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Dogfish Helps Get 8 Cutting-Edge Film Companies Off the Ground with $18,000 Accelerator Grants

Dogfish Helps Get 8 Cutting-Edge Film Companies Off the Ground with $18,000 Accelerator Grants

Taking a page from the tech world, Dogfish Pictures is announcing the first eight projects in its Dogfish Accelerators program, a unique program that gives $18,000 in seed financing and a nurturing infrastructure with the goal of getting the projects further funding at the end of the program’s three months.

“With the shifting sands in the industry, it’s just as important to utilize innovative marketing and distribution strategies as it is to create a compelling film or piece of content.” James Belfer, CEO of Dogfish Pictures and Managing Director of Dogfish Accelerator said. “Content is still king and we are empowering the content creators by helping them build an audience and lay the groundwork for distribution while projects are in the development phase. This helps filmmakers more adeptly control the future of their film and the recoupment of the film’s investment.”

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The eight companies include the producers of former Indiewire Project of the Month “Like Me,” the marketing team behind Banksy doc “Exit through the Gift Shop” and the production company of No Film School’s Ryan Koo.

The eight companies Dogfish thinks have what it takes to make a splash in the film world, with descriptions provided by Dogfish Pictures, are:


Auralnauts is collaboration between two Brooklyn-based filmmakers whose identities are protected by their futuristic robot guardian BEST MAX. Auralnauts’ projects are an innovative mix of comedy, professional sound design and original music, all with interactive elements incorporated whenever and wherever possible.

To date, Auralnauts has gained a healthy 25,000+ subscriber base and close to 9 million views on Youtube through their channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/Auralnauts.  Their current content consists of new narratives created by dubbing over existing films with new dialogue and music, turning straight-faced films into comedies.

The company plans to use the accelerator seed funding to expand their content to include podcasts, new short form content, an interactive content platform, and, in the longer term, the narrative feature film NINJA BLOODSTORM.


EXIT STRATEGY (http://exitstrategy.tv) is an award-winning production company founded in 2007 by filmmakers Ryan Koo and Zack Lieberman. Together, Koo and Lieberman wrote, directed and produced the “urban western” web series THE WEST SIDE (http://thewestside.tv), which won the Webby Award for Best Drama; they were also named as two of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

Their follow-up digital property is the murder mystery 3RD RAIL, an interactive whodunit set in the New York City subway system. Blurring the line between movie and game, 3RD RAIL will unfold simultaneously on multiple connected platforms, including mobile devices and video game consoles. Also in the company’s slate is MAX & CHARLIE, which follows a young boy’s adventure through a surreal day of New York City’s chaos. MAX & CHARLIE is being made into a stereoscopic 3D graphic novel, a 3D feature film, and a 3D video game, each of which Lieberman will write and direct.

EXIT STRATEGY has helped build a network of web sites that garner over 50 million combined page views per month. Past web and video clients include MTV, CMT, VH1, Rhapsody, Focus Features, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Ralph Lauren; Lieberman recently won an Emmy for his work on a set of digital properties for Sony Pictures Television.

Koo’s forthcoming basketball feature MANCHILD (http://manchildfilm.com) has been supported by IFP, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the Tribeca Film Institute. Koo is also the founder of the website nofilmschool (http://nofilmschool.com), which currently averages over two million views a month and won Total Film’s Best Creative Blog award.

Go Infect Films

Go Infect Films is a collaboration between writer/director Robert Mockler, producer Jessalyn Abbott and actress Mitzi Peirone. In partnership with Dogfish Pictures and producers James Belfer, Joanna Bowzer and Michelle Soffen, the team plans to accelerate its freshman feature film LIKE ME.

LIKE ME follows Kiya, a fame-obsessed young woman who documents a string of robberies through social media.  The film explores the cultural addiction to social media and how many young people measure their self-worth based on the number of “likes” or “followers” they have.  Kiya’s meticulously documented criminal acts and emotional exploits accumulate a large audience who not only rabidly consume her content, but encourage her to perform more extreme acts of deviance, creating a perverse relationship that quickly escalates out of control. 

LIKE ME was named one of IndieWire’s Projects of the Month in 2013 and is currently in contention for IndieWire’s Project of the Year.  Check it out online at www.likemethefilm.com.

Guagua Productions

Guagua Productions is a collaboration between Jonathan Paley, Ross Finkel and Trevor Martin who are on a mission to produce and direct feature length documentaries that don’t feel like homework.  Since coming together in 2009, they have released two feature length documentary films BALLPLAYER: PELOTERO (2012) and SCHOOLED: THE SHAME OF COLLEGE SPORTS (2013).

They are currently working on THE MIGUEL SANO STORY, a feature length documentary sequel to their 2012 critically acclaimed film BALLPLAYER: PELOTERO.  Filmed over five years, THE MIGUEL SANO STORY will follow the entire behind-the-scenes journey of a star athlete’s path to the pros — from his humble beginnings in poverty in the Dominican, to the bright lights of the Major Leagues — and the pitfalls, pressures, and responsibilities he must face to get there. The project is currently in the final stages of production and are raising finishing funds to complete the film in 2014.

Additionally, the company is putting together a slate of films ranging from documentary to narrative features to take through the Dogfish Accelerator program. Check out more on Guagua Productions online at http://www.guaguaproductions.com.

Range Life Entertainment

Range Life Entertainment is a privately-held film marketing company that specializes in campus tours, event screenings, and guerrilla marketing. Founded by Todd Sklar, Maury Steinman, and Sean Wesenberg after the successful self-release of Sklar’s debut feature BOX ELDER, Range Life has worked on over 40 films, including; EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, MYSTERY TEAM, THE IMPOSTER, and TEENAGE PAPPARAZO.

After spending the past 2 years focusing on the production of AWFUL NICE, Sklar is now scaling Range Life’s activities back up, utilizing the Dogfish Accelerator to work on launching a Spring 2014 tour. Joining him are past tour operatives Alex Rennie & Dean Peterson, to handle events & marketing, as well as co-founder & COO Maury Steinman. Rounding out the team is Michael Melamedoff, whose producing work and business acumen will help oversee business development and work closely with Sklar on re-building the company’s infrastructure.

Check them out online at http://www.rangelifeentertainment.com.

Section II

Section II is a new venture between collaborators Allie Esslinger of Olive Juice Films and Stephanie Testa from One Glass Productions.  The company aims to be the premier destination and platform for curated, high-quality lesbian content. Think: Netflix for lesbians.

Until 1968, “Section II” of the Motion Picture Production Code outlawed lesbian characters in film.  The company is reclaiming this namesake and seeks to remedy the lack of well-produced, well-developed lesbian characters in film – across all genres – which has a negative effect on lesbian consumers and the role of lesbians in popular culture.  

With their personal backgrounds in development and production, Esslinger and Testa are building a team ready to create content across genres that will elevate the programming available and representing the female-queer market. Section II’s cutting-edge platform will contain state-of-the-art features for community-based second screen experiences.  

Esslinger and Testa are excited to have San Francisco-based Kara Q. Smith on board to help grow editorial and engagement support and New York-based Darcy Schlitt to spearhead brand partnership initiatives.  Together, the Section II team is proud to build their network of filmmakers, writers, and actors around rising stars like Ingrid Jungermann and duo Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard.

Wheelhouse Pictures

Wheelhouse Pictures produces narrative feature films specializing in character-driven stories and unseen communities.  The company was founded by partners Jessica Caldwell and Andrew Hauser, who are hands on from creative development right through to post-production.

Wheelhouse Pictures has four films currently on its slate: MY FIRST KISS, from first time director Luigi Campi, AWOL based on Deb Shoval’s award-winning Sundance short of the same name; Shane Atkinson’s Blacklist script PENNY DREADFUL, and Jeremy Teicher’s follow up to TALL AS THE BAOBOB.  With strong international ties, the company is also currently pursuing co-productions in the UK, as well as offering production services for New York units.

More About Jessica Cadwell: A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, Caldwell produced Electrick Children which premiered at Berlin and SXSW 2012 and was distributed by Phase 4 films in Spring 2013. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride and Tribeca. She recently wrapped production on Stephen Elliott’s Happy Baby.

More about Andrew Hauser: Hauser graduated from Columbia University’s MFA program in 2012. He served as Associate Producer on Four, which received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for its lead actor, Wendell Pierce. His Post Production Supervision credits include Electrick Children, Syrup and the upcoming Cold Comes the Night. Shorts he produced have played at Clermond-Ferrand, Palm Springs, Fantastic Fest and Raindance.

Young Gunner Films

Young Gunner Films is a film development and production company founded by Noah Lang, David Mandel and James Morrison.  The company takes a lean and balanced approach to filmmaking, following the definitions of Build, Measure, and Learn set forth by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup.

As storytellers and audience aggregators, Young Gunner believes there is always a path for quality films to reach their audiences. In short, producers must be as responsible for discovering this path for the viewers as they are for their artists and investors.  

The company plans to accelerate a slate of low-budget feature films within the Dogfish program, including: LAST WINTER an ambitious drama with a heavy sci-fi element; JOURNEYMAN, a narrative set in the world of underground boxing; and BLISS, a documentary about post-rock.

Find out more on their site at www.younggunnerfilms.com.

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