Isa's of the Day will be posted regularly during Cannes, but the buzz has already begun with the recent release of the festival lineup -- so expect to see Isa updates over the coming weeks.
The first Isa of the Day is Lise Romanoff, Managing Director and CEO of Worldwide Distribution at Vision Films. Based in Sherman Oaks, California, Vision Films is an independent Worldwide Sales Agent and VOD Aggregator of over 500 Feature Films, 500 Documentaries and 100 different Music Programs from some of the most prolific independent film producers in the world.
In early 2013, Vision Films expanded into the world of domestic distribution with the creation of their own DVD/ VOD label, releasing films day-and-date on DVD and VOD through all cable and digital platforms such as Comcast, Directv, Dish, At&T, iTunes and Amazon, and retailers including RedBox, Walmart, Best Buy and Target. It is one of the few independent companies with a worldwide presence to also have a domestic division. Vision Films works directly with all its platforms and has no middlemen, releasing at least 2 - 3 titles on DVD and 3 - 4 titles on VOD every month.
Since opening their doors as a DVD/ VOD label, Vision Films has released an array of independent feature films including Hamlet And Hutch with Burt Reynolds; Wreckers, a coming-of-age story starring Benedict Cumberbatch; The Employer, an intense thriller starring Malcolm McDowell; Contract Killers is a non-stop martial arts action picture; and Sunset Strip, a music and pop culture documentary that chronicles Strip from its origins in the 1920s through today featuring Slash, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Dan Aykroyd, Keanu Reeves, Ozzy Osbourne, Hugh Hefner, and music from Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, and more.
The Vision Films catalog also has stories of global consciousness, including Comedy Warriors, a documentary where Zach Galifianakis, Lewis Black and Bob Saget help disabled soldiers heal through humor by teaching them stand-up comedy; Finding Happiness by Ted Nicholaou, a spiritual journey starring Elisabeth Röhm; Femme: Women Healing The World with Sharon Stone by Emmanuel Itier; and Shirin In Love, a romantic comedy starring Nazanin Boniadi by Ramin Niami about a quirky Iranian-American young woman who goes against tradition to follow her heart.
Lise Romanoff recently took the time to speak with SydneysBuzz:
What are buyers looking for?
2014 has been a vibrant year! Buyers are looking for product that can play across all channels of distribution: Theatrical, Home Video, VOD and Television. VOD has opened up a lot of doors for “niche” product because the Internet is the best way to find a specific fan base. We are offering star-studded feature films and top-notch documentaries that entertain and inspire. We attend all of the film markets, as well as the TV markets, and even the specialty territory-specific regional markets.
Where are the strongest markets?
U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Japan are the strongest countries, but for the most part, sales are evenly spread around the world.
How are sales going?
Sales are up about 30% this year, but we are working harder than ever. Many of the films that we started pre-selling last year are now completed.
What are your intentions for Cannes?
We're looking to sell the films we are bringing to Cannes, and we're looking to acquire new family, action and animated features.
What is your line-up for Cannes?
Vision Films’ Cannes line-up includes God Loves Caviar, the journey of Ioannis Varvakis from humble Greek pirate to international caviar millionaire with Catherine Deneuve and John Cleese; The Identical, earmarked for a wide screen theatrical release this fall in the U.S. stars Ashley Judd, Seth Green and Ray Liotta and introduces Blake Rayne as the identical twin of the biggest rock star in the world; As Dreamers Do, a bio pic about the early years of Mr. Walt Disney; 10 Things I Hate About You is the sequel to Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About Life starring Evan Rachel Wood and Thomas McDonell; Fear Clinic with Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) will bring a new meaning to phobias this fall; and Mantervention, a sexy comedy with Chloe Bridges, where Travis Van Winkle shows Nick Roux how to get over his ex and #ontothenext.
Why include globally conscious films in your catalog?
A lot of documentaries make you think. It's important to take a few minutes and look at the world around us. Documentaries traditionally don’t garner as much revenue as feature films, but it makes me feel very good to have them in our catalog. I also feel that if I have this type of product, I'll attract other companies that have the same mission to release films that give back to the world.
We'll always continue to sell good horror or action films, but selling films with good messages makes me very happy at this point in my career.
As far as distribution is concerned, VOD is a good type of niche for this programming. On the long-term view... as the Internet develops, and people have go-to sites for these types of films, it will work. We will be able to develop these channels, bring like-minded communities together, and generate more money for the filmmakers so they can continue to produce these kinds of films.
How did Vision Films start?
Founded in 1997 and based in Sherman Oaks, California, Vision Films started in the garage of it founder, and now has grown to become an independent Worldwide Distributor and VOD Aggregator of thousands of feature films, documentaries and music Programs. Vision Films manages all available rights from Theatrical, Video, Television and VOD/ Digital Media in both the International and domestic marketplaces. Vision works closely with producers to develop a special marketing plan as well as a strategy to license their film(s) to the right distributors around the world through relationships cultivated over nearly 24 years.
*Additional Information for Vision Films
Vision Films’ mission is to provide top-notch independent feature films, documentaries and music programming that entertain, inspire, and informs audiences. Vision Films invests time and effort to keep on top of the latest cutting-edge technological innovations of the rapidly growing digital domain. We treat each release as special and unique. We respect our filmmakers and involve them in the release of their films, as today it’s all about reaching the core audience and we believe producers know how to do just that.
Lise Romanoff is the Managing Director/ CEO of Worldwide Distribution and has been in the feature film and television distribution business for more then 20 years. Lise specializes in North America (U.S. and Canada), U.K., France, Italy, Australia/ N.Z., and Africa markets, focuses on the company’s expansion into domestic DVD and Video On Demand (VOD) distribution. Lise also serves as a Chairperson/ Secretary to Ifta’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Adam Wright is the Executive Vice President/ International Sales and Acquisitions who specializes in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America markets. Adam was formerly President of Regent Worldwide Sales and a sales executive at Porchlight and Turner. Alexandra Sparer is a Sales Associate who specializes in Eastern and Central Europe including Russia, as well as Scandinavia, India, Turkey, Greece markets. Alex Saveliev is the Director of Domestic Distribution for Vision Films’ DVD/ VOD label. Nathan Ross is the Director of Servicing and Digital Operations.Jasmine Abrams is the Contracts Manager.Monique Green is the Director of Finance.Jennifer Schultz is the Sales and Marketing Coordinator.