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SXSW: Videogame Developer/Publisher Devolver Digital Adds a Film Distribution Arm!

"Monty Cristo" here...

Yesterday, I had a nice chat with Devolver Digital founder Mike Wilson, who has produced a couple of indie movies on top of having a lengthy track record in the games industry. Very shortly, it's going out wide that they're translating their success in indie game distribution and promotion to the film world.

Devolver has not just been helping indie game developers publish games, but they have become known (as you can see in this piece over at The PA Report) for helping the developers promote their games. In this case, "promotion" does not just mean sending out some press releases and tweeting about it a couple of times. They're right there in lock-step with their developers, helping the games get noticed and, more importantly, purchased.

This is the same sort of model they're applying to film distribution. Devolver Digital Films will look to acquire movies that they believe in as well as know how to sell and promote.

"We don't see this as a volume business where we just pick up a ton of stuff and then upload it and we're done." Mike told me yesterday by phone. "We want to get these movies on all the right services, but also back them with a promotion engine so that they don't get lost." He told me about the struggle to get the films he produced previously actually seen. He's known many other indie producers who've gotten distribtuion deals only to see their movie's promotion go right back onto their own shoulders.

This is a big known problem for indies. Count me as one of the many who would love to see some of the huge success the indie game world has seen move over to the film world.

They haven't announced their first new title just yet, but Devolver Digital Films will be at SXSW watching movies and looking for the right fit. Here's the press release with more info, including an email that indie filmmakers with movies at the fest can use to contact them:

March 7, 2013
Austin, TX
For Immediate Release

Devolver Digital, well­known as a leading champion in the production, marketing, and distribution of independent video games, today announced that they are adding independent film distribution and promotion to their repertoire. Citing a shortage of attractive options for independent filmmakers who want help promoting their cable VOD and digital releases, the notoriously spunky bunch from Austin, TX has added team members in Los Angeles and San Francisco to build its film effort and navigate the rapidly evolving digital distribution landscape. The new arm is called simply Devolver Digital Films.

Co­Founder and Partner Mike Wilson says his own experience as a filmmaker seeking distribution led him and his partners to the decision to expand Devolver Digital in to film. “It just seems a shame that so often a filmmaker works for years complete a film, work the festival circuit for another six months to a year or more, and then hopefully is finally offered a cable and digital VOD deal...but then when it’s time to get the word out, they once again find themselves on their own. The filmmaker is exhausted by this point, as is their network... and most know all too well It’s not enough to just put your film on cable VOD and iTunes or other digital outlets if nobody knows it’s there. We hope to be that much needed second or third wind to truly find an audience for the film at the home stretch and finish line.”

Devolver Digital’s outspoken passion for indie games, developers and fans has earned them no minor measure of industry notoriety. With this expansion they aim to apply that same fiercely creative devotion to indie filmmakers and their projects.

Andie Grace joins Devolver Films as VP of Acquisitions and “Head Cheerleader” from San Francisco, after a 13­year stint on the executive staff of Burning Man, where she ran the Communications Department, a role that included supporting hundreds of film and television projects’ production and distribution. A filmmaker herself with several production credits, Grace is eager to engage with films from a different side of the table and to put her PR and cultural expertise to work for independent filmmakers. “I’m excited to join Devolver precisely because their philosophy on supporting independents is one I truly share. Indie is where all the bravery and creativity happens, and that’s what I want to be a cheerleader for,” she says.

Devolver is also interested in working with traditional cable VOD and DVD distributors to bring their libraries to emerging “games­first” audiences, who might not be properly served anymore through these means.

Grace and Wilson will both be at SXSW Film in Austin starting on Friday, and are actively seeking completed and near­completed projects for release under the Devolver banner later this year. FIlmmakers and distributors interested in discussing partnerships should contact films@devolverdigital.com. 

Moisés Chiullan / "Monty Cristo"
@moiseschiu
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