Life after Bob and Harvey: Tom Ortenberg launches film and media company
After spending more than 12 years at Lionsgate and a surprisingly brief stint at the troubled Weinstein Co., Tom Ortenberg has launched a new film and media company called One Way Out Media that will provide both financing and consulting services for indy productions in a variety of areas, including marketing, distribution, publicity and awards season strategizing. It's yet another sign that the indie film world is looking for new business models in the wake of the collapse of many of the better-known studio specialty divisions.
"Half of my new company will provide consulting services," Ortenberg told me today. "But the other half will be a financing entity, or what I call a film opportunity fund, where I'll use my expertise in independent film to help finance low-budget movies, pre-buy North American film rights or provide finishing funds and P&A [marketing support] for movies. There are a lot of possibilities -- we might even partner with a studio on a festival-based acquisition. I've always wanted to be more entrepreneurial and, considering where things are in the industry, the timing seemed right in terms of there being a need for what I'm offering."
Ortenberg's announcement comes just days after the news surfaced that he'd left the Weinstein Co. after less than a year as the head of its theatrical film division. Ortenberg insists it was his decision to leave Weinstein, where he was a driving force behind the release of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," the company's big late-summer hit.
"I leave with many friends at the company, including Bob and Harvey [Weinstein], who I look forward to doing business with in the future" he said, which is either another sign of his classy approach to business or a signal that the Weinsteins are holding his children hostage until Ortenberg finishes the launch announcements for his company. Known for his collegial professionalism, Ortenberg insists that he had no issues with the always volatile Weinstein brothers, but other ex-Weinstein staffers speculate that Ortenberg was probably frustrated by the Weinsteins, who find it difficult to delegate or allow executives to do their jobs without constant meddling and interference.
Ortenberg says he already has some "partial financing" for the new company and is "in the process" of raising additional funding. His company could find a comfortable niche in the new indie world, where thousands of movies play film festivals, but are unable to attract any interest from theatrical distributors. "If you're a filmmaker looking for proper marketing and distribution, I think that's an area where I have a broad range of expertise," he says. "It's not just enough to get your film made. In today's world, filmmakers need help in getting to the marketplace."
If nothing else, Ortenberg may get credit for being the first person to name a film company after an Allman Brothers song, "One Way Out" being a classic blues jam from the group's legendary "Live at the Fillmore East" album. "When I sat down and tried to think of a good name for the company, the song title just popped into my head," he said. "It's a good way to pay respect to one of my favorite bands."
Photo: Tom Ortenberg. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.