Unraveling Independent Film Distribution

The Panelists:

Bob Aaronson is head of distribution and sales for Red Envelope
Entertainment (REE), a Netflix company. REE seeks to acquire original
content projects to increase consumer options and provide an innovative
method for film distribution. REE works to democratize film
distribution by providing films and filmmakers with a platform to expose
less commercial projects to a broader audience.

About Red Envelope Entertainment

Red Envelope Entertainment (REE), a Netflix company, Red Envelope
Entertainment looks to leverage its proprietary technology to offer this
unique and original content to Netflix's more than six million
subscribers. The initiative creates a national distribution channel for
films and entertainment programming otherwise not available to broad
audiences. The company's name and logo were inspired by the company's
iconic red mailers. For more information, visit

 

Gary Garfinkel, Senior Vice President – Content Strategy & Acquisition

Gary grew up in New Hampshire, Hawaii and New Jersey before heading off to Boston University where he majored in Finance. After college, he moved to New York and got his start in entertainment as a business analyst in the home video joint venture between Columbia Pictures and RCA. When the venture was dissolved, Gary moved on to Wall Street, working as a Foreign Exchange Analyst at Salomon Brothers and going to NYU Business School at night. After 3 years at Salomon and a front-row seat for the 1987 stock market crash, Gary moved to Los Angeles to resume his career in entertainment, going back to work for Columbia Pictures as an international business analyst in the Motion Picture Division. Shortly thereafter, the company became Sony Pictures Entertainment and Gary moved on to the Corporate Division working in both Los Angeles and New York.

In 1993, Gary started a new job in programming at Showtime Networks and eventually reached his current position of Senior Vice President – Content Strategy & Acquisition in which he oversees all content acquisition for Showtime’s 10 Pay-TV channels. His group is responsible for more than 300 deals a year ranging from high-profile studio output deals to films such as The Passion of the Christ and Adrian Lyne’s Lolita to hundreds of independent movies, TV shows, documentaries, shorts, concerts and reality/lifestyle. He also created award-winning on-air features such as Stars of the 90’s, Sci-Fridays and LOL! and was a production executive on prime time series Going to California and Masters of Horror. Also at Showtime, he has helped launch new channels and businesses and has become increasingly involved in the company’s digital media initiatives. Over the years, Gary has been a freelance writer for Femme Fatale, a genre movie magazine and worked on various independent features. He continues to be a road warrior, traveling both for pleasure and to attend film festivals/markets. His interests include reading, tennis and investing.

 

 

Mike McClellan, VP Film Buyer for Landmark Theaters Corp.

Mike McClellan has worked 32 years in the entertainment business, almost entirely as an exhibitor. For the past 11 years he has been with Landmark Theatres, the largest specialized circuit in the nation. He is responsible for programming the West Coast markets for the circuit and he consults with producers/distributors on acquisitions and release strategy.

 

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix

With more than 20 years of experience in home entertainment, Ted has led the Netflix content acquisition efforts since 2000 and is recognized in the industry as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution.

Ted oversees strategic content acquisition for Netflix and manages the company's relationships with studios, networks, film makers and producers. Since 2000, the Netflix DVD library has increased tremendously, from 2,000 in 1999 to 90,000 in 2007 and the company's -instant watching library is growing every day, with more than 4,000 titles currently in stock. As Netflix has grown to over 7 million subscribers this year, Ted has established Netflix as a successful film distributor within the entertainment industry.

Ted has also spearheaded the company's original content initiative, Red Envelope Entertainment, creating a national platform for films and entertainment programming through unique partnerships with filmmakers, networks and studios, including Miramax, Magnolia IFC, HBO, ThinkFilm, Showtime and Sundance Channel. These unique deals enable Netflix to provide the broadest variety of films for consumers as well as offer an alternate distribution method for smaller and independent films that might not otherwise be seen.

Red Envelope Entertainment (REE), along with its distribution partners, has successfully released such indie favorites as "Sherrybaby," "This Film Not Yet Rated," "Maxxed Out," "The Puffy Chair," "Cowboy Del Amor" and "Favela Rising."

Through REE, Ted has served as producer and executive producer on such films as "Comedians of Comedy: The Movie," featuring Patton Oswalt; "This Filthy World," directed by Jeff Garlin and featuring John Waters; and the soon to be released documentary on the life of Tony Bennett titled "The Music Never Ends," with Clint Eastwood as executive producer.

Other REE titles released include "2 Days in Paris," "Live-in Maid," "The Devil Came on Horseback," "No End in Sight," "One to Another" and "Girl 27."

From 1983 to 1988, Ted began his home video career managing a metropolitan retail chain. He then moved to video distributor ETD, where he served as Western regional director of sales and operations. Until March 2000, Ted was vice president of product and merchandising for Video City, where he negotiated the industry's first DVD revenue sharing agreement and re-shaped the rental business with the studios.

He currently serves on the Film Advisory Boards for Tribeca Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival, the retail advisory board for the Digital Entertainment Group, the FIND Advisory Board and MediaRights.org, as well as a trustee for the International Documentary Association. Ted was also included in Variety's 'Global 50,' a list of the 50 most influential people in independent film distribution, as well as Hollywood Reporter's 'Power 50.'

An avid consumer of popular culture, Ted keeps abreast of the entertainment industry by reading the dailies and trades cover-to-cover. He also enjoys traveling and skiing in his coveted downtime. He lives in Los Angeles with his two kids.
  

 

About Barry Schuler:

An acclaimed Internet pioneer, Barry Schuler has developed emerging technologies into successful enterprises for the last 25 years. A serial entrepreneur, his career spans breakthroughs in early video games, computer graphics, Interactive media, e-commerce, consumerization of the Internet, development of the first desktop Ultra-short Pulse Lasers, and recently the breakthrough motion picture "LOOK."

An acclaimed Internet pioneer, Barry Schuler has developed emerging technologies into successful enterprises for the last 25 years. A serial entrepreneur, his career spans breakthroughs in early video games, computer graphics, Interactive media, e-commerce, consumerization of the Internet, development of the first desktop Ultra-short Pulse Lasers, and recently the breakthrough motion picture "LOOK."

Schuler spent eight years with AOL, where he was the architect of the consumer experience that brought the Internet into the lives of more than 25 million households. After performing in several roles of increasing responsibility, during AOL’s explosive growth, Schuler ultimately served as Chairman and CEO during the height of the company’s reach and influence.

Prior to AOL, Schuler was CEO and co-founder of multimedia development firm Medior Inc. until its acquisition by AOL in 1995. Under his leadership, Medior pioneered the use of interactive multimedia for applications such as electronic commerce, entertainment, and corporate information systems. The company designed the America Online interface that ultimately made AOL leading consumer online service. Currently, Schuler is CEO/Chairman of Raydiance, Inc. which has pioneered the world’s first desktop ultra-short pulse laser, and is a Managing Director of The DFJ Growth fund, a global venture capital firm. He serves as a Director on the Boards of Raydiance, Inc., Hands-on Mobile Entertainment, Synthetic Genomics, Inc., UBMatrix And UUSEE.Schuler is an avid supporter of educational innovation and reform. He is co-founder of The Blue Oak School, Napa Valley’s only independent progressive school, and currently leading a project to help transform public school systems.

Schuler is a graduate of Rutgers University and a member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.


David Shultz, President, Vitagraph Films, LLC

 David Shultz is the founder and president of Vitagraph Films, a self contained theatrical and home optical, television distribution entity. Currently, Vitagraph Films is consulting for Peace Arch on the release of CHAPTER 27 and Barry Shuler’s Liberated Artists on the release of LOOK. In early 2008 he will also release the award-winning Brazilian film ALICE’S HOUSE.

Previously, Shultz released Tartan Films USA’s 2006-2007 theatrical slate including the Cannes Film Festival Prize Winner RED ROAD directed by Andrea Arnold and THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG, second feature from the Academy Award winning filmmaker of THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL. In addition to his work with Tartan Films USA in 2007, Shultz, with his partner, Margot Gerber released Guy Maddin’s BRAND UPON THE BRAIN as a film/live theatre event featuring with a live orchestra, live foley sound effects and onstage narrators which included Laurie Anderson, Crispin Glover, Lou Reed, Barbara Steele, Daniel Handler ("Lemony Snicket" author) and others. He also consults for Netflix/Red Envelope Entertainment, handling such projects as the theatrical tour of THE ORCHESTRA OF PIAZZA VITTORIO, an Italian documentary about the formation, in an immigrant neighborhood in Rome, of a world music orchestra.

In 2006, Shultz consulted for First Look Studios on the distribution of KIDS director Larry Clark’s film WASSUP ROCKERS, which opened in 30+ markets nationwide with an estimated P & A spend of $2 million. Vitagraph also organized 1000+ person outdoor screenings of the film accompanied by live bands and skateboarding contests in New York and Los Angeles. While at First Look, Vitagraph Films was also involved with THE PROPOSITION, written by rocker, Nick Cave, and starring, Guy Pearce, Danny Huston, Emily Watson and Ray Winstone which played in competition at major festivals including Toronto, Sundance and Berlin; and Dito Montiel’s A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, produced by Trudy Styler. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won the Best Director and Best Ensemble cast awards. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Diane Weist and Rosario Dawson. Vitagraph’s first project for First Look was to release the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, FORTY SHADES OF BLUE starring Rip Torn. The film’s co-star Dina Korzun was nominated for an IFP Spirit Award for Best Actress.

In 2005 Vitagraph Films released Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesias’ outrageous comedy EL CRIMEN PERFECTO in the US. The artwork devised by Margot Gerber was nominated for a Hollywood Reporter Key Art Award.

Founded in 1999, Vitagraph Films was originally established as the distribution label for the non-profit American Cinematheque, a Los Angeles based specialty theatrical exhibition organization that programs the historic 1922 Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The concept behind the label was to bring the rare and unusual programming of the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre to a wider audience through DVD, television and theatrical distribution in other market.