Monday, November 23, 2009

All About Commitment

It’s a beautiful Monday in Movie Beach, a nice time of the year when the boardwalks are quiet and the sun’s still shining bright. Great weather for early morning walks and contemplation . . . So, isn’t it annoying that just when you’re enjoying the blissful feel of the sun coming up and the dogs running free in front of you, a little thought crops into your head: will that money be in today? We’ve all seen it somewhere along the line, that all-important promise of investment waiting to close any day now. Sometimes it’s just timing and paperwork, sometimes genuine investors are depending on other events and other times there are real doubts about an investor’s integrity. Of course there’s every kind of excuse under the sun along the scale from genuine delay to scam-artist but the last thing we all want to see is the grinding inertia of waiting for the money to close.

We’re working with a production right now with big-name talent on board that’s had to postpone shooting for a few weeks awaiting funds from a “name” investor. Those funds will then trigger the opportunity for us to help close the final $2 million gap so we’re waiting on the people who’re waiting. It’s only been a week since we were told “the money’s in today” so we’re not even near the stage of starting to question the package, this is par for the course. We passed the “proof of funds” stage a while back, when we were shown a letter from a bank to the effect that Investor X does indeed have money in the bank and has said that he’s interested in the movie production. Joining the dots, we could see that this was just a stretch away from a meaningful commitment of money. Oh well, back to the bank. Meanwhile the producer presented his own “proof of funds”, saying that his bank statements would show the production had $2 million in the bank, a requirement for us to bring the final $2 mil. However the statements showed that, while they had indeed spent $2 million in pre-production so far, they were sitting on a total of $345 in the bank: not quite what the situation required. Ever optimistic, we continue to jot this one down to just a timing difference and they’ll get the job done.

A good friend is producing a movie waiting on an altogether more sizeable commitment to hit the decks for around $50 million. This will fund the construction of a major real estate location for a big-budget sports movie with full production budget already in place. They’re waiting to go and have been told that the funds were closing “next week” for quite a while now. Our guy subsequently ascertained that the investor is himself depending on receiving proceeds from the sale of a bond that’s still going through a tortuous booking process on Wall St and, while he’s completely genuine in his commitment to the movie, there’s not a lot he can do to hurry up the money: it could be days or months away.

And, at what just might be the wrong end of the scale, a producer friend has come to an agreement with an investor after several months of negotiation to finance a slate of movies. It’s a nice deal with the partners raising the funds together and co-financing movies they’re both passionate about. However a couple of deadlines have come and gone and despite endless discussion and repeated commitments the phone is ringing less and less and the investor hasn’t answered his phone in the last week or so. No doubt he’s been busy and hey, maybe he's had the swine flu: he says he’s as committed as ever. But things just aren’t getting done and that is the big worry. Never wishing to think the worst of people or situations we continue to fly the flag on this one, but with one eye on the next real deal. Lose the ones you don't need.

The Out Of Obscurity team.

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