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Draper to launch Slingshot's U.K. arm

Ex-Searchlight exec tops distrib'n

CANNES -- Former Fox Searchlight U.K. chief Elizabeth Draper has jumped into digital production banner Slingshot Studios in London to head up and launch its U.K. distribution arm.

Slingshot Distribution aims to snap up all U.K. rights and release up to 12 movies a year, fed by a combination of worldwide acquisitions and Slingshot's own productions.

Draper has been appointed managing director, and the startup distribution banner will kick off with Slingshot project "Sugarhouse," which stars Andy Serkis, Ashley Walters and Stephen Mackintosh.

Slingshot productions use an all-digital approach to filmmaking and a philosophy that offers gross participation to cast and crew in exchange for low upfront rates. It is also committed to innovation through digital technology, the founders said.

Slingshot CEO and co-founder Arvind Ethan David thinks there is room for a new British distributor in an already crowded market.

"We've felt for a while that there was space in the U.K. market for a new independent distributor, supporting quality films with rigorous, focused marketing," David said. "We've waited to find the right person to run the business for us, and now we have her."

Slingshot, which is backed by Arts Alliance and the Creative Capital Fund, has struck a commercial agreement with digital cinema system provider Arts Alliance Media to handle the digital cinema asset storage and distribution for their titles.

AAM also will release the Slingshot titles on its digital home platform, through its own site, Vizumi.com, and through partner Web sites, for both video on demand and electronic sell-through.

Draper has worked in U.K. distribution for more than 20 years, most recently as head of Fox Searchlight U.K.

"The chance to form a close-knit relationship with production and to apply my distribution experience so early on in the process is a real thrill, particularly during this time when digital technology offers so many new opportunities," Draper said.