One of Ryan Harrington's first priorities as the head of the new IndiePix Studios is to make sure people understand exactly what he is doing there. Bob Alexander founded IndiePix as a film download and DVD distributor in 2004 (known especially for documentaries including Billy The Kid) but IndiePix Studios is the new production arm that will work on both fiction and documentary features.
"We will have an official production slate to invest in films, and film-makers know they can come to us with narratives and docs," says New York-based Harrington, who previously worked for A&E and A&E Indie Films (Jesus Camp, American Teen). "I will oversee the film-maker relationships and distribution strategies."
IndiePix Studios will essentially serve as executive producers for selected projects, investing equity funding and also raising other finance as needed. "We invest $100,000-$250,000 per film," he notes. "And most of the films we fund have budgets less than $500,000."
The distribution arm (indiepixfilms.com) will be an obvious ally, he notes, but productions backed by IndiePix Studios can go on to festival debuts with all rights available - the idea is that sales of those films will help fund future projects, akin to a rotating fund. (The initial pot was raised from private investors.)
"Like any executive producers, we want to help film-makers negotiate sales, we want what's best for the films," he says.
IndiePix Studios' current projects are two documentaries and two fiction features. Samantha Buck's 21 Below is a documentary about a family struggling with poor socio-economic conditions in Buffalo, NY (in post now, for a potential Sundance 2009 launch). Famed editors Frank Reynolds (In the Bedroom) and Jenny Golden (Send A Bullet) worked on the project. The other doc is director Gabriel Noble and producer Marjan Tehrani's P Star's Redemption, about a Latino girl trying to make it as a hip-hop artist.
The narrative projects are Paola Mendoza's Entre Nos, which started shooting on August 19, about Colombian immigrants living in Queens, New York; and Nicole Quinn's Slap & Tickle to shoot in September. The latter, a depression-era coming-of-age story about women of colour, stars Ruby Dee, Gloria Reuben and Linda Powell.
In addition to his production work, Harrington will also acquire DVD and digital rights to films for IndiePix's library (the website currently offers more than 3,200 DVDs, about 200 of them from the company's own library.) Some recent DVD acquisitions he has led include Kristi Jacobson's Toots and Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern's The End Of America. The company aims to do more key tentpole acquisitions like these, with dedicated marketing support.
IndiePix Studios, as executive producers, will try to join most fiction films at script stage, but is likely to pick-up documentaries further along.
As for now, Harrington is ready to head out on the circuit of international festivals to get the word out about what IndiePix Studios can offer. "It's an opportunity to help redefine the rules about making films and distribution," he says. "I love that I'm able to say yes, finally (to get films made). I'm willing to take risks."