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Pressman, Ascii Ink Pact

Indie producer Ed Pressman is set to ink a financing deal with Japan’s Ascii Vestron that could transform his development and packaging operation into a full-scale production outfit. Down the line, the pact could also embrace p& a costs, giving Pressman coveted leverage in U.S. marketing and distribution.

The deal, expected to be formally unveiled in Japan at the end of the month, follows Ascii’s investment in two upcoming Pressman pics – “The Year Of The Gun” and “Homicide.” Ascii is primarily a computer software company, but moved into entertainment when it acquired Vestron’s Japanese subsid.

Ascii will take an equity stake in the Ed Pressman Film Corp. and will automatically be assigned Japanese distrib rights to all Pressman pics.

Two sides were brought together by Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which has a range of media interests, including an investment in Nippon Film Development and Finance (NDF). NDF is set to back pics from Jeremy Thomas, Kees Kasander and Ismail Merchant, among others.

According to Pressman, he has spent a “good amount of time” in Japan over the last three years, and many of his films have performed better there than elsewhere. Exec cites “Good Morning Babylon” as having outperformed “Platoon,” while “Wall Street” and “Blue Steel” also fared well.

Pressman hopes to use capital to redirect the balance of his production sked towards bigger-budget product and to keep a larger share of those pics than hitherto. Exec confesses that, after more than 30 productions, he has little to show in the way of inventory, and he cites forthcoming “Hoffa” as a pic he developed but could not finance – it went to Fox.

When Pressman hasn’t taken packages to the majors, he has taken the indie route, pre-selling to video and paycablers in the U.S. and to indie distribs around the world.

But whichever way he cuts the cake, Pressman often winds up with crumbs. The Ascii deal, he thinks, will end all that. Pressman claims a conversion rate of two productions for every three projects developed and says he has 12 projects in hand. He expects to maintain a flow of five pics a year.

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