IFC Earmarks $5M-$6M for Originals


The Independent Film Channel is investing between $5
million and $6 million in its most ambitious original-production slate to date -- a mix of
theatrical films and made-for-TV documentaries.

As part of the seven-film lineup, its IFC Productions unit
will help to bankroll three new independent films that are set for theatrical release,
anteing up between $750,000 and $2 million for each of them, IFC president Kathleen Dore
said last week. She wouldn't specify how much IFC is investing in each movie.

The three films are: In the Middle of Nowhere (and All
by Myself)
, by Errol Morris, the award-winning documentary filmmaker who did The
Blue Line and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control; The
Professor's Wife
, by director Victor Nunez of Ulee's Gold and Ruby
in Paradise
fame; and Spring Forward, by newcomer feature director Tom Gilroy,
which will star Ned Beatty, Lili Taylor and Liev Schreiber.

"We think that this is a great follow-up slate to our
first project with John Sayles," Dore said.

The first independent theatrical film that IFC Productions
financed was Sayles' Men with Guns. IFC Productions was formed in March 1997
to invest up to $2 million each in one to three independent films per year for theatrical
release, with those films then moving to IFC for their broadcast windows.

Dore said Morris' and Nunez's most recent films
-- Fast, Cheap and Out of Control and Ulee's Gold, respectively -- did
well at the box office, in addition to winning critical acclaim, making them sound
projects for IFC Productions.

In a prepared statement, Nunez said, "[The
Professor's Wife
] is a risky project precisely because it defies traditional
dramatic reduction, and I am grateful to IFC Productions for their enthusiastic support in
getting this film off the ground."

IFC also created a second unit in 1997, Next Wave Films, to
act as a "finishing fund" for films by unknown directors. As part of the new
slate that IFC unveiled last week, Next Wave will invest between $250,000 and $750,000
each in Blood Guts Bullets & Octane and Following, Dore said.

Lions Gate will release Blood Guts Bullets & Octane
theatrically this fall, and it has already been in several film festivals. It's
scheduled to run at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York Sept. 18.

Following, a psychological thriller about a writer who
becomes obsessed with following strangers, marks the directorial debut of Christopher
Nolan, and it will be featured at the Toronto Film Festival this week.

"We're looking for new filmmakers with a
different vision," Dore said.

Rounding out its original-production slate, IFC is also
doing two hour-long documentaries that will debut on the network in early 1999: In Bad
, a profile of indie-film legend John Waters, directed by award-winner Steven
Yeager; and Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance, about director Cammell, whose
cutting-edge movie, Performance, starred Mick Jagger.

"These will really add to our library of profiles of
movers and shakers in the independent-film world," Dore said.

IFC is part of Bravo Networks, which, in turn, is part of
Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. unit.