Van Toffler’s Digital Studio Gunpowder & Sky Acquires John Sloss’s FilmBuff

Oriana Schwindt
Van Toffler’s Digital Studio Gunpowder & Sky Acquires John Sloss’s FilmBuff

Gunpowder & Sky, the digital studio backed by The Chernin Group’s and AT&T’s Otter Media, has acquired distribution company FilmBuff. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FilmBuff is a nine-year-old distributor founded by veteran sales agent John Sloss behind indie movies like “Senna,” Jared Leto‘s “Artifact” and the Oscar-nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Lately it has focused more on distribution deals for content creators with digital-first platforms like Mashable, YouTube and Vice.

As part of the acquisition, FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown will become the executive vice president of the newly dubbed GunPowder & Sky Distribution.

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The acquisition is part of GunPowder & Sky’s efforts to become, as president Floris Bauer told The Wrap, “a soup-to-nuts studio.” The company wants to allow creators to bring anything from a web series to a feature film and take it from pitch to (theoretical) profit.

Gunpowder & Sky came into being only in January 2016, the brainchild of Bauer, Endemol’s former global head of corporate development and strategy, and former Viacom executive Van Toffler.

Since then, the company has been quick to sign deals with all manner of content creators, including viral ad factory Shareability and music legend T. Bone Burnett, with whom (among others) Gunpowder & Sky is making an animated series for Spotify about the history of music.

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But they were still missing a large-scale distribution infrastructure, the ability to go into an international marketplace and sell on a global basis.

“FilmBuff was the thing we’ve been looking at and talking about since before we even launched,” Bauer said. It has a stable of creators and nearly a decade of distributing films around the world and via various digital methods.

Gunpowder & Sky is coming into a fairly crowded marketplace of digital video shops, which Toffler and Bauer acknowledge. Defy Media, Maker Studios, Fullscreen (also backed by Otter Media) and others have already been around for years, and there’s also upstart BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.

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Toffler and Bauer’s target, too, is the same millennial audience that favors, above all things, the choice of where to watch what they want to watch.

“Young people are consuming content, and not just in 30 seconds or less. And they want better storytelling,” Toffler told The Wrap. And so Gunpowder & Sky aims to deliver better storytelling to those youthful eyeballs, wherever they may be, and at a much lower cost than your average movie or episode of television.

“There is a bit of a bubble in TV, but in higher budget TV,” Bauer said. “We are focusing on the lower budget.”

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