As a filmmaker, Kevin Smith's actual films aren't that controversial. Sure, Dogma may have had small groups that protested it, but his body of work as a whole, while influential, isn't that provocative. As a self-promoter, however Smith certainly knows how to get people riled up. At last year's Sundance Film Festival, Smith put on a big show of auctioning off the distribution rights to his latest film, Red State, after its world premiere, only to take the stage and announce that the surprise winner of the auction was a bold $20 bid from a one Kevin Smith! He saw the move as a big middle finger to the traditional studio distribution system, while his critics saw it as just a big act of misdirection that wasn't nearly as novel as he was making it out to be -- He's hardly the first filmmaker to ever distribute their own film.
Well, one year later and Smith is once again making another distribution announcement, only this time it's not about his own film. Smith has revealed that his newly minted SModcast Pictures will partner with Phase 4 Films to acquire and distribute four films a year for the next three years. It's a move that is in no significant way different than the exact same distribution model that Smith railed against last year, only it seems he feels his method isn't quite as egregious and wasteful as the studio model since he'll try to keep marketing costs down by touring with the films himself, though the press release does say that the films will still be promoted via a "traditional media reach."
As for what films SModcast and Phase 4 Films are looking to distribute, that's entirely up in the air. Other than revealing each film will have a four- or five- city tour, and that the goal is four films a year, there aren't very many details in the press release. So, if you happen to be a filmmaker who feels your film doesn't have a shot with other distributors, regardless of what type of movie it is, shoot SMacquisitions@phase4films.com an email. You never know what may happen.
Read on for the full release:
Park City, UT (January 23, 2012) – Berry Meyerowitz, President & CEO of Phase 4 Films, announced today that the company has entered into an exclusive distribution deal with SModcast Pictures, the production company founded and run by filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Red State). Through the deal, Phase 4 obtains exclusive rights in the U.S. and Canada to exhibit and distribute up to twelve films per year under the newly created “Kevin Smith and SModcast Pictures Presents” label. Phase 4 will release four of these films theatrically each year, which will include a live tour with Kevin Smith, similar to that of Red State, with the remainder of films being released via all other traditional and digital platforms.
“We had a terrific experience working with Kevin and his team on Red State in Canada, and are thrilled to be embarking on this new venture with him. This label will connect filmmakers and producers with a rabid audience of movie fans that only Kevin Smith can deliver,” said Meyerowitz.
Phase 4 and Kevin Smith will consider movies from all budget levels to release under the label, to form a handpicked collection of unique independent films that resonate with Smith’s and SModcast’s audience. The selected films and filmmakers will also be promoted via Kevin’s vast social and traditional media reach, which includes almost 2,000,000 Twitter followers and nearly 700,000 Facebook friends. Phase 4 and SModCo plan to include an interactive component as well, allowing fans the opportunity to vote for the movie tour to come to their city.
“I had the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire career touring Red State last year,” said Smith. “Watching the movie with an enthusiastic audience and then doing a longer Q&A than the flick itself, jumping on the tour bus and waking up in another city where we’d do it all over again – it felt less like boring ol’ film exhibition and more like punk rock. We learned (and made) lots touring Red State, so now, SModcast Pictures wants to put that experience to good use for other films and filmmakers on smaller road shows for their flicks. We’ll do four or five cities per film, where I’ll intro the movie and do a Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening. At SModcast Pictures, we aim to be the Island of Misfit Toys for flicks!”