Sad News: B-Side to Close Doors

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Chris Hyams, by Chris Holland, 2006It was just yesterday that Jenn Brown and I were plotting our SXSW coverage strategy for Slackerwood (and other outlets) and hoping B-Side would host a Festival Genius site for scheduling SXSW Film. All of us at Slackerwood who have covered film festivals have loved the scheduling application from B-Side and found that it made fest planning vastly easier.

So we were very sad to learn that Austin-based B-Side Entertainment will be closing its doors this week. Filmmaker Magazine's blog is reporting that the company has been unable to find new investors and is out of funds. B-Side employees have all been laid off, many of which we've become familiar with at local film festivals -- including occasional Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland -- and we are obviously personally unhappy about the news as well. Back at SXSW 2007, I interviewed B-Side founder Chris Hyams (pictured at right) for Studio SX (sadly, SXSW no longer seems to have it archived) and his company sounded like an exciting business model.

Here's what Hyams has to say about the closing on the B-Side website: "I am sad to have reached the end of this chapter, but am incredibly proud of what we've achieved. I am confident that our efforts will have a lasting impact on this business. I am also confident that the B-Side team will bring their experience to new ventures that will pick up where B-Side is leaving off."

B-Side is physically closed but the company still exists for the purposes of being acquired, or having its assets bought. Festival Genius isn't the only asset -- B-Side was also a film distribution company and this means some excellent movies now have distribution rights for sale again. Of the nine films B-Side has distributed, most have played local festivals: Crawford, the documentary about Crawford, Texas from local filmmaker David Modigliani played SXSW 2008; Trust Us, This Is All Made Up, now-local filmmaker/actor Alex Karpovsky's improv doc played SXSW 2009; the music doc Nerdcore Rising was at SXSW 2008; and Pirate Radio USA  played AFF in 2006.

This will be a blow to local film festivals: Austin Film Festival, aGLIFF, Fantastic Fest and even Screen Door Film have used B-Side's great scheduling application in the past. Fantastic Fest attendees in particular used a lot of the social media aspects of Festival Genius and made it part of the fest experience. We hope that some miracle will happen to keep Festival Genius at local film events and festivals ... and we hope to see the folks at B-Side come out on top, one way or another.

[Photo credit: "Founder and CEO of Bside Entertainment" by Chris Holland on Flickr.]

Film's Loss

I'm selfishly upset because now I have to spend hours trying to figure out my SXSW schedule, b/c the official interface is so cumbersome and un-friendly.

But I'm also upset that a great festival tool and alternative distribution tool is lost to filmmakers.

And lastly, but far from least, great people are out of work when the work they did was so valuable.

New and Improved

Have you tried the new and improved SXSW interface? Although it's not as dynamic as B-Side, it's definitely less cumbersome than it had been in the past, and easy to sync to Google calendar and other calendars.
You can also set it to notify you by e-mail when an event changes time or location, which wasn't a feature with B-Side.

Also looks like SCHED* is coming out with update for their scheduling tool as well.

sorry, but that's not an

sorry, but that's not an improvement. It's incredibly slow and unfriendly.