Film Industry Leaders Share Their View from the Top

 

At the American Film Market panels The Future of Film Finance: The 360 View and Funding Films Today: Producing Studio Films with Independent Budgets, top executives from CAA, Covert Media, GFM Films, IM Global and Miramax shared their insights:

·         Micah Green, Co-Head, Film Finance, CAA

     “There’s so many players now in the universe of independent film financing and distribution. There’s so many models to get movies made.”

     “Today, studios want high quality, high impact, mid to low budget movies. They recognize the value of high impact – so the bad news for independents is that you are competing directly with studios for every great script that attracts a proven director and a legitimate movie star. The same package is being pursued by all kinds of investors and distributors so there’s lots of overlap. The other side is that if you’re actively putting together projects and proactive in pulling together quality packages, there are options to monetize and distribute.”

     “The Netflix phenomenon is inspiring. It proves that there is room for bold innovators. They came in and took huge risks and bets with a completely different model and it worked.”

·         Michael Ryan, Partner, GFM Films and IFTA Chairman

     “You have to be realistic – if your budget is $3 million, you’re not going to get George Clooney are you?!”

     “In any independent financial structure you are going to need 3-4 pre-sales.”

     “It’s been depressing in the past 5 years – but there’s been a tick up over the last 6 months or so. I get the feeling that it’s [the business] back again, but the bar is very high. Genre pictures are easier to sell and don’t rely on big star names, but it’s still all about the package.”

     “If you do a deal with Amazon or Netflix to make your film and you’re using that as part of your collateral, know that they usually pay you over 4 years. So if you work out what the interest cost is, that’s difficult to do. You’ve got to be realistic about what it’s worth.

·         Zanne Devine, EVP of Film & Television, Miramax

     “If we come upon a screenplay that is 130 pages, we look at it and say “could we re-purpose this for television – could this live as a 6 part series?”

     “I had a script that wasn’t quite landing with people – it was a genre script – and someone suggested I turn it into a comic book first, and that became the tool that we used to attract attention. As a way to get through the noise we went that way with an independent comic book company.”

·         Miguel Palos, CFO, IM Global

     “You have to have high quality product. If you have it, nothing’s changed. You can still make it on the traditional model.”

   “We’ll see a shift outwards for the revenue of the film away from the U.S. Other territories will continue to evolve – their methodology for selecting films, alternative digital platforms, space that’s replacing home video.”

     “If you want a worldwide audience – things like comedy for instance are difficult to translate from one society to another. The content, the script, the quality of the film is going to have an impact everywhere. Certain things will translate in some countries, some won’t. You have to look at it [the package] from a worldwide perspective, but know that it won’t translate in all countries.”

·         Paul Hanson, CEO, Covert Media

    “There’s a lot of doom and gloom but our experience has been that if we have something that’s real and it’s rational in terms of the pricing and budget, then yes, we’re getting business done.”

    “There’s a great thirst at the international distribution level for high quality content. The bar is higher than before.”

     “These new platforms, whether Netflix or Amazon, it’s a double edged sword. Its great news in the short term for a lot of us because you have very credible, well-heeled buyers which creates a useful auction environment for projects. The downside is in some cases, the upside is limited. For those of us that have investors, the film & TV industry is a hit based business – no matter how good the script and execution, we’re exposed to risks at the distribution level. You’re capping your upside but in the long-run, you’re not getting your Blair Witch Project, your District 9 which help you create a portfolio.”

     “Certainly from a casting standpoint there’s a whole other access point to consider in new media platforms.  You might not get a key star, but someone with an immense social media following, which gives you huge embedded marketing tool.”