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Alternative Bedfellows: Gathr’s New Fund Puts Crowdfunded Films in Theaters

Even low-budget indie films funded on Kickstarter will have a shot at theatrical distribution. Demand-based theatrical screening organizer, Gathr, is specifically targeting crowd-funded films via a new acquisitions fund.

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By advancing $20,000 to up to 25 completed crowd-funded films (with a minimum of 1,000 backers) each year, in return for theatrical distribution rights, Gathr is eliminating one of the biggest hurdles that an indie filmmaker faces: brokering that all-important theatrical deal.

Called The Crowd Fund, Gathr’s new initiative echoes a similar partnership between Indiegogo an online distributor Yekra earlier this year. (Yekra offers a discount on their set-up costs to filmmakers that used Indiegogo to successfully crowdfund their projects.) The advantages to these marriages between alternative financing and alternative distribution are substantial: crowdfunded projects will come to Gathr with a built-in audience who’ve already proved their interest in the film. It’s a means of long-term marketing—the reach of a campaign accumulating and consolidating across a film’s journey into being, instead of happening in short, disparate spurts. And Gathr’s user-friendly, power-to-the-people ethos means nothing is out of a moviemaker’s control: as CEO Scott Glosserman, says, “We are able to disengage all rights in order to give the filmmakers more flexibility and power over their choices.”

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Are there any downsides to The Crowd Fund and initiatives of its kind? For one, while $20,000 is nothing to sneer at, it also isn’t the most ambitious theatrical acquisitions pay-off in the world. Beyond that, though, “the most common criticisms we get are from people who see theatrical distribution as an industry in secular decline, who are skeptical of the elasticity of the theater,” says Glosserman. Because digital distribution is so often cheaper, pouring too much effort into unsustainable theatrical runs may be a losing battle for filmmakers. Glosserman disagrees with that, though: “Filmmakers, and the U.S. theatrical box office, will benefit enormously—and believe it or not, content owners will once again recognize the tremendous value in preserving exclusive theatrical windows.” MM

Photography courtesy of Gathr.

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