Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After Dark Originals... What You Need to Know and What You Think.

If you click on this link, you'll be taken to the future home page of After Dark Originals. Now, you may be asking yourself, "What, exactly, is After Dark Originals?". Well, let's take a look...

After Dark Films is an independent motion picture studio, formed in 2006, by Courtney Solomon and Hong Kong based real estate magnate, Allan Zeman. Solomon is a filmmaker, most notably having directed both "Dungeons & Dragons" and "An American Haunting". Allan Zeman lives in Hong Kong, is of Jewish decent, and is involved in everything from Wynn Resorts to fashion to film and TV. Their paths must have somehow crossed in Canada, as Solomon is from Toronto and Zeman lived in Canada for most of his life, just recently renouncing his citizenship in 2008. The first film under the After Dark banner was Solomon's "An American Haunting". Shortly after that, After Dark formed a multi-year marketing and distribution deal with Lionsgate for Horrorfest's "8 Films To Die For". After Dark would handle the theatrical marketing and releases, Lionsgate would handle the distribution of all ancillary forms, such as home video, pay TV, pay per view, VOD, etc. Building on the success of Horrorfest, After Dark and Lionsgate are going to team up with NBC Universal's SyFy channel with the new series, After Dark Originals. Basically, instead of acquiring films, they're now going to produce their own - full control from script concept through final editing. Seven of the eight films slated have been shot and they've already green lit the second set of Originals for season two.

Now, let's get to my thoughts. Well, there's a lot of good stuff going on here. I love the fact that they've tapped directors like Brett Simmons, the guy behind "Husk" - a film that took Sundance by storm and Steven C. Miller, who did the low-budget zombie masterpiece, "Automaton Transfusion". It's also great to see NBC and Lionsgate getting involved in bringing some lower-budget horror to fruition. I can only hope that the guys over at Paramount, who are heading up the new micro-budget label, Insurge, are watching closely and taking notes. All of this is great for us and it can do nothing but grow the awareness and prominence of micro-budget and low-budget horror films, but... I'm still weary about how these guys are handling it. So, here's my concerns... My main issue comes from the fact that they're continuing to tap the existing success stories, as opposed to reaching down into the indie trenches and nurturing the potential of up-and-coming talent. I understand that Lionsgate, After Dark, NBC, Paramount and Viacom are all looking for profitability over good will, but there are ways to hedge for success. They have a chance to not only expand and develop an audience for these films, but they also have the chance to introduce new distribution channels and formats that will pave the way for up-and-comers to become those success stories. I can only hope that they keep that in mind... In reality, film talent can be a renewable and growable (is that a word?) resource and if they tap the potential, they can build this small sub-sect of the industry along with building some careers. If they just try to tap the success stories and existing talent, they're treating film talent like a finite resource and, I'm sorry, it's going to dry up. How do you manage all of this successfully? Well, I've got some ideas swirling around in my head... and if anyone from Lionsgate, After Dark, NBC, Paramount or Viacom wants to hear them, just reach down into the trenches and contact me.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?


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