Truly Indie

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By Nicole Sperling

2929 Entertainment is demonstrating its belief in the indie filmmaker by creating a distribution company called Truly Indie that will allow filmmakers to control how and when their film gets distributed.

Using 2929's Landmark Theatre chain and marketing and distribution resources from Landmark and 2929's Magnolia Pictures, Truly Indie will provide filmmakers with a self-funded distribution operation whereby filmmakers pay a flat fee for one week of theatrical distribution across Landmark's indie theater network while retaining complete control of all rights to the product.

'We believe that the traditional distribution model is inefficient and closed off to a number of quality films. We are trying to create an alternative,' said Bill Banowsky, Magnolia Pictures CEO and Landmark president. 'If a film is made and has the potential to find an audience, rather than depend upon an existing company to buy into the belief that the film has marketing angles and commercial potential, we want to give the keys to the filmmaker to distribute it themselves.'

2929 plans to use Landmark's digital projection system, set to launch next year, to inexpensively distribute digital movies that would otherwise not get picked up for theatrical exhibition.

'By utilizing digital projection and the best independent theaters in the country, we've created a business model that allows filmmakers to control the distribution of their films,' 2929 co-founder Mark Cuban said.

Truly Indie has created an internal process to vet films from interested filmmakers on the basis of artistic and commercial viability. The filmmaker will then be able to choose which markets he or she wishes to release the film in, and Truly Indie will dedicate customized marketing resources to the advertising and publicity of that film.

According to Banowsky, the flat fee will differ market to market and is negotiated on a film-by-film basis. In addition to the 57 Landmark Theatres, 2929 hopes to sign affiliate theaters to its digital network. The company is not commenting on the technology details of the project at this time.

According to Banowsky, by the time Truly Indie launches in the first quarter, Landmark will have digital capabilities in every one of its markets.

'Cavite,' which bowed at the South by Southwest Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival, among others, already has been chosen for a Truly Indie launch. Co-directed by Ian Gamazon and Neill dela Llana, 'Cavite' is being repped by indie vet John Pierson in conjunction with his Advanced Producing class at the University of Texas at Austin.

'It would make no sense to take a do-it-yourself digital film and spend three or four times the budget to blow it up to 35mm,' Pierson said. 'With Truly Indie, we can release the film in digital theaters. Then we can intelligently control every single expense in the big, key media markets while also targeting both Filipino and college audience strongholds.'

Pierson is hoping the film will be accepted into New York Film Festival's New Directors, New Films program in March. If so, he hopes to open it soon after in New York, with possible expansion to Los Angeles and San Diego, where the two filmmakers are from.

'If you have any confidence at all in building the value of your film through your theatrical release to help it have greater value for everything that follows, the fact that you can completely control that and maintain all of your rights, that's a great thing to have,' Pierson said.

Other films signed on to Truly Indie are Donal Logue's 'Tennis Anyone...?' -- Logue's directorial debut -- and 'Fall to Grace,' a debut effort from Mari Marchbanks.

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