In Vancouver, there is no shortage of scammers, troublemakers, and anyone you just can’t truly trust. The film industry is no exception itself. Even though we’re a tightly knit group with lots of courtesy for each other and always looking out for our fellow filmtypes no matter what, there’s always that one girl who poses as an agency to take your money, or that random guy who claims he’s a professional when he doesn’t know a lick of anything. The point is, if you don’t know the person well enough, you don’t know what they could do to you or those you know. In some cases, distributors.
A little independent film named Peelers was set for Canadian theatrical distribution way back in 2016 thanks to an agreement with TW Media Events Inc. Originally planned to be set for a January 2017 release, the only things that followed over 6 months were the harrowing concerns regarding just how skilled owner/distributor Thomas William Miller really was in distribution. Concerns such as the company magically going bankrupt, the release date being constantly changed, and causing problems with other distribution partners that had to go along with the changes. Eventually, TW Media and Miller ended their deal with Pounds, but the nightmare for both of the companies was just beginning. One of them getting the short end of the stick, and the other one doing fraudulent things slowly digging their own graves and about to get into something much, MUCH, worse. Lisa DeVita, Seve Schelenz, and the other great team members of Pounds (LBS) Pictures got together to fight a long and harrowing trial in 2018 that lasted 5 whole days. Exhibits and bits of evidence within the trial included emails, fake invoices, letters, and other important bits of info that indicated the lack of professionalism with marketing, the aggressive behaviour, minimal contact regarding business, certain people and artists not getting paid for their work, and even when it did come to payment, it usually was in cheques that bounced more than a trampoline. The court case turned into the biggest scenario one has ever heard of since #changethechannel. Even though it seemed Peelers would be at the Rio, only Pounds and the theatre itself did promotion while TW did nothing but spark an argument and demand things. Constant rescheduling chaos only ensued as Peelers was set for a 3-night showing at Calgary’s Globe Cinema. But it did manage to do pretty well, without Miller that is. While Miller continued to do little to nothing, mostly nothing, this resulted in the case finally being won by Pounds Pictures and Miller is currently out of the distribution business… hopefully forever.
If there’s anything you should learn from this tale, it’s that you need to know who you’re working with to make sure they’re reliable, or if you’re working in distribution, you need to know what you’re doing.