Twin brothers (and former punk bandmates) Dan and Josh Braun haven't just been stalwarts of the indie film scene for over a decade. Their company Submarine Entertainment, founded in 2001, is exemplary in adapting and evolving along with the industry. Beyond handling sales for major fest titles like "Searching for Sugar Man," "Food, Inc." and "Your Sister's Sister," Submarine is also a production company putting out features like "Black Rock" and "An Unreasonable Man," and has even gotten into distribution with docs "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" and "Chasing Ice."
The Brauns' work with Submarine continues to be one of the best case studies for balancing business and passion while also shifting to accommodate an evolving indie film landscape. As the marketplace has changed, so has their approach, from the tail end of the dot-com era when they were considering early digital distribution possibilities to, in recent years, handling distribution for select films themselves under their Submarine Deluxe label.
But their main secret to success? Staying limber. As Dan put it, "We're flexible and we're open to changes that are happening in the market and different approaches to filmmaking and storytelling -- and we are still willing to take risks."
Getting a shout-out during the Academy Awards when "Searching for Sugar Man" won best documentary feature. "It was definitely thrilling," said Dan.
Heading into Toronto in 2008, Submarine was informed by distributors that they wouldn't be buying docs because nonfiction films no longer worked with their business plans. "Almost fighting words," noted Josh, who explained they decided to go in with only docs, and despite initial difficulties in selling their roster ended up doing incredibly well.
Remembering that short-term triumphs don't always make for long-term wins. "These relationships go on for a long time, and it gets very cutthroat -- more than I think some people realize," said Josh. "You have to figure out ways to keep relationships positive and fresh."
The Braun brothers bought the rights to horror comics magazines Creepy and Eerie and have been developing projects based on those properties, including an anthology film with Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures. "We're big horror movie and genre fans," Dan noted.