From children’s bedtime stories to legendary folk tales, stories are central to our lives. They intrigue, inspire, and inform. A passion for stories compelled Avi Federgreen to extend his lifelong commitment as a film producer to distributing them as well, when in 2011 he launched IndieCan Entertainment. Federgreen’s goal is to give everyone the chance to experience those important stories, as well as the work that so painstakingly and passionately brings them to life on film. The founder of Federgreen Entertainment Inc. and Avi Ronn Productions Inc., he is dedicated to developing and distributing projects of the highest quality that maintain market appeal in the ever-changing and expanding world of film and television.
The focus of IndieCan Entertainment is independent films. As a distributor, Federgreen plans to follow the same principle that drives him as a filmmaker: give Canadians films that they want to watch. “Stories that affect people, that they talk about, that they recommend to their friends; those are the ones I want to bring to audiences across Canada.” But Federgreen knows very well that, while making films is one challenge, getting them seen is quite another. “There are more than 200 indie films made in Canada each year, less than 10% of which are distributed,” he says. “Many of them deserve an audience. First-time feature filmmakers are trying to establish a career, and if their work can’t be seen then it’s tough to get money for the next project.” The same goes for independent, low-budget international films; Federgreen wishes to give Canadian audiences the chance to experience the global sensibilities in these films and, in turn, the chance for the independent filmmakers creating them to showcase their work.
Federgreen has been making films for almost 20 years: Still Mine, One Week, Score: A Hockey Musical, I’m Yours, Moon Point, High Life, and many more. His projects have received widespread recognition at international film festivals, including the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, and nominations for a Gemini and the Directors Guild of Canada awards.
Federgreen brings to IndieCan Entertainment the advantage of knowing what it takes to make a film, and the ability to not only identify a film’s audiences, but to successfully reach them. His active interest and involvement have been endorsed by his colleagues and collaborators, resulting in distribution relationships on many projects. In the digital age, films have new opportunities to find audiences with TV, Netflix, and iTunes, and by using websites, and social media to promote and market. While recognizing the potential of new media for film releases, Federgreen also looks forward to bringing back a taste of “the old days,” promoting theatrical releases, film-focused events, and audience incentives for going to the cinema.
By mid-November of 2013, Indiecan’s accomplishments will include the release of sixteen films with many forthcoming in 2014. Notable successes to date include:
PEACE OUT (Charles Wilkinson), a documentary examining Canada’s quest for energy production (Winner of Hot Docs’ 2012 Special Jury Prize: Canadian Feature)
Canada-wide theatrical release from Vancouver to Toronto with stops in Edmonton, Regina, and Winnipeg
Sold to Super Channel Pay TV Channel
Sold to Air Canada
Secured an educational deal in Canada
Assistance in finding and signing both US and foreign distribution
SEX AFTER KIDS (Jeremy Lalonde), narrative feature made for under $100,000 that is an edgy comedy about what happens when you’re too tired, uninterested, or annoyed to seduce the person you love, loath, or haven’t met yet.
Theatrical releases in 6 cities across Canada for week runs including (Toronto 4 weeks), Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, and Saskatoon.
Launched on iTunes and VOD (in Top 10 Canadian and Independent for the first 2 weeks)
Released on DVD – nationally to great numbers for an independent film
Sold to Air Canada
THE SHEEPDOGS HAVE AT IT (John Barnard), a feature documentary about the rise of Canadian rock band The Sheep Dogs, from obscurity to the cover of Rolling Stone and through the recording of their next – and most important – album
Six cities across Canada for week-long runs
Sold to Air Canada
VOD and digital platform release in early 2014
THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE (Liz Marshall), cinematic cross-platform documentary that illuminates the presence of animals in our highly mechanized world.
Theatrical releases in 11 cities across Canada, including a 31-day run (?) in Toronto and two weeks in Montreal.
DVD, VOD and digital platform release in spring of 2014
MOON POINT (Sean Cisterna), a charming love story that goes on a bittersweet road trip
Theatrical release across Canada including a two-week run at AMC Yonge & Dundas, Toronto; opening weekend finished 6th out of 19 screens at the theatre
Sold to TMN (The Movie Network, Astral’s subscription service)
Available on iTunes
Sold to Air Canada
Assisted in finding and securing both US and foreign distribution
Music soundtrack releases in conjunction with the release of the film and sold in record stores across the country.
DVD sold out in many Ontario Wal-Mart stores, HMV stores, and Amazon.ca in its first week of release in early August 2012
“We have to give people many reasons to see a film. It needs to be more than just going to see a movie,” Federgreen rationalizes. “There is a lot of competition for people’s hard-earned money – why should they see your film instead of someone else’s, or instead of a baseball game, or a concert? Why should they go to a movie theatre when films are available on demand in the comfort of their own homes?” Seeing independent films should become a regular occurrence and not a one-time event.” But serving Canadian audiences isn’t the only goal on IndieCan’s list. Keeping filmmaking talent in Canada by opening doors to more markets and providing hope for potential return on investment is also top of mind. “We need to not only support Canadian production but also encourage the viewing of Canadian films by Canadian audiences. We owe it to our industry, our culture, and our country.”
Federgreen is definitely up to the challenge and he believes enough in Canadian talent and Canadian storytelling to put more Canadian indie films, and IndieCan Entertainment, in the race.
“As a reaction to challenges of reduced funding and consolidation in both the domestic and international marketplace, many Canadian filmmakers have begun to work with reduced budgets and to seek out alternative distribution strategies. It is our belief that IndieCan is well placed to support the needs of this emerging niche. While these films may not suit the business plans of other larger domestic distributors, we believe that they are vital to the health and future success of the Canadian industry.”
– John Galway, President, English-Language Program, Bell’s Harold Greenberg Fund
“Our experience with Avi and IndieCan has been so uniformly positive that we are actively developing new projects together, including our latest feature documentary, which Avi helped us put together and will distribute. I endorse IndieCan without reservation. This is the best distribution experience of my career.”
– Charles Wilkinson (Peace Out), Shore Films
“The creative and collaborative partnership that IndieCan provides has allowed us to create a new method for filmmakers to find success at the Canadian box office. We need companies like IndieCan Entertainment to survive, as the livelihoods of upcoming Canadian filmmakers are dependent upon the kind of innovative collaboration that IndieCan Entertainment can provide.’
– Sean Cisterna (Moon Point), Mythic Production
“Having had a terrible experience with a distributor on my first film it was a breath of fresh air to have a distributor who was very hands on and collaborative. IndieCan doesn’t just take your film and walk away, but they make you part of the process which gives you, the filmmaker, an education in how the system really works. It positions filmmakers to be more savy about the industry in an area that is often glossed over for them. I’ve learned more about the film industry in the last year than I have in the five years before it – largely due to having our film distributed by IndieCan and Avi.
– Jeremy LaLonde (Sex After Kids), Cryingman Productions
“I met Avi in 2010 at Canada’s Planet in Focus Film Festival, my documentary Water On The Table was being honoured as Best Canadian Feature, and had just been nominated for the Donald Brittain Award for best social political documentary at the Geminis. Avi’s incredible support and encouragement is what kickstarted my early development phase for The Ghosts In Our Machine, and I am forever grateful! He said “Do not delay, get it off the ground now …”; he effectively helped to reignite the fire and fortitude required to get a major project off the ground. Since then he has not only acted as the film’s Canadian Distributor, but has been an enduring supportive sounding board. IndieCan has done an excellent job with The Ghosts In Our Machine, a loved yet difficult documentary. Avi is a big thinker, as well as an honourable and passionate person to do business with.”
– Liz Marshall (The Ghosts In Our Machine), LizMars Productions