Indie house, AtomFilms ink deal

In its first serious move on the Web since Rick Hess took the reins as prexy, Propaganda Films has inked a first look deal with AtomFilms where the indie studio’s stable of musicvid and commercial helmers will create original short films and television shows for the Netcaster to distribute on the Web.

Deal is being announced today at the Yahoo! Internet Life Online Film Festival, a two-day confab where Netcasting dotcoms Pop, Icebox, iFilm and Shockwave are expected to make their own major announcements.

Through the pact, which has been in development for months, Propaganda will work with AtomFilms to greenlight and co-finance short film ideas pitched by Propaganda’s managed clients, including acting talent.

Commercial banner Satellite Films falls under the Propaganda banner and will also be part of the deal. Propaganda will produce the roughly 5-minute-long shorts through its inhouse physical production department.

For Seattle-based AtomFilms, not only does the deal secure more content to its library but also top talent.

“We’ve always been very into helping young artists get their start in the business, but we won’t discriminate against established artists,” said Heather Redman, AtomFilms’ senior veep of strategy and development.

Under terms of the agreement, the first pic to bow on AtomFilms in the next couple of months will most likely be Paul Boyd’s “Choke,” starring Brendan Sexton III and Deborah Unger. The second will be Morgan J. Freeman’s “Violet Crumble,” also starring Sexton.

Other Propaganda helmers who have pledged to create online shorts include Simon West, Keir MacFarlane, Brian Beletic, Mark Osborne, Dante Ariola, Dominic Sena, Jamie Babbitt, Mark Romanek, Steve Hanft, Jhoan Camitz and Josh Taft.

But the projects aren’t limited to short films.

“It might be a film, it might be a series, it might grow into something beyond traditional shorts,” Redman said. “Propaganda’s pool of talent is interested in learning this new world. And we’re interested in having their talent participate in our online community.”

Additionally, Propaganda will license select pics to AtomFilms for worldwide distribution, with Jamie Babbitt’s “Sleeping Beauties” among the first. She most recently helmed “But I’m a Cheerleader,” which bowed at the Sundance Film Festival.

All Propaganda co-productions will be available to view on a new Propaganda channel to appear on the AtomFilms’ Web site. Revenues will be shared across the board.

“Our focus is to make the creative vision of Propaganda filmmakers available to a much wider audience, and AtomFilms is the perfect partner for this,” said Hess, prexy of Propaganda Films.

Propaganda spent the last few months restructuring its operation to not only ramp up its film and television production arms but also to seriously step into the Netcasting game as a content creator for the Web.

The idea for using the Web is to generate more exposure for Propaganda’s young filmmakers, clients and talent and turn dotcoms into a new avenue for its projects.

Through AtomFilms, pics not only are viewed by Netizens (shorts also appear on other Web sites) but also on cable channels and airlines, which Atom licenses its content to.

“Our mission is to help our directors cross over to movies, television and new media — to spread their creative wings into new arenas,” Hess said. “We’re basically associating with a company that has a cool point of view and that’s aggressive. They have a true point of view and are very particular about the content they put out. And they have an interesting business model that works on the Web today.”

Deal doesn’t come as much of a surprise; Hess sits on AtomFilms’ board of directors.

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