Monday, January 25, 2010

Synthetic Cinema starts DVD label, seeks fright features

By Michael Gingold
Independent genre specialist Synthetic Cinema, whose titles have included PREDATOR ISLAND and WEREWOLF: THE DEVIL’S HOUND, has formed its own distribution arm, which debuts March 23 with the DVD release of BANSHEE!!!. The company plans to release all of its upcoming productions and is also seeking movies from filmmakers outside their circle as well.

“We will be acquiring and releasing a limited number of quality, finished films from other producers,” Synthetic’s Andrew Gernhard tells Fango. “We are currently looking for creature features or films with name talent in the action, adventure, sci-fi, horror and thriller genres. We will also consider some comedy. We’ve had deals to release each of our past films in all major territories around the world, from theaters in India to DVD in Japan to television in the UK, and can use our international relationships and proven sales record to help our releases sell overseas.” Interested parties can submit their features via Synthetic’s official website.

Directed by Colin Theys, BANSHEE!!! follows a group of college friends as they’re terrorized on a camping trip by the titular monster, which causes hallucinations and death via sound. Presented in 16x9-enhanced widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, BANSHEE!!! will be accompanied by:

• Audio commentary by Theys, producer Andrew Gernhard, screenwriter John Doolan and sound mixer/engineer Colin Sullivan
• Deleted scenes
• Bloopers and outtakes
• Theatrical trailers

The disc retails for $14.95. “BANSHEE!!! is our first fully in-house DVD at Synthetic Cinema,” Theys says, “so we put a lot of time and effort into getting the presentation just right. Most of the work went into features that nobody will know are there, but make the difference between an amateur effort and a disc you’d get at Blockbuster. We’ve also taken care to encode the movie to look and sound great, with high bit-rate video encoded directly from the hi-def master, and a bunch of extras. The highlight is definitely the commentary: We had a lot of fun with it, and we hope that those who choose to give it a listen will too.”

Doolan agrees: “Even if you hate the movie, the DVD is worth it for the commentary. You really get an insight into not only the hard work put into the film, but also how we know exactly what kind of movies we’re making, and try not to take ourselves too seriously.”

BANSHEE!!! will also make its VOD debut during the first half of 2010, and will be followed by the Bigfoot-in-the-city opus ASSAULT OF THE SASQUATCH (a.k.a. SASQUATCH ASSAULT). “That’s going into DVD production in February,” with a tentative April release scheduled, according to Gernhard, who directed this movie. “I’m sure the disc will be filled with extras and be handled with the same care and quality as the BANSHEE!!! disc. We are also considering Blu-ray releases of both films later this year. You don’t have to wait for the DVD release of SASQUATCH, though; Warner Bros. Digital will be releasing it March 1 to VOD and digital download.”

Further down the road will be Synthetic’s alien-hunting thriller OPPONENT, starring Jeremy London and Roddy Piper, and more homegrown and acquired titles. “We’ve been making and selling monster movies for years now,” Theys says, “and worked with many releasing companies around the world. Though our distributors have changed, the audience we’re trying to reach has always stayed the same: the FANGORIA audience, basically! We know what they want and what our market is, and eliminating the middleman will let us deliver movies with fewer compromises and at a lower cost. For filmmakers, the business of getting a movie distributed is hard, unpleasant and full of all of the Hollywood backstabbing, double-crossing, slimy stereotypes you can imagine. We decided that with our experience and low overhead, we could do it better. We do everything they do, while being fair to filmmakers. If you’ve got a good movie you’re looking to put out on DVD, we want to see it.”


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