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IFC Gives Its Affiliates a Nightmare

Independent Film Channel is using the premiere ofThe American Nightmare, its original documentary on the horror-film genre, to boost relations with a number of cable systems across the country.

To help promote the IFC Films-produced documentary's TV debut on Friday the 13th (of October), the network will send it to a number of film festivals in October and beyond.

This Saturday, the film screens at festivals in Kansas City and New Orleans. In Austin, Texas, Time Warner Cable will help promote a showing at the Austin Film Festival on Oct. 13.

Later in the month, the film will be shown at festivals in Fort Worth; Athens, Ga., and San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and at free public screenings in Anchorage, Alaska; Las Vegas and Delaware County, Pa.

"The city of Austin is very involved in the arts, especially film," Time Warner Austin vice president of public affairs Lidia Agraz said. Many independent film directors live in the city, she added.

Time Warner will use cross-channel, radio and newspaper ads to "saturate the market" with news of the film festival. The system has sponsored the event "almost from the beginning," Agraz said. The film-related event is a good vehicle for promoting Time Warner's digital-cable packages, she added.

Director Tobe Hooper ofTexas Chainsaw Massacrefame will appear at the Austin festival and answer attendees' questions, Bravo Networks executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Gregg Hill said.

The American Nightmaremarketing efforts will vary by system and could include cross-channel and local on-air spots, as well as festival trailers and on-site signage designed to promote the local cable operator.

"It's about tune-in, yes, but we're more focused on acquisitions and driving digital," Hill said. "We're trying to move boxes along with our affiliates."

To help promote the documentary, IFC also introduced a specialThe American Nightmarepage on the network's Web site. The site officially launched yesterday (Oct. 1), but had been in "teaser" mode for a number of days beforehand.

Last Friday, IFC began marketing theNightmarelink-which includes still photos and clips from horror films depicted in the documentary-to its 100,000 registered users, Bravo Networks executive vice president of new media Joe Cantwell said.

"We want to make this available to [horror] fans whether they get the film channel or not," Cantwell said of the broadband-capable Web site. IFC plans to soon announce details of an online chat withNightmarefilmmaker Adam Simon, which will likely be held the last week of October.

The Web site gives horror fans a sense of community and a chance to interact with one another, Cantwell noted. The content should serve as an "old-fashioned marketing tool" that encourages users of theNightmaresite to check out the cable programming.

The Web site is just the first in a series of broadband moves by IFC designed to give fans more control over the content as they experience it, Cantwell said.

The company announced last week that it plans to introduce content from itsifcRANTmagazine to users of the wireless Palm Computing platform, starting today (Oct. 2). Wireless users can read movie reviews and otherifcRANTcontent on their handheld devices, access an IFC programming schedule or send reminders to a VCR back home.

"We have tremendous assets in the text world," Cantwell said. "You just never see them when you're watching IFC."

Ultimately, fans looking to recommend films to their friends may be able to send one another short clips via Palm Pilot.

"I'm talking about referrals on steroids," Cantwell said.

The network also wants to make its branded content available on its affiliates' video-on-demand platforms, Cantwell said. He predicted operators would be able to command a premium price for newer original programming such asThe American Nightmare, and perhaps as little as 99 cents for library titles from the 1950s through the 1980s.

TheNightmaredocumentary explores some of the horror genre's most popular directors, including Wes Craven, George Romero, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, and includes clips from such films asNight of the Living Dead,The Texas Chainsaw MassacreandHalloween.IFC will air some of those movies and other horror films during its own on-air film festival, from Oct. 13 through Halloween.