High and low concept films and music docs have a home at FACTORY 25, the Brooklyn-based independent film & music label. Beginning in September 2009, FACTORY 25 has released films, theatrically, digitally, and on DVD, and curates provocative limited edition DVD/Vinyl combination packages. Specializing in indie niche projects, FACTORY 25 is committed to delivering films and music in perfect analog or digital quality on DVD and vinyl in aesthetically interesting packaging.
The Wall Street Journal:
Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal
The DVD appears to be an endangered species, soon to join such formats as the cassette, the VHS tape and the struggling CD in stoop-sale oblivion.
“More people are counting on VOD [video-on-demand] or, sadly, torrents,” Matt Grady said, acknowledging the popularity of both legal and illegal downloads as a media-delivery system.
Mr. Grady, who distributes independent films through his Factory 25 label, makes several of the dozen titles in his growing catalog available on iTunes. But he’s also gone in a seemingly contrary direction. He’s released select titles in elaborate special-edition packages with vinyl LPs.
“I wanted to take these art films and make them into a physical piece of art,” said Mr. Grady, who since launching in September 2009 has run Factory 25 out of his Park Slope apartment. His first release was “Frownland,” an intense, low-budget psychodrama directed by Ronald Bronstein (who recently won a Gotham Award for breakthrough actor in the film “Daddy Longlegs”).
The package is over the top: a gatefold album containing the film’s soundtrack and the DVD; a comic book drawn by actor Mary Bronstein (as her alienated character); printed excerpts from a 70,000-word email exchange between the two lead actors (in character); a poster; and an actual snippet of 16mm film from Mr. Bronstein’s work print. “Buy several thousand copies and reconstruct the entire film!” Mr. Grady urges customers perusing the catalog page on his website (factorytwentyfive.com).
“I’m trying to make the packaging as great as possible,” he said, “so hopefully people if they are buying things, they want to buy something nice that someone put some time and effort into—not some throwaway package.”
Mr. Grady was previously a partner with filmmaker Gary Hustwit (“Objectified”) in Plexifilm, which favored music-themed projects such as the Wilco documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” His background in music video and distribution helped secure backing from Warner Music Group, as did an emphasis on releases that targeted a range of music genres: “You Weren’t There,” about the Chicago punk scene of the 1970s; “Until the Light Takes Us,” a documentary about Norwegian black metal; “All the Way from Michigan, Not Mars,” a documentary about the singer-songwriter Rosie Thomas; “High School Record,” an obscure 2005 feature starring members of Los Angeles bands No Age, Mika Miko and Lavender Diamond.
“I’m drawn to uniqueness in authorship and something that really hits me,” Mr. Grady said of his curatorial instincts. “They’re a wide range of films, but they have the same edge.”
The label also champions more mainstream fare. Factory 25’s latest release is “NY Export: Opus Jazz,” a filmed performance of the 1958 Jerome Robbins ballet reprised by members of the New York City Ballet at various locations around the city. The vibrant document, shot by young New York filmmakers Jody Lee Lipes and Henry Joost (“Catfish”), aired as part of the PBS series “Great Performances.”
Mr. Grady also distributed Mr. Lipes’s previous project, “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same,” a challenging, provocative documentary about the Brooklyn artist that has divided audiences with transgressive scenes not likely to show up on public television.
“Matt creates a beautiful presentation that says a lot about what you are going to see, and he makes the owning of a film sacred by designing its contents with so much care,” Mr. Lipes said. “A DVD/record from Factory 25 is always something you want to put out in your apartment so everyone can see it. It’s a work of art in itself.”
Ry Russo-Young, whose new film “You Wont Miss Me” will be released by Factory 25 on DVD next spring, is part of a circle of promising New York indie filmmakers who are working with Mr. Grady.
“It’s almost like a Criterion model,” she said, referring to Criterion Collection, which has set the standard for high-end video packaging with imaginative graphic design and archival extras. “Matt’s thinking about film as an extension of more material objects.”
The standard-edition DVD of Ms. Russo-Young’s film will include items such as excerpts from an improvised session with the lead actor, Stella Schnabel, developing her volatile character, Shelly Brown. The limited edition will include the diary Ms. Schnabel created as Shelly, as well as an LP by Stylofone, a now-defunct band featured in the film.
“There’s no indie equivalent of Criterion,” Mr. Grady said, “and that’s what I’m trying to build. I want to bring it to the next level. I want these packages to be like fetish pieces.”