Slamdance Moves into Distribution with Two Films; Partners with Ventura for Home Entertainment Releases
by Brian Brooks
Extending the Slamdance name into distribution and talent-management, the organization's president and co-founder, Peter Baxter, has teamed with film and television producer/talent-manager Robert Schwartz and Cleveland businessman George Ketvertis to launch the Slamdance Media Group. Additionally, the new company has reached a deal with Ventura Entertainment to sell products under a new branded Slamdance label.
Slamdance On the Road, the name of the new theatrical distribution unit of the new company, has entered agreement with the ArcLight Cinemas as the sole exhibitor of the company's new titles in Los Angeles. Two films have been slated for U.S. theatrical release this year including "Faster" by Mark Neale, a doc examing the world of grand-prix motorcycle racing, as well as Slamdance grand-jury prize winner (2000) "Better Housekeeping." The film, directed by Frank Novak and the only U.S. film that screened in that year's Critic's Week at Cannes, is described by Slamdance as a "cutting-edge drama with a satirical streak" that was originally to have distribution by Shooting Gallery, until the company shuttered in 2001.
"First, we grew from a festival into a year-round operation, and now we are continuing to support truly independent filmmakers with a commercial enterprise that brings them just financial reward," commented Baxter in a statement. The Slamdance Media Group will function independently from the Slamdance Film Festival as a for-profit operation with Schwartz as chairman and co-CEO, Baxter as president and co-CEO, and Ketvertis as EVP for strategic planning and business development. Baxter will maintain his position as president of Slamdance, Inc., but a search is currently underway to find a new director for the annual festival in Park City.
Named after the festival's signature three-continent tours of its prize-winners (now called Best of Slamdance), Slamdance On the Road offers a unique package for filmmakers. The company will guarantee release in 10 domestic markets as well as a fixed percentage of the company's share of box-office gross, what the company terms a "flat-fee royalty."
"Financially, filmmakers will know up-front what they are getting, and will be partners in the marketing of their movies," commented Baxter. "We will be looking beyond traditional concepts in our approach to marketing, taking examples from the kind of street marketing that has served our festival so well."
Ventura Entertainment, a division of Ventura Distribution, will create a new branded label to distribute Slamdance Media Group titles for home entertainment. Ventura will also have the opportunity to release its video products to Slamdance Media Group for theatrical release. Founded 10 years ago, Ventura Entertainment operates in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. providing sales, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution for independent studios and producers in addition to distributing programming on its in-house labels. The Slamdance Film Festival began in Park City, Utah, in 1995 to showcase undistributed films by emerging filmmakers. Directors Christopher Nolan ("Memento") and Mark Forster ("Monster's Ball") have been among the festival's "discovery" talents.