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VSDA Show: Indie Suppliers Focus on Variety and Quality

30 Jul, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

Echoing the words of Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford in an opening video montage, supplier panelists at yesterday's Indie Label Luncheon stressed the important niche that independent product fills in the video channel.

“I believe it is the independent product that offers consumers choice,” said Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment VP of marketing Tracey Garvin, who introduced the Sony Classics and Screen Gems lineups distributed by the studio. Titles in the pipeline include a direct-to-video sequel to Wild Things, the acclaimed film Whale Rider and the documentary Winged Migration.

Independent product gives retailers a “chance to offer customers who are picky and hard-to- please not just the same old stuff,” said Sundance Channel Home Entertainment's Paula Frecero.

John Hart, a Tony-winning Broadway producer and producer of such acclaimed films as Boys Don't Cry, said he founded Hart Sharp Video, with Joe Amodei at the helm, to self-distribute product that could not find a home.

“We were not in control of our own destiny,” he said, referring to the hit-or-miss approach of selling films via the film festival circuit.

“We are not unlike you,” said Amodei. “Like yourselves, we're constantly doing battle with the big guys.”

Executives showed retailers lineups of everything from documentaries, foreign films and anime to alternative lifestyle titles.

Showtime's Sallie Frankel got a round of applause for the studio's decision to release all of its titles to retail at once. The studio formerly had a deal giving Blockbuster an exclusive rental window on VHS titles.

In response to a retailer question about the continued distribution of VHS, Koch Lorber's Richard Lorber said the supplier would price cassette “parallel to DVD” and that there is “no compelling reason not to keep VHS.”

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