Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Sean Phipps
A film produced in Chattanooga will receive a national theatrical release following a distribution deal.
Hunter Gatherer starring Andre Royo (The Wire, Empire) debuted at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival to rave reviews. The film was written and directed by Josh Locy—a Bryan College grad—and Chattanooga’s Mama Bear Studios served as the executive producer, along with Unbundled Underground in association with Rough House Pictures.
National distributors The Orchard acquired digital rights for the film. Rough House Pictures will release the film in New York City and Los Angeles beginning Nov. 18, with a theatrical rollout to follow.
Hunter Gatherer follows Royo in his portrayal of Ashley Douglas, a man recently released from prison who finds out that everyone and everything has moved on without him. He attempts to win back his girlfriend, enlisting the aid of a fellow loner (George Sample III) as a business partner.
Royo garnered the Jury Award at SXSW for Best Actor.
Read a previous Nooga.com story on Hunter Gatherer here.
Isaiah Smallman, a producer of the film and co-founder of Chattanooga’s Mama Bear Studios, said a screening of the film in Chattanooga will take place near the beginning of 2017. In the meantime, he said the deal with The Orchard will open the door to new possibilities for the company.
“Since winning the award at SXSW, we’ve been playing lots of different festivals around the country, but we still didn’t know exactly what the next step was for distribution,” he said. “We had several small offers, but none of them were really all that enticing because you often end up sacrificing a huge percentage of the upside without much upfront money or hustle from the distributor to justify it.”
Smallman said he and the other producers—April Lamb, Sara Murphy, Michael Covino and Locy—thought about self-distributing the film, but that would take an enormous amount of time and relationship building to pull off.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about landing distribution with an awesome company like The Orchard,” Smallman said. “They have all the right relationships with places like Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, cable VOD and all the other buyers that we will be targeting. And they know a lot about getting great small films like ours to the audiences who will love them.”
The film will be released on digital platforms in January. Hunter Gatherer is the first film produced by Mama Bear Studios from start to finish. Smallman said he hopes to continue championing Chattanooga as a film town.
“Cine-Rama and the Chattanooga Film Festival are doing an amazing job of creating a place for independent films to be screened, but we’re hoping in the next few years to make Chattanooga a destination for super-successful writers, directors and producers as well,” he said. “We’re constantly repping Chattanooga to people … and encouraging them to make their home base here, even if they might still have to produce their films elsewhere from time to time.”
Mama Bear Studios currently has 15 projects in various stages of completion, according to Smallman. Projects include two small indie drama films, a comedy TV pilot, two thriller features, two romantic comedies and more.
The studio previously released Low and Behold, a partnership with the Sundance Institute’s #ArtistServices program. The film follows the story of a young insurance claims adjuster in post-Katrina New Orleans who risks his job to help a local man find his dog.
Mama Bear Studios was founded by Smallman and his business partner, Drew Belz.