One constant hitch in the indie finance game comes when actors and their agents and managers want to be assured of their share of overseas revenues, especially when they are working for deferred salaries.
“Top talent is willing to give up upfront fees and take a higher backend,” says Rob Aarts, of MeesPierson Communications, “provided they can rely on a financially strong and independent third party with knowledge of the film industry who sees to it that they do receive their agreed share of the revenues.”
Increasingly, producers are securing the services of talent by offering “a lock box” or an escrow account under control of a third party.
A new business has sprung up to service the need for independent third-party accounting. Among the companies offering this service is Amsterdam-based MeesPierson Royalty Management & Collection. A division of MeesPierson Communications, a financial consulting firm, the new arm is devoted to collecting worldwide revenues for film and TV releases, as well as managing the inflow from library sales.
“We noticed that investors, talent and film funds are quite aware of what happens during production but are hardly or not at all involved in the distribution process,” says Aarts, who oversees the operation with Martin Melchior.
MeesPierson has provided collection services for such indie pictures as the Recorded Picture Co.’s “Stealing Beauty,” Scala’s “The Hollow Reed,” Alliance’s “Crash,” as well as pictures distribbed in the U.S. by studios such as Universal (“Twelve Monkeys”) and Paramount (“The Relic”).
The Arts Council of England has approved MeesPierson as a collection agency for projects funded by the National Lottery. And a merger with Societe Privee Services has expanded MeesPierson operations in France. The French collection agency has handled such pictures as Ciby 2000’s “Lost Highway” and “Kansas City.”