This week, Original Media, the New York-headquartered independent film and TV production company headed by former internet entrepreneur Charlie Corwin, is attending Sundance with what it hopes will be another buzz-generating festival film.
In 2005, the then two-year-old company went to Park City as the primary backer of The Squid And The Whale. In 2006, it returned with both A Guide To Recognising Your Saints and Half Nelson. This year, the project is August, the Austin Chick-directed drama starring Josh Hartnett that premieres in the festival's Spectrum category. CAA is handling the domestic sale and ContentFilm the international deals.
This year, though, Corwin will have more than projects to talk about. Two months ago, the boyish company co-founder and CEO sold a controlling stake in Original to Endemol USA, the US arm of the European reality TV giant. Now he is buzzing with enthusiasm over how the two operations can work together.
From a creative standpoint, being owned by the producer of Deal Or No Deal and Fear Factor will not affect Original's taste for edgy independent features, Corwin promises. "My creative approach is simply to connect with stories and storytelling that I find compelling," he says. "(Endemol) bought my company knowing what kind of films I want to make and they want me to continue making the films that are appealing to me."
Financially, the acquisition should give Original - whose projects so far have been made with private equity from high net-worth individuals - more muscle and flexibility. Endemol, says Corwin, "are very interested in moving into the feature film world and part of our deal was to work out a fund to produce movies. So I'll be able to finance feature films with more of a traditional fund in place."
The union will also lead Endemol into scripted television. Having itself started in reality television - it makes the TLC cable show LA Ink and the show's Miami and London spin-offs - Original has a series greenlight for The Philanthropist, a one-hour drama from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson about a rebel billionaire. Corwin, Fontana and Levinson will executive produce (writers' strike allowing) for Universal Media Studios and NBC.
There are plenty of other areas into which the united companies could venture, including distribution, which Corwin finds "tremendously interesting, because it's in flux right now".
"They have a global footprint, an established brand and an infrastructure that can be leveraged," says Corwin of his new Endemol parent. "And they have an entrepreneurial spirit and a creative bent. And to me those are the perfect ingredients to make the kind of movies I want to make.
"They're obviously integral to my business, in terms of the things they bring to the table - entry into foreign markets, infrastructure, capital, relationships, leverage. But what's most exciting is I also get to be integral to their business by helping them expand into new areas."