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Film Veterans Set Up New DVD Company

5 Oct, 2001 By: Joan Villa

A group of alternative film aficionados who spring from DVD publisher The Criterion Collection and now-defunct independent film company Shooting Gallery, is setting up shop as Plexifilm, a New York-based DVD production and distribution studio.

Part of a “global independent DVD revolution,” Plexifilm will license everything from classics to underground cinema, according to c.e.o. Gary Hustwit, former v.p. of broadband at Salon.com.

“The market for DVD has exploded [and] 5% of films made are available on DVD — if that,” Hustwit says. “Yet there's so many more, so in the next few years you're going to see a lot of independent labels like Plexifilm springing up to fill that need.”

As a publishing company and production studio, Plexifilm will offer everything from remastering, restoration and remixing services to commentary tracks, special features and graphic design of menu packages. Vice president Sean Anderson hails from The Criterion Collection, where as director of DVD development he supervised 140 DVD releases including This Is Spinal Tap, The Silence of the Lambs and Spartacus.

“There's a parallel” to Criterion, continues Hustwit, “in that we want to give films that we put out that kind of ‘Criterion' treatment, giving that focused special-feature treatment to films of all sizes.”

Hustwit says the newly formed company is sifting through film offers from directors and studios, and also seeking out library films that would have DVD appeal. Plexifilm is planning January release dates for its first slate of films, which will be announced next month, he adds.

Industry analyst Bob Alexander of Manhattan-based research firm Alexander & Associates believes Plexifilm will have lots of competition from other New York producers. However, while Alexander calls DVD transfers a “useful temporary service,” he sees digital cinema as the wave of the future for a younger generation of independent filmmakers that will ultimately result in more licensing opportunities for companies like Plexifilm.

“Not just DVD but digital video offers the independent creative unit a chance to do something that musicians have been able to do for 10 to15 years,” inexpensively mixing their own recordings on home-based equipment, he says. “It's a fantastic vision for the future and in many respects takes the ball completely away from the studios.”

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