Film festivals are often used as launch pads for new film entities (witness our own Cinema Eye announcement in Park City last month) and last week in Berlin was no exception. Chief among these for those of us in the documentary community was the launch of Cinelan, a short film content producer and publisher, which comes on the scene with the backing of an impressive roster of filmmakers and partners, including commitments from noted filmmakers Steve James, Morgan Spurlock, Jessica Yu, Eugene Jarecki and Ross Kaufman. Each will make short films for Cinelan and serve on the company's advisory board.
Variety has more:
"Cinelan will focus on professionally produced, three-minute nonfiction films that will be distributed worldwide on multiple platforms, including the Internet, in digital cinemas, on TV and mobile phones.
The startup's syndication partners include U.K. publishing group Guardian News & Media, leading indie U.K. exhib chain Picturehouse Cinemas and Arts Alliance Media's digital distribution specialist Vizumi Network.
Cinelan is backed by London-based venture capital group Arts Alliance."
From the press release:
"'Cinelan represents a new way for smart non-fiction films to reach mainstream audiences,' said Morgan Spurlock. 'It excites me as a filmmaker to know that avenues like this are expanding to reach global audiences with movies reflecting real information and original viewpoints outside traditional media.'"
Apparently, the idea for Cinelan grew out of conversations between Spurlock, branding guru David Wales and Arts Alliance Managing Partner Thomas Hoegh. The three were looking for a new business model that could offer opportunities for professional filmmakers (as opposed to the YouTube or CurrentTV models), while creating a viable revenue model. In a conversation before the announcement last week, Mark Rabinowitz, who is serving on the Cinelan filmmaker relations team (in addition to his superhero identity as The Rabbi), pointed to the involvement of the Guardian newspaper, noting that a film on a specific topic such as Darfur might run on the Guardian website with articles related to the genocide there.
Cinelan is already reaching out to filmmakers by calling from submissions. From the Cinelan website:
"In the span of three minutes, tell a compelling and complete story, suitable for all audiences and technically prepared for theatrical distribution. We’ll work with you to take your film from concept to final cut, offering feedback along the way.
We encourage you to suggest new ideas, revisit ideas from material you’ve already shot, or develop discrete films based on previous or upcoming work (however, we will not accept trailers). The field is open for you to develop any idea."
Details, such as revenue sharing, licensing rights and a description of company involvement, are on the site.