Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. New York-based FilmBuff, founded in 2008, has been an early mover in digital distribution and has expanded into digital-first content in recent years. FilmBuff will be rebranded as Gunpowder & Sky Distribution, and will be led by FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown in her new role as executive VP of distribution.
“Now we have development, production, marketing and distribution – it’s a full panoply of services for independent creators,” said G&S chief Toffler, formerly CEO of Viacom Media Networks Music Group and a longtime MTV exec. “Now we have an arm that will let us sell stuff around the world, and not only our own stuff, but also for to the Fullscreens, Vices and Mashables.”
According to Toffler, the acquisition of a distribution firm like FilmBuff was part of Gunpowder & Sky’s original business plan when he teamed with AT&T, Chernin Group, and ex-Endemol strategy head Floris Bauer in late 2015. “We felt that as we were going into production on content, we wanted to optimize distribution for that content,” he said.
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FilmBuff’s owners included indie veterans John Sloss (“Boyhood,” “Boy’s Don’t Cry”), who co-founded the company, as well as Jeff Sagansky, Todd Wagner and Gigi Pritzker. The company’s library of 1,500 titles include “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “Senna,” “The House I Live In,” Jared Leto’s “Artifact,” “Burt’s Buzz,” “The Internet’s Own Boy,” “CodeGirl” and “The Invitation.”
On the digital front, FilmBuff worked on the Duplass brothers’ series “Wedlock” and Vulcan Productions’ short-form initiatives “We the Economy” and the upcoming “We the Voters.” The company has also partnered with digital media companies including Vice Media, YouTube, Conde Nast Entertainment and Mashable, and recently handled worldwide distribution for Rooster Teeth’s “Lazer Team.”
“I am thrilled to be part of Gunpowder & Sky, which has positioned itself to be a forward-looking studio that takes risks with new creators, formats and content,” Janet Brown said in a statement. “It was a no-brainer for FilmBuff to join forces with a revolutionary studio that brings the same appetite for innovation and creativity to content creation that we bring to content marketing and distribution.”
FilmBuff’s 15 employees, based in New York and L.A., are joining G&S, bringing the company staff to about 25 total, according to Toffler.
Gunpowder & Sky’s recent deals include the launch of animated series “Drawn & Recorded” on Spotify in partnership with T Bone Burnett, animator Drew Christie and music TV producer Bill Flanagan, as well as developing the film adaption of Jeff Hart’s “Eat, Brains, Love” and Sarah Benincasa’s “DC Trip,” in partnership with Adaptive Studios and Bona Fide Productions.
G&S also has closed investments and strategic partnerships with digital studios Cut (“100 Years of Beauty,” “Grandmas Smoking Weed”), Supergravity (“The Chosen,” “Gaby Baby”), and branded-content viral video specialist Shareability.
Pictured above: Gunpowder & Sky CEO Van Toffler, FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown