EXCLUSIVE: e2b Capital’s Robert Ogden Barnum and Cassian Elwes have teamed with Windy Hill Pictures’ Buddy Patrick to form Lifeboat Capital, a service that will provide bridge financing to makers of indie films. The trio will manage the fund from Los Angeles and New Orleans. The plan is to make loans of between $1 million and $5 million to between 15-20 films. Piecing together indie films is a tightrope walk, and the service aims to be a resource for filmmakers who fall short of the funding mark, or have to scramble if a financial commitment disappears. Between Barnum, Elwes and Patrick, they’ve financed or assisted in funding over 200 films. They will use a combination of institutional lenders, private equity and commercial banks here.
“Bridge lending, while considered a high risk business, is often a requirement on independent films that need to commence production while simultaneously closing loans and completion bonds,” Barnum said in a statement. “With Cassian and I overseeing the loans, we’re able to assist filmmakers in the closing—protecting both the producers and the bridge lender.”
Said Patrick: “In some cases, lack of bridge funding could cause the production to lose creative elements that result in financiers backing out or the production to fold. We hope to ensure a smooth pre-production period and confidence to all parties as they approach closing.”
Elwes, the longtime WMA independent chief who has become a prolific producer or exec producer of films that this year include Lee Daniels’ The Butler, All Is Lost, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Dallas Buyers Club, formed e2b in May with Barnum. Elwes has seen funding dilemmas from both sides, and sees a niche here that can be profitable and serve a need in the indie space.
“The film financing process has become increasingly difficult because most deals now involve multiple parties,” he said. “We’ve seen a real need out there for bridge financing and are in a unique position to not just fund but to help producers close their deals. We expect this fund to grow as we prove our model. We are open for business immediately.”
Producer Cassian Elwes and Black List founder Franklin Leonard have created the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship. They will send one writer who doesn’t have an agent and hasn’t made more than $,5000 from scribbling to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. They’ll cover the trip’s cost, and Elwes will mentor the scribe. The portal of entry is Leonard’s Black List. Writers with scripts on the service since October 15, 2012, can opt into consideration. They’ll tally a shortlist after December 1 and pick a winner. The plan is to make this an annual deal.
Related: Warners Turns To Black List To Find Scribes In Underserved Demos
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David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo so far have been only moderately useful for most independent filmmakers trying to finance their next movie, but that could change significantly under the federal JOBS Act passed earlier this year, said members of a panel at the Digital Hollywood conference, which wraps today in Marina del Rey.
Under previous rules, crowdsourcing sites couldn’t offer equity stakes to contributors. Instead they receive modest tokens of appreciation such as T-shirts or tickets to screenings — in other words, they get nothing more than the satisfaction of helping a movie get started. The new law will allow intermediaries such as crowdsourcing sites to sell members modest equity stakes in films, up to $10,000 or 10% of each user’s income. The project must set a fundraising goal and if it doesn’t raise at least 60% of that, no money would change hands. “There are many more opportunities to come and we’re just seeing the start of this,” said Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute, which has raised $3 million on behalf of 85 films through Kickstarter. The SEC is currently establishing regulations under the new law. Read More »
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