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Ro*co Films Founder Annie Roney Talks to Sundance About Changes in Documentary Distribution

Thompson on Hollywood By Chris Dorr | Thompson on Hollywood March 30, 2013 at 6:40AM

Annie Roney of ro*co films is interviewed by Sundance contributing blogger Chris Dorr on Adapting to Changes in Distribution: "The most significant change is the cultural and mainstream embrace of the documentary genre ..."
"Invisible War"
'Invisible War'

Chris Dorr : You've been distributing documentary films for a number of years. How did you get into the distribution business and what led you to concentrate on documentaries?

Annie Roney: I had a spiritual crisis when after a few post-college jobs, I was unfulfilled and disconnected from my core.  I took some time off to reflect on what I wanted out of my life and what made me tick.  My mom is a journalist and when I was a kid she produced a radio documentary series and hosted a weekly radio talk show on social issues.  I loved waiting in the news room for her to finish -- watching and waiting for the "On Air" sign to go off indicating I had my mom back. 

While waiting, I marveled at the energy of the newsroom.  I really wanted to be a part of it -- to be on the frontlines of new and important information and to have a role in getting it out there.  I saw people at their desks taking calls and yelling information across the room -- I wanted to know EVERYTHING about each story that was being told, every call that came in.  I would stand in front of the newswire feed as if it were speaking directly to me.

So when I saw an ad to work on the international distribution of documentaries, including all of the FRONTLINE series and NOVA, Ken Burns and numerous other independent productions ... it hit all the right notes.  I got the job with a lot of heart and no experience.  For nine years I worked among the finest documentarians while cultivating relationships with media buyers around the world.  I saw what documentaries could do in the world and I was hooked. 

I launched my company, ro*co films, in 2000 with one, exceptionally good film "Regret to Inform".  I had countless international buyers thank me -- saying they had never seen anything about war made from a woman's perspective.  I licensed the broadcast rights to that film into countless territories around the world.  And that was the beginning of my addiction to the power of distribution.


Read the entire interview here.

Roney appears alongside Tiffany Shlain and other experts at the first-ever San Francisco #ArtistServices Workshop, co-hosted with the San Francisco Film Society  - April 6 at The Presidio.

This article is related to: Ro*co films, Annie Roney, Sundance Institute , Documentary, The Invisible War, How to Survive a Plague

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.