Andy Whittaker, head of forward-thinking UK distributor Dogwoof Pictures, is heading a new film distribution co-operative. Essentially, ordinary film fans will be part of a group acquiring rights to independent films. launches officially today at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The co-op has been set up to raise capitol to invest in acquisition and P&A funding for feature film distribution. members will also get to vote on and manage film release plans. Organisers hope to recruit 50,000 members, who invest about $30 each and take an equal stake - profits can be shared by members or re-invested in future film releases.

The co-operative, which is officially member-owned, will initially distribute films in the UK by the end of the year; US distribution is likely to follow.

Whitaker said that the co-op would look for 'small to medium range features that are expected to achieve 50 print distribution, with a significant nationwide P&A campaign.'

The group's other founders are Desigan Chinniah and Santosh Panda.

'It's about establishing a dialogue based on demand rather than supply and about re-connecting audiences and markets by listening to the crowd's wisdom' Whittaker said in a statement. 'Movie releases have become too much about push and all about who can shout loudest, and for independent movies this studio model simply does not work. This initiative reflects current internet pull trends and listens to and acts upon what the audience wants and empowers them. It also helps filmmakers whose films struggle to find distribution.'