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DID YOU READ

Why exhibitors should be B-Side themselves.

Why exhibitors should be B-Side themselves. (photo)

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It would be nice to think that, should AMC and UK theaters go through with their planned boycott of “Alice in Wonderland,” there might be a few indie films that could fill the breach. Say some extra screens across the country for the French prison film “A Prophet”? Or maybe even “Frozen,” Adam Green’s ski lift horror flick whose distributor Anchor Bay is currently promising to supply any theater with the film so long as the manager requests it.

While eight theaters took the bait on that last offer on Friday — if you’re in Tennessee, consider yourself lucky — it’s a drop in the bucket when compared with the 3,000-plus screens that “Wonderland” is set to take over on March 5th, with the full force of Disney behind it. It’s also no wonder then that B-Side, a company that aimed to combine social networking and distribution, announced that they would close shop after five years — a year and a half after they started distributing their own films.

In Scott Macaulay’s excellent post-mortem on the company in Filmmaker magazine, president of distribution Paola Freccero acknowledges that having an unorthodox approach to releasing a film — one that involved having audiences request DVDs to hold their own screenings, in addition to simultaneous DVD and video on demand releases — didn’t do the company any favors in an industry attached to a business model based around the traditional theatrical release. (There’s a reason for this, according to Anne Thompson, who surmised a “robust theatrical release” was still the road to Damascus from the Sundance panel on distribution.)

However, B-Side shouldn’t have only been an attractive distributor for the arthouses and Alamo Drafthouses of the world, both of which are cited in Macaulay’s article for having embraced the company’s cross-platform releases of films like Doug Benson’s “Super High Me” and the Bill Withers doc “Still Bill.” Instead, it’s the major exhibitors like Regal and AMC who should’ve been interested in taking B-Side’s call, especially as the studios are talking about collapsing release windows.

Already abused by the way studios split profits, which rewards theater owners the longer a film plays (but has placed the emphasis on opening weekend since that’s when studios get a greater percentage of the door), exhibitors have already resorted to looking for alternative programming to what they’re handed from Warner Bros., Sony and Universal. If you’ve been to one of the big theater chains recently, you’ve probably been inundated with ads for the tenth anniversary of “The Boondock Saints” or a Black Eyed Peas concert, courtesy of NCM Fathom, a company specializing in one night only events that usually occur on those slow weekday evenings.

02232010_Superhighme.jpgThis is where B-Side was ahead of their time. Rather than using blunt force audience bombardment ads for such diverse entertainments as “Boondock Saints,” “Glenn Beck’s ‘The Christmas Sweater” and the International Women’s Day celebration “Half the Sky” while they’re settling in to see “Valentine’s Day,” B-Side had the ability to target and mobilize audiences through social networking. As Macaulay cites in his article, Benson’s “Super High Me” played in over 1000 venues, likely thanks to a coalition of the comedian’s fans and stoners, the latter crowd not necessarily known for their organizational skills. If a clever exhibitor could harness such passion for something other than opera, it might give them a legitimate alternative to the studio product they’ve come to resent, not to mention an alternative for audiences looking for something different themselves.

For many, the loss of B-Side will be felt most when one goes to look for one of their invaluable festival guides, but for many more who might not have even known the company at all, it’s an even bigger missed opportunity.

[Photos: “Still Bill,” B-Side, 2009; “Super High Me,” Screen Media Films/B-Side, 2008]

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.