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B-Side opens film fest submission site

Company won't charge service fees to filmmakers

B-Side, which creates websites for more than 150 film festivals and uses its technology to collect audience reactions to thousands of fest films, is jumping into the online film-fest submission biz, long dominated by Withoutabox, which was recently acquired by Amazon.com.

B-Side will roll out its own Web destination where filmmakers can submit their work to multiple festivals.

B-Side plans to undercut Withoutabox by not charging service fees to filmmakers, while festivals will be charged half of what WAB charges.

B-Side will use its database, dubbed Submissions 2.0, to match films to particular fests that have a history of screening similar work. It also has partnered with Chris Gore, author of “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide,” to further target events.

The database will also be made available to participating fests.

“Outside of the festivals that only program premieres, we get programmers coming to us all the time looking for a couple of docs, for example, to round out their program,” said B-Side chief exec Chris Hyams.

Hyams said B-Side has culled reports for 10,000 films, collected from more than 2 million audience members.

“It’s 2008, and everyone is a critic now,” he said. “A festival is a community, anyway, because when you have over 100 films playing, you’re going to ask other audience members what’s good and what’s not. That’s what we collect.”

Submissions 2.0 is expected to launch July 31, in time for the 2009 fest season.

Move follows other B-Side initiatives to step into distribution. The company already screens films on IFC in the “Choice Indies” program every month.

It has also pacted with Red Envelope and Screen Media Films to distribute Michael Blieden’s doc “Super High Me,” which documents comedian Doug Benson’s journey to smoke marijuana for 30 days while monitoring his medical condition.

In a unique arrangement, the partnership will roll out grassroots screening events by providing free DVDs of “High” to anyone who wants to hold their own free public screening.

Those interested can register at Superhighmemovie.com. Once they’ve signed up, their events will show up on a list of free screenings around the country. They’ll also receive a DVD and promo assistance.

The hope is the campaign will fuel DVD sales of the doc, which is scheduled to ship in June.

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