Peter Couture Of Khanlarian Entertainment: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readApr 19, 2024

…It’s incredibly rewarding. Every time I watch the film or revisit the script, I feel immensely proud that we were able to do the book justice. Honestly, it’s one of the most exciting and fun things I’ve ever done. One thing I hadn’t anticipated was how much my project management skills would come into play, managing the multiple moving parts of filmmaking. It’s really neat. Now that this project is ready to go, I’m eager to start on the next one and experience this process again. I can see why people choose to do this for a living; it’s absolutely addicting. Maybe it’s because I’m new to it, but the thrill is undeniable.

I had the pleasure of talking with Peter Couture. Peter, born in the modest town of Waterville, Maine, exemplifies the American narrative of growth and diversification. Peter’s journey began in a close-knit community where he nurtured fond memories of his early years before moving to North Carolina in search of better job opportunities with his family. Despite relocating, Peter and his family maintained strong ties with Maine, returning often to engage in the quintessential New England activities of swimming, fishing, and sailing in Penobscot Bay.

Professionally, Peter has carved out a significant niche in the industrial services sector. As a senior manager at Cyrco Inc., he oversees operations at a manufacturing facility in Greensboro, North Carolina. His role spans 17 states along the East Coast, where his company specializes in maintenance for power plants, petrochemical facilities, refineries, and heavy industries. This job has not only been a cornerstone of his career but also a stepping stone towards unexpected ventures.

As Peter approached what many consider the twilight years of one’s career, his life took an intriguing turn towards the entertainment industry — a leap inspired by a chance friendship rooted in tennis. Peter’s relationship with the Khanlarian family, who owned a local tennis center, blossomed over shared interests and family connections. It was through these interactions that he met James Khanlarian, with whom he would eventually co-found Khanlarian Entertainment.

Peter’s entry into the film industry was as serendipitous as it was deliberate. His love for literature and a knack for spotting potential film adaptations led to a collaborative venture with James. Together, they ventured into the challenging yet rewarding world of filmmaking. Their significant project, ‘The Ghost Trap,’ is a testament to their partnership, transforming a novel Peter discovered in a local Maine bookshop into a screenplay, and ultimately, a film they decided to produce independently.

This transition from industrial management to film production highlights Peter’s adaptive nature and willingness to explore new horizons. As he gradually steps away from his primary career, Peter is poised to devote more time and energy to Khanlarian Entertainment, exploring the nuances of film production and storytelling.

Peter Couture’s story is not just one of professional evolution but also of personal growth and community impact. From the shores of Maine to the industrial complexes of the East Coast, and into the creative meetings of film production, Peter’s journey reflects a life lived with curiosity and a willingness to embrace new challenges. As he continues to develop his second career in the entertainment industry, Peter remains a figure of inspiration for those looking to redefine their paths later in life.

Yitzi: Peter, it’s a delight and an honor to meet you. Before we dive in deep, our readers would love to learn about your personal origin story. Could you share the story of your childhood and how you grew up?

Peter: Certainly. I was born in Waterville, Maine, a small community in the center of the state, and I lived there until I was about six or seven years old. My family moved in search of work, which brought us to North Carolina, and we’ve been there ever since. However, we still have a lot of family in Maine and maintain close ties. As a child, I frequently visited Maine, especially during the summers. We would spend time on the coast near Bayside, swimming, fishing, and sailing off Penobscot Bay. Although North Carolina is home, we enjoy traveling and visiting other places.

Yitzi: That’s great. Can you share the story of what brought you to this particular career path?

Peter: Sure. First of all, my day job involves industrial services. At my company, Cyrco Inc., we provide maintenance work for power plants, petrochemicals, refineries, and heavy industries. I manage a manufacturing facility here in Greensboro and we operate across 17 states on the East Coast. As I began approaching retirement age, I met James and his family, the Khanlarians, through tennis, which has been a pivotal part of our connection. I initially brought my daughter to their tennis center to learn proper tennis, unlike my own style. This is how I met the Khanlarians. Over time, I became good friends with James, his brother Shane, and their parents Cindy and Albert.

During James’ visits, we would often discuss his film projects. I, being an avid reader, would suggest book titles that could be turned into films. Often, he would find that the rights to these books were already sold. This recurring theme led us to consider collaborating. We decided I would find books, we would adapt them into screenplays, and then try to sell them to investors. This partnership led to the creation of Khanlarian Entertainment. One of our projects, ‘The Ghost Trap,’ originated from a book I found in a local bookshop in Lincolnville, Maine. We turned it into a screenplay, optioned it, and eventually decided to produce the movie ourselves. It was a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience that taught me a lot about the art and craftsmanship of filmmaking.

So that set me on this career path. As I move away from my day job, I hope to devote more time to Khanlarian Entertainment and our projects in filmmaking alongside James.

Yitzi: What does it feel like? You found this book and then brought it all the way to reality. This product is a result of your vision. What does that feel like?

Peter: It’s incredibly rewarding. Every time I watch the film or revisit the script, I feel immensely proud that we were able to do the book justice. Honestly, it’s one of the most exciting and fun things I’ve ever done. One thing I hadn’t anticipated was how much my project management skills would come into play, managing the multiple moving parts of filmmaking. It’s really neat. Now that this project is ready to go, I’m eager to start on the next one and experience this process again. I can see why people choose to do this for a living; it’s absolutely addicting. Maybe it’s because I’m new to it, but the thrill is undeniable.

Yitzi: So you probably have a lot of fascinating stories or memories from the production. Do you have one or two favorite memories or anecdotes from making this film?

Peter: Definitely. First of all, the very first day I showed up on set was memorable. We were filming at one of the lobstermen’s marinas. When I drove up, I was shocked to see three 26-foot gear trucks, a tent set up, loads of food, and what seemed like an army of people buzzing around the dock, boats, and makeshift workstations. There were camera crews everywhere. I honestly felt like I was in the wrong place. When I introduced myself as Pete Couture, the producer, I could see people’s expressions change. Realizing I had some authority there was quite a revelation.

It was eye-opening to see how many people it takes to make a film — a whole crew of technicians whose roles I was barely familiar with, like grips, gaffers, sound guys, and cameramen, all expertly doing their jobs. I just pretended to know what was going on, and from that day on, everything was a lot more fun.

Another great memory involved making sure the actors looked competent on the lobster boats. These are large vessels, over fifty feet long, and handling them isn’t straightforward. We spent several days on the boats with Zach, teaching him how to maneuver the boat, haul in the traps, and handle the lobsters so it would look authentic on camera. Zach learned quickly, but when we tried the same with Taylor, it was clear he wasn’t picking it up as fast. There were several close calls, nearly leading to collisions between the boats. Ultimately, we had the boat owner drive during Taylor’s scenes to ensure safety. Those days were intense but incredibly fulfilling and definitely added to the authenticity of the film.

Yitzi: It’s a great story. So what would you say is the lesson that society can take from the themes and motifs of “Ghost Trap”?

Peter: The film is about regular people facing the everyday challenges of making a living and dealing with life’s complications. It doesn’t have a happy ending, and I think that’s important — it reflects real life. We aren’t dealing with disarming nuclear bombs, finding buried treasure, or guaranteed happy endings here. “Ghost Trap” tells the story of ordinary people navigating family conflicts and the daily grind, scraping out a living, and dealing with personal challenges and drama, like severe injuries, and how they manage — or don’t manage — to overcome these obstacles.

Everyone warns us that the film might not make money because it isn’t a feel-good movie. But it was a great project, and I loved every minute of working on it. Getting our first film completed and out there is crucial. If it doesn’t generate revenue, at least it’ll serve as a stepping stone to our next project. I’m hopeful that things will only get better from here.

Yitzi: So, I’m sure you learned a ton from this experience, especially transitioning from not being a producer to diving fully into the role. Could you share with our readers five things you wish you knew before you started producing?

Peter: Certainly. Here are five key lessons I learned:

1. Funding: First off, being the shrewd businessman that I am, I learned that we needed more money. The financial aspect can really catch you off guard in production.

2. Accounting is Crucial: On the business side, it’s essential to have an accountant. Record-keeping turned out to be crucial and not having precise records came back to bite us.

3. Underestimating Personnel Needs: I didn’t realize just how many people it takes and the level of expertise required across various crafts to make a movie. Understanding the roles and coordination involved was a huge learning curve.

4. The Importance of Post-Production: Initially, I thought filming was the hard part, but post-production proved to be even more critical. The editing process is arduous but absolutely key to crafting the best possible scenes and sound, and telling the story cohesively.

5. The Impact of Music: Finally, the significance of music in the film was something I greatly underestimated. Watching the film without sound versus with a completed soundtrack was eye-opening. Understanding what ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) was and seeing its effect was part of this learning.

Yitzi: So we’re nearing the end of our interview. Peter, given the influence you have and the platform you’re building, if you could inspire a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would it be?

Peter: I think it would be about appreciating every day and not taking things for granted. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and completely miss the opportunity to enjoy what we’re doing. Having the chance to work on this film has been incredibly rewarding for me.

Yitzi: Amazing answer. For our final word, what’s your pitch? Why should our readers watch this movie? Why is it important for them to choose this film?

Peter: If anyone is interested in the life on the coast of Maine or lobstering, this film offers a unique perspective that isn’t often told. The coast of Maine almost serves as its own character, and the beauty of the cinematography combined with the soundtrack truly brings the everyday struggles of Maine fishermen to life. This isn’t a film about CGI or explosions; it’s about settling back into reality and sharing the experiences of real people. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is the film to watch.

Yitzi: What genre is it? Is it a romance?

Peter: It’s a drama with elements of romance. We had to cut out scenes of exploding boats and Coast Guard helicopters from the original book due to budget constraints, but the essence of the story is there. We’re working within the indie film space, but we hope to grow and continue moving forward. It’s been a privilege to discover the art of filmmaking and to put the finishing touches on a project that touches people’s hearts.

Yitzi: Peter, I wish you a beautiful evening and hope we can stay in touch.

Peter: Absolutely. It’s been my pleasure.

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Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator