Fort Smith film fest signs deal with Beverly Hills-based distribution company

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,017 views 

The Fort Smith International Film Festival has taken a step up, growing from a festival into a film market thanks to a partnership with Porter + Craig Film and Media Distribution.

The River Valley Film Society announced Tuesday (Aug. 1) that it has entered into a multi-year partnership with Beverly Hills-based Porter + Craig Film and Media Distribution. The partnership will transform the Fort Smith International Film Festival into a film market, meaning movies screened at the festival will have a chance for distribution, said Brandon Chase Goldsmith, the festival’s executive director.

The film and media distribution company will offer a distribution deal to the top five films in the market at the festival, Goldsmith said.

“They will pick their top five films. We have provided them with those films, and they will be viewing them,” Goldsmith said, noting that those offered a distribution deal would be chosen from the festival’s feature-length films.

Ret. Sgt. Major Keith Craig, one of the distribution company’s founders, said they will look for production value as well as a great story line that will inspire the audience to want to see the films.

“Having a deal with Porter + Craig Film and Media will guarantee that your film is viewed by network executives, TVOD, SVOD, and eventually AVOD streamers which will then allow us to place the film on the very best platform for its showcasing,” Craig said.

Porter + Craig, a film and television sales organization with offices in Washington, Atlanta, and New York city, specializes in the financing, production, and distribution of commercial feature films. It also represents worldwide sales for both its own slate of films and third-party content with an annual slate of 50 to 100 films, a news release said. A distributor releases, licenses and positions a film in the marketplace maximizing all of the possibilities to generate revenue, Goldsmith said.

“Getting a distribution deal is the end goal in the film industry. It allows more people to see the film. It allows (filmmakers) to make money,” he said.

Craig and Jeff Porter, the other founding member, will be the opening night keynote speakers at the film festival. Craig will share his expertise with filmmakers on how to position their films for distribution and what mistakes to avoid, Goldsmith said.

“You have to understand, this partnership is huge,” he said. “The film society’s goal is to grow our region’s creative economy and Porter + Craig will propel the Fort Smith International Film Festival into the Mid-South’s premiere film market with the closest other market being South by Southwest in Austin.”

Porter + Craig Film and Media Distribution has arranged financing and/or distribution for over 100+ feature films, TV movies and documentaries into the US and Canadian marketplace across digital platforms including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple, Google Play, Vudu, and Roku, in addition to select theater franchises AMC, Cinemark, and Regal Theaters and global broadcast networks including HBO, Showtime, Discovery, BET, CW, and RLJ, noted the news release.

With the Foreign Military Sales pilot training program being selected to come to Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, the River Valley Film Society is working with the Polish Film Commission to entertain the first fighter pilots arriving from Poland in 2024, a news release said.

This year’s film festival theme is “refocused,” celebrating a storytelling renaissance by moviemakers who suffered production obstacles posed by the global pandemic. The third annual festival is set for Aug. 25-26 at TempleLive in Fort Smith. Festival submissions have surpassed the first two years of the festival, with more than 400 film entries from more than 50 countries, nations, and tribes. The festival is slated to show 148 films.