Twelve UK distributors have formed the Independent Film Distributors’ Association (IFDA)

Twelve UK independent distributors today announced the creation of a new body representing their collective voices in the UK.

The Independent Film Distributors’ Association (IFDA) is a collection of 12 companies that will meet to discuss issues surrounding independent distribution in the UK and to develop a coherent and louder voice in the industry.

The founder companies are (in alphabetical order): Artificial Eye, Dogwoof, eOne, Icon, Lionsgate UK, Metrodome, Momentum Pictures, Optimum Releasing, Revolver, Soda Pictures, Vertigo and Verve Pictures.

Entertainment Film Distributors are the only major UK independent distributor not to have joined to date. The company is said to be considering its participation.

Alex Hamilton, director of film, eOne, will serve as IFDA chair in its first year, with Colin Burch, director, Verve, as vice chair. The organisation will meet formally six times per year, with the first meeting due to take place on May 1.

“At a time of considerable change and challenge in the UK marketplace, companies of all shapes and sizes have come together in a spirit of enthusiasm and collaboration to see if we can on occasion speak with one voice. The companies who’ve signed up to the association cover almost the entirety of the independent sector, and we hope that we can make a contribution across a wide range of industry issues,” comments Hamilton.

Speaking to Screen, Hamilton was keen to stress that the IFDA was not a union or collective bargaining group: “We’re not trying to strike a collective bargaining group. That’s not what we are doing. We don’t want to address our broadcast partnerships or exhibitor relations during these meetings. It’s more about industry issues that are not business to business negotiations. We will be discussing issues like the P&A fund [now inherited by the BFI], support for distribution, piracy, etc. It makes sense for us to meet and develop a unified voice.”

Hamilton, and the group at large, also stressed that IFDA would not cause conflict with the existing Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) — which counts independents and studio members among its number – with all existing independents signed up to IFDA continuing as members of the FDA. In saying that, the group is formed with the notable exclusion of the studios: “While we are very committed members of FDA, and will continue to be, there is a difference between the independent and studio worlds. What we are keen to stress is the distinction between independent distribution and distributio. We would like other sectors of the industry to hear an independent distribution perspective. And we would like to meet other parties. We are meeting with the BFI. We have already met with the DCMS [Department for Culture Media & Sport],” continued Hamilton.

With the DCMS/BFI film consultation period coming up, Hamilton stressed the importance of the group getting its voice heard: “It’s important distribution isn’t considered a homogenous mass when the DCMS is formulating public policy in relation to film. Be it connecting production to distribution, the P&A fund, audience development, etc.”

While in recent times some UK distributors have been frustrated over the virtual print fee [VPF] rates charged by exhibitors to distributors, Hamilton denied that the new association was a platform for commercial lobbying: “This is not about the VPF. This is not about increasing our leverage with exhibition. People will ask what our agenda is but we don’t have a fully formed agenda. This is exploratory. IFDA is not going to represent independent distribution in commercial negotiations. That’s not the intention right now. Maybe members of the group will say it should going forward but it’s not my intention.”

Colin Burch added: “We all know each other and it should offer the chance to identify common issues and possibilities, however differently we may operate individually. To some extent we’re friendly rivals, but a healthy and diverse independent environment, fully engaged with industry colleagues in all other sectors, benefits us all.”