AFM: Fathom Film Group Adds Distribution Arm

Fathom Film Group
Fathom Film Group executive producer Ann Shin

The Canadian indie's Fathom Distribution unit will work to finance and sell documentaries to emerging streaming platforms.

Canadian documentary maker Fathom Film Group is getting into distribution.

As AFM kicks into gear, Fathom executive producer Ann Shin said the move to launch Fathom Distribution follows traditional broadcasters reducing license fees for documentaries as their ad revenue falls amid competition from Netflix and other digital insurgents.

That has left documentary makers in Canada and elsewhere looking instead to streaming platforms as alternative buyers of their indie films. “Independent producers like us have to find alternate ways of financing their projects, including co-productions and dealing directly with broadcasters and OTT service providers in other territories," Shin explained.

Netflix is producing documentaries in-house, including an untitled SCTV reunion special, with Martin Scorsese to direct. But other digital platforms like Apple, Facebook and YouTube are being targeted by indie distributors as the documentary marketplace continues to evolve.

"We still work with other sales agents and distributors, but more and more independent producers are having to take the helm from development to production to marketing and distribution. It’s the way the industry has been moving," Shin said.

Fathom's film credits include My Enemy, My Brother, Shin's follow-up to her 2015 award-winning short film of the same name, and the cross-platform project The Defector.