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NY's Quad Cinema Adapts to Changing Film Environment

Scene from FlooredFloored is a new documentary about the demise of the unfittest in Chicago's commodities markets. With filmmakers struggling to adapt to a mutant distribution environment, could it also be a metaphor for today's indie film industry?

The doc, by James Allen Smith, opened today at New York's Quad Cinema through a self-distribution mechanism that would make Darwin proud. Called “Quad Cinema 4-Wall Select,” the initiative allows filmmakers to show their work in the weighty media market of Manhattan.

A flat fee rumored to be in the $11,000 range grants a one-week theatrical run at the time-tumbled Village art house, with any ticket sales filling the filmmaker's pocket. The deal additionally offers two morning press screenings and inclusion in the Quad’s ads in the Friday New York Times and Village Voice. A DVD sales play and streaming and downloading options on further sweeten the pot.

There's an outreach component as well: plugs on the Quad's website and e-newsletter (blasted out to 7,000 subscribers); favorable ad rates in major media; and use of the theater's publicist at a discount.

"I've come across more and more high-quality films without a distributor, said Quad president Elliott Kanbar in a statement. "… It's heartbreaking that, much too often, the filmmaker's hopes and dreams crash simply because they couldn't hook up with a distributor," he continued by way of explaining the impetus behind the DIY program.

Yet a willingness to exchange coin will only get filmmakers so far. Work that fails to "meet the Quad's standards" won't find its glory through 4-Wall Select. Family owned and operated, the theater has burnished its reputation as a top exhibitor – and taste-maker -- of quality independent, foreign and non-fiction cinema since its founding in 1972.

Its quad-walling program, launched in March, is still too young to be properly assessed. Yet as independent films crank out by the wagon-loads, and as traditional outlets keep shrinking apace, solutions such as 4-Wall Select hold out some measure of hope for the industry's evolutionary prospects.

For more info go to:

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-8800

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