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Now streaming: Independent Brooklyn flicks - Brooklyn Paper

Now streaming: Independent Brooklyn flicks

Brooklyn forever: From left, Jason Cusato, Anthony DeVito, and Joseph Shahadi run the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, and they have just launched Brooklyn On Demand, a new streaming-video service for Brooklyn-centric indie flicks.
Photo by Jason Speakman

Brooklyn has been in demand for quite some time, but now it is on demand, too.

The founders of a borough-centric film festival have taken to the web with Brooklyn On Demand, an online selection of independent films made by or about Brooklynites, for rent and for sale. The project’s head said he wants to make a central repository for Kings County’s cinematic productions, and to give the filmmakers a way to cash in on their creations.

“We wanted to create a platform that maximized the find-ability of these films, and also generated revenue for the filmmakers,” said Joseph Shahadi, executive director of the Art of Brooklyn, the group that runs the service and puts on the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival.

Brooklyn On Demand launched last month with eight titles that all won awards in past Art of Brooklyn Film Festivals. These films will stick around for a while, and more will be added in the coming months, Shahadi said. The service, which is powered by Vimeo, allows users to stream the movies for 48 hours for a fee that ranges from $1.99 to $3.99. Some titles can also be downloaded permanently for $4.99 to $9.99. The profits, he said, are split evenly between the group and the filmmakers after Vimeo and Paypal take their cut.

Shahadi has been running the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival with two partners since 2011. The annual event features movies with a local connection, and the reception it has received convinced the group the world wants to watch, Shahadi said.

“We know there’s a global interest in Brooklyn as a place,” he said. “And in particular as a place for independent films.”

But the founders felt that filmmakers had trouble showing their work after the festival.

“We found that too few of the films showed up where people could find them,” Shahadi said. “We wanted to see that they had a life after the festival.”

Angela Wong, who made the documentary “Prizefighter” about a single mother training to be a boxer, jumped at the chance to show it through Brooklyn On Demand.

“I thought it was an excellent way to be a part of the Brooklyn scene,” she said.

Wong had so much trouble distributing her flick before, she uploaded it to Youtube for people to watch for free.

“A lot of people saw it, but that didn’t make me any money,” she said.

The trouble for indie filmmakers is that there are so many films out there, it is tough to get noticed, and even tougher to get paid, Shahadi said. Brooklyn On Demand can help solve that problem by grouping a set of films together that have a common audience — people interested in what happens in the 71 square miles between Greenpoint and Canarsie.

“There are options for indie films,” Shahadi said. “But the community we’re concerned with is the Brooklyn indie film community.”

Techno Files

The city launched a new website this week that is all about connecting tech companies with each other and supporting the tech sector. Digital.nyc provides resources for the heads of young companies and for tech workers, such as workspace and education listings, as well as directories of government agencies and local companies. The site also lists events, jobs, and potential investors. Mayor DeBlasio announced the site at Dumbo Heights, the coming Kushner-Companies-owned tech campus in the former Watchtower buildings.

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Etsy is putting $210,000 towards grants to help women and minority programmers attend Hacker School, a coding “retreat” in the city. The program is full-time and lasts three-months. The grants are supposed to help coders pay for living expenses during their “semester” while they work on specific projects, which they pitch for approval.

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Dumbo digital-marketing agency Huge is embarking on a huge expansion. The company employs 500 people in Brooklyn and is expanding to take up 32 times more space than it currently occupies at the Two-Trees-owned 45 Main St., growing from an office the size of a basketball court to one the size of one and a third football fields. The company also has offices in London, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, and elsewhere.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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