More change recently hit the indie biz with two key departures at IndiePix. Ryan Harrington, who joined the company last summer to spearhead the newly launched IndiePix Studios, the production and filmmaker relations arm of the online consumer film website, left in what he described as an "amicable parting." The company's documentary acquisitions point person, Danielle DiGiacomo, also announced her exit in an email to industry colleagues last month, saying, "after four-plus wonderful years at IndiePix," she had decided to "pursue other exciting ventures."
Harrington, who joined the company after working at A&E Indie Films and the Tribeca Film Institute's Gucci Fund, said he was not authorized to speak about rumors that have swirled among some filmmakers and groups that have worked with IndiePix. indieWIRE had received word of an alleged communication breakdown and delayed payments to filmmakers. Emails have circulated among insiders and numerous individuals have contacted indieWIRE to express concern about the financial well-being of the company, but when pressed for details none would speak on the record or provide additional insight.
Yesterday, indieWIRE spoke with IndiePix head Bob Alexander about the changes at the company and its future as well as rumors of a breakdown in communication and payments to its filmmakers. "It is of course a problem, the filmmakers need to get paid, so we're trying to figure that out," said Alexander adding that, as per its agreements with filmmakers, IndiePix can only pay when they're paid by their customers. "We've set up [a system] for each individual filmmaker showing each unit transaction for each project. It's a highly transparent system that perhaps we haven't successfully communicated to everyone that [it's available]."
With the departure of Harrington and DiGiacomo, Alexander said its IndiePix Studios venture will continue, with himself and director of acquisitions Jason Tyrrell and COO Sally Ploured pursuing new projects. "We do have a significant new project to be announced, most likely in August, [and] we may have one or two others," added Alexander. "We're positioned for a substantial step forward in the second half of this year - we're expecting a significant uptick." Alexander said IndiePix will continue its sponsorship next year of the annual Cinema Eye Honors as part of a three year agreement with the event which recognizes documentary achievement.
Harrington simply stated that he was proud of the films and filmmakers he worked with during his nine month tenure at the company. "The films I produced at IndiePix are near and dear to me, and I continue to work with them serving on a consultancy basis with IndiePix," Harrington told indieWIRE. "I'm looking forward to pursuing my other interests in documentary, but I will continue to shepheard these films until they have homes."
IndiePix unveiled an ambitious slate last summer with $700,000 in funding. The films included Paola Mendoza and Gloria Lamorte's "Entre Nos" and Gabriel Noble and Marjan Tehrani's doc "P Star Rising" as well as Samantha Buck's verite documentary "21 Below." "Entre Nos" and "P Star Rising" debuted at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, while "21 Below" premiered at Hot Docs and the recent SilverDocs documentary film festivals. The three films are in the middle of acquisition deals, according to Harrington.
Also on the original slate was Nicole Quinn's "Slap and Tickle," which eventually fell through. Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern's doc "The End of America" premiered on SnagFilms last fall and is currently available on DVD. Also in the original line up was Kristi Jacobson's "Toots," which was released in the fall in a limited theatrical opener by IndiePix, which Harrington described as "successful."
"I'm extrememly proud of the job I was hired to do," added Harrington. "The films I had the pleasure of working on are on their way to having bigger success stories in the near future."
Assuring that the company's model is solid and that the company continues to grow, Bob Alexander said the company has solid footing despite the general economic downturn. "We had a vast expansion of our sales in 2008, and we've already matched those sales in the first six months of 2009. We believe our business is terrific, though it's perhaps strange in this climate that our business would be this strong."