In March of 2019 Casper Bradley, then a head of programming at a boutique Hollywood Studio, noticed a group of kids streaming movies on their phones. It wasn’t the first time he had seen this but he suddenly realized that the traditional distribution company that he worked for had very little interest in streaming platforms as a distribution method. Two weeks later, he was cleaning out his desk – mbur Indie Film Distribution (https://www.mbur.com) was formed.
Posters from classic horror movies and little known films like The American Astronaut (Bradley’s favorite film) adorn his office in Burbank, California. While mbur has already grown to eleven employees and is acquiring hundreds of films, Bradley says the hard work is still ahead of the film distribution company.
Bradley: “We have a unique business model. We’re not just taking a film and putting it on a streaming service then taking a cut, we are investing in our filmmakers by adding production value to their films. We’re spending money on our filmmakers, many of them unknown but very talented. You don’t see that in Hollywood now.”
The unique business model Bradley is referring to involves creating anthologies, or collections of short films, based on similar themes. Recognizable actors are then hired to connect the stories through bridge scenes – much like Tales from the Crypt or The Twilight Zone.
I asked Bradley where his love of short films came from and he was adamant that it’s not a matter of how long a film is but how good it is.
Bradley: “I love film – full stop. I don’t care if it’s one minute long or a three hour Scorcese masterpiece. If you tell a good story, you deserve to have an audience – and mbur is finding that audience for our filmmakers.”
Filmmakers have long struggled to find a paying audience for short films. Typically short films were a “calling card” or demonstration of the talent of a filmmaker in the hopes of getting a job on a feature film. Bradley says that dynamic is changing.
Bradley: “When you see a company like Quibi being backed by some of the biggest money people in Hollywood and offering short form content, you realize the paradigm of short films has shifted. At mbur we are uniquely poised to take advantage of that by offering short films that are of top quality. We reject 99 out of 100 short films submitted to us because it’s not about quantity for mbur, it’s about quality. We’re building a filmmaker family with extremely talented filmmakers who haven’t been given the proper exposure and haven’t been able to earn revenue from their short films. We are fostering the next Scorcese and Spielberg by giving them a way to earn revenue while they pursue their next project.”
What is Bradley’s measure of success?
Bradley: “I want to see a group of kids streaming short films and short film anthologies on their phones. That’s when I’ll know that mbur is successful.”
Visit mbur Indie Film Distribution at https://www.mbur.com