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De Niro's Tribeca acquires Flashpoint Academy in Chicago

It appears to be kismet. Flashpoint President & CEO Howard Tullman says they were, “looking for a strategic partner as much as an investor”, while Tribeca Film Festival co-owner Jane Rosenthal states, “It just happened to be the right fit for what we were looking for.”

Two things are certain. One, the fledgling Flashpoint Academy (now Tribeca Flashpoint) in Chicago has had quite a run since its inception in 2007. And two, Tribeca Enterprises is in an aggressive expansion mode, perhaps realizing the untapped film potential of an under utilized Chicago.

Flashpoint Academy is located on prime real estate in Chicago’s loop, just off Daley Square. In a short time, owner Tullman has put together a highly targeted two year curriculum that dispenses with liberal arts and focuses on the rapidly evolving digital media arena, including digital film, game development and animation.

Although very small by college standards, Flashpoint has increased its enrollment from 110 students in 2007 to 450 today. With a yearly tuition of $25,000 per year, it is considerable growth and portends demand within the digital media field.

Tribeca Enterprises also seems to be taking their film festival roots to the next level. In addition to the Flashpoint acquisition, Tribeca is turning heads in the world of distribution with Tribeca Film Festival Virtual, an arrangement that sells 5,000 film lovers a $45 online pass to view festival features and shorts.

But even more controversial is the new Tribeca Film company which will offer first-run features for rent before worldwide distributors can make an offer. It is further evidence that the film industry as we know it is in full flux.