Strongarm The Market

In an attempt to bring action sports entertainment to a wider audience, Quiksilver has created a video/film distribution company know simply as Union. Aligning itself with Volcom, Globe, DC Shoes, and several other big names within the industry, Union will focus on only the best films from surf, skate, and snow. However, Union will have to walk a fine line in regards to “core versus mainstream” distribution.

With an approach that focuses on quality, not quantity, Union is meant to support and distribute only the upper crust of action sports entertainment. “We want to support films created by people within the industry that reflect the best we have to offer,” says Rob Colby of Quik Entertainment, “stuff that will get the kids excited, but stuff that you and I would want to sit down and watch too.” Colby also states that Quiksilver’s Union is “not interested in merely making and distributing films that buoy our own brand and image.” Instead, he insists, they are trying to keep action sports film making in the hands of those who know the genre most intimately and portray it in the best light.

With its focus on the best and the brightest, Union will not only distribute on DVD, but will attempt to use methods not traditionally available to action sports films. Currently, negotiations are underway with cable providers in an attempt to offer a video on demand alternative to those who balk at shelling out $20 plus at the counter to buy the latest films from surf, skate, or snow. If all goes well fans may soon have the ability purchase their favorite new flick through their cable box, in the same way they would order up the latest Hollywood Blockbuster.

Taylor Steele of Steele-house Distribution and Poor Specimen Productions feels that Union should have a positive affect on actions sports film as well as its image in the mainstream. “I like the sound of it,” he says, “on a mainstream level surfing is really hot. I think it’s good for it to have representation from within our industry, whether it comes from Quiksilver or any other internal surf company.”

Brendan Lynch of Billygoat Distribution Inc., another established distributor of action sports films, says that there are some bumps in the road. “Union needs to demonstrate that these channels [of distribution]…can provide enough revenue to sustain their business model.” Without doing so, action sports video on demand may lead a short and quickly forgotten life. However, Billygoat has signed on to work with Union, and Lynch does point out “if Union can find a happy medium between core and mainstream distribution methods, it will have a positive effect on the action sports film industry,” and “may provide additional streams of revenue for select action sports films.” Furthermore he adds, with their quality vs. quantity approach they “should raise the bar for film production in the future.”

If Union can achieve these requisites for success, and put out quality products with wide spread appeal, not only will it have the potential for meteoric growth, but it will also enable the action sports industry to portray itself with more accuracy to the mainstream masses. With the help of films like Riding Giants, and Step into Liquid, Union may play a role in enlightening outsiders that life within the action sports world goes a bit deeper than “some tasty waves and a cool buzz.”