AFM: Focus on Breakthrough Entertainment: Breaking the Mould



AFM: Breakthrough Entertainment - Nat Abraham and Marina Cordoni

Canada has reason to be proud of it’s many production companies, but especially of Breakthrough Entertainment.  Once just a global TV series and movie distributor, with Nat Abraham at it’s head, the company has now moved into films.  Marina Cordoni, who trained at film school and then wehnt to work for PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where she worked with huge budget pictures, decided she liked the independent world better and has joined the company to bring features to the forefront. 


Here at the AFM with comedies Please Kill Mr. Know It All – about a man who lies, kills and cheats, but other than that, he’s perfect,  and Summerhood – if this is your childhood, get a lawyer. Narrated by John Cusack, it’s a unique coming of age.  They also lauded The Resurrection of Tony Gitone. 


Tending to gravitate toward comedy, dramady and romantic comedy, Marina said they can do microbudget to as high as ten million.   Budgets in Canada are often smaller because the government supports them.    But Breakthrough doesn’tt shop for a specific genre.  They look for quality and unusual stories.   They will look at scripts but only pick one or two to produce a year. 


AFM: Breakthrough Entertainment: Summerhood


While the right cast matters on the viability of a project – whether it will go to TV or theatrical release – they also appreciate up and coming stars.   The best known actors on the international scene, which is what you need to sell you movie, especially if you want to do pre-sales, are TV actors.  WE welcome calls from producers who give us a list of possible stars and ask for our opinion. 


 First and foremost, we act as a sales agent.   To be effective at pre-Sales, you need to have your majority of the funding attached.


They also take on other producer’s film to distribute, but, as she pointed out, they can only do Print and advertising from the Canadian side since she doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to promote within the States.  A lot of this has to do with the funding that they receive from the Canadian government.   Many of the films she finds by attending festivals as Sundance and Cannes 


Many of their films, which they are selling overseas, are TV movies, which are very popular in Europe.  They love the Lifetime style.  For that reason, Marina urges producers to get a TV star attached to their projects.


AFM:Breakthrough Entertainment's New Offering

What should a producer look for in a distributor or sales agent?  “Well, the most the distributor should be getting is 10% of the gross.  You need to have a cap on the term and it should only be for a few years.  If a distributor tries to give you a guarantee of how much the film will make, be very careful.  Mnay distributors will overestimate how much a film will make to beef up their own expenses.  We are honest with our people We tell the producer what they want to hear and what is real  not an overinflated amount that many agent will estimate.  If we are a partner, we will work with  you.”



While their TV is often locally written, they will do some co-productions.  Nat Abraham looks for stories with universal themes.  “We go from kids animation, to comedy, to factual.  In fact, we have a huge % of the shows which play in the States. “ He mentioned two that I knew well Discovery Miitary: Greatest Tank Battles and Discovery Health: Heartbeats.  They also work with Hulu, MTV International and Adult Swim.   Their show, Less Than Kind, was just bought by Direct TV and are doing deals with Netfilx, as well.  A producer doesn’t have to worry about finding a showrunner if they go with them since they have their own and do a complete project.   



Their final words were, in working with a distributor or sales agent, do your due diligence and check them out. 

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