When you're an indie filmmaker, just a struggling artist trying to get noticed and make your way in the industry, you tend to see the entertainment world from that perspective. You against all those gatekeepers. However, you need to remember that some of those gatekeepers are struggling, too. In fact, the whole industry is filled with people are struggling. From small studios, to distributors, to festivals and everything in between. The truth is, the power and influence in this industry is held by so few, while the overwhelming majority of people in the industry are longing to move up that industry ladder. With that, I'd like to mourn the passing of indie film distributor, B-Side, who just announced that they'll be shutting their doors on March 1st.
B-Side was founded in 2005 and just had their best year ever, in 2009. That's why it was such a surprise to see them close their doors. They were an indie distribution company, based on leveraging the audiences and the festivals. They powered a lot of the festivals websites and connected audiences and gathered feedback on films. They had over 220 film festival partners, including Sundance, AFI and Fantastic Fest. Their platform created direct connections to audiences and used on-demand technology. They were a full service distribution company and they even provided research and marketing services to filmmakers and other distributors. I watched them closely and, personally, thought that their model could represent a bright future for indie film. So, what happened?
Here's some snippets from their release on the webpage... "On behalf of the entire B-Side team, I (Chris Hyams - B-Side Founder & CEO) am sad to announce that after 5 years in business B-Side is closing its doors on March 1." "In the face of the lingering economic crisis and ongoing upheaval in the film business, our investors decided to stop funding the company. Under extreme time pressure, we were unable to secure alternate financing, and are left with no choice other than to shut down." "I am sad to have reached the end of this chapter, but am incredibly proud of what we've achieved. I am confident that our efforts will have a lasting impact on this business. I am also confident that the B-Side team will bring their expectations to new ventures that will pick up where B-Side is leaving off."
What's the lesson here? Well, I'd like to talk with Chris Hyams and see what he has to say, but... I'd say the lesson is, this is a tough business. It's a tough business to turn a profit in and it's a tough business to try something new in. Also, when you're dealing with smaller, indie companies, you need to remember that they're in the same boat as you. There's a fight going on here and it's not filmmakers versus distributors... it's the indie world versus the studio world and everyone in the indie world, from the filmmakers to the festivals to the distributors, need to help and support each other. Otherwise, we'll be seeing more companies like B-Side close their doors.
It's definitely sad to see them go and if you'd like to check out the B-Side site and read the full release, you can click HERE.