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The following article is reprinted from the AIFFP Website January 2001

Omega Partners Entertainment demonstrates Hollywood, Florida can be as good for indies as Hollywood, California

Most independent filmmakers would agree that financing and making their films are much easier tasks then getting the finished project sold and distributed. This understanding of and empathy for independent film producers have been the driving forces behind the development and successes of Omega Partners Entertainment.

In 1997, when Blockbuster Entertainment, then headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, relocated to Dallas, Texas, the Vice President of Purchasing, Michael Clarke, decided to give up his job rather than his Florida lifestyle. "It was a very amicable parting," says Clarke, "and I have managed to remain friends with all of the staff that worked with me during my seven years at Blockbuster." Clarke decided that he would utilize his more than 15 years experience in the film and video business and set up his own consulting and distribution company.

During the following year, Clarke and a former franchise owner at Blockbuster, Fred Harris, began exploring joint expansion opportunities. By 1999, Clarke and Harris had incorporated Omega Partners Entertainment, to provide consulting, acquisitions and distribution to independent filmmakers. "Given our similarities as well as different backgrounds in the film and video industry," notes Harris, "we look at potential projects from several perspectives." These perspectives as well as their Blockbuster experiences have contributed to their high rates of success in identifying and successfully licensing and distributing an average of 15 - 20 titles a year.

So how does a Florida based company succeed in an industry, which is historically based in California and New York? "Technology does assist in our bi-coastal activities," said Clarke. " Also, with creative scheduling and a lot of luck, we're in Dallas and LA every six weeks or so. Of course, there's no getting away from air travel."

"Among the services we offer both sellers and buyers," emphasizes Harris, " is screening and culling through more than 50 films each month. Unfortunately, most of these films, some of which are technically outstanding, are simply not commercially compatible with the market. Since we went on-line with our Website earlier this year, we have experienced a substantial increase in interest for our services from all over the world."

We thought the Omega partners was an interesting option for filmmakers, so we took some time to pick Michael Clarke's brain for AIFFP members.

AIFFP: In your experience, what types of film or genres seem to be the most commercial acceptable for independent filmmakers?

CLARKE: I wish I could offer you a simple answer to that question. In reality, it comes down to quality and uniqueness of the story, the over all production value, the cast and often times, simply timing of the subject matter. We look for recognizable names, which enterprising filmmakers often are able to attract, especially if their scripts are interesting, even if their budgets are restrictive. As far as genre, Urban with strong music is hot right now and Horror and Suspense always seems to have strong followings.

AIFFP: When you say you offer consulting to independent filmmakers, just exactly what does that mean?

HARRIS: Our consulting services are basically "sounding boards" and "impartial perspectives" for our clients. In the course of a year, we see a lot of films and marketing programs; some of which work well and many of which don't work at all. Most of our clients, especially those with finished films, are looking for assistance with trailers and "key art." Helping to properly "position" a film often can make the difference between selling or not selling it.

AIFFP: What are some recent independent titles you have handled?

CLARKE: "Boy Wonderz" is a film we just placed with Blockbuster Video for Liberty International Entertainment. This is a film about a fictional "boys band," loaded with lots of original music and targets a youthful market that is out there buying millions of CDs daily. At the other end of the continuum, we just finalized video placement for a platform theatrical film from Arrow Releasing Incorporated entitled "The Autumn Heart." This film is a bit of a tearjerker with some quirky overtones and will have broad audience appeal because of the story. It has recognizable talent, such as Ally Sheedy and Tyne Daly to help bolster interest. Of course, I couldn't fully answer your question without mentioning the film we produced last year, "Golfballs!" We had a lot of fun making the movie and continue to enjoy sales and distribution success with it. It was recently rated as one of the all time great golf movies in a survey...

AIFFP: What advice would you offer independent filmmakers looking for distribution?

CLARKE: I think "persistence" would sum it up in one word. Filmmakers, who have the courage of their convictions to get their projects made in the first place, generally find a way to have them showcased for audiences. That doesn't always translate to commercial success or wide distribution, but then that's not always the prime motivation behind every film project.

AIFFP: Thanks for your time, Michael.

CLARKE: You're welcome, and good luck to your members

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