L.A. producer Jerome Courshon separates the myths from the truth of signing a distribution deal

According to award-winning producer/writer Jerome Courshon, a Park Forest native living in L.A., “most filmmakers don’t know the right strategies and they flounder around trying to figure them out.

“I know. I was there myself.”

Eventually he obtained distribution for his movie, “God, Sex & Apple Pie,” amazingly through Warner Bros. Since then, he’s assisted other filmmakers in signing successful distribution deals.

Here, Courshon shares some secrets and debunks some prevalent lies, or what he calls popular “myths,” of distribution deals.

Myth #1: Distributors are calling me and they’re excited to see my movie! I’ll send it to them and if they like it, they’ll acquire it!

Secret #1: All major distributors track movies listed in the trades under their production columns. If you were in those columns, you’re going to be phoned. Send them nothing?no rough cut, no final cut or movie. If you do, you won’t get a theatrical distribution deal, if this is what you are going for.

Unveil your movie in the right place at the right time, like a top film festival, to get buyers to really want your feature.

Movies do not get picked up for theatrical release that have been sent to a distributor on a DVD. When they call, you’ll say “It’s not ready, but I appreciate your call. Check back with me in a month or two.” Repeatedly.

Myth #2: My movie was selected for the Sundance Film Festival (or Toronto or Cannes). Woohooo! All I have to do is show up and I will get a deal.

Secret #2: Okay, you’ve a slot at one of these coveted festivals for your movie premiere. Now your work begins. You must assemble a team of people?a PR firm, an agent from one of the top L.A. companies, an attorney, and possibly a producer’s rep. (Beware: Most producer’s reps are useless.)

You will have to work, strategize and position your movie as a very desirable movie that distributors must have?before it premieres.

What’s important to understand is: You have one shot at the top festivals. Most filmmakers who get a shot at these top festivals don’t position their movie properly and then come away without a deal, entirely lost as to what to do next.

Myth #3: I was rejected by the top festivals. Now I’m submitting and getting accepted by the next tier of festivals. This is cool. All I have to do is show up to my screenings and I’m treated like a rock star!

Secret #3: This is not the way to get distribution. There is a real purpose to the festival circuit beyond the top festivals?exposure, of course. The more important purpose is building a pedigree.

A pedigree is a body of consensus that you must methodically build that says you have a hell of a winning movie on your hands. The consensus includes press coverage, positive quotes from critics, awards.

Once you have built this pedigree, you’re ready to parlay it into a distribution deal. There’s quite a bit of psychology involved in selling your movie. Master it, and you will.

Myth #4: I’ve done my homework on the 15 home video companies out there. I submitted my movie to them, talked to my producer friends and checked industry reference books. If they all say ?No,’ I’m out of luck for a home video deal.

Secret #4: There are 75-plus home video outfits, all operating under their own labels. Additionally, companies that pick up movies and programming have output deals with these distributors.

These are but a few of the popular but misleading myths you hear. And 4,000-plus are a lot of movies vying for limited distribution slots.

You do not need name stars in your movie to get a deal and your movie does not have to be phenomenal. If your movie is at least decent?or good?you have a real shot.

One last myth. Some producers believe since most distribution companies are located in Los Angeles, you need to live there to succeed in getting a deal.

Whether you live in Illinois or Maine or Florida or Arizona, armed with the right information and resources, it simply doesn’t matter.

Jerome Courshon, whose critically acclaimed first movie, “God, Sex & Apple Pie,” was released by Warner Bros., will give a seminar in Chicago June 16.

“The Secrets to Distribution: Get Your Movie Distributed Now!” will be held at the Ambassador Hotel, $125 for a full day and all materials.

Call 323/662-8877 for details. See www.distribution.la.