He founded Factory 25, an indie-film distribution company, in 2009.
What neighborhood do you live in?
I’m in Clinton Hill. Lived here for the majority of my 11 years in Brooklyn. When my wife and I originally moved here in 2002 people were like, why are you moving to Clinton Hill? Then when we moved out in 2010 people were like, why would you ever leave? And then we moved back one year later. We originally moved there when Plexifilm started up because it reminded us of Jamaica Plain, the neighborhood in Boston that we moved from.
For people who may be unfamiliar with it, how would you describe what Factory 25 does?
Factory 25 is an indie film distribution company for conceptually provocative narratives and documentaries. I release films theatrically, on TV VOD, and digitally—iTunes, Amazon, Sony Playstation, and so on—and I also release limited editions of the films on DVD often combined with vinyl LPs. Titles include Frownland, The Color Wheel and more. Many of the next group of releases will be books that come with DVDs. Factory 25 often gets described as a label due to the curation and my love for combining film with vinyl LPs, two of my favorite things, in the limited edition packages; Factory 25 has also released a few vinyl LPs. With physical media dying a quick death, I still believe the only way to make DVDs work is if you create the world of a film in an amazing package with original artwork, a book with essays or music. On vinyl.
Why start it up? What do you do that’s different from similar distributors?
Curating seems to be a popular phrase nowadays, but I do think Factory 25 is curated and that’s the big difference between us and other distributors. That, and I do work hard to get the films out there in theaters and try to make DVDs in an aesthetically captivating way and not just release the films digitally and walk away. Even though the films have varied subject matter, they do complement each other and belong in the Factory 25 catalog.
Why start up in Brooklyn?
This is really an amazing place for indie film right now—and the perfect place to start up a distribution company. I have gotten a little flak from a couple filmmakers saying I only release New York-centric films, which might be the majority of my films, but there is also a bit of Chicago in my catalog, and I’m about to release films produced in Florida, Seattle and Texas.
What’s happening in film in Brooklyn/New York right now? Is there a scene?
This is the heyday for NYC and Brooklyn filmmakers. I see it as being a similar scene as the NYC film scene of the 70s with Lumet, Allen, Scorsese and the Maysles. People will look back at the current crop of NYC and Brooklyn filmmakers that are making amazing raw, emotional, from-the-heart cinema that may often polarize audiences but will stand the test of time when bubblegum Hollywood films will be forgotten. I believe in 10 years Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland will be looked at with reverence the same way we look back at Scorcese’s Mean Streets.
Is this your dream job? Or do you still hope to transition into something else?
Factory 25 is a dream job. I get to release many of my favorite films; it doesn’t get much better than that. I do want to expand more, and someday have a VOD station as well as a Factory 25 theater in Brooklyn. Having a theater and being a distributor would be the ideal next phase of Factory 25.
Which of your personal characteristics make you ideally suited to pull this off? (And which don’t.)
I’ve always been kind of a dreamer with DIY ethics and willing to do all aspects of the business no matter how fun or mundane. I also may be a bit delusional but still believe that people have to be given the chance to see great indie films, and even though they might not give them a chance today, if I keep getting the films out there, people will take a risk on a film that doesn’t have a Clooney next month or next year; they’ll watch an indie film without a star, not a so-called “indie film” that really isn’t one at all, like The Descendants or The Artist.