This was a bold move...
Back in February, I reported that Sundance darling, Ballast, the Mississippi Delta drama that follows a family shattered by suicide, was picked up for distribution by IFC Films, in a six-figure deal plus gross backend participation.
Now, I just read that writer/director Lance Hammer has backed out of the deal with IFC to instead take an apparently smaller offer from the lesser known Strand Releasing distribution company.
Why? Hammer says that he "wasn't dissatisfied with IFC but wanted to retain control of his movie."
How often does that happen? A filmmaker turning down a lot of money to take a lot less money so that he/she can maintain control of his/her work... rarely, in my experience.
IFC's statement in response was, "Obviously, we're disappointed, but how can we not support him if he tries to take control of this himself... We wanted the movie... we think that we would have done really well with it. It's the first time that's happened with us."
But Hammer seems to know the business well enough that he's willing to take the risk, stating, "The budget was big enough that it would be hard in the current model to see that money back... In the old days, when distributors gave a larger minimum guarantee, that would have been a totally different story. Nobody can afford to do that anymore."
Ahhhh... the business of cinema.
Strand Releasing plans release the film in New York in the fall, before expanding to other markets.
For those of you in the L.A. area, Ballast screens this weekend at the Los Angeles Film Festival, along with two other films I mentioned in previous posts below - Prince of Broadway and Medicine For Melancholy. I'm envious. I wish I was in L.A. right now. I'm sure each film will make its way to New York, and I'll get my chance to see them then. By the way, it's worth noting that Medicine For Melancholy, as I posted on Thursday, just got picked up by IFC Films for distribution. So, they lose one, and then gain one. Maybe IFC Films is becoming the go-to distribution company for black cinema :o)
Read the entire Ballast/IFC article HERE.