|Women Make Movies’ Paradise Lost.|
Finding the right distributor
for your first feature is just as important as finding the right
actor—one whose vision
is in sync with yours.
If you put all the cameras, equipment and cash aside, great moviemaking
really comes down to one slippery intangible: chemistry. And whether
it’s between the script and the director, the two lead actors or
the finished project and the studio, it’s particularly difficult
to achieve success in this mercurial industry when ideas and people
aren’t in sync.
The paramount importance of this magic ingredient doesn’t change
when it comes to landing a distributor, either. Creating great
art always comes first, but forget the business end of this business,
and your career trajectory is going to sag.
Having a brilliant film will eventually get
you noticed—but especially
if your project is offbeat or less easily definable (Darren Aronofsky’s
Pi and Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich come to mind), screening
your project for the wrong people will at best mean you’ll waste
a lot of time. At worst, you’ll languish for years while people
with projects less worthy than yours sign those coveted three-picture
You already know that finding distribution
in today’s market can be difficult. What you may not fully appreciate,
though, is that new distribution avenues are opening up all the
time—in the form
of television, specialty cable networks, home video and more exotic
outlets. It may surprise you to learn that there have actually
never been more distributors to choose from than right now.
But as with so many things in life, you need to do your homework.
What follows is up-to-date information we recently pulled from
a few of the hungrier distributors about the types of projects
they’re looking to gobble up in 2004.
|Zeitgeist Films’ James
Cargo Film & Releasing 611 Broadway,
New York, NY 10012
Description: Cargo is a production and distribution company for independent
film and television in domestic and international markets.
Projects: The Furious Force of Rhymes, a doc feature in co-production
with Paris-based Films D’Ici on international hip hop music; and the indie
feature Three Fingered Jack.
Looking for: “Scripts, concepts and films in production or completed
that are urban, energetic and daring. Feature docs on music and artists
for theatrical or TV.”
The Cinema Guild
130 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10016-7038
Description: Founded by Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel, for 30 years The
Cinema Guild has been one of America’s leading distributors of films and videos,
including both documentary and fiction films.
Projects: The Seagull’s Laughter, from Icelandic director
Looking for: “Quality, commercially viable pictures for theatrical,
television and home video. We distribute in all markets. We pay attention
to every film sent to us and have a positive attitude when screening submissions.
Our policy is to select a limited number of films and put our hearts into
making them work in the market.”
|Seventh Art Releasing’s Word Wars.|
Cinema Libre Studio
8328 De Soto Avenue
Canoga Park, CA 91304
Description: An independent entertainment production and distribution
group, offering one-stop production, distribution and marketing.
Looking for: “Quality feature films in form and content (all genres)
for our American independent label, Liberation Pictures. Our foreign film
label, The Film Cafe, is dedicated to bringing new filmmakers and classic
feature films from beyond our borders to North American audiences. Our
Documentary label, Doc Workers, seeks provocative documentary features.
Direct Cinema Limited
P.O. Box 10003
Santa Monica, CA 90410-1003
Description: Since 1974, Direct Cinema Limited’s work has received 54
Oscar nominations (of which they’ve won 15).
Projects: Lee Schneider’s Mean Girls; The Burning Wall, from
Oscar-nominated documentarian Hava Kohav Beller; and A Closer Walk, from
Oscar-nominated moviemaker Robert Bilheimer.
Looking for: “Award-winning short dramatic and animated films.”
|Wolfe Video’s Adored.|
595 Madison Ave, 39th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Description: Specializing in world cinema, since their founding in 2000,
Empire Pictures has released 14 films in the U.S.
Projects: Olivier Dahan’s The Promised Life (La Vie Promise),
starring Isabelle Huppert; and Yoji Yamada’s The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare
Seibei), Japan’s submission for Best Foreign Film.
Looking for: “Intelligent and accessible narrative and documentary
features for the art house market.”
Film Threat DVD
5042 Wilshire Blvd., PMB 1500
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Description: Film Threat’s distribution wing is geared toward independent
and underground films that have “somehow been overlooked by other distributors.”
Projects: Jon Schnepp’s BrainWarp and The Removers; Leif
Einarsson’s Jar Jar: The F! True Hollywood Story.
Looking for: “Unusual films in all genres, with heavy emphasis
on unusual. We like: Docs (generally with a commercial edge. Subjects
like music, sex and personal—this would exclude issue-based docs); Extreme
horror; Indie dramas (we’d like to help discover the next Kevin Smith);
Short collections or spoofs (anything that can be well marketed as a
short collection from a single filmmaker or spoofs of commercial films).”
145 Ninth Street, Ste. 300
San Francisco, CA 94103-2636
Description: Founded in 1981, Frameline is the only national distributor
dedicated solely to the promotion, distribution and exhibition of lesbian and
Projects: Rodrigo Bellott’s SEXO, winner of the Austin Gay & Lesbian
International Film Festival and the PlanetOut Movie Awards; and Joan E.
Biren’s No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, winner
of nine film festival awards.
Looking for: “LGBTQ films and videos that enlighten and delight,
on issues both personal and universal. Works of any length and genre are
8205 Santa Monica Blvd., #200
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Description: Since 1998, Indican Pictures has distributed 16 films.
Projects: Kevin Mukherji’s American Storytellers, with Harold
Ramis, John Sayles and Forest Whitaker; and John Henderson’s Two Men
Went to War.
Looking for: “Inventive niche films with the potential to break
Seventh Art Releasing
7551 Sunset Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Description: A theatrical distributor and U.S. and foreign sales company.
Projects: The Sundance premiere, Word Wars; and Balseros, which
is on the Oscar Best Documentary short list.
Looking for: “Good documentary films—any subject… We will also
look at dramatic films and plan to investigate this year’s crop of independent
films. We regularly look at works-in-progress and rough cuts. We hope
to come out of Park City 2004 with at least one new film.”
Three Fingered Jack is currently being shot in Jamaica and
234 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Description: Acquires mainly gay-themed content for both the theatrical
and home video markets.
Projects: Food of Love; 9 Dead Gay Guys; P.S. Your Cat
is Dead; The Trip; Latter Days.
Looking for: “TLA’s theatrical acquistions in the past two
years have been primarily gay-themed. We are, however, widening our focus
(and the potential audience base) to include quality international films
and American indies of any theme. For the second part of 2004, we have
an Irish film titled Cowboys and Angels slated. We also want to
find a good Asian cult/action/thriller film that could enjoy a good theatrical
21640 Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95042
Description: The largest exclusive distributor of lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender films and videos.
Projects: Adored (Poco Più di un Anno Fa);
and Goldfish Memory.
Looking for: “Uniquely different, yet commercially viable, entertaining
films with LGBT content. With 20 years of successfully distributing gay
and lesbian films across the nation to both queer and mainstream audiences,
Wolfe will be expanding its exhibition efforts in 2004 and looks forward
to scouting new films in the coming year.”
|August Gudmundsson’s The Seagull’s Laughter,
The Cinema Guild.
Women Make Movies
462 Broadway, Suite 500WS, New York, New York 10013
Description: Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit
media arts organization that facilitates the production, promotion, distribution
and exhibition of independent films and videos by and about women.
Projects: Jennifer Dworkin’s Love and Diane; and Paradise
Lost, the directorial debut from director Ebtisam Mara’ana.
Looking for: “High-quality, challenging films by and about women.
Though we distribute mostly documentaries, we are particularly interested
in films that challenge audiences aesthetically and politically—and distribute
247 Centre Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10013
Description: A New York-based American indie film distribution company.
Projects: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s James’ Journey to Jerusalem;
and Julie Bertuccelli’s Since Otar Left.
Looking for: “High-quality foreign language and documentary features.
We continue to be interested in discovering new talent; finding the hidden
treasure that bigger companies might overlook. We always follow our personal
instincts for what works for us, what gets us excited and what makes
the effort worthwhile!” MM