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Ariztical Gets New Staff, New Locale

7 Sep, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Niche supplier Ariztcal Entertainment is spreading its wings with a new location, new staff and broader acquisition and distribution plans.

Michael J. Shoel, Ariztical president recently moved the company's home base from Tucson, Arizona to Los Angeles and has brought on dedicated staffers Eric Peterson as director of sales and William Barrantes as director of acquisitions and product development.

Previously, Shoel was handling both roles as well as serving as president of the small company.

Peterson formerly worked for Vanguard and Showtime, where he helped launch the network's video division in 1999 with the surprise hit Queer as Folk on DVD.

Barrantes was the International Coordinator for Ventura Distribution in 2003.

A recent bite of interest from Koch Distribution for Ariztical product inspired Shoel to beef up his own operations, rather than go with a larger company.

“It wasn't really a difficult decision,” he said. “I like Koch, they have a great reputation, I heard great things about them, and they gave me a really attractive offer. But I really felt it was more important to control our own destiny.”

Ariztical is known for its quality film-festival gay and lesbian genre films and that will continue, Shoel said. But, the plan is to broaden the catalog by gathering other niche-like product such as “politically progressive or feminist films,” Shoel said. “I also have an interest in, but I haven't really found it yet in picking up something that is spiritual but not necessarily religious.”

There has been a steady uptick in interest for the supplier's core catalog of gay and lesbian-themed film, he said and Ariztical has carved out a name in the niche.

“It's a very crowded [DVD] market and it's very transitory,” he said. “But we know our audience and that's one thing that helps us, we have a very real audience. Plus our competition is minimal, I think we have probably five competitors.”

Other suppliers are starting to jump on the bandwagon and pick up gay and lesbian titles, he said. “But I can tell, just by the ads they are creating, some of them don't really understand it,” Shoel said.

Ariztical is currently working on a follow-up to the film festival favorite Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, which Shoel personally produced. It will hit theaters over Thanksgiving and DVD by Spring 2007.

The indie supplier is also prepping for the future of home entertainment. Barrantes is heading up digital distribution deals with 7 or 8 different players in that segment of the market, Shoel said.

The last two films Ariztical produced were shot in high-definition and the supplier has worked out a system to upgrade its content to next-generation formats as soon as it's warranted.

“I suspect that will happen within the next year or so,” he said. “Particularly with the gay and lesbian audience, we are early adopters of technology. I think the demand for us to supply [HD content] is going to be sooner rather than later.”

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