Magazine article Screen International

UK Genre Films Facing Distribution Challenge

Magazine article Screen International

UK Genre Films Facing Distribution Challenge

Article excerpt

The UK genre scene has experienced a "mushroom cloud of independent filmmaking" in the past decade but getting these films in front of audiences is proving an ever-increasing challenge, according to a panel chaired by Screen at Horror Channel FrightFest.

"In the UK, it's become very hard to release smaller independent films in the traditional theatrical market without having a star or a specific in-built audience," said Mike Hewitt, brand marketing and business development manager at distributor Arrow Films.

"There's been a mushroom cloud of independent filmmaking and genre festivals like FrightFest can show these to their audience, who come and pay to see these films. But the challenge is then to get audiences to pay to see it elsewhere, either by buying the DVD, renting it digitally, or the hardest of all in cinemas."

British director Simon Rumley made horror The Living And The Dead in the UK in 2006 but has since made films Red, White and Blue, FrightFest title Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word and the upcoming Fashionista in the US.

"Films stand more of a chance in the US because there are more distribution companies, more websites and more fandom for the genre," he told the FrightFest audience in London.

"Straight-to- video used to be a barbed insult, but now if you're going straight-to-DVD you're doing pretty well."

The struggles faced by the industry were brought into sharp focus earlier this month when distributor Metrodome – a long-time supporter of UK independent horror – was placed in administration.

Hewitt, a former Universal UK exec, offered both words of caution and hope. "I'm aware there is a fantastic appetite from horror fans to still buy physical media and digital still hasn't fully found its way for the independent," he said.

"But there's also a really good opportunity for theatrical releases of independents, building community-based audiences through the likes of Kickstarter programme ourscreen. …

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