Distributor FAQ: Newmarket Films

Why was Newmarket Films created?
Will Tyler and Chris Ball [co-presidents of Newmarket Capitol Group] had produced and financed Memento. I met them when they had difficulty getting a successful deal to distribute the film. I came in, at that point, undertaking it as a one-off project and released Memento under the Newmarket Films banner. It was a big hit and they were excited about it. Then it just took them a while to decide to fully go into distribution. So recently I left IFHC Films and partnered up with Will and Chris to do a full theatrical distribution company.

What’s the difference between Newmarket Capital Group and Newmarket Films?
Newmakret Films is a theatrical distribution company; it was born out of the financing company Newmarket Capital Group. Newmarket Capital Group has been around for fourteen years and has financed around eighty films—everything from studio to independent art films.

What’s the mission of Newmarket Films?
[To distribute] quality films of any genre that we believe in, that we have [both] an emotional attachment and a business attachment to.

How is Newmarket different from other independent distributors?
I think the different thing about Newmarket is it has a real business and financing background. We’re approaching it in the right way, in that we’re bending art and commerce. We also realize that partnerships are great with agents and studios, video companies, and particularly HBO-who are partnering up with Newmarket Films to release Real Women Have Curves—they give us a strength and particularly help in starting our company. I think it’s important for us to start out in an aggressive manner, to show exhibitors and other producers that we’ll really get behind [a film] and push it hard. I think that we’re in a position to take advantage of that, based on both Newmarket’s success with Memento and films I’ve worked on at IFC [Y Tu Mama Tambien, My Big Fat Greek Wedding]. So we’ve got a nice position in the marketplace with exhibitors.

What types of films are you seeing?
We want to find something like Memento, [which] had genre elements that enabled it to broaden out and cross over. We’d love to be able to find films that we can aggressively release in kind of a crossover manner.

How many projects will you acquire per year, and at what stage should filmmakers approach you?
We hope to gear up to do ten or twelve films a year. We will start out mainly acquiring completed films.

What festivities do you look at?
We try to cover everything. Obviously Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, but also I normally go to Telluride. Will and Chris are able to cover some of the meetings, screenings, and premieres in London. We split up Seattle, Chicago, South by Southwest; somebody will track all those festivals, probably some of the European ones as well.

How do you work with the filmmakers during the distribution process?
I’m always very inclusive and believe the marketing, particularly for independent films, kind of comes organically out of the writer and director knowing the story and what audience they’re going to reach. I try to work with the filmmakers to use the assets that they’ve brought to the production to ultimately sell the film. In doing that, I try to establish a sort of relationship that hopefully can be ongoing on another project. I think it’s important to try to have a continuity of filmmakers you’re working with. You can tell pretty quickly if they really want to be involved, and if they are it’s usually productive. I think that sometimes if a filmmaker is superficial and doesn’t want to get down and do the work, it’s better off if they aren’t involved. It depends on the individual.

What’s rewarding about distribution?
I think that you’re trying to get filmmakers seen or films out that are risky and would be left behind perhaps by the major studios, so you get a real sense of satisfaction to deliver a message or an experience to an audience. Films like Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama, Monsoon Wedding, and Memento have shown that it’s potentially a really good business, and there is an upside: [They’ll help to] make a lot of other films successful. It’s that blend of doing something you believe in and having fun.

What are some of the issues concerning Newmarket?
Other than the staggering logistics of just starting up, it’s looking forward to putting the plan in action.

Is there extra pressure after the success you’ve had with past films, which included Memento, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
There is, because Greek Wedding was such a wild success. The pressure’s on myself. I feel it from everybody. We all really want the first one to work coming right after Greek Wedding. With Real Women Have Curves, I’m trying to manage the expectations. Independent films are so difficult. It takes so much work to get even a modest success like a couple million. Most films don’t make that. I try to keep that in perspective and hope that if we stick to our business plans and stick to our instincts about movies, we’llw in out on some films. If we pick good films that have a certain amount of quality, they’ll have their own level of success, whether critically or box office wise.

Will you consider it a failure if the first couple films don’t get critical or box-office acclaim?
No. You can’t do that. You really have to look at it from a relative space. Real Women Have Curves is a beautiful film, but it’s a very small film that needs to have word-of-mouth and a groundswell push it up. I know very well how difficult that is and how lucky I’ve been in the past with the films. I’m not counting on it, but I have a lot of faith in the movie.

What advice would you give to the filmmakers who are looking for distribution?
You have to think it through before you commit to throwing [a film] into a festival. You have to do a lot of research about distribution, festivals, marketing, grosses, who’s worked with who before. It’s [about] just doing the homework before you make that initial decision. There are so many films that don’t find a way out [to theaters] that probably deserve to [be distributed]. How do you think your film can be marketed? What venues are there? I think a lot of it is research on your film.

About :

Jason Guerrasio was a staff writer for The Independent.