Unhappy with distribution deals, Schwaba self-releasing his indie film on 14 Wisconsin screens

Pete Schwaba joins the growing ranks of independent filmmakers choosing self-release over unsatisfactory distribution offers, when he opens his debut feature “The Godfather of Green Bay” in theaters March 24.

Schwaba and his producers Brian and Josh Etting are playing “Godfather” on 14 screens across Wisconsin.

“Just seeing it play in festivals for over a year, we saw how audiences responded,” Schwaba said.

“We saw offers for straight-to-video or a week in New York. We didn’t know if our investors would see a dime. We figured our best shot was to put it into theaters ourselves.”

Schwaba and Lance Barber (“The Comeback”) play L.A. comedians slumming at a Wisconsin comedy night to catch the eye of a tonight show scout, where Schwaba learns the charm of Midwestern life, and competes for the affections of his high school English teacher (Lauren Holly, “What Women Want,”), against the eponymous Godfather (Tony Goldwyn, “The Last Samurai”). With Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911,” “Eden Court”).

Schwaba is following the pattern that producer Bob Brown of Michigan-based Purple Rose Films established with their 2001 state-record-breaking self-release of Jeff Daniels’ “Escanaba in da Moonlight.”

“Bob is a friend,” Schwaba said. “I’ve been picking his brain for two-and-a-half years, and recently he came on as a consultant.”