Senior Manager, Film Distribution
Joined The Orchard in January 2012 (right after Sundance that year — I think about all my time in relationship to film festival schedules)
You seem to always be in multiple places at once: panels, movie premieres, signing indie film deals. Tell us, please, what the #&@% do you do, Danielle??!
Here at the Orchard, I work on acquiring documentaries and indie films for distribution, both digital-only, and now, all rights distribution. With the release of Rich Hill, our first big theatrical, my job has shifted slightly to really being focused on acquisitions where we can get all rights to a film — theatrical, broadcast, DVD, AND digital. That said, I also spend a large part of my time signing deals for straight to digital releases, as well as larger catalogs, which are still an incredibly important part of the film business here.
I also do client management which means that along with working as a quarterback among all the other departments here to make sure all aspects of a film’s release — marketing, sales, PR, accounting, etc. — are on target and necessary things are being communicated to the filmmakers. I do this not only for these tentpole releases, but also oversee a small team of Abe Schwartz, our kickass Film/TV Coordinator, and Kayleigh Butera, who just recently joined us and also rules, in making sure that the lines of communication are always open between The Orchard and our film clients, and that all of their questions and concerns are answered.
It’s so nice to see our Film/TV department growing and we loved making the premiere of Rich Hill an Orchard outing! Are there any other upcoming films you’re working on that we should look out for?
Yes, the film/TV department here has grown aggressively and ambitiously! With some amazing and experienced new team members having joined us from Focus Features, Tribeca Film, Sesame Street and SnagFilms, Doug ramping up and leading the Film Biz Dev team, and a new fearless leader — Paul Davidson — we are poised to take over the galaxy! Now all we need is a talking raccoon. But seriously, the films that we are releasing for the rest of this year and early next, and the manner in which we are releasing them — to the top indie cinemas, on major Cable/Satellite platforms including Comcast and DirectTV — are really making us a player in independent film, and the industry has definitely taken notice.
I’m super excited about the upcoming releases of some of the films I’ve recently acquired — Rich Hill (obviously); No No: A Dockumentary — a really fun and well-done Sundance and SXSW documentary about Doc Ellis, who pitched a no hitter while on LSD in the 70s; Harmontown, about the controversial and hilarious Community showrunner Dan Harmon, which features comedians like Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, and Jason Sudeikis; and Point and Shoot, an incredible doc by Marshall Curry, who has already been Oscar-nominated twice for two recent documentaries. There are a few other big ones, but they will be released later and I’ll have plenty of time to get the word out about them!
Here’s another one worth spreading the word on… It turns out you’re kind of a big shot and won a Peabody Award (no less!) for your work producing the Orchard-distributed documentary, Best Kept Secret. What’s your secret, and what other superpowers are you hiding from us?
Ha! No superpowers, unfortunately. If I had them, we would’ve won an Oscar and I would’ve flown onstage to pick it up. Working on Best Kept Secret was an amazing — and time-consuming — experience. For a documentary, the timeframe was short — it actually only took a couple of years from start to finish, but it was more than a full time job. I actually did work on it full time for a little over a year before I joined The Orchard, and by that time, we were in post production, so I was able to concentrate that work on nights, lunch breaks and weekends. But, now with The Orchard, there’s no way I could be that hands-on of a producer again. For projects I do now, I’ll co-produce or Associate Produce, take a role that is less demanding and more advisory/helpful.
My only secret there is that I work after work. And before work. And on weekends. And I have insomnia. Also, my husband likes to clean and do dishes. The triple whammy of getting married, working on the film and getting a job at The Orchard forced me into a very antisocial place for a while, and I’m glad to take a break and prove to my friends that I haven’t gone off the grid.
Well now that everyone knows how amazing you are, your social calendar is going to fly off the wall. Thanks for sharing with us what the #&@$ you do, Danielle!
favorite dance move: My favorite dance move is not mine — it’s my husband’s. He does an award-winning robot. (If you count winning his high school talent show an actual award).
best panel you’ve ever been on and why: A panel on distribution at Krakow Film Festival in Poland, because they gave us all wine to drink while we panel-ed! Eastern Europe knows how to do it right.
must-see movie of the year so far: Rich Hill, obviously. Aside from that, Boyhood is a must see for many reasons, not least of which it’s the first fiction film to ever be filmed with the same actors over the course of 12 years. An incredible achievement and just top notch filmmaking.
random fact: Here’s a couple of fun ones: I have an identical twin who is 2 minutes younger and lives 10 minutes away from me, in Clinton Hill. You can tell her apart by the two tiny kids she has with her. My grandfather discovered Element 61, Promethium, a fact which a few people have thought I was making up?!