Company: Freestyle Digital Media
Susan Jackson has worked in feature film and TV distribution for over twenty years, holding executive positions in sales, acquisitions and marketing at The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Vestron, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Goodtimes Entertainment, Sony and BMG (Bertelsmann). Jackson’s last position prior to leaving corporate America to start her own company was head of film and tv acquisitions at BMG. Through her years working at these major corporations and independents in the Theatrical, TV, DVD/Video business Jackson was able to gain valuable knowledge in how to run a profitable distribution company.
After leaving BMG in 1999, Jackson founded indie film and TV sales company Turtles Crossing, LLC, selling hundreds of films and TV shows to studios, Network, Cable TV channels, studios and independent distributors in the USA. Jackson named Turtles Crossing after a road sign near her home warning cars to slow down for Turtles crossing the street. Jackson felt that the films she was selling had come to her in many cases after the studios had passed and that these films, like the turtles on the road sign, were slow to get started but with the right sales plan would get there in the end. Turtles Crossing’s clients include independent producers, investors, foreign sales companies, banks, foreign TV networks and agents. Jackson is known for being a fixer who can mine the value of the North American rights of a film to maximize its revenue potential. Unlike most North American sales agents Jackson does not rely on all rights deals but from multiple direct deals with all outlets for film and TV in the USA. Jackson has found that by uncrossing and selling the rights off separately to multiple outlets it is possible to maximize the value for the Client.
In 2002 Jackson Executive Produced the hit indie film Cabin Fever. Jackson came on at script stage, brought in investors and sold the film to Lions Gate at the Toronto Film Festival. Produced for $1.4m Cabin Fever is considered one of the most profitable and successful indie features worldwide of the last decade. Jackson has gone on to Exec Produce many more indie films, which Turtles Crossing has successfully placed in distribution. In 2010 Jackson Co-Produced the indie comedy Dirty Girl starring Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, Tim McGraw and William H. Macy. Jackson brought in the senior lender at script stage. Dirty Girl sold as a North American theatrical release to The Weinstein Company after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival for the largest sale of the festival.
In 2004 Jackson founded theatrical service distributor Freestyle Releasing with theatrical distribution veteran Mark Borde. Freestyle Releasing has remained one of the top independent theatrical distributors in the USA for the last 5 years. Some of Freestyle’s most notable releases include The Illusionist ($40m box), The Haunting of Molly Hartley ($14m box), Dragon Wars (11m box), An American Haunting ($17m box), Bottle Shock ($5m box), The Collector ($8m box), My One and Only ($3m), Me and Orson Welles starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes and That Evening Sun starring Hal Holbrook. Freestyle also has a successful Urban and Faith based theatrical service business.
Freestyle Releasing provided Jackson a theatrical distribution outlet for Turtles Crossing’s films and for independent producers who were not being offered a fair deal by the studios for wide service theatrical distribution. Borde, who had years of success in service distribution for independent producers and the studios, had been hired by Jackson when she was at BMG and with his years of service theatrical experience was the perfect partner for Jackson to build this service with. Freestyle pays the producers as the film rental is collected, charges fair fees and allows the investor to maximize their upside and hold onto their rights. Through Turtles Crossing’s output deals Freestyle can offer their clients short term deals to maximize their ancillary rights in major distribution thus allowing producers to build up a library rather than the studio.
Turtles Crossing, LLC has negotiated and manages Freestyle Releasing’s output deals for DVD/VOD/PAY TV AND CANADA. Additionally, Turtles Crossing has it’s own output deals for theatrical and non-theatrical product with studio level rates with Showtime, Netflix and Fox.
In 2010 Jackson founded Freestyle Digital Media, a North American aggregator for VOD, SVOD, AVOD and DVD. In its first year FDM signed deals and put together a direct VOD pipeline in both the broadband and cable VOD outlets with all the services in the USA. Jackson realized that VOD is a big part of the future revenue of features and television and that it is essential for Turtles and Freestyle to have their own deals in place as the VOD business grows. Additionally, FDM has worldwide deals with services that offer international such as iTunes, Amazon and Netflix, and has plans to grow the international side of the business.
Freestyle Digital Media’s recent slate of releases includes Deadheads, the acclaimed horror-comedy from directors Brett and Drew Pierce, Swinging With the Finkels starring Mandy Moore and directed by Jonathan Newman, Tomorrow, When the War Began directed by Stuart Beattie, which also marked the first feature film to debut on Facebook, and the critically-acclaimed Filipino horror-thriller The Road from director Yam Laranus.
Born and educated in the UK, Jackson lives in Southern California and is an avid skier and tennis player. Jackson is married to British Production Designer Ben Morahan who designs commercials for major advertisers and owns real estate management business www.maliburents.com.