Industry veterans and former Screen Media executives Amanda Sherwin, Mike Messina and Seth Needle have launched Blue Harbor Entertainment, a new distribution, marketing and consulting company.
The company aims to support 10 to 15 feature film releases per year, as well as provide advisory services to third parties, according to a release. The trio are currently negotiating multiple deals.
“Blue Harbor provides an alternative path for filmmakers — the opportunity to hire their distributor, and work with them — collaboratively and transparently — to bring their films to audiences,” Needle said in a statement. “Whether that’s something they decide once they have a completed picture, during the packaging stage, or somewhere in between, we are here to help them craft a strategy for success.”
Blue Harbor Entertainment offers a full-service marketing and distribution solution that encompasses theatrical, home entertainment, digital streaming platforms and television on a service fee basis, according to the release. Sherwin, Messina and Needle together bring a combined 75-plus years of industry experience across hundreds of releases.
“One of the unfortunate challenges facing filmmaking teams today is that too many well-made movies are falling through the cracks as filmmakers struggle to find distribution deals that make sense for them,” Messina said in a statement. “Blue Harbor offers a compelling solution for those looking to bring their movies to market while unlocking and capturing the economic upside in their projects.”
Having collaborated together often during the past decade, Sherwin, Messina and Needle spent the past five years working together at Screen Media. Their recent releases include Rod Lurie’s feature film The Outpost, based on Jake Tapper’s The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor; the Nicolas Cage starrer Willy’s Wonderland; and the documentary Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Mike, Seth and I come to a project from three different vantage points with complimentary skills in acquisitions, marketing and distribution. While working together at Screen Media we built a filmmaker friendly process that led to our fair share of successes,” Sherwin said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to take this next step together and look forward to putting more films in front of the audiences they deserve.”
Sherwin has more than two decades of experience working in independent film. She most recently served as SVP of marketing at Screen Media running the campaigns for 20-plus releases annually, including Willy’s Wonderland, Poker Face and Maggie Moore(s). Prior to joining Screen Media, Sherwin consulted for PBS Distribution and managed theatrical service provider Paladin, overseeing the releases on an array of films from the comedy “What We Do in the Shadows” to the Oscar-nominated documentary For Sama. Sherwin began her career at CFP, a precursor to Lionsgate, where she later assumed the role of VP of marketing. She then went on to help start THINKFilm, where she served as SVP of marketing and distribution and orchestrated the campaigns on more than 80 films, resulting in eight Academy Award nominations and two wins. Sherwin is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Messina has worked in independent film for more than 25 years. In his recent role as EVP of distribution at Screen Media, he oversaw the distribution, marketing and sales of 100-plus movies, including The Outpost, Till Death and The Ritual Killer, and was an executive producer on the Emmy award-winning documentary Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street. Previously, Messina spearheaded independent film distribution and acquisitions at Starz and managed global streaming sales of Starz Original Series, including “Spartacus” and “Power.” He was also a senior executive at New Amsterdam Entertainment, where his producing credits included Dawn of the Dead (2004) which opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office and was a Cannes Film Festival selection. Messina holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and is a Dartmouth College graduate.
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Needle is a leading content acquisition and creative executive, having previously served as EVP of global acquisitions and co-productions at Screen Media for the past 12 years. During his tenure, he was responsible for such acquisitions as The Outpost, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the Emmy award-winning Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, The Lifeguard starring Kristen Bell, and Stephen King’s A Good Marriage, which King penned himself. He also established strategic business relationships with Focus Features, Starz, Roadside Attractions, and more. In addition, Needle oversaw all content licensing for the company’s streaming platforms that included Crackle, Popcornflix and Redbox. Needle also served as an executive producer on Willy’s Wonderland, Maggie Moore(s), Fast Charlie, Girl and several other titles. Prior to joining Screen Media, Needle worked in the acquisitions department at Lionsgate and in the research department at Marketcast.