IFilm, Bender-Spinks pact for indie shorts

In what is being heralded as the first deal of its kind, ‘Netcaster IFilm Network is expected to announce today an exclusive first-look deal with Bender-Spink, in which the Web site will receive indie shorts from the management and production outfit in exchange for cash and equity in the company.

As broadcasting films online becomes more prevalent (everything from two-minute shorts to full two-hour features), the deal will likely signal the first in a series of first-look pacts between Hollywood producers and ‘Netcasters.

Through terms of the two-year deal (Bender-Spink has the option for a third), IFilm will gain access to short films by clients of Bender-Spink, who have already helmed spoofs “Saving Ryan’s Privates,” “George Lucas in Love” and “Swing Blade.”

Deal does not include pics produced by Bender-Spink through its first-look deal with New Line Cinema.

Revolutionary

“The deal will revolutionize the way business is conducted in Hollywood,” IFilm Network CEO Rodger Raderman told Daily Variety. “The reason we partnered with Bender-Spink is they are consistently breaking new talent in writing and directing and are helping open doors for filmmakers.”

While competitors are buying libraries or scouring film fests for shorts, IFilm said it is using first-look deals to “partner for content” and secure pacts with individual content creators.

“We’re a distribution network,” Raderman said. “Our partners will hunt for great content for us.”

IFilm is expected to announce several more deals in the coming weeks with the goal of partnering with a variety of companies, from studios to agencies for companies.

For Bender-Spink, the deal with the ‘Netcaster means greater exposure for its tyro clients. It’s also cheaper, with filmmakers no longer mailing out tapes to execs hoping they’ll watch them.

“IFilm will become an invaluable resource for our clients,” said JC Spink, partner in Bender-Spink. “Exposure is what everyone’s looking for to land that next job. Shorts are becoming a filmmaker’s calling card. It’s where studios are going to find the next wave of filmmakers.”

‘Game’ plan

Beginning today, the first short to be screened as part of the deal will be the dark comedy “Sunday’s Game,” scripted by Jason Ward and helmed by Gene Laufenberg.

However, the short will not be screened for viewers of IFilm.net. The San Francisco-based company today also launches IFilm Pro, a members-only spinoff for Hollywood execs, offering them a writer’s database, tracking boards, job list and screening room of new shorts.

“Sunday’s Game” will only be screened for IFilm Pro’s members. It may eventually be shown on IFilm.net.

The idea is to create a spot in cyberspace for Hollywood to do business.

“Part of the power of the Internet is enabling talent to connect directly with an audience,” Raderman said. ” ‘Sunday’s Game’ will be seen by the decision makers.” Where other films from Bender-Spink will be screened has yet to be determined.

Separately, Bender-Spink prexy of production Roy Lee, who also co-founded insider Web site FilmShark.com, is joining IFilm Pro.

Dan Koscielak, a creative exec at Steven Reuther’s Bel-Air Entertainment, has also ankled his post to become producer of IFilm Pro, working with Bender-Spink to expand the site and develop film industry-related tools and content.

Several sites offering similar services have sprung up recently on the ‘Net, including FilmShark.com and Steve Tisch’s GoCoverage.com, which offer tools for Hollywood execs online.

Whether or not Hollywood will actually use the sites to do business has yet to be determined. Some industryites fear that one site could hold a monopoly of information, concerning the biz.

Besides repping a growing stable of writers and directors, Bender-Spink set up “Good God” at Fox 2000, New Line’s “Cheaters” and Warner Bros.’ “Urban Townie.” Chris Bender produced U’s “American Pie” and New Line’s upcoming “Flight 180.”

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