Pressman, Schmidt hang out shingle
TORONTO — Producer Edward R. Pressman and John Schmidt, a founding partner of October Films, have formed ContentFilm, a produc-tion and distribution company designed to focus on digital production.
With an initial equity base of roughly $15 million, Gotham-based company will also open offices in L.A. and London. It will finance and produce 12-15 pics annually, all budgeted at $2 million and under and most shot digitally. Shingle hopes to move its way upstream into higher-budgeted projects.
Pressman, whose producer credits range from “Badlands” to “American Psycho,” will serve as shingle’s chairman and CEO; Schmidt will be prexy and chief operating officer.
Company plans to distribute its pics as well, though it is exploring dif-ferent modes of distribution, including broadband delivery systems; a theatrical deal with an established distrib is likely in the coming months. For some projects that don’t go out theatrically, ContentFilm hopes to set partnerships for vid, TV and pay-per-view distribution.
Bullish on digital future
“They’re great people,” Frank Biondi, who is part of a group of inves-tors that have put $8 million-$10 million toward ContentFilm, told Daily Variety. “Ultimately, you must invest in people.” Biondi added that he is optimistic about the future of digital film production.
Lead investor in ContentFilm is Syntek Capital, a European venture fund with offices in Munich, Milan and London. Syntek’s investment in ContentFilm was spearheaded by Letizia Moratti, formerly chair of Syn-tek’s supervisory board and now Italy’s minister of education. Company’s North American investments include C2 Media, Wildbrain, Etensity and Metilinx.
Pressman and Schmidt have also invested. Biondi, whose investments come through his Water View Advisers, will sit on the company’s board of the directors along with Pressman, Schmidt and reps from Syntek.
Schmidt and Pressman began discussions about ContentFilm a year ago. Each had been in separate talks with longtime friend Biondi about digital filmmaking, and Biondi suggested that they begin talking with each other.
“The aesthetic of film changed in the ’60s, when cameras and other equipment got better and lighter and easier to use,” said Pressman, who has produced more than 60 pics. “We feel that the advent of digital technology will similarly give a voice to a new generation of filmmakers, and John and I are excited to bring the maverick spirit of Pressman and the old October Films into a future that is full of possibilities.”
Schmidt added: “Ed and I believe that the digital production movement presents an opportunity to build a new company that will bring together top filmmakers from around the world to produce feature films at a reason-able cost level.”
Pressman is producing, along with Ken Lipper and Elliot Kastner, “Indecent Exposure” for director Nick Broomfield.