Is Urban Under Water?

Want to know what is and isn’t happening with Urban and the Shed Crew?. Well, even Perry can’t know all. But I have put a few facts together, with a bit of speculation, so who knows where this will lead?

I came across this entry for Urban and the Shed Crew on the website for The British Film Council

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Notice the box on the far right, which says sales company. The company named is Breakaway Media  and the representative named is Mark Austin. Breakaway Media is a small company (under 10 employees) with offices in L.A. and Paris. As you can see from the description, Breakaway bills itself as a boutique company specializing in distributing independent films internationally.

So, this is the company and  Mark Austin is the person  ( or perhaps was) responsible for finding distributors, i.e. selling,  Urban and the Shed Crew.

Recently, CEO, Mark Austin made a presentation at the EFM ( same place and event as the Berlinale) trying to launch/sell a film by Clint Eastwood’s daughter, Alison, titled Battlecreek.

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Breakaway is a relatively new company, established by Mark Austin in 2010. Since that time, I’ve been unable to find information on any independent film that he’s repped, though I’m sure there are some ( well, not sure).

He managed to get a screening for the Eastwood film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, but so far, I haven’t found any information to indicate that the film has a distributor; however, I’m betting that with Clint Eastwood’s pedigree behind it, the film will see the light of day.

Urban and the Shed Crew, I’m, not so sure about.

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that Mark Austin, with a very slim reportable track record in selling Indie films, is an industry nobody.

Far from it. Austin has over 25 years experience with most of the big film studios – just not selling Indie films to international markets. He’s got a long profile on Linked In which indicates ( assuming some puffing up, which is usual) that he’s been involved in media distribution for some of the largest studios in Hollywood, including Sony, Disney, Capitol and Paramount.Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 11.39.14 AM

From the looks of his resume on Linked In, at the same time that he’s president and/ or CEO, and maybe the only employee, of of Breakaway Media, he’s been and continues to be an independent contractor under personal services contracts to major studios for discrete tasks. Here are two examples:
Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 11.46.53 AM

There’s much more on his resume, listed on Linked In, and he’s certainly no lightweight, but he’s not making his money from Breakaway.

On the other hand, most of his experience, while it has been in foreign markets, has been concentrated on selling film libraries and other content, especially home entertainment and digital content to foreign outlets. An example of this would be selling the Disney library or part of it, to foreign TV networks or streaming sites.

His experience, as far as I can tell, is light in exactly that which he, through Breakaway, is trying to do for Urban and the Shed Crew – that is, to sell it and find international distributors. On the other hand, his contacts must be substantial and significant.

So, while it remains to be seen whether Mark Austin is the right person for Urban and the Shed Crew, or whether he’s even concentrating on it anymore, it seems more and more to me, the longer we hear nothing, that the problem lies with the film, and lack of interest in it, and not with the marketer.

Here’s hoping that maybe Mark Austin’s significant experience and network in home entertainment and digital media will result in at least, some platform DVD or streaming, to make Urban available to all of us.

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22 thoughts on “Is Urban Under Water?

  1. Interesting stuff and thanks for the sleuthing. I’ll be really sad if the film never makes it to the big screen because it’s good – but it’s very, very English, and even more, very very Yorkshire! I can’t see it ever being shown in the US – it would need subtitles for sure!

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  2. Marketing independent movies is tough in the current environment and especially tough from some relatively unknowns. Distributors want something that is surefire, and if the makers of the movie didn’t know how to work the festival circuit to leverage a deal with distributors that could be a real factor. Maybe the makers have gotten Austin involved to help them with that, but I doubt it’s going to get this movie into theaters. I don’t see anything on his resume that lends itself to marketing for theater distribution.PPV and VOD seem to be highlighted which tells me the best we can hope for is this movie ends up on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

    To learn more about this market, google Jerome Courshon and his odyssey with marketing independent movies. He does have a website, but you’re better off reading the account of his experiences in the LA times or on other sites dedicated to film distribution or tracking.

    By the way, Todd Garner’s pictures are more or less independent with one big difference from this crew in the UK. Garner is a known money maker, so distributors will take on just about anything he’s got. Whether that’s fair or not that’s how it works — it’s always about money, at least in the states.

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          • Well, if it ends on Netflix or Amazon or it will be a problem for non US people to get it. But I still hope they will find a way to release it worldwide on several digital platforms. No hope for a theatrical distribution, at this point. I never had, as you know. But after the total lack of info post Leeds festival… no hope at all. There must be some issue with the film, I agree, and I pretty said it since the beginning.
            What really annoys me is the reason why RA is choosing projects with so uncertain destiny. His career has taken a very weird path since TH. I can’t say I understand it, but I still confide he knows what he’s doing and, in the worst scenario, he’s just doing his best to survive competition.

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  3. Great research and a coincidence. Last night my husband turned on TCM and airing was a movie I watched many times as a young teenager called, “Over the Edge”. While reading your post I couldn’t help but think of some of the similarities between the two movies. UATSC just needs to find that right event or market.

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  4. Hi Perry,
    Thanks for investigating this new UATSC film distribution–or lack thereof–wrinkle! The premise of the film UATSC sounds heartbreaking yet hopeful that the kids will get help–though with their journey being frought with angst and drama. Yet, you would think that this drama would capture people’s attention–perhaps even galvanizing them to contribute to or volunteer with organizations that try to help at risk kids.
    Not all movies about kids have to pit them in a life or death survival contest with weird costumes, and flaming/electrified walls that they have to get over. That whole teen survival contest book/movie genre seems very strange to me.
    And unfortunately, at risk kids falling through society’s cracks happens everywhere. So you would think that the UATSC film would have a universal theme. And like others, I hope that whomever is doing the marketing on this film makes a push to get it onto a platform that will allow us to see it.
    Thanks & Cheers! Grati ;->

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  5. Richard Armitage, Anna Friel and Neill Morrissey are well-known actors in the U.K. and it makes much more sense by beginning the journey to release it in smaller ‘Art House ‘ cinemas IN the U.K. Then spread the net wider. Even our local cinema in Killarney which has it’s own ‘film festival’ was willing to take it – and there are lots of cinemas having ‘film festivals’ in Ireland. Wouldn’t you think that the main three actors would have some clout in their own part of the film world to unanimously help promote this film, and maybe with their contacts do some ‘networking’? It can’t be that difficult to find a distributor. Tell Richard to show it to Peter Jackson with sub-titles!!!

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    • I think we agree the UK, art house, indie house, is a good place and that’s what most fans expected. But, didn’t happen. How do you know you;re local theater was willing? ( not doubting, just asking) If so, why the heck didn’t/isn’t it getting shown there?

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      • Sorry, but I don’t think Richard is an attraction name. He just isn’t, let’s be serious. One evidence? Pilgrimage producers constantly tweeting about JB and TH because of their high profile marvel movies. Sorry, but Richard is not important and not a selling name and nobody knows him even in UK.
        Urban is a small movie, with a tricky subject, no big names. Who would risk a pound for it? I’m saying it since 2 years… put it on iTunes and keep RA’s fans money, it’s your only hope.

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        • Since I’m not British, I can’t really say whether people in the UK know Richard Armitage, but I would tend to disagree with you that they don’t, especially after Robin Hood and MI5, and then The Hobbit. Is he as known as BC or DT or TH, no- but I have a hard time believing he is unknown, and would lean towards the opinions of UK folks rather than my own. I remain convinced that the problem with Urban lies with the film and the subject. It’s not seen as a money maker. Of course, this is all speculation since I haven’t seen the film ( damnit!), but it could also just boil down to another boy meets man film. It’s also possible that by softening the story a little, as I thought Candida Brady and B Hare said, they took some of the important edge away. I just don’t know. It’s a shame, I think because I’ve always thought it was a good role ( as an actor) for Ra to play. Something different for him and for us.

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          • I have to agree with micra1 he is not an instantly recognised actor in UK. His issue lies in not staying on TV long enough to garner a hit role. Aiden Turner is a case in point he was relatively unknown before Poldark now he’s on every list and instantly recognisable. Armitage issue is his work on tv has been character driven and ensemble no star vechicle. I said from the begining UATSC would have been better served initially as a TV film. I stand by that. Anna Friel has starred in some big films but is savvy enough to keep a foot firmly on UK TV and has landed some good series leading roles. As a huge Armitage fan i stopped a long while ago trying to tell others who he was and what he’d been in as no one
            Ever knew who i was talking about. I have also started to lose interest as his projects are not in my sphere of being able to see or should I say slow at surfacing.
            I did see UATSC in Leeds and agree it is not being best served by those doing the selling of the film. I also think the theme might be universal but the translation is firmly local and very British. Shame because this is a film that deserves to be seen just like Armitage! JMO perhaps both need a direction rethink before it’s too late.

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  6. Are subtitles still considered an impediment? I am a native English speaker (American) who routinely turns on the English language subtitles when watching English/UK-made movies—including North & South!—to catch what characters say when they mumble or speak with heavy accents. Nothing new there….

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    • I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t turn on Engish subs for British films, but here where I live, I know a lot of people have complained when they watched NT Live productions, that they couldn’t understand the Brits, and some of it was Shakespeare! ( A Small Family Business was one show after which I heard lots of Americans and Canadians complain about)

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      • @Besotted – on the other hand, I ‘ve heard some people with Southern accents who I couldn’t understand – one instance I recall, in particular – some people from North Carolina, and that isn’t even deep south.

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