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An Interview With Caitlin Gold of Candy Factory Films

An Interview With Caitlin Gold of Candy Factory Films

From a recent interview at Sundance 2015. An informative piece on distribution and the production & distribution company Candy Factory Films.

Based in New York, Candy Factory Films is a forward-thinking,
filmmaker-friendly production and distribution company dedicated to creating
and releasing high impact films and fostering communities around independent

 Some of Candy
Factory’s films include the just-released documentary, ‘No Evidence of Disease’, which played in 44 markets nationwide on
World Cancer Day and is now available exclusively on Vimeo On Demand, as well
as last year’s critically acclaimed Slamdance drama, ‘The Sublime and Beautiful’. The company also just announced the
launch of their genre arm, Electric Candy, and the first titles to be released
under the new banner: Eddie Mullins pre-apocalyptic comedy, ‘Doomsdays’, and Sarah Adina Smith’s paranormal
psychodrama, ‘The Midnight Swim’ (Smith
was also just announced as one of the directors in the upcoming XYZ-produced Holiday Anthology).

During a recent
interview at Sundance 2015, Head of Acquisitions Caitlin Gold took the time to
share her passion for distribution, the core values of Candy Factory Films, and
useful information for any filmmaker who is just starting to navigate the world
of distribution.

How did you enter the world of distribution?

I actually moved
to New York to attend a theater conservatory program in 2007.  I wanted to be an actor, and never really saw
myself doing anything else. After graduating, I was working as a professional
actor and at the time, a friend was producing his second full-length feature
film. As many of us indie filmmakers do out of necessity, he was wearing far
too many hats (writer, director, producer, wardrobe, catering etc.). I had a
small role in the film and saw him struggling. I said “Hey, I’m type A… I can
help get some of the busy work done!” I jumped in and ended up helping him to
produce that project and fell in love with it. Eventually, after some time and
more production work, I realized I was much better suited to behind-the-camera
roles. I had lost the passion for acting and fell quite madly in love with all
that producing entailed.  So in 2010, I
started a production company with a colleague of mine and have been producing
content ever since.  

Then nearly
three years ago, I met Jason Ward — the CEO of Candy Factory – here at Sundance, so I have a
particular fondness in my heart for this place. 
Jason and I developed this great working relationship where I would send
him scripts I had been working on and rough cuts of films that I was producing.
Quite quickly, he became a trusted colleague.

In early 2013,
he approached me and we discussed his desire to open a distribution arm of his
company. Immediately I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.  I never saw myself working in distribution,
but it was an opportunity that I knew would prove invaluable, simply because it
was the chance to learn an area of this business I had only been exposed to at
the surface-level. Now, a year and a half later, distribution is my life. I
still produce films, but working on the distribution side has forever changed
the way I’ll make movies moving forward.  

What have you’ve learned about distribution that you
really didn’t get before?

For a producer,
particularly one who is navigating the distribution landscape for the first
time, it is so important to be aware of and truly understand the myriad of options
in front of you. Do your research. Know the key players in the distribution
game – the sales agents, the aggregators, the boutique distributors like
ourselves. Also, understand how the choices you make early on will impact your
opportunities later. Read the trades constantly. The more you do, the more
you’ll begin to develop a true understanding of critical aspects of the
distribution game, such as windowing. It’s fantastic that filmmakers today have
so many options and that the barrier for entry is virtually non-existent. But
that just means that filmmakers need to be more savvy, more knowledgeable – not
less – in order for their films to be financially successful.

Another thing I
always tell filmmakers is that the time to be thinking about distribution isn’t
once you’re in post, or once you hit the festival circuit. You should be
thinking about distribution as early as development, and its awesome to see
that filmmakers are much more savvy to this nowadays. They’re thinking about
how to connect with audiences before they’ve raised a penny. They’re thinking
about outreach and engagement before they even get to set. This is critical.

You mentioned the term “aggregator”. What is an

An aggregator is the conduit between the filmmaker or distributor
and the various platforms like iTunes or Google Play. An aggregator typically
takes a small percentage or flat fee for getting the content to the platforms.
Most distributors work with aggregators, though many – us included – work hard
to forge direct relationships with the platforms to reduce the number of

Please talk about Candy Factory’s history and slate.

The company was
launched by our CEO, Jason Ward, back in 2005, and was strictly a production
and post-production company at the time.

Jason had several
experiences where distribution deals went sour, and it really put a bad taste
in his mouth. He witnessed first-hand people being taken advantage of and
promises that weren’t lived up to. It made him question the landscape around
him and ask, “Can’t there be a distribution company that focuses on the
collaboration between the filmmaker and distributor?” He wanted to launch a
distribution company that considered the goals of the filmmaker to be of utmost
importance. He also wanted to bring people back to why we make movies to begin
with – which is to have shared meaningful experiences, engage people, and
ignite conversation.

Those principles
are the foundation of our company. Our core values are to find unique and
meaningful ways to connect content with audiences, to craft release strategies
that support and also enhance our filmmakers’ goals, and to release films in a
manner that is cost effective so that our clients can recoup. I think we’re
unique in that we truly value and appreciate collaboration with our filmmakers,
and they really do get personal attention from us. We aren’t the kind of
company where it’s going to take three days to return a call or a week to
return an email. 

As for our
slate, for now, we’ve made a conscious decision to keep it small and selective,
releasing two to three films a month. We have 12 films at the moment, both
documentaries and narratives. We look for films that are impactful,
intelligent, thought provoking, and that ignite conversations and engage

Yes, this is a
business and we have to be focused on profit and entertainment value. But getting
back to the core values of filmmaking and placing focus on the filmmaker is
truly important to us. 

Lastly, despite
all we have going on on the distribution side, I will say that we’re also very
excited to be reincorporating more producing opportunities back into Candy
Factory. We love building long-term relationships with our filmmakers. So if
we’re distributing your film, it’s highly plausible that we’ll consider coming
on board your next project in a greater capacity.  

Why do you love doing this?

I am a film
lover, first and foremost. For me, there is nothing more powerful than going
into a dark theater and witnessing something that leaves me feeling inspired.
If I can be even a small part of creating content that inspires others or
helping that content to reach a wider audience, that is a dream come true. That
is why I’m here and what I hope to do for many years to come.

Learn more
about Candy Factory Films here.

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