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AFM Conference: Current Issues in Film Finance

Photo of Sydney Levine By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz November 4, 2012 at 12:51PM

AFM Conference: Current Issues in Film Finance
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AFM Conference Finance Panel
Getty Images/Alex Wyman AFM Conference Finance Panel

The American Film Market (AFM®) presented the Finance Conference on Friday, November 2, 2012, at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica.  The Conference consisted of 2 panels.

Panel 1: “Current Issues in Film Finance,” brought leading CEOs, filmmakers, financiers and executives together to explore the state of independent film financing, emerging trends, where the money is and what the future holds. Moderated by P. John Burke, partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, panelists included Nigel Sinclair, Co-chairman and CEO, Exclusive Media, Tom Ortenberg, CEO,Open Road Films, and Graham Taylor, Head, Global Finance and Distribution Group, William Morris Endeavor.

Panel 2: “Building Your Global Film Financing Strategy,”moderated by Joseph Chianese, EVP, EP Financial Solutions, Entertainment Partners, featuredJean-Luc DeFanti, Managing Partner, Hemisphere Capital Management, Micah Green, Co-Head, Film Finance Group, CA, Bahman Naraghi, Independent Film Producer and former COO of GK Films, David Rubin, EVP, CBS Films, Andy Weltman, EVP, Pinewood Studios Group
Where’s the money and how quickly can you get it?  All you need to know about U.S. and international incentives and subsidies and how to monetize them.  Plus private equity and additional sources of financing from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other emerging markets.

Below are some key quotes from panel 1 the series.

Tom Ortenberg, CEO,Open Road Films:

"It is not a one size fits all formula for films. Not every title should go out wide theatrically. Some will benefit economically and on an exposure basis by going day and date."

"There is still a viable art house market, but overall the margins are being challenged by increasing media costs, audience fragmentation, increased P & A and shrinking circulations. For an art house film, newspaper reviews are very important. So, the art house theatrical distribution business is as challenged now as it has ever been."

Nigel Sinclair,Co-chairman and CEO, Exclusive Media:

"The difficulties we currently face are the changes in taste, digital disruption, and the decline of sales in certain international territories, but there is still an equity market that is buoyant and vibrant for the right projects."

"Exhibition and distribution must converge. That is the only way to solve the problem."

"If you treat talent as equity contributors it can help bring them on board and make them feel a certain ownership of the film."

"China is a very important, strategic market for us and an important long-term partner."

Graham Taylor, Head, Global Finance and Distribution Group, William Morris Endeavor:
 "There are different ways to go about releasing a film. Going to the theaters as a family can be expensive and to have that rush of feeling like you are an early adopter of a movie through  a VOD option is attractive to people."

"For art house titles, social media gives me hope as a way of marketing without relying on TV spots or newspaper spots."

"Digital conversions can help level the playing field by avoiding the costs of physical prints and help the art house division."

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