Freestyle Releasing co-founder Susan Jackson died early Tuesday morning after a long battle with breast cancer.
She was surrounded by family and friends in her last days and died peacefully on Oct. 14. A private memorial service will be held Friday for close friends and family, with a larger memorial service planned to take place next month in Los Angeles.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be sent to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara — www.bcrcsb.org
Jackson was in film distribution for 20 years, holding executive positions in sales, acquisitions and marketing at the Samuel Goldwyn Company, Vestron, Goodtimes, BMG/Bertelsmann, Sony and the BBC.
Jackson’s last corporate job before launching her own company was heading up BMG Independents in New York, an all-rights distributor of independent film created to provide theatrically-released feature films to BMG’s North American Video/DVD division. There, Jackson acquired and distributed distribution rights to multiple films.
In 1999, Jackson moved to Los Angeles and founded indie sales company Turtles Crossing, selling hundreds of films, TV series, miniseries, libraries and specials in North America for producers, investors, banks and foreign sales companies.
In 2002, Jackson executive produced Eli Roth‘s hit indie film “Cabin Fever.” Jackson came in at the script stage, brought in investors and sold the film to Lionsgate at the Toronto International Film Festival. Produced for $1.4 million, “Cabin Fever” is considered one of the most profitable and successful indie features worldwide of the last decade.
In 2010, Jackson helped find financing and was sales agent and co-producer of the Juno Temple comedy “Dirty Girl” which was one of the largest sales at Toronto that year, selling to the Weinstein Company. Jackson went on to executive produce 10 more independent films, which have had successful distribution.
In 2004, Jackson co-founded Freestyle Releasing with business partner Mark Borde. Some of Freestyle’s most successful releases include “The Illusionist” ($40 million), “The Haunting of Molly Hartley” ($14 million), “Dragon Wars” ($11 million), “An American Haunting” ($17 million), “Bottle Shock” ($5 million), “The Collector” ($8 million), “My One and Only” ($3 million), “N’Secure” ($3 million), “Crooked Arrows” ($2 million), “Me and Orson Welles” ($1.5 million), “The Heart Specialist” ($1.5 million) and more recently “God’s Not Dead” ($60 million), while “Left Behind” has grossed $11 million so far.
In 2010, Jackson co-founded Freestyle Digital Media with Mark Borde in order to become a worldwide aggregator of film and television for the growing VOD market. Jackson has negotiated direct deals with all the major outlets for VOD, SVOD and AVOD rights.
Freestyle’s operations will continue as planned, and none of the company’s releases will be affected.
Throughout her career Jackson was a supporter of British Film and Television selling and distributing hundreds of titles. Born in the UK, Jackson resided in Los Angeles and will be survived by her husband Ben Morahan.