Filmmaker Robert Schwartzman is throwing his hat in the ring with his new distribution company, Utopia. The newly launched company co-founded by Schwartzman will take a “filmmaker first” approach and will venture to SXSW next week to look at new films for potential acquisition. David Betesh, former head of global sales for Gunpowder & Sky, recently joined Utopia as the Head of Sales & Acquisitions.
In addition to sales and acquisitions, Utopia will also launch a technology platform later this year that will offer filmmakers multiple services including a streaming element. When it comes to filmmaker services, the company will focus on creating new revenue and monetization opportunities, improving the direct-to-consumer experience, and helping them maintain a global presence. The company’s platform will give filmmakers more control, higher marketing ROI, and stronger data collection tools than other platforms.
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“Some filmmakers have specific markets or a target demographic in mind with their film, but they have little say in who or how consumers are marketed to,” Schwartzman tells Deadline. “They typically have limited control in the timeline of their release and creative ways to distribute and monetize. Each distribution company has its own strategy – some are effective, while others are not.”
In a landscape where it is difficult to sell a film, Utopia aims to foster relationships with filmmakers and Schwartzman says that they will ensure each film gets the proper treatment it needs across PR, theatrical, digital, and P&A components. Utopia’s relationships with sponsors and event spaces will allow for more monetization opportunities for filmmakers and a faster path to profitability.
Utopia will be a very “for the filmmakers by the filmmakers” distribution company. “Each film will receive curated support based on its strengths and what we know the film needs to be successful,” he adds.
“Our team is building Utopia’s services around the pain points of the industry,” says Schwartzman. “When filmmakers get a chance to use the tools we’ve been building, share their work with the world, and see the level of control and financial return they can generate for themselves, they’ll have no reason to bypass our platform.”
Schwartzman began his career in the music industry as the frontman for Rooney before dipping his toe in the filmmaking pool. In 2016, he directed and produced Dreamland which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. His follow-up, The Unicorn starring Lauren Lapkus and Nicholas Rutherford made its premiere last year at SXSW.
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