed a
lower profile from its early days when Salmi and Atom staffers would
pound the pavement at festivals and markets, hoping to add filmmakers'
shorts to their growing library.
"There are not going to be any changes in our comittment to the
filmmakers," Morris told indieWIRE. "How we treat the filmmakers
from a business standpoint, that remains a huge focal point."
AtomShockwave's layoffs are the latest in a continuing downsizing
within the online entertainment sector. While IFILM remains a major
player with a large staff, other sites have either scaled back
considerably or changed direction. MediaTrip.com cut back its staff
significantly, but will not respond to inquiries about its direction,
while Hypnotic.com recently laid off a handful of employees. Other
sites -- Pop.com, Z.com, and Pseudo.com, among them -- did not
survive a difficult 2000 and were forced to shut down.
In December, AtomFilms and shockwave.com announced their intention
to merge operations with 30% staff cuts. The deal closed in mid-January.
In late March, AtomShockwave trumpeted a $22.9 million round of financing
and a reformed board of directors, including Rob Burgess of Macromedia
as Chairman and Mika Salmi, founder of AtomFilms and CEO of AtomShockwave. Salmi announced the cutbacks to the staff during an internal meeting
on Friday morning.
AtomShockwave had projected profitability by the end of this year, when
it announced its relaunch in March, a schedule that clearly would have
been tough to meet given the overhead and costs of running AtomShockwave
in its previous incarnation. "Mass reducation was a really smart business
move on Mika's part," concluded Morris. [Eugene Hernandez]
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>> Code Red Gets Martel's "La Cienaga"
(indieWIRE/06.04.01) -- Code Red, the venture formed by Cowboy Booking and Antidote Films, has acquired the North American rights to Lucrecia Martel's "La Cienaga." The movie, which was a hit at the Berlin Film Festival, will be released this fall by Cowboy, opening at Film Forum in New York City on October 3rd. The outfit recently signed another Berlin Fest Film, Catherine Breillat's "Fat Girl."
Described in an announcement as "a dark comedy," Lucrecia Martel's "La
Cienaga" was a recipient of the NHK International Filmmaker Award at the
1998 Sundance Lab.
"After seeing the lackluster lineup at this year's Cannes Film Festival,"
commented Cowboy's Co-President John Vanco in a prepared statement, "we're
quite confident that 'La Cineaga' and Catherine Breillat's 'Fat Girl', which
were our two favorite films from the Berlin Film Festival, will end up being
two of the finest and most important art films set for U.S. release this
fall." Cowboy Co-President added, "Lucrecia Martel is the single most
important talent to emerge out of Latin America in years. Her film is
gorgeous to look at, is laugh-out-loud funny and carries a subtle political
Among other Code Red acquisitions are David Gordon Green's "George
Washington," Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Cure," Tony Gatliff's "Vengo," and James Bogle's "In the Winter Dark." [Eugene Hernandez]