Filmmaker/actor Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen, Entourage)
has given a shout-out to the Comcast/NBCU merger, saying it would actually be a
boon to independent productions. That's according to a letter to the FCC
signed "Edward Burns" and attributed by the FCC to Marlboro Road Gang
Productions, which produced Burns' films.
"It will be good for independent filmmakers because it
will drive new distribution opportunities for our work," he wrote.
Burns says in the letter that as an independent filmmaker
who has worked with Comcast, he has seen its commitment to independent film.
"Comcast has showed me that they want independents to succeed and because
of our recent collaboration, I hope you will strongly consider allowing this
deal to move forward."
Burns' film Nice Guy
was distributed digitally via Comcast On Demand,
iTunes and "other digital distributors," he says, reaching 46 million
homes and coming in eighth on iTunes' rental catalog, "better than many
studio films and their deep-pocketed marketing departments," he said.
Burns conceded that a commitment to independent film
"might not seem logical" when Comcast is trying to buy a major TV and
film production company, but he says he sees the logic. "Comcast wants to
drive more innovative distribution platforms... Being able to use strong Hollywood content
to drive these new platforms means that those platforms become much more viable
for independents, too," he wrote.
The Independent Film & Television Association, a former
critic of the deal, has since dropped its opposition after it struck a side
deal with Comcast last summer
that included a pledge of $6 million in independent production development
funds over four years.
"Comcast is committed to fostering creativity by
working with the independent film and TV by bringing more content to more
consumers across more platforms," said Comcast spokeswoman Sena
Fitzmaurice said at the time of the agreement. "This agreement is one
example of that commitment, another is adding independent linear channels and
more VOD content."