Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Focusing On Movies

It’s been fairly busy at the AFM this week considering we’re not buying or selling films. However we’ve been firmly focusing on making movies and we have advanced a number of discussions with potential investors into our film fund and partners with whom we’re planning to shoot some movies. We have good access to Canadian and US state subsidies but we still seem to be getting steered in the direction of The Bahamas. Now we know as well as most folks that there have been Bahamas productions that have gone $1 million over budget in transportation costs alone, and for sure there are resourcing issues. But Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 & 3 were shot in the islands and we have inside access to facilities and a partner who’s refined his model of making movies there which reduces the headaches and keeps his quality high, so we have good options.

Although the traffic at the AFM wasn’t overwhelming it was busier than last year and the whole shebang seemed relatively successful this time around. Best giveaways walking the floor were the cocktail savoury peas all the way from Fiji, and of course the Bahamian rum cake, thanks again guys! Actually sometimes we pop into the AFM just to hang out with our friends from the Bahamas so it was doubly handy this year that they had teamed up with those friendly folks from Fiji.

Film finance has been a hot topic as usual. Low budget and ultra-low budget movies are in vogue with producers seeing opportunities in niches that weren’t available previously, and the means to make such movies with advanced technology and willing talent more plentiful now than ever. Whether we’re going to see a real wave of big hits along the lines of Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch is debatable, but there certainly is a stream of these digital movies being made looking for new, different and sometimes tightly focused audiences. Simplifying the financing picture by getting one investor to put up $100k to get the whole movie done surely makes for a cleaner slate for producers, and if cleverer routes to revenue can be established then the whole structure can be much more efficient and effective than the traditional movie release process.

Today we bumped into a producer who was asked to help with a movie which was days away from shooting when a chunk of the budget fell out. In good faith he introduced a colleague who brought the investor, and all went well until the call was made for the investor to put up the funds, which didn’t happen. Now, several months later, the movie’s producers are suing the investor not only for non-performance of their obligation but also they’re questioning how $1 million came to be withdrawn from the escrow account that was set up specifically to fund the movie, and exactly where the money went. Perhaps it’s not the first time in film finance history this sort of thing has occurred but it’s still a little chilling and yet somehow unsurprising that it still goes on. To cap it all, our friend could be on the end of a lawsuit for “procuring” the investor who didn’t finance the movie but may have made off with the money . . . Not what you expect for doing a friendly favour.

The Out Of Obscurity team

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