Screen Australia is funding alternative distribution company FanDependent under its Innovative Distribution program.

The company, set up by Thomas Mai and Josh Pomeranz, will partner with 10 low-budget filmmaker teams over two years, helping them build an audience and raise finance through crowd funding. The company, which will ultimately become an investment vehicle for low-budget screen productions, will then help filmmakers sell and release their features.

Mai is a former sales agent and online media expert who helped Australian features The Tunnel and Iron Sky raise finance by crowd funding.

“Digital convergence and social media have removed the gap between filmmakers and their audience,” Mai said in a statement. “Now, independent filmmakers can build and commercialise their own IP and audience. FanDependent will be looking for audience-focused filmmaker teams with strong projects, ideally with an existing or growing fan base. We will then assist producers to finance, complete and commercialise their projects, without them having to give away any of their rights.”

Pomeranz is the managing director of post-production facility Spectrum Films, which has sponsored Mai to live in Australia.

In a statement, Screen Australia’s head of marketing, Kathleen Drumm said: “A true hybrid incorporating marketing, development and production, the FanDependent entertainment model promises real outcomes for filmmakers including visibility of films, support for low-budget content, revenue, a greater understanding of audience, tailored marketing support and the deployment of innovative release strategies."

FanDependent will also provide workshops and video blogs for the wider industry. The company will receive funding over 2012 and 2013 and is then expected to be self-sustaining, according to Screen Australia.

The government agency has previously funded John L. Simpson's TitanView and Gil Scrine and Louise van Rooyen’s beamAfilm through its Innovative Distribution program. The program aims to support a variety of low-budget screen content that does not fit the traditional distribution and exhibition model.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bcswift.

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  1. Great! When are independent filmmakers going to catch a break? Just when you think you can squeeze out a micro budget film, independent from the government, and get noticed, the government comes along and makes competing that much more difficult. I wish the government would just stop HELPING! All they are doing is helping my competitors. I will not conform to the government and I will not produce films for them, but by remaining independent, I’m really up against it. It’s just plain wrong. We’ll never have a commercial self-sufficient film industry the way we’re going.

  2. This sounds great .. but what is this innovative distribution company that is being funded?

    A search of the Australian Business register shows that there is no company or business with the name ‘FanDependent’. (Or variations)

    So if I register the company name first – does that mean that I can get the financing? After all .. they’ve announced that this is the company they are funding.

    Off to register the company name now …

    (Ref: )

  3. This is hardly original. Check out Fandependent films established in 2010. A similar model! Anyway, there is nothing innovative about their model and sounds like Screen Australia is subsidising a post house and immigration sponsorship.

    Crowd funding and internet distribution has been around for several years now and most films have a social media strategy to build audience following. Thomas has been giving these workshops for years. I think Screen Australia has been duped by the snake oil salesman.

  4. Agree with all comments above. Giving $200k of taxpayers money to a company comprised of two practitioners, one who is not Australian (Thomas Mai), with a remit to assist 10 films over 2 years… Is it worth $20k of consultancy per film? Hell no. It might be valuable to less-than-internet savvy filmmakers but one could go to ANY internet marketing/social media company and get the same accountability-free advice – which I’ve been told consists a few phone consultations, that’s it.

    Just because you’ve sold films for Von Trier, doesn’t mean you are a social media or internet expert, sorry. And since when did this constitute a distribution company? All Thomas Mai does is give BASIC social media/crowdfunding advice. Screen Australia you are so out of step with online, it’s ridiculous. They are the ones who need consultancy.

    Some of the other recipients are also totally out of their depth here. Beamafilm competing with iTunes, Hulu, Netflix via a 2 bit website? Give me a break. Why not give $20k each to 10 emerging filmmakers instead of lining the pockets of these opportunists?

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