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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Actors acting right?




Los Angeles -

LOS ANGELES -- Entrepreneurs Nia Hill, D'Angela Steed and Duane Martin, with investors Will Smith and Tisha Campbell-Martin, today announced the formation of The Momentum Experience, a new theatrical distribution entity. The company, co-founded by Hill and Steed, will employ an alternative model of film exhibition designed to reach urban consumers in non-traditional theatrical venues. Momentum will screen quality, commercially viable films starring people of color in venues outside of the movie multiplex, including playhouses and concert halls. Blair Underwood has accepted appointment as chair of the advisory board.

The Momentum Experience will launch on July 20, 2005 at the legendary Fox Theater in Atlanta with additional dates in Washington DC, Baltimore and Detroit to follow through early August. The company's first release is THE SEAT FILLER, a romantic comedy starring Kelly Rowland (Destiny's Child), Shemar Moore (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) and Duane Martin (All Of Us). The film is directed by Nick Castle, written by Mark Brown, Martin and Tisha Campbell-Martin and produced by Hill, Steed and Martin.

"This unique distribution model was born out of a shared desire by everyone involved to control the African-American cinematic image from start to finish. As most independent filmmakers know, making the film is never as hard as finding distribution. This is especially true for independent African-American films," explains Hill, co-founder and CEO. "The Momentum Experience allows us to deliver to a very specific audience those films that may have been overlooked or underappreciated by the Hollywood studio system."

"The vision of this team is inspiring and their goals address a definite need in the African-American entertainment community. I support and encourage entrepreneurs who take their destiny into their own hands with initiatives such as The Momentum Experience," remarks Smith, an investor.

The Momentum Experience will use the successful live urban theater model as a springboard to a unique moviegoing event geared toward black audiences. Over the last 20 years, producers of live urban theater, also known as the "chittlin' circuit" or "gospel play movement," have successfully catered to the urban market to the tune of more than $250 million.

The Momentum Experience marries the live urban theater model with the traditions of African-American filmmakers who self-distributed in the early 1900s, such as Oscar Michaeux. Momentum will offer an enhanced entertainment component to the price of each ticket. From a live concert performance by soundtrack artists to a cast meet-and-greet to a comedy pre-show, each feature presentation will be preceded by a unique added-value attraction for ticket holders.

"Distribution of our films has been a long-standing dream of mine. While this team has enjoyed success in the Hollywood film and television industries, we understand the void that exists in our community as it relates to independent African-American voices," explains Martin, a managing partner. "To implement this dynamic exhibition plan will be both a personal triumph for all involved and a collective triumph for black filmgoers everywhere."

"To lift as we climb is a sentiment that is close to my heart," insists Underwood, an investing partner. "The Momentum Experience carries with it a rich legacy and captures the urban film community's desire for self-determination. I'm anxious to lend my support both in front of and behind the scenes to execute this new model, and am excited by the potential for real change."

The company plans to release 4-5 films with pre-shows per year in top urban markets. Content will generate from several avenues, including the independent production companies of the principals and acquisitions from like-minded filmmakers and production entities.

"Taking back control of our images, instead of asking someone else to distribute them for us, is a simple, yet liberating idea," explains Steed, co-founder and COO. "Nia and I, and our dynamic partners and investors, want to tap into the wealth of talent in independent urban cinema and finally give these filmmakers a safe haven to tell their stories."



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