×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Genre films keep Shoreline sailing

Company succesfully mixes art and commerce

Few companies can go the distance on the foreign sales circuit, but Shoreline Entertainment, now 15 years old, is among that elite group.

CEO Morris Ruskin makes no secret of a key reason behind Shoreline’s longevity — acquiring and producing good old-fashioned genre films: “You come to these markets and what you hear is, ‘Do you have any action movies, any thrillers, any horror movies?’ And man, shame on us if we don’t.”

Today, Shoreline’s best known for film sales, but it didn’t start that way.

“We began as a production company,” says Ruskin, whose first experience as a co-producer was in 1992 on “Glengarry Glen Ross.” After five years of ups and downs, Ruskin made a decision to acquire and sell art and genre titles on the worldwide market. “We started the sales company in 1997 as a means of getting our films made,” he explains.

With its main L.A. offices located on Century Park East and sales offices in Las Vegas, Shoreline’s business is divided 60/40 between worldwide sales and production of original films.

To keep abreast of market demands, Ruskin and his sales execs Sam Eigen and Brian Sweet plus director of acquisitions Brandon Paine track the fest circuit and markets to locate product. They also receive a combined total of close to 50 films and scripts per week.

Within Shoreline, two sublabels, Watermark and Rip Tide, delineate the library of titles. “Rip Tide is genre stuff — action, horror and thrillers,” Ruskin explains, “and Watermark is our indie and art films, dramas and comedies.”

The Rip Tide label has paid big dividends. “We got lucky this year because we made a genre film called ‘The Signal,’ which was in the midnight section of Sundance, and it sold to Magnolia for many more times than its budget,” says Ruskin. “It’s that sort of nice combination of art and commerce.” (“Signal” is set to hit theaters in January.)

Over the years, Shoreline has weathered the decline of video sales, the rise of DVDs and ever-changing global economies. Ruskin points out that the days of funding a picture entirely through presales are over.

“Now we look at soft tax deals and a combination of a little bit of equity, a little bit of gap, sometimes married with some sales,” he says. “You don’t necessarily want to presell in some cases, because waiting to see how many festivals it gets into raises it to a whole different price.”

The exploitation of digital rights is another heavy issue facing companies such as Shoreline. Ruskin says he made a cell phone content deal with a Japanese company that ended up making no money, so he’s hesitant to get further involved in the fledgling mar ketplace. “Until there’s really an infrastructure there, why give away those rights?” he asks.

Ruskin makes it a habit to share his experience with other filmmakers. “They get the indie spirit,” says director Jeff Glickman, whose “Killing Zelda Sparks” is repped by Shoreline. He’s now also co-producing Shoreline’s “Pomona Queen.”

Producer Eileen Craft, with whom Ruskin has made three films, most recently “Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School,” is another alum of his tutelage.

“I was a first-time producer, and he took me under his wing, helped us through the film and worked with us on sales and distribution,” Craft says. “It’s a hard business and risky, so you want to enjoy who you’re working with.” Currently, Craft and Ruskin are developing a supernatural thriller and creating a gap fund with entrepreneurs out of Austin, Texas.

Another example of Ruskin’s talent nurturing is helmer Justin Ritter. Shoreline picked up his self-financed horror effort, “KatieBird *Certifiable Crazy Person” (2005), and after success with foreign sales, Ruskin continued to work with Ritter. They have “A Gothic Tale” in post and two other films in development.

Gary Rubin, head of First Independent Pictures, who acquired Watermark title “Everything’s Gone Green” at last year’s AFM, sees Ruskin’s aesthetic as the driving force behind Shoreline. “When Morris utilizes his own taste to acquire a film, I think he’s excellent. Morris is very careful, and that’s to his credit.”

More Film

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Swiss Film Award Winners Led By

    ‘Those Who Work,’ ‘Chris the Swiss’ Top 2019 Swiss Film Awards

    Two debut features in writer-director Antoine Russbach’s “Those Who Work” and Anja Kofmel’s animated documentary “Chris the Swiss,” were the big winners at Friday night’s Swiss Film Awards, notching three plaudits each. Sold by Be For Films, “Those Who Work,” stars Belgian actor Olivier Gourmet, who has appeared in every single film by Jean-Pierre and [...]

  • Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson doppelgänger

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' to Easily Surpass 'Get Out' in Killer Opening Weekend

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” will likely slay the box office competition this weekend. It’s projected to generate an impressive $64 million through the weekend at 3,741 sites in North America, early estimates showed Friday. “Us” is over-performing recent forecasts, which had ranged from $38 million to $50 million. It should wind up with about $27 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content