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Distributor Profile: Variance Films

Variance Films' "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench" [Image courtesy of Variance Films]

All information published in the indieWIRE Distributor Profiles is provided by the individual company.

Company History
Founded in 2008 by former THINKFilm and ImaginAsian executive Dylan Marchetti, Variance Films was borne out of the idea that the then-current system for releasing independent films was broken. Since then, using a DIWO (Doing It With Others) ethos, Variance has strived to bridge the gap between self-releasing and traditional-style service deals, jettisoning what doesn't work (ridiculous fees, massive P&A budgets and reliance on traditional advertising) and embracing what does (grassroots marketing, heavy use of crowd-sourcing and social networks, unorthodox release plans and new distribution technologies) to get quality films into theaters at reasonable budgets while leaving all rights in full control of the filmmakers.

Variance offers both full-service distribution as well as a variety of consulting services, including theater booking and collections, grassroots marketing planning and execution and general consultation for filmmakers planning to do it themselves.

Since 2008, Variance has released or consulted on more than 20 films encompassing a variety of genres including documentary, narrative and foreign films, including films from acclaimed directors such as Stanley Tucci and Victor Nunez. A "filmmaker first" company, Variance differs from the traditional service deal companies in that it has an aggressive acquisitions staff and presence at festivals, and only works on films we believe have a strong chance in succeeding theatrically.


Company Focus

Types of films in distributor’s slate:
We release a wide variety of films, but the consistent thread throughout our slate is that the films we release would be difficult for a more traditional distributor to take on. We have a strong reputation in the documentary field, but frequently release narrative and foreign films as well.

Advice for filmmakers:
The saying is buyer beware, but in this market, it's seller beware. There are some wonderful people in this industry who will do right by you, but at the same time, there is clearly no shortage of distributors and "consultants" who are looking to part you with your rights, money, or both. Thankfully, the independent film community is full of very smart, very open filmmakers who have done this before. Talk to them. Don't just take a reference sheet from someone when checking up on someone, spend a day or two doing your homework and talk to people they've worked with whose films haven't worked as well. The hallmark of a good distributor is when they can point you to someone for whom they didn't make a lot of money but still has good things to say about them.

Quick Stats

Who handles acquisitions:
Dylan Marchetti oversees acquistions, along with Kristen Osborne and other team members.

Number of films released theatrically each year:
We release approximately 6-8 films per year. We're very conscious about not taking on too many films at a time, as each one needs individual attention.

Distribution platforms other than theatrical:
We solely handle theatrical releasing. The main tenet of our company is to leave all ancillary rights in the hands of the filmmakers. However, we have extensive relationships with wonderful people in the DVD/VOD/TV/international sales spaces, and we are always happy to make introductions, and as part of our code of ethics, we do not take any commission or kickback if we do.

Number of films released exclusively via VOD/DVD or "alternative" means of release:
Several. We don't have a specific model for our films. Each is far too different. Some films are right for day-and-date VOD, some are right for traditional windows, and many fall in between.

Number of films acquired at festivals:
The majority of our films are films we see at a festival, though due to the non-traditional nature of our deals, we often acquire after the festival is over.

Festivals where distributor has acquired films in the last two years:
SXSW, Berlin, Toronto, and Full Frame come to mind, though we attend all film markets and several additional festivals.

[For more information, visit the company's website.]

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