By Indiewire | Indiewire September 26, 2000 at 2:00AM
DAILY NEWS: IFC Duo Discuss Plans for New Label; Reacting to AtomFilms/VW Deal; and a News Update
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> UPDATE: IFC Films Steers Clear of Miramax in Charting its Course; Company to Launch in Theaters Later This Year
(indieWIRE/ 9.26.00) -- There was a time when a new theatrical distribution
company would launch aiming to be the new Miramax. Remember Stratosphere Entertainment? Well, such was not the case yesterday when the Independent Film Channel finally unveiled its plans for a distribution outfit.
For about three years now IFC's Jonathan Sehring has been talking about
launching a theatrical distribution arm at The Independent Film Channel.
This year the move made sense and yesterday the company made the long
anticipated announcement -- in a conversation with indieWIRE, the principles
talked about their plans.
"We have no aspirations of becoming the next Miramax," IFC Entertainment
President Jonathan Sehring told indieWIRE plainly yesterday.
The company plans to release up to a dozen movies per year, kicking off
later this year. While the outfit is saving the official announcement of
its slate for the coming weeks, it has been widely known in indie circles
that one of the first releases would be Tom Gilroy's acclaimed
writing/directing debut, "Spring Forward."
Sehring would not comment on the company slate, but indicated that he nabbed
a film in Toronto for the label. Among other films widely rumored to be
released by IFC Films are Brad Anderson's "Happy Accidents" (which initially had a deal with Paramount Classics) and Jim McKay's "Our Song," two movies that were financed by IFC.
However, don't expect the IFC slate to be overloaded with company-financed
films, Sehring warned. "I don't want to be releasing all of our own films,"
Sehring explained, "The only reason we would do that is if the deals are not
Dubbed IFC Films, the label will be under the newly christened IFC
Entertainment umbrella. Sehring continues to report to Bravo Networks/IFC
President Kathleen Dore. Joining the company as IFC Films Senior VP of
Marketing and Distribution is veteran Bob Berney.
Berney, most recently of Inwood Films, handled Good Machine's release of
"Happiness" after October Films dropped the movie. He has worked at a number of indie distributors, including Banner Entertainment, Orion, Triton and FilmDallas.
So, now is the time, according to Sehring, given IFC's Clearview Cinema
chain and, the executive added, "I do honestly believe that there is an
abyss in terms of well-funded distributors releasing small films." He cited
Sony Pictures Classics as the other distribution outfit with a similar
"Lately, its been really tiny releases or really big releases," commented
Berney, in a separted conversation, reflecting on the current marketplace.
He added that the IFC's promotional outlets, whether on-air or on the
Internet, gives this company a leg up. "[There has] been a gap in mid-level
releases or aggressive small releases." [Eugene Hernandez]
[DISCLOSURE: Eugene Hernandez is the Editor-in-Chief of ifcRANT, a
co-venture between the Independent Film Channel and indieWIRE LLC.]
>> IN RESPONSE TO: AtomFilms and VW Open Doors For Makers of Online Film...and They Take a Road Trip
re; "it all means more money coming back to the filmmakers", by featuring
shorts on VW's website.
What it ALSO means is that, like so much else in our
soon-to-be-completely-corporately-sponsored society, these short films have
little value other than as ads.
I'm all for people seeing new work, and for filmmakers getting paid, but
let's drop this 'it's all good' kind of moronic self-delusion and actually
own up to what we're talking about here; ads for Volkswagen. It's not
'synergy'; it's not 'broad-based entertainment'; it's not' a new confluence
of art and marketing'; it's advertising, and advertising is not art. Absolut
Warhol is not art; it's an ad for Vodka. The more we kid ourselves that the
two can be the same, the more we lower the standards for what passes as
culture. And culture is what's important, not sales.
AND I'd like to see the percentage of money that actually goes back to the
filmmakers, relative to how much goes into the CORPORATE coffers of
AtomFilms. And in this wonderfully synergistic modern marriage of art and
commerce, where 'everyone' benefits, what about the crews that worked for
nothing to help this filmmaker 'pursue his/her artistic vision'? What does
their 'spirit of indipendent filmaking' earn THEM from VW? If VW wanted to
go out and produce a 'real' ad, they'd have to pay all those crew members
union wages, which I'm willing to bet they didn't get for 'helping out'
their friend from film school.
Does it still seem 'all good'?
How about if a short film dealt with VW's colluision with the Nazi's? Or
their unfair labor practices in any country other than Germany? How would
that filmmaker's 'voice' be welcomed? Do you think you'd be seeing those
independent spirited films on VW's website?
Still seem 'all good'?
Let's stop bullshitting each other; when we use euphemistic language as a
screen to hide what we're really doing, we're like a bunch of Willy Lomans,
and Death Of A Salesman was 50 years ago. Are we really that much like our
grandparents? Have we really not progressed at all? Are nose rings,
skateboard clothes, and tattoos just the business suit of our era? It sure
looks like it.
How 'rad' are we? Think about it.
[EDITORS NOTE: Tom Gilroy is a writer, director and actor based in Brooklyn,
NY. He is the writer/director of "Spring Forward."]