Susan Jackson, Co-Founder of Freestyle Releasing, Dies at 54

Courtesy Prodigy Public Relations

The veteran distribution executive also executive produced the huge indie hit 'Cabin Fever'

Susan Jackson, the veteran distribution executive who co-founded Freestyle Releasing in 2004, died Tuesday at her home in Los Angeles after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 54.

Jackson also executive produced Cabin Fever (2002), coming on at the script stage. She brought in investors and sold the film, directed by Eli Roth, to Lionsgate for $3.5 million at the Toronto Film Festival.

Produced for $1.4 million, Cabin Fever grossed $30.6 million worldwide and is considered one of the most profitable and successful indie features of the past decade.

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In 2004, Jackson and business partner Mark Borde co-founded Freestyle Releasing, behind such films as The Illusionist, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, God’s Not Dead and the Nicolas Cage film Left Behind, now in theaters.

The pair then launched Freestyle Digital Media in 2010 to become a worldwide aggregator of film and television for the growing VOD market, with Jackson negotiating deals with the major outlets.

A U.K. native, Jackson worked in film distribution for two decades, also holding executive positions in sales, acquisitions and marketing at such companies as The Samuel Goldwyn Co., Vestron, Goodtimes Entertainment, BMG/Bertelsmann, Sony and the BBC.

Jackson’s last corporate job before launching her own company was heading up BMG Independents in New York, an all-rights distributor of indie film created to provide theatrically released feature films to BMG's North American video/DVD division.

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In 1999, Jackson moved to Los Angeles and founded indie sales company Turtles Crossing, selling films, TV series, miniseries, libraries and specials in North America for producers, investors, banks and foreign sales companies.

Jackson in 2010 helped find financing and was sales agent and co-producer of Dirty Girl, starring Juno Temple, which was one of the largest sales at Toronto that year when it was acquired by The Weinstein Co.

Survivors include husband Ben Morahan.

A private memorial service will be held Friday for friends and family, with a larger memorial service planned for next month in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

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