The film caught the attention of the immersive journalism
media company Vice, which teamed up with Hodierne to co-produce
and co-finance a feature-length version of "Fishing Without
Nets." This year he returned to Sundance with that film and
entered the highly selective U.S. drama competition.
Hodierne's successful exposure illustrates how companies such as
Netflix, YouTube and Vimeo are stepping in to provide filmmakers
with a new platform for distributing films, expanding alongside
the traditional path of theatrical release.
This year, movie studios have been slow to snap up some of the
buzzed-about Sundance films. So far, only a handful of films
have been acquired by studios. The hot film of the festival was
opening night movie "Whiplash," which attracted strong bidding
and was finally bought by Sony Pictures Classics for $3 million,
according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
None of the films acquired yet have hit the eight-figure level,
unlike last year when Fox Searchlight purchased quirky Steve
Carell comedy "The Way, Way Back" for $10 million.
Netflix, a video rental and online streaming platform, premiered
documentary "Mitt" at Sundance a week ahead of the film being
released on the website, drastically cutting down the time
between a festival premiere and subsequent release.
For independent filmmakers, who often debut at Sundance, Netflix
offers an opportunity to capitalize on the buzz generated from
the festival and release to a wide audience without having to
wait for a studio to distribute to theaters.
"It's an unreasonable request to expect independent films to
continue playing in the cinemas as the primary source to connect
with the audience," said Keith Kjarval, producer of closing
night film "Rudderless."
"People are always more impressed with the theatrical release,
but in reality, you see more money back if your film makes $3
Actor and filmmaker Mark Duplass, who was at Sundance to promote
his latest film "The One I Love," told Variety that "the most
important part of making a movie is making sure the film streams
on Netflix," adding that it "made my career" and urging
filmmakers to do the same.
Sundance films have often found a lease of life through
video-on-demand platforms such those provided by RADiUS-TWC, a
pioneering multi-platform boutique offspring of The Weinstein
Co. Last year, RADiUS snapped up five Sundance films including
two Oscar-nominated documentaries, often finding an audience
through non-traditional media.
RADiUS co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego said that while
not all of their films would suit the VOD model, it has proven
to be a successful one for some films.
"Great movies are available also at home, for the same price as
a movie ticket," Quinn said. "We like that our eclectic approach
to distribution is as equally eclectic as our slate of movies."
RADiUS has yet to acquire a Sundance film this year,
but was chasing a documentary and drama as of Wednesday.
[to top of second column]
NEW DISTRIBUTION MODELS
Digital media platforms were a prominent feature on Park City's Main
Street, the central hub of the Sundance Film Festival where
companies hire out spaces for the week and hold events for
filmmakers and the public.
Video-hosting site YouTube, owned by Google Inc, set up a large
space on Main Street, with events and panels on how to use the
platform to build an audience. YouTube sponsors Sundance Film
Festival's short film program, hosting the competition shorts.
"The short film format is really innovative. That's where we help
creators understand the different stages of their campaign to build
their film," said Derek Callow, director of creator marketing at
Callow said the company was not concerned with
having filmmakers release exclusive content through YouTube -
rather, "exclusivity for us is not really central to our strategy.
We often remove the exclusivity clause in contracts," he said.
Vimeo, a video-hosting site that is a competitor to YouTube but
focuses on attracting longer videos such as short or feature films,
is also making a concerted effort to connect with the Sundance
Vimeo, which has around 400,000 paying subscribers who generate $40
million for the website, is offering a platform for filmmakers to
host their films and charge for it directly through the website,
with Vimeo taking a 10 percent cut.
Kerry Trainor, CEO of Vimeo, also said the platform was not trying
to compete with Netflix, but rather wanted to bring up-and-coming
filmmakers like Hodierne to its roster.
Vimeo has also been involved with crowd-funding
sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, hosting videos and allowing
project starters to seek funding through the Vimeo audience.
Kickstarter has funded 20 films that are at Sundance this year,
including Zach Braff's "Wish I Was Here" and documentary "The
Internet's Own Boy." Braff's film, which raised $3 million from more
than 46,000 backers, was purchased by Focus Features for $2.7
million, Variety said.
"With crowd-funding, you're not just buying the film, you're buying
the experience," said Greg Clayman, Vimeo's general manager of
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric
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