Saturday, June 18, 2011

Private Film Investing - More bad examples

There seems to be a rash of prosecutions in the USA over indie film investments.

Example 1:  "There for Hope" 

Here's a blurb about the film.

Pretty impressive cast list for an indie film :
Martin Sheen, Diane Ladd, Britney Spears, Nick Nolte, Brian Krause, John Carroll Lynch, Gedde Watanabe, Mark Rolston, Voyo Goric
Absurdly impressive.  And it doesn't even make sense.  It almost looks as if someone had picked some random famous names and claimed that they were involved in the film!

Well if you were suspicious it might turn out that you had good reason - the film makers who were raising the funds are now facing prosecution over it.

It turns out that the US Justice Department is claiming that they:
"... misled potential investors regarding the use of their money, downplayed the risk of the investment, and falsely told investors that well known movie and music stars were affiliated with the film."
Ref: US Justice Department Press Release  &  BDSProductions - Desist and Refrain Order.pdf

It seems that lying to investors over cast attachments might not be a really bad idea.  (The second link also mentions that the producer Bart Slanaker is a registered sex offender - with multiple convictions including aggravated manslaughter, conspiracy, assault and indecent exposure to a minor. I suspect they didn't mention that in the prospectus)

I hope local offer documents for film investments take to heart that they shouldn't downplay the risk of investment.   One prospectus I saw recently implied that the worst case scenario for investors was getting a return of about 20%.

Example 2: "Eye of the Dolphin" & "Way of the Dolphin"

Here's the trailer for the film:

It looks like it's aimed squarely at the family-friendly DVD market and it while it isn't going to be in the running for any awards for subtlety - there's no reason this film shouldn't have been made.

Except for the little detail of allegations over fundraising via telemarketing that mainly seemed to be targeted against elderly people who were perhaps easier marks.

And the allegations that the film makers “made material misrepresentations, told material half-truths, and concealed material facts, when speaking to investors”

I'm not sure what a 'material half-truth' is, but apparently they might have helped Q Media Assets raise $9 million for the film.

Ref: Another Justice Department Press Release

Example 3: "From Mexico With Love" & "Red Water"

Again - a prosecution over 'material half-truths' and 'material representations' to investors.

It generated some 'Cease And Desist' notices:

It was the subject of a recent News article: 18 Charged in indi film investment scam
This is all so common there is only one confusing things .. didn't News Articles always use phrases like 'an alleged scam' ?

What's happened to journalism these days?

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