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One Distribution Tale: When Patience Pays Off

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SEASIDE, which I began work on in 2015 is finally making its way out there! Near and dear to me, this film has had a long journey from script to screen and I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about it. What got me from the start was that this indie thriller script was full of twists and turns – you really CANNOT predict what is about to happen next.

The Magic of Being on the Set of SEASIDE

To date, SEASIDE was one of the funnest films to be on. Surrounded by my favorite work friends and colleagues, we were lucky enough to be staying in gorgeous houses directly on the picturesque Oregon Coast with stunning views out of every window. We had an amazing chef (huge kudos to talented Christy Gilbert) preparing meals for us and every night was like a family dinner, complete with a nice, cold relaxing beer (sponsored by Drinking Horse Brewing). So many local companies came in and sponsored food and drinks for our shoot! I was amazed at the support, and we really could not have made the film without it. The coastal cops even did a set visit for funsies and we were in the local paper weekly while there filming. There was nothing not charming about the experience of it all. Ah, to be back there! But what followed after post production didn’t follow suit. While filming seemed to go-over seamlessly, festivals felt challenged by our take on a thriller.

SEASIDE Was a Big Film Festival Reject

It was depressing. For an entire year we submitted to the top tier festivals and did not get into any. We did get three PERSONAL rejection letters from the top tier festivals, which is almost worse than wondering if you were at the bottom of the pile. And after a year of rejections, we had no idea where to go. It seemed that the world just wasn’t really ready for a lead that was a female person of color and also an anti-hero. Luckily, we had one champion who happened to be a key player in our distribution story: Outfest.

Outfest Helped Us Get Out There

Our Director, Sam Zalutsky, was no secret to the folks at Outfest. His last film, YOU BELONG TO ME, screened there and was a LGBTQ+ favorite. While SEASIDE did not make the cut for the festival, we were invited to be a part of a new event which we found even more promising – their “work in progress” screening. The opportunity allowed us to screen 15-20 minutes of SEASIDE to a room full of sales agents and distributors. HOW COULD THIS GO BAD?! The worst we would get is a “no”. And gladly, this opportunity paid off ten-fold. I am so thankful that a film festival was willing to put films out there to help filmmakers get the conversation going with those who can get the film out there. We began talks with multiple sales agents from the event. Hizzah!

Meanwhile, the Rise of Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose is a phenomenal actor. I will admit: when the Director, Sam Zalutsky, wanted to cast so many Broadway staples, especially in the part of Daphne, I was worried. Maybe worried isn’t enough. I was terrified. But you know what? Could they adapt from stage to screen? Ariana DeBose proved herself instantly. From day one I was impressed. Somehow, she knew exactly how to play for the audience she had. And this one? A small indie film on screen. It was downright impressive. That is an understatement.

After seeing Ariana Debose’s performance in SEASIDE, it was no surprise to me what happened next: after being in the Broadway cast of HAMILTON, she starred in Robert DeNiro’s A BRONX TALE, and then received a Tony nomination for her role in THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL and then being recognized for what she is. Then, as on cue, she was cast by a legend in film, Steven Spielberg. Steven Spielberg saw what we saw, Ariana’s ability to play on stage and on screen and cast her in his remake of West Side Story which is currently filming. Talk about a Ms. in the Biz to be proud of – you go girl!

Finally, Gravitas Ventures

Since Outfest, we had chosen and been negotiating with a sales agency for months. It was over 6 months! The sales agency was well known, but the negotiations were intense and those we spoke with had mixed reviews about working with them. It wasn’t until we were almost ready to sign that I had a fleeting thought: I will regret it if I don’t make an invitation straight to a distributor. Following my gut paid off. I chose Gravitas Pictures after some earlier conversations about another film. I found them to be honest about a film’s potential and appreciated their candor. It only made sense. So, I pitched them this additional film, in a straightforward, no frills fashion – and guess what – they liked our little thriller! This time negotiations were quick and pretty painless. All in all, the journey for this film would span over four years and have just as many twists and turns as the plot – but in the end, we landed just where we needed to.

Where You Can Watch SEASIDE, starring Ariana DeBose

Guess what? It is ready for pre-order now! That’s right. You can have it available, on que for your next watching binge. I promise the twists will not disappoint. Celebrate the future of film with our female-driven revenge thriller including a person of color anti-hero! America are you ready for that? Ready or not, here we come on August 20th, 2019. I can’t be more proud of our little Oregon film and all those who helped us make it.

Alyssa Roehrenbeck

About Alyssa Roehrenbeck

Alyssa Roehrenbeck is a get-shit-done type person with a fun loving, goofy side. She believes in working hard and playing hard – at the same time. As an Actress and Producer, she began at a young age by adapting and organizing neighborhood plays based on the popular American Girls collection (yes, really). She and her pals rehearsed, constructed hodge-podge costumes and then charged parents for admission and popcorn. After graduating from studies in Theater and Business, she’s honed her skills as not only a writer and actress, but as a smart and fearless Producer. She has Produced feature films like Seaside (starring Ariana DeBose from Broadway’s, The Donna Summer Musical & Hamilton), OK KO Game Jam for Cartoon Network, Misfits (starring Paige McKenzie) for Disney’s Free Period, and loads of web series and viral content, including The Drunk Show. For more information and current projects, head over to Deep Sea Pictures.