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Interview with Michael Repsch, SVP of Distribution & Sales at Breaking Glass Pictures @ 19th SIFF

Michael Repsch, Senior Vice President of Distribution & Sales at Breaking Glass Pictures.

The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) held its 19th edition this past week (March 30-April 3). Presented by the Sonoma Valley Film Society, the annual festival celebrates the best in interantioanl indie film and local gastronomy. This year, over 100 films were screened and almost 200 filmmakers were hosted. Traditionally, SIFF holds a prestigious competition for shorts and feature films judged by jury members consisting of select industry professionals; one of this year's jury members was Pennsylvania native Michael Repsch, Senior Vice President of Distribution & Sales at Breaking Glass Pictures.

As the Senior Vice President of Sales & Distribution at Breaking Glass Pictures, Michael strategically manages the digital, festival and theatrical releases on all films. Additionally, Michael plays a key role in acquisitions, traveling to national and international film festivals seeking unique content for domestic release and prospective international sales. He has distributed over 150 films to date.

Notable releases include: Xavier Dolan's Cannes Winning Laurence Anyways, Larry Clark's controversial Marfa Girl, Sundance Winner Kinyarwanda, Critically Acclaimed Paraguayan Thriller 7 Boxes and this year's Dominican Republic selection for the Oscars Sand Dollars. This summer Michael is slated to release Alex de la Iglesia's latest film My Big Night, Israeli hit Sundance film Princess, and Fight Valley an MMA film featuring UFC Champion Miesha Tate. 

I interviewed Michael about his experience at the 19th SIFF. Here is what he had to say:

 

What kind of distribution does Breaking Glass focus on?

MIKE: We really do a wide range of content and through all distribution channels (Theatrical, DVD, VOD and Festivals). BGP has always had a focus on LGBT and Horror product, so we continue to fill that pipeline, but we now have a GREATER focus on interesting Foreign content (specifically Spanish) as well as American Indies. We are constantly looking for high quality festival driven content that is a little off the beaten path. There is a great audience for these kind of films in North America.

Would you say today's changes in the world market have made the distribution of films easier or more challenging?

MIKE: In terms of the market place itself, there are a wealth of new opportunities and avenues of distribution - which does open many doors. That said with all of these new platforms and release strategies, it becomes more and more difficult to identify the best path for each film. So what really becomes a challenge is having to craft a unique release strategy for each film. Also it is a very competitive market place that is flooded with product. So it is an exciting time in this new age of the market, but I would say overall it has become more difficult to remain a relevant player.

What are some of the most successful films you have worked on while at Breaking Glass?

MIKE: Over the last two years we have really had some great films that have performed well including SXSW hit COLDWATER, Larry Clark's MARFA GIRL, the Dominican selection for this year's Oscars SAND DOLLARS and the Britt Robertson/Sam Trammell starring thriller WHITE RABBIT.

How long have you been a distributor and how did you get into it?

MIKE: I have been in film distribution for just over five years now. I got into by following my passion for not only film but creative business as well. To me this industry is so fascinating and exciting.

What is the best advice you can give indie producers about the process of distributing their film?

MIKE: Do your research, know your audience and start building that from the script stage. It is such a great pleasure to work with producers who understand and have (or at least think) identified who is going to be their strongest audience. Unlike many distributors we like to work as closely as possible with the creatives behind our films, so when we have producers/filmmakers who have a basic understanding of distribution it leads to such fruitful conversations and eventual release.

You were recently on the jury at Sonoma Film Festival. How was that? Did you see any films that rocked your boat?

MIKE: What an absolutely wonderful time. The festival is tight knit and everything is close in the magnificent Sonoma area, yet the scope of the films being shown scrolled the globe. There were some great films that I had the privilege of viewing (and deliberating on!!). Two that really stick out for me would be the Jury Prize winner THE GREAT AND THE SMALL as well as COMING THROUGH THE RYE. Both films were not on my radar, but they certainly are now!

Do you think film festivals, such as Sonoma, are crucial towards the distribution process?

MIKE: 100%. As I previously mentioned there is so much content and so many films being made - it is so important to have these lovely smaller festivals offer a voice to films that are not being shown at Sundance or SXSW. The winner of the Jury prize, THE GREAT AND THE SMALL, had it's world premiere at Sonoma - which speaks to the element of discovery from an acquisitions stand point. 

Has Breaking Glass had a good year for films and what does the future look like?

MIKE: We have had a great year and are fortunate to say that. The future has never looked more promising for us, we have an amazing slate of films coming up that we are really excited about. In particular we have our July release of FIGHT VALLEY - our Action/MMA film starring top UFC talent including current UFC Champion Miesha Tate. We are all very excited.

Cannes is around the corner. What kinds of films will you be looking to sell and buy?

MIKE: We will really be focused on selling our MMA film FIGHT VALLEY around the world, but we also have a great new horror film called CRUSH THE SKULL that we will be selling. In terms of buying, Cannes tends to be a market that we use to build our international slate. But in general we will be looking for unique voices.

 

 

Interview conducted by Vanessa McMahon

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