Partners Entertainment demonstrates Hollywood, Florida
can be as good for indies as Hollywood, California
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
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."
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 www.edigifilm.com
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.
In your experience, what types of film or genres seem to be the
most commercial acceptable for independent filmmakers?
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.
When you say you offer consulting to independent filmmakers, just
exactly what does that mean?
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
What are some recent independent titles you have handled?
"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...
What advice would you offer independent filmmakers looking for distribution?
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.
Thanks for your time, Michael.
You're welcome, and good luck to your members