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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dentler, Cinetic, and Deal Terms

SXSW Film Festival head Matt Dentler is heading to New York to help run the rights management division of Cinetic Media. Here's the Variety coverage and here's IndieWIRE's report. Dentler posted just a short note about the new gig on his blog.

Cinetic Media, founded by attorney John Sloss, is one of the best-known rep firms in the independent film world. They've handled the sales of titles like 'Supersize me,' 'Bowling for Columbine,' 'Little Miss Sunshine,' and 'Napoleon Dynamite.'

Dentler and Cinetic have an interesting challenge ahead of them. Their mission is to find the best indie content and sell it to portals, VOD services, and other aggregators who'll produce revenue through advertising, subscriptions, or paid downloads. (A deal with iTunes, which Cinetic doesn't yet have to my knowledge, would be key.)

But they're also gonna keep 50 percent of the gross receipts from those deals, according to a Cinetic contract given to one filmmaker I know last fall. That isn't a bad deal if Cinetic is creating eye-popping revenues from a film that wouldn't have otherwise had them, but some download sites and DVD-on-demand services will pass along 70 percent or more to a filmmaker, if a filmmaker chooses to go the do-it-yourself route. Through Cinetic, that same take gets split in half. And Cinetic's contract -- at least the one I saw -- appoints Cinetic as the "sole and exclusive agent" for the work for ten years.

From IndieWire's blog report:

    Monday's announcement stirred greater interest in Cinetic's new division, which company founder John Sloss said Monday is aimed at working with just the sorts of independent filmmakers for which SXSW has become an important home in recent years. In the words of an announcement, Cinetic noted that CRM will "aggressively exploit content opportunities" in the digital market, ranging from sales negotiation and strategy, organization of digital encoding logistics, marketing support, as well as accounting and reporting. Dentler will work closely with Janet Brown, CRM's chief operating officer, to program titles for various new media platforms (ranging from VOD outlets to online distributors like iTunes, Netlix or Amazon). Core aspects will include marketing and montezing the relationships between the filmmakers and these emerging distributors.

    "I've been saying for awhile now, seeing the worlds of new media and film overlap at SXSW, that there is a whole realm of possibility that the industry has yet to define. Young up-and-coming filmmakers are not finding a tradtional distribution deal, and I hope to help service that," explained Dentler, who joined SXSW as an intern more than ten years ago, rising to become head of the film fest back in 2003. "I was tired of watching great films come and go, and I'm excited to be at Cinetic so that I can put my money where my mouth is."

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