Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A shortcut to pre-selling distribution rights

'Going Back' was a movie about a group of Marines returning to Vietnam to relive their war experiences.

The film's budget was estimated to be about $4 to $4.5 million and the producer had deal with Hilltop Entertainment who was finding international presales for the film.  Harel Goldstein at Hilltop was banking on a deal with a German conglomerate that would supply at least $3 to $3.5 million for the film.

And then disaster struck .. the deal with the Germans fell through.  And this happened only days before the meeting with the bank to cashflow the finance.

The good news was the Goldstein managed to come up with ten distribution contracts for five international territories.  In only days!
It was pretty impressive - he even managed to sell the French TV rights for $550k.

It was an amazing feat of salesmanship.  He even managed a distribution agreement for another film 'Ignition' about the space race as well.

It was all going well until the time of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival when someone noticed that there was something a little odd about the distribution agreements.

More than a little odd.  The distribution agreements had been, to use the polite legal term, 'visibly altered' .. and in fact it looked like someone had physically cut and pasted signatures onto the documents.

How on earth did they expect to get away with it?

The end result was that Harel Goldstein entered into a plea agreement ... but forgot to mention the minor point that the plan to defraud was actually his idea.  So ended up being sentenced to four years jail.

Maybe there isn't really a short cut to getting those distribution agreements after all.

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