Last July PostWorks New York announced that it had formed a new digital film distribution service, PostWorks Digital Cinema, and hired industry veteran Greg Fornero to lead it. The plan was to work with indie film producers and distributors, international film festivals and independent digital intermediate facilities to provide digital cinema package duplication, drive set rentals and sales, KDM management and broadband content delivery services. To get a progress report on the new service I recently visited the PostWorks’ facility in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood to meet with senior vice president for theatrical services Clark Henderson.
Henderson said that he’s pleased with the success PostWorks Digital Cinema has enjoyed in its first three months in business. Henderson points to a list of more than twenty projects that his new division has worked on or will be working on through January. And the list continues to grow.
In addition to the projects that are the focus of the new business, PostWorks Digital Cinema still works on higher profile films and recently did the digital intermediate for Tate Taylor’s The Girl on the Train.
“As the digital cinema package has become the de facto standard for feature screening, fast, flexible and affordable digital cinema services become increasingly critical to the independent market,” he said. “Our clients require more and more time-critical assistance with DCP logistics and key management, particularly with previews, festival screenings and even for limited theatrical release.”
For Henderson there are several factors driving this new business. As the home of HBO, New York has always been setting for to a large number independent films and the demand for new feature film projects has only increased with the rise of Neflix, Amazon and other over-the-top players. Henderson estimates that the number of independent feature films shot or posted in New York has tripled in recent years.
The New York City tax incentive that offers subsidies for projects that post in the city has definitely increased business, he said. Girl on the Train is the perfect example.
It also helps that, according to Henderson, PostWorks has the only Clipster in New York capable of delivering projects in the interoperable media format and high dynamic range IMF. He said Amazon has recently started insisting that all its projects be delivered in UHD 4K, something the Clipster also handles.
Henderson, who is a veteran of the post-production business, mainly in Los Angeles, said that the method of distribution the producer of a given project chooses to use, often dictates whether they will be a PostWorks Digital Cinema customer. If a movie expects to appear on 180 screens or more, using satellite distribution starts to make financial sense. Below that number the conversation changes. That’s where his customers for the new service usually fit, he said.
One change in the digital era: companies like PostWorks, often by default, become the sole custodian of the data for a film’s master, at least for a period of time.
“Our sole custodian status is usually only for the period right after we do the festival DCP until the producer’s sell the show, and we have to make deliverables,” Henderson said. “After that’s completed, we try to get rid of all the underlying elements and send them off to Iron Mountain or some similar vaulting service that the producer hires on. The only stuff remaining with us are the DCP, and whatever internal archives we made. For example, a show is finished for the Toronto film festival. They make a sale and within a few months, we are making deliverables for NetFlix, and a foreign distributor. After all of that stuff is made, and QC’d, and fixed and approved, we ask the producer to take back his elements.”
Henderson’s counterpart in the new operation, Fornero is also a native of Southern California, and has been intensively involved with digital cinema distribution, digital cinema mastering and live event management since joining Cinedigm Digital Cinema in 2005. He transitioned to Technicolor Digital Cinema in 2011 and then to Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema in 2015. At TDC and DTDC, he managed digital cinema requirements for independent studios including The Weinstein Company.
“PostWorks has long relied upon Greg as a key resource for digital cinema support to our independent clients. He is the go-to guy in this market and we are lucky to have him join us to build this service,” said Henderson, “Greg combines the perfect blend of technical savvy and high-touch client support for our filmmakers.”
At PostWorks, Fornero assumes the post of vice president for distribution services and will work bi-coastally for the PostWorks Digital Cinema. “DCP distribution is not an initiative we take lightly,” he declares. “Around-the-clock service coverage, strictest standards for content security and state-of-the-art processes for ensuring technical integrity all require a full commitment. We have made that commitment. Our existing clients are pleased with our work, and we’re pleased with the growth of the new service. “We’re slowly getting there. We’re on track for what I was hoping.”
PostWorks New York http://www.postworks.com