The founder ofthe Slamdance Film Festival Peter Baxter has teamed up with film and TVproducer and manager Robert Schwartz and Cleveland-based businessman GeorgeKetvertis to launch Slamdance Media Group, a new US distribution and talentmanagement outfit based in Los Angeles.

The company hasalready closed a home entertainment output deal with Ventura Entertainment, adivision of Ventura Distribution, to sell product under a new branded Slamdancelabel.

Meanwhile the theatrical distribution unit, to be knownas Slamdance On The Road, has signed a deal with Arclight Cinemas for exclusiveexhibition of the company's titles in the LA market. Arclight is an upscalemultiplex in Hollywood, which has become one of the most prestigious venues inthe Los Angeles area.

Slamdance On The Road hasalready picked up US theatrical rights to two films - Mark Neale's grand prixmotorcycle racing documentary Faster which screened at the Slamdance Film Festival this year, and BetterHousekeeping, which won theSlamdance Grand Jury Prize in 2000.

The management unit willinherit a client list currently represented by Schwartz and is also seeking outstrategic alliances with film and TV production companies.

The company has licensed theSlamdance name from Slamdance Inc, the corporate entity which runs theSlamdance Film Festival, launched in Park City in 1995 in response to thegrowth of the Sundance Film Festival to showcase undistributed films by newfilm-makers.

Baxter has expanded thefestival's activities from the Jan festival to include tours of the festivalprize-winners around the country and overseas, DVDs of festival shorts, ascreenplay competition, an online film competition and the $99 Specialscompetition. The new venture will operate independently from the festival as a for-profitorganization, with Schwartz as chairman and co-CEO, Baxter as president andco-CEO and Ketvertis as executive vice president for strategic planning andbusiness development.

"First, we grew from afestival into a year-round operation, and now we are continuing to supporttruly independent filmmakers with a commercial enterprise that brings them justfinancial reward," said Baxter in a statement.

Baxter will remain presidentof Slamdance Inc, but a new director is being sought to run the flagship festivalin Park City. Slamdance Media Group will, however, scout product and clientsfrom among the submissions to the festival among other sources.

Slamdance On The Road willoffer film-makers guaranteed release in ten domestic markets including theArclight in LA and a fixed percentage of the company's box office gross share. Faster will open at the ArcLight on Apr 23, with additionalbookings promised for April and May in other cities around the country. BetterHousekeeping was originally scheduled for US release through Shooting Gallery,but was left orphaned on that company's closure.