Playing the money game

The following banks and finance companies are active in making loans on a per-project basis for independent films.

Banque Paribas

2029 Century Park East

Suite 3900

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 551-7314

Fax: (310) 556-8759

Contacts: Michael Mendelsohn, group portfolio manager and consultant; Douglas Hansen, VP; Rene Turin, entertainment coordinator.

Type of business: Entertainment banking.

Type of finance: Banque Paribas offers project-by-project gap financing, co-production services, advisory services, rights and library acquisition services.

Advice: Banque Paribas has a specific set of film financing criteria for prospective filmmakers to follow. In order for the bank to review a project for potential financing, the following items must be submitted by an agent or entertainment attorney: Two copies of a script or synopsis; a budget; cast list with letters of intent; biographies on producer and director, with letters of intent; chain of title; completion bond; and distribution contracts (if no contracts are in place, pre-sales estimates from a reputable foreign sales agent are required). The minimum financing amount is $1.5 million and the maximum is $30 million. It takes Paribas approximately two-three weeks to review a project. Banque Paribas does not accept unsolicited projects.

Recent projects: “Air Force One”; cast: Harrison Ford.

“One Tough Cop”; cast: Stephen Baldwin.

“Basil”; cast: Christian Slater.

“Liar”; cast: Tim Roth.

“Polish Wedding”; cast: Gabriel Byrne.

Chase Securities Inc.

1800 Century Park East

Suite 400

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 788-5600

Fax: (310) 788-5628

Contacts: John W. Miller, managing director; Kenneth R. Wilson, VP; V. David Shaheen, associate.

Type of business: Entertainment banking.

Type of finance: Chase is a leading arranger and syndicator of large revolving credit lines for motion picture projects.

Advice: “Fax proposals to the attention of myself and David Shaheen,” says VP Kenneth Wilson. “Proposals should include a copy of the film budget, cash flows, a synopsis of the story, bios of the producer and director, and an indication of cast. For corporate revolvers, a projected business plan should also be included.”

Recent projects: Chase does finance individual pics, but is best known for arranging revolving lines of finance to help companies pay for a series of films. Recent such arrangements include a $1 billion credit facility with DreamWorks; a $125 million credit facility with Phoenix Pictures; a $155 million credit facility with All American; and a $75 million credit facility with Trimark.

City National Bank (Entertainment Division)

400 N. Roxbury Drive

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

(310) 888-6200

Fax: (310) 888-6159

Contacts: Martha Henderson, executive VP/manager; Mary Yoel, senior VP/assistant manager.

Type of business: Full-service entertainment banking, including streamlined production accounts, escrow accounts and production-related financial services.

Type of finance: Film project financing, including gap and international accounts receivable.

Recent projects: “The Brave”

“The Flood”

“Players Club”

“Sliding Doors”

“The Thin Red Line”

Comerica Bank California

(Entertainment Industries Group)

10900 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90024

(310) 824-5700

Fax: (310) 208-0127

Contact: Steven J. Leibovitz, first VP/manager.

Type of business: Entertainment banking, particularly corporate finance and production lending.

Type of finance: Project lending, gap financing, corporate lines and term loans.

Advice: “Comerica is a member of the American Film Marketing Assn. and the AFI Banking Group,” says VP/manager Steven Leibovitz. “Local filmmakers may contact us directly, or at various trade events, such as Cannes, NATPE, Sundance and AFM.” Leibovitz adds that Comerica’s minimum list of requirements to consider a submission is as follows: Resume of producer and director, including projects produced; chain of title information/documentation; breakdown of current project budget and other information regarding actual costs; weekly cash disbursement schedule; copies of signed distribution or pre-sale contracts or license agreements for minimum guaranteed advances; estimates or projected sales from a reputable sales organization; and a completion bond (guaranty) or letter of intent from quality rated, reputable and financially viable bonding company. You can e-mail Leibovitz with questions at

Recent projects: Leibovitz says Comerica is currently involved in several film projects, but declined to name specific titles.

Film Finances

9000 Sunset Blvd.

Suite 1400

Los Angeles, CA 90069

(310) 275-7323

Fax: (310) 275-1706

Contacts: Richard Soames, president; Kurt Woolner, Steve Ransohoff, exec VPs; Marion Spiegelman, senior VP.

Type of business: Insurance completion bond services for both film and finance companies.

Type of finance: Completion guaranties.

Recent projects: “Shine”

“Secrets and Lies”




Films (Guernsey) Ltd.

2 Savile Row

London, W1X 1AF, U.K.


Fax: 011-44-171-434-0442

Contact: Adrian Scrope, director; Gillian Duffield; Vince Holden.

In North America:

American Film Services

811 N. Norman Place

Los Angeles, CA 90049

(310) 472-5858

Fax: (310) 472-0028

Contact: Jorge Gallegos, president.

Type of business: Entertainment banking and financial services for the international film and TV industries. Films (Guernsey) Ltd. is a joint venture with Berliner Bank of Germany and Banque Internationale a Luxembourg. The company structures film and TV loans on behalf of those two banks. American Film Services is the venture’s U.S. representative. The company is not a broker and does not charge a fee, as it is compensated solely by the two shareholder banks.

Type of finance: Films (Guernsey) Ltd. offers comprehensive financial services to filmmakers, including production financing, acquisition and distribution funding, secured loans with no minimum or maximum, advisory services, collection services and trust and escrow accounts.

Advice: “We are happy to advise producers on the best way to finance their projects as soon as the creative package has been put together,” says director Adrian Scrope.

Recent projects: “An American Werewolf in Paris”

“The Relic”

“Tarzan and Jane”

“Land Girls”

“The New Adventures of Flipper” (TV series)

Guinness Mahon

32 Mary at Hill

London, EC3P 3AJ, U.K.


Fax: 011-44-171-982-9248

Contact: Premila Hoon, director.

Type of business: Banking finance.

Type of finance: Structured finance, including foreign pre-sale discounting.

Corporate ties: Owned by the Bank of Yokohama.

Advice: Submit a brief outline of the project and the proposed financing structure, including details of distributors and investors attached to the project.

Recent projects: “The Truce”

“American Buffalo”

“Richard III”


“Surviving Picasso”

Imperial Bank

9777 Wilshire Blvd.

7th Floor

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

(310) 281-2400

Fax: (310) 281-2476

Contacts: Morgan Rector, president; Jeff Colvin, senior VP/team leader; Jared Underwood, senior VP.

Type of business: Entertainment finance.

Type of finance: Corporate lines of credit and single-picture finance.

Advice: “You need a completion bond, confirmed cast and distribution attached,” explains Tina Willard, assistant VP.

Recent projects: “This Is My Father”

“The Scalper”

“The Black”


“Little City”

Lewis Horwitz Organization

1840 Century Park East

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 275-7171

Fax: (310) 275-8055

Contacts: Lewis Horwitz, president; Arthur Stribley, executive VP.

Type of business: Entertainment banking.

Type of finance: The company has long been an active lender to indies, and offers specific project financing and/or gap financing to qualified filmmakers.

Advice: “We need a script, budget and cash-flow projection, together with the sales agent handling the international sales and copies of the existing pre-sales contracts,” says prexy Lewis Horwitz. “We lend on a combination of sold and unsold (Gap) rights, and a completion bond is required.”

Recent projects: “Knockoff”; cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme.

“Conan the Adventurer”; TV series.

“Afterglow”; cast: Nick Nolte and Julie Christie.

“Savior”; cast: Dennis Quaid.

“The Only Thrill”; cast: Diane Keaton, Sam Sheppard.

Mercantile National Bank

1840 Century Park East

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 282-6708

Fax: (310) 203-0894

Contacts: Melanie Krinsky, senior VP/manager; Mandie Rush, first VP.

Type of business: Mercantile’s entertainment division provides a wide range of film and TV financing services.

Type of finance: Mercantile specializes in low-end, negative pick-up transactions. Projects must have a firm distribution agreement or letter of credit in place.

Recent projects: “Zack & Reba”; director, Nicole Bettauer; cast: Sean Patrick Flannery, Brittany Murphy, Debbie Reynolds.

Natwest Markets/Coutts & Co.

350 S. Grand Ave.

39th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90024

(213) 624-8555

Fax: (213) 346-9021

In Europe:

Coutts & Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of National Westminster Bank

440 Strong

London, WC2 R0Q, UK


Fax: 011-44-171-753-1069

Contacts: Hal Sadoff, senior VP (U.S.); Rodney Paye, partner (Europe).

Type of business: Entertainment banking on a global basis.

Type of finance: Most types of film financing.

Recent projects: Company officials declined to name specific projects, but say that Natwest/Coutts provides credit facilities for a number of major entertainment companies, including Mandalay, Overseas Filmgroup, J&M Entertainment and Cinetel.

Newmarket Capital Group

202 N. Canon Drive

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

(310) 858-7472

Fax: (310) 858-7473

Contacts: William Tyrer, Chris Ball, co-founders.

Type of business: Set up in 1994 by former Daiwa Bank execs William Tyrer and Chris Ball, Newmarket is essentially a finance company that makes investments and loans for independent film projects via a combination of its own capital and credit lines. Newmarket has closed in excess of 40 transactions since its inception. The company will provide financing to sales companies and producers for projects without any pre-sales being in place, as well as fully collateralized projects. Applicants should be aware that pricing is proportionate to the risk taken by Newmarket. Newmarket will work in partnership with producers providing assistance with pay-or-play commitments and pre-production funding.

Type of finance: Per-project funding for 15-20 indie film productions per year, with financing ranging from full collateralized loans to 100% investments. “At Newmarket, we have a pragmatic and flexible approach to meeting the needs of independent sales companies and producers,” says co-founder Chris Ball. “We can expedite closing and be fluid in our response to changing situations.” Individual financing has ranged from as little as $700,000 to more than $70 million.

Advice: “It’s best to approach Newmarket as early in the process as possible, when you have a well-developed screenplay,” says co-founder William Tyrer. “Newmarket has the ability to fully finance projects in competition with distributors such as Miramax and October. Newmarket’s competitive edge is that it offers producers more creative independence than that which is typically available from distributors.”

Recent projects: “Velvet Goldmine”


“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”


“The Flood”

Silicon Valley Bank

9150 Wilshire Blvd.

Suite 201

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

(310) 786-8640

Fax: (310) 786-8657

Contacts: Irene Speiser, senior VP/manager; Paul Wyckoff, VP.

Type of business: Entertainment banking, including production loans and corporate lines.

Type of finance: Traditional production lending, gap financing, lines of credit, term loans, new media, export-import bank enhancement.

Advice: You may call directly Irene Speiser at (310) 786-8646 or Paul Wyckoff at (310) 786-8648 for information on Silicon Valley’s requirements.

Recent projects: “Chairman of the Board”

“Eve’s Bayou”

Stone Canyon Investments

1800 Avenue of the Stars

Suite 450

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 553-7920

Fax: (310) 553-7922

Contacts: Ibrahim A. Moussa, CEO; Alessandra Sandron, business affairs; Jana Brainard, acquisitions VP; Jennifer Gruskoff, acquisitions manager; Ovido Assonitis, non-exclusive business consultant.

Type of business: Stone Canyon is a theatrical film broker for projects distributed in Europe, and also a film financier.

Type of finance: As a film broker, Stone Canyon can provide portions of a film budget in return for certain distribution rights.

Corporate ties: Stone Ridge is a consultant to numerous companies, including TF1, Mediaset/Medusa Film, Quinta Communications/Kingdom Entertainment, HEC Asset Management Gmbh.

Advice: “European territories must be available (for projects involving Stone Canyon), and ideally, the project should have domestic distribution,” says CEO Ibrahim A. Moussa. “At least one major element should be attached (producer/director/cast).”

Recent releases: Stone Canyon is a new company and is currently finalizing its first projects.

Sumitomo Bank

777 S. Figueroa St.

Suite 2600

Los Angeles, CA 90017

(213) 955-0825

Fax: (213) 623-6832

Contact: Stephen Mras, VP and group manager.

Type of business: Entertainment and structured finance.

Type of finance: Sumitomo offers per-project gap financing on a case-by-case basis and revolving credit facilities. Structured financing includes synthetic sale/leasebacks, film securitizations and structured library financings.

Advice: “We need projects with name talent attached, along with distribution contracts, completion guarantors, budgets, production cash flow, a film synopsis and so on,” explains VP Stephen Mras.

Recent projects: A $300 million film lease with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, with funds used for the making of “Fargo,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “Dead Man Walking.”

“Long Time, Nothing New”


“American History X”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety