B-Side Entertainment, a 4-year-old tech company with a sizable profile in the film festival world, has landed $4.25 million in new financing and plans to enter the feature distribution biz.
The Austin, Texas-based company, which runs websites that handle ticketing and mine audience response data for 250-plus fests in North America, has hired indie film vet Paola Freccero as distrib prexy. Her aim is to distribute 10 pics in 2009 through an array of theatrical, nontheatrical and ancillary outlets.
“B-Side starts with a resource that nobody else starts with: the audience,” said Freccero, a former exec at Sundance Channel and Tribeca Enterprises. “It’s very different from the traditional model of beginning with a film and then going through the marketing and distribution process hoping to reach an audience.”
Virginia venture firm Valhalla Partners led the financing.
The user base for B-Side is about 4 million, many of whom offer direct feedback through the company’s proprietary technology that influences acquisition and marketing decisions. In April the company partnered with Netflix’s similarly data-oriented distrib Red Envelope and Screen Media for the release of “Super High Me,” which promoted grassroots DVD screenings across the country.
Based on that experience and confidence in its fest stats, B-Side execs felt the time was right to enter the risky realm of distribution, an arena that has claimed several casualties in recent months.
“B-Side offers filmmakers a real alternative to the difficult world of indie film distribution, where P&A costs crush any hope they have of getting backend revenue,” said chief exec Chris Hyams.
The latest round of financing, B-Side’s second, closed in November. Previous investors include Texas venture capital firm Silverton Partners, TV writer-producer Steven Bochco, longtime media and ad exec William Apfelbaum and venture investor Mike Maples Jr.
The Valhalla-led investment was negotiated on behalf of B-Side by Hyams and Liesl Copland, an indie vet who headed Red Envelope and consulted for B-Side. During the talks Copland wound up becoming an agent at Endeavor Independent, which reps B-Side.