Festribution: Film Festivals as Distributors
Do festivals represent the future of independent film distribution? Where are the opportunities? What are the risks? This panel will explore emergent models and speculate on ways independent producers (and distributors) may leverage a robust film festival circuit for commercial exploitation. With major festivals like Sundance, sxsw and Tribeca already in the game in varying ways, it seems this will be a developing trend. Will smaller regional festivals organize to create a theatrical circuit? Can a festival brand or screening translate into viable, direct revenues for the independent film sector? Is this what festivals should be doing? This panel explores one of the most compelling new developments in the business of film festivals.
Sean Farnel is a consultant specializing in documentaries and festival business development. His occasional blog is RippingReality.com.
Nancy Schafer is the Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival and a senior Vice President of Tribeca Enterprises. Schafer became co-executive director of the Festival in 2007 and executive director in 2008. She joined the festival staff for the first Festival in 2002 as a programmer and has held positions as programmer and managing director. As Senior Vice President, Schafer leads the artistic curation and business development for Tribeca’s business expansion, specifically with Tribeca Film, the distribution label which launched in 2010. As Executive Director, she oversees all programming, budgeting and operations for the Festival as well as working closely with the sponsorship team to raise funding. She also works on Tribeca’s year round events and was involved in the launch of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
Prior to joining Tribeca, she created and ran the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW Film) in Austin, Texas for eight years. Along with her festival experience, Schafer has worked on several films including two from director John Sayles (Sunshine State, Limbo); two from director Robert Byington (Olympia, Shameless) and began her film production career on The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Schafer currently resides in Manhattan.
Schafer is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
Jason W. Janego is Co-President of a new film label at The Weinstein Company, focusing on bringing new films and other specialty entertainment to audiences simultaneously across multiple traditional and digital platforms.
Prior to joining TWC, Janego had his own consultancy and legal practice focusing on the development of innovative strategies for the production, financing and distribution of content in all areas of the entertainment business.
Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer at Big Beach Films, a New York-based production company whose credits include “Away We Go”, “Is Anybody There” and “Sunshine Cleaning”. Before joining Big Beach, Mr. Janego was Head of Business & Legal Affairs for Magnolia Pictures, Magnolia Home Entertainment, and Landmark Theatres, all of which are subsidiaries of the vertically integrated media company 2929 Entertainment. Mr. Janego has also worked at Miramax Films and with the film sales company Cinetic Media.
Earlier in his career, he was employed as an attorney in the legal department of the NBC television network and with Artemis Records. Mr. Janego serves on the Film Committee at the Museum of Modern Art. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University.
Chris Horton joined Sundance Institute in 2011 to run #ArtistServices, a new initiative that further extends the organization’s mission of connecting artists with audiences. Through a series of innovative deals and partnerships, #ArtistServices provides Institute alumni with powerful tools and resources that enhance creative funding and distribution opportunities.
Horton was previously the head of acquisitions for FilmBuff, a pioneering New York-based digital distribution company and sister company to John Sloss’ Cinetic Media. Under Horton’s leadership, FilmBuff acquired sales rights to hundreds of feature-length movies, including Banksy’s “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, Chris Smith’s “Collapse”, and Edward Burns’ “Nice Guy Johnny”. He also brokered numerous output deals with distributors such as MTV Films, Kino-Lorber, Palm Pictures, Wolfe Video, and MPI Media.
Horton had been with Cinetic for five years before the formation of FilmBuff in 2007. At Cinetic, a powerhouse sales agency behind titles such as “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Napoleon Dynamite”, Horton negotiated several distribution deals and led the company’s tracking and outreach strategies.
Horton previously worked for Miramax Films, following his graduation from the University of Colorado with degrees in film studies and psychology.
He lives in Los Angeles.