Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A shortcut to pre-selling distribution rights

'Going Back' was a movie about a group of Marines returning to Vietnam to relive their war experiences.

The film's budget was estimated to be about $4 to $4.5 million and the producer had deal with Hilltop Entertainment who was finding international presales for the film.  Harel Goldstein at Hilltop was banking on a deal with a German conglomerate that would supply at least $3 to $3.5 million for the film.

And then disaster struck .. the deal with the Germans fell through.  And this happened only days before the meeting with the bank to cashflow the finance.

The good news was the Goldstein managed to come up with ten distribution contracts for five international territories.  In only days!
It was pretty impressive - he even managed to sell the French TV rights for $550k.

It was an amazing feat of salesmanship.  He even managed a distribution agreement for another film 'Ignition' about the space race as well.

It was all going well until the time of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival when someone noticed that there was something a little odd about the distribution agreements.

More than a little odd.  The distribution agreements had been, to use the polite legal term, 'visibly altered' .. and in fact it looked like someone had physically cut and pasted signatures onto the documents.

How on earth did they expect to get away with it?

The end result was that Harel Goldstein entered into a plea agreement ... but forgot to mention the minor point that the plan to defraud was actually his idea.  So ended up being sentenced to four years jail.

Maybe there isn't really a short cut to getting those distribution agreements after all.

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!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Independent Film Finance Success Study - The King's Speech

If we want investors for our independent films then there is only question to consider: "What benefit will the investors get by putting money into this film?"

I've read plenty of indie film offer documents and prospectuses recently, and it's clear that they are doing their best to talk up the possibility of box office return.

But, sadly, we know that the reality for independent films is harsh.  Really harsh.  Even if the film gets international distribution and great box office returns we know most of that money won't filter back to the investors.

It is sobering to read the prospectus of a respected independent film fund only to find that 'You can be an extra!' and 'You get movie memorabilia!' are still being touted as serious benefits.  And this is a film fund which, by definition, is only open to high net worth individuals

So I thought I'd look at some reasonably recent film funding decisions to see what I can learn.  Why did investors put money into these independent films?

I'll start with a recent success story: "The King's Speech"
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