Digital era is abuzz at indies’ confab

New media companies stock up on pics

NEW YORK — There may not have been the rousing chords of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” but there was the unmistakable air of the dawning of the new digital era of indie film production and distribution at the International Feature Film Market on Monday.

While there was a pre-market buzz surrounding the myriad new media companies that made up the bulk of the first-time buyers at this year’s market, the major presence over the weekend continued to be cablers that have been market stalwarts over its 24 years.

Not so on Monday, where new media companies began putting their money where the buzz is.

‘Net nuance

The San Francisco-based IFILM established itself as a major player at the market, inking a first-of-its-kind distribution deal to stream Doug Block’s documentary about web pioneers “Homepage” on Nov. 12th, a week before the film’s limited theatrical release at Gotham’s Cinema Village.

“The web is a particularly good way to distribute documentaries,” Block told Daily Variety. “They have a tendency to be the most interesting films that screen at festivals and yet they have trouble getting theatrical distribution. My theatrical distributor is thrilled to have it on the web because it gets the word out to a targeted audience.”

In addition to the limited streaming and theatrical releases, the film will be available for purchase on the web through e-commerce. “We are throwing every means of distribution there are out there,” said Block, who screened “Homepage” at last year’s IFFM and the Sundance Film Fest.

SRO for preacher

Meanwhile, at a IFILM-sponsored symposium at the Cybercafe entitled “Digital Filmmaking and Internet Distribution,” Maxie Collier, author of “The IFILM Digital Video Filmmakers Handbook,” made like a digital age Elmer Gantry and preached the benefits of Digital Video to an SRO crowd of traditional film makers.

In the late afternoon, another Digital Film symposium featured a panel of Next Wave films prexy Peter Broderick, “julien donkey-boy” Scott Macauly and “Sweet Nothing” helmer Gary Winick, among others.

Docu buzz

In keeping with the IFFM tradition, it was the docus that generated most of the lobby chatter at the Angelica. Screenings of Connor McCourt’s “Four Cops,” Katya Bankosky’s story of a female boxing champ “Shadow Boxing” and Oswley Brown’s “Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles” all got near full houses at their Monday screenings.

Among the features generating interest on Monday was Charlie Ahern’s May-December romantic road movie “Fear of Fiction” and Philip Botti’s Jersey set “Home Field Advantage,” which had the considerable advantage of featuring “Blair Witch Project” star Heather Donahue.