EXCLUSIVE: Vega, Baby!, the feature film finance and production company that debuted last fall at AFM, has added a boutique North American acquisitions and distribution arm to its LA-based operation. Vega, Baby! Releasing will be headed by CEO and Co-President Sheldon Brigman and Everly producer Adam Ripp, who will serve as Chief Creative Officer and Co-President. The company will release up to ten films a year across multiple platforms starting with docu The Magic Of Heineken. The non-fiction feature about the 150-year history of the beer giant made with the official sanction of the Heineken family will hit Hulu tomorrow in an exclusive 30-day digital release before opening in a 10-city theatrical run and on premium VOD October 7.
Brigman and Ripp aim to build an eclectic lineup of curated films spanning multiple genres and specialty content, including comedy specials, documentaries, and concert films. They'll work closely with filmmakers and, unlike distribution companies that hide marketing costs in the fine print, have made transparency part of their credo. "Our core belief is total transparency and our mission is to make each film a success for all involved," said Ripp, who co-produced Bryan Singer's Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning debut Public Access. "It’s tough to get a distribution deal where you get the support you want as a filmmaker on marketing, backing and the financial side."
Funding for the distribution venture comes from Vega, Baby!'s Asia-based financiers, who are backing two to three features per year via the production and financing fund. Ripp will continue to serve as CEO and President of Crime Scene Pictures where he produced the Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, and Stanley Tucci caper Gambit and Radius-TWC's upcoming Salma Hayek starrer Everly.
"I did a film with a budget of $200,000 that has grossed over $1 million," said Ripp. "I get the statements and there’s still no profit to show. It costs a distributor thirty cents to make a DVD but they're charging you $5. Far too often filmmakers never see the upside on the back end because of the complexity of those agreements."
"We’re telling filmmakers from the beginning what things cost and what to expect, down to the little things – the cost to encode a file, to make a DVD, to ship a DVD, to be sold at Walmart," said Brigman, who came to the company from indie banner Level 33 Entertainment. "When you ask a distributor about all of those things they dance around it. We’re putting in our agreements what those costs are."
Vega, Baby! Releasing will work with mobile development firm Ice House using their mobile tech and analytics to tailor marketing campaigns. They're taking cues from alternative distribution success stories like Radius-TWC's Snowpiercer VOD release to look at new windowing opportunities and consumption models in addition to traditional theatrical exhibition. Brigman and Ripp will be at Toronto and Fantastic Fest next month on the hunt for titles.