Saturday, April 6, 2013

Festival Films -- Public Domain Confidential!

A few days ago I was asked by an editor of Home Media Magazine about public domain titles and how Festival Films fits in: "Public domain films/titles can be accessed legally for free by anyone … how has Festival Films make public domain titles attractive, something people are willing to pay for?"  This gave me a chance to explain what Festival Films has been doing all these years to bring public domain films to the public.

Festival Films has never targeted selling public domain films to the public.  We don't have a retail line in stores.  We have helped supply Mill Creek Entertainment with films for their 50 packs, which are a terrific value even if quality on some may not be the best.  Quantity sells but I leave that up to others.  My main clients include:

1)  Small, independent, Christian and college TV Stations.  When vintage films and 1950s TV shows are broadcast free the audience swells among seniors, families and those discovering the films for the first time.  This audience does not know the films are public domain and would never think to watch them on Youtube or Internet Archive.

2)  Movie Theaters.  Our Café Roxy line of programs contains the best public domain features paired with cartoons, comedy shorts and serial chapters along the lines of the old PBS Matinee at the Bijou.  Every theater has a video projection system and small, restored theaters often try showing the matinees free and making money on concessions.  I just mailed off the 12-part "Sagebrush Saga" series to a theater in Lockhart, Texas.

3)  For online streaming.  Last month I sold 100 features to West TV in Perth, Australia.  This is an online TV station one can check out here:  They list lots of sponsors!

I have also just started supplying a new online streaming enterprise called Wiener Entertainment, whose website is not yet up.  I will happily promote them when they are live.

4)  Video masters of rare films.  Many public domain films are lost, unknown or not yet released to the public. Watching films no one has seen in recent years, ones without reviews or synopsis on the IMDB, is the most fun I have.  We sell rare masters to Alpha Video who will take almost any PD film they don't have, to Timeless Video, to Film Chest, Synergy and others.  Some upcoming "previously lost" films these companies will soon issue include:

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR -- 1948 TV mystery in 20 minute segments was the very first show ever shot on film for Television.  Then CBS decided they didn't want 20 minute shows and they ended up on Dupont Network with some filler about a panel talking about who the murderer might be.  It stars John Howard.

FLIRTATION (1934)  Country boy Ben Alexander and his frisky dog hit the big city and get mixed up with a burlesque troop featuring the Street Singer Arthur Tracy.  The star singer's mother comes to visit and expects a husband and child, so ....

VENGEANCE OF THE DEEP (1938)  Concert pianist Lloyd Hughes leaves London to dive for pearls in the South Seas at the whim of his fiancee.

KING OF THE CIRCUS (1935)  Lion tamer Gregory Ratoff raises orphan girl until he can marry her, then holds an iron fist over their relationship.

WOMAN TO WOMAN (1929) Silent star Betty Compson's favorite film.  She plays a French singer who has a child by an English soldier during the war, but he gets amnesia and disappears.  They meet years later in London with their child.

5)  Last year with partners Bob Campbell and Derek Myers we started a line of rare short subjects called "Lost and Rare Film and TV Treasures."  We have four releases to date -- Lost TV Pilots, Lost Sports Immortals with a superb 1939 documentary on Baseball, Heavenly Christmas Classics including "Star of Bethlehem" with James Mason and a cast of children performing the Nativity, and Golf Mania that explains itself.

6)  I use public domain films for a series of "Movie Memories Activities" for senior residences.  After a short segment from the 1930s through 1950s, 4 questions come onscreen to foster reminiscing and discussion.  Watch, recall, share the memories.

7)  Working with original producer Bob Campbell to produce a new season of the hit PBS show "Matinee at the Bijou" in high definition.  We plan a Kickstarter campaign in May.

In short I am enjoying many projects that use public domain films, although I do not sell directly to the public.

A few special notes about Matinee at the Bijou...

I have been working with Bob Campbell for quite a few years to produce new episodes of Matinee at the Bijou in high definition and hosted by a major name in show business.  PBS would love it, as long as we find the sponsors, produce the shows and give it to them for free.  Of course, since 1980 there are so many other options at networks, Netflix, online streaming, etc.  Bijou literally had millions of loyal fans in the 1980s.  Interest in vintage films is at a high as evidenced by the continued success of Turner Classic Movies.  Unlike TCM, PBS is free and can reach a larger audience.  Yes, thousands of vintage films have been released on DVD, but we have a higher goal to recreate the movie going experience of the 1930s, '40s and '50s.  The Saturday Matinee is part of our cultural heritage that should be remembered and brought back for the enjoyment of generations to come.

I have rarely mentioned reviving Bijou in this blog since I prefer to wait until there is concrete news to announce.  And now there is.  To produce the first season of 13 new MATB shows we are planning a Kickstarter campaign in May.  To learn more about this plan please visit the Bijou Blog.

This may jog your memory or whet your apetite for the Return of Matinee at the Bijou

Watch for Matinee at the Bijou on its own Facebook page next week.  Visit my websites at Festival Films and Lost and Rare.


  1. Hey Ron! I'd love to know where and when "Woman to Woman" will be available. Please let me know!


  2. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم تقدم لكم شركة الكمال جميع خدمات رش المبيد يجميع انحاء المملكة بافضل انواع المبيدات للقضاء على جميع الحشرات الطائرة والزاحفه كالصراصير والفائران والنمل الابيض والبق والذباب والناموس
    شركة رش مبيدات بالطائف
    شركة رش مبيدات بجازان
    شركة رش مبيدات بحائل
    والسلامه عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته