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B-Side Film Festival Website Folds


B-Side, the film festival listings website and film distribution company, is folding on March 1 after being in business for a decade. Filmmaker Magazine has the scoop.

This is particularly crappy news for several reasons. One, yes, obviously the unemployment for its employees. Two, B-Side’s festival listings were a fantastic product. Three, the loss of yet another distribution opportunity for indie filmmakers.

Sadly, according to Filmmaker’s interview with B-Side CEO and founder Chris Hyams, it seems like it was the distribution arm of the company that ultimately killed the whole thing. The venture capital firm, Valhalla Partners, that was backing B-Side was unahppy with the amount of revenue the distributed films was bringing in, so they cut off all funding. Then, B-Side was unable to find another investor.

One of the things that surprised me personally reading B-Side’s obit is that the company didn’t charge for their festival listings. I had always assumed they did, following in the financial model of Withoutabox. Hyams told Filmmaker that B-Side was going to start charging festivals, but that revenue stream hadn’t kicked in yet.

So, I guess the entirety of B-Side’s income was to come from their distribution because they certainly didn’t run any ads on their website. They did have a nice movie downloading service. I downloaded some films from them to watch on my iPod. Although that was a few years ago.

B-Side’s closing does effect the Underground Film Journal in a way as their festival listings were easy to copy over to this website. Several underground fests used their listing service. And it’s exactly this sort of situation of why I decided to cut and paste entire underground film festival lineups to the Underground Film Journal to begin with.

There’s B-Side with a lot going on, a lot of different businesses happening and you think the company is successful. Then, poof! They’re gone. And I’m assuming the festival lineups they’ve had archived will vanish with them.

It’s important to me that all films get catalogued and listed somewhere of, at the very least, where they screened. There are many great films that vanish into the ether after their festival runs. But I think people should know they existed somewhere somehow.

Websites being vaporized off of the Internet makes me very sad, personally, especially since I’ve worked for several that went into the great beyond. So, my condolences to the great folks at B-Side who made a terrific website.

B-Side will be sorely missed.

Underground Film Feedback (6 comments)

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  • Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I’d dearly love to get all of the festival sites archived somewhere but I don’t know how that’s going to happen just yet.

  • clcradiogm says:

    Well, at least for The Jeffers Corp and the Lake County Film Festival, B-Side site is still humming just fine (an angel investor perhaps? – Jason Calicanis, are you listening?). On http://www.valhallapartners.com/companies_overview.html?filter=current B-Side is still (past March 1st, 2010) listed as a current company, so we are not sure if this is rumor or not. If true, then we would love to get our hands on the Festival Schedule Genius code! – if open-source. Who wouldn’t want that!? For all the special events we do at clcradio, outside of the normal show schedule, we could be so much more efficient – and we would use our current Google calendar as the backup.

    • I think the CEO of B-Side going on the Filmmaker website and saying the company is dead is pretty definitive proof … that the the company is dead. There are still some upcoming fests that have their data live on the site currently. I’m sure once the last fests run that the data will disappear, unless as Chris says above that it can be transferred somewhere. And clearly their technology was NOT open source.

  • clcradiogm says:

    Maybe your missing our point: we thought that the Schedule Genius could be expanded in such a way to apply to other business models – the software alone could have more investor potential, rather than just film festivals.

    If hosting the data is an issue, do it using Google Pages? And possibly, the code could be maintained on amazon S2 servers? Probably late for VP to come back, but what about using Google Ads on the B-Side site? I know I am over-simplifying a solution.

    Hooray for spell check (and me not using it!). No argument posed here, we never said that Hyams’ code was open-source; we wouldn’t have known that. I should have said “if open-sourceD” iow, made open-source if not already (I would have thought the use of the word “if” was enough). And not everyone in the open-source community drinks their own kool-aid; some just write their code that way, make money, and still leave it “open”. Using relative referencing on the grid might not be the best way to go with Ajax, but that’s easily changed. (We can see a dropped reference to http://lcff.bside.com/2010/get_film_tooltip/alonelyplacefordying_lcff2010 )

    But, that should be a pipe dream, as we don’t doubt that the true value of B-Side is certainly the scheduling code – it has to be.

    As GM (not the collective opinion), don’t most investors de-list immediately any companies they have officially dropped? From the looks of Valhalla’s site, they could use Hyams’ web design and coding skills, if for no other reason than to be accurate.

    We read the Filmmaker article; 95% of the article is a model resume that should attract the most cautious of investors. Is it our down economy? No, as down economies are generally when investors start popping ideas around, no? The Filmmaker article is barely 2 weeks old; the iron should be hot again.

    Or is that just another pipe dream? Hey, we are as saddened by the news, also, as our college has been host to the LCFF for many years.

    • I can’t say for sure since I don’t know anybody at B-side, but from reading the “obituary” on Filmmaker it seemed as though the company didn’t try to make money from their festival listing program at all, not by charging the film festivals to list with them nor by licensing the code out. It sounded like they were relying solely on their distribution efforts for income. The issues that killed the company didn’t seem to be about hosting the code or data, either. Open sourcing may be a good idea, but it probably wouldn’t have brought in the income Valhalla wanted in the short run. (Plus, telling a big investment firm you’re going to make money from Google Adsense isn’t going to fly well, otherwise I’d be a millionaire from the Underground Film Journal by now. I absolutely love Google Adsense, but, come on.)

      And, no, I wouldn’t believe an investment firm would pump money into a company that didn’t show promise of making a return on that investment quickly in a down economy — especially in the current indie film market. When all the news in the world is that the indie film world is dying economically, I can’t see a big investor jumping into that market unless that investor had a real passion for film or believed in a big new innovation. Valhalla obviously didn’t have that passion.

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