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Sidekick brings coin to indie pix

Financer to help fund five films annually

Startup film financer Sidekick Entertainment has announced plans to back as many as five independent films annually through late-stage funding in its first year of operation.

Santa Monica-based Sidekick, founded last fall by attorneys Gary Barkin and Marla Grossman, plans to focus on providing production co-financing, post-production funds and the cost of prints and advertising for films with budgets of less than $5 million.

“By providing partial financing near the end of a film’s development or production cycle, there is less time between our investment and the potential return to our company,” Barkin said. “Furthermore, by making partial investments in a slate of independent films, we avoid placing all our eggs in one basket.”

Sidekick shares production credit on “The Altoona Riding Club,” starring Robert Forster and Donnie Wahlberg as traveling jewelry salesmen. It also co-financed “The Trial of Old Drum,” a PorchLight Entertainment production starring Randy Travis and based on a 1955 incident in which a dog was put on trial in a Missouri town.

The company is negotiating to finance the U.S. theatrical release of “In a Savage Land,” an Australian film about a husband-wife anthropological team studying the sexual mores of New Guinea villagers prior to the outbreak of WWII.

Barkin worked previously as a business affairs exec for the William Morris Agency, where he negotiated deals for film clients and worked with the agency’s independent film division. Prior to working at Morris, he served as senior production counsel for Columbia Pictures.

Grossman also serves as federal affairs director for the Washington, D.C., law firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand. She previously held the post of Democratic counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she focused on issues affecting the film, television and recording industries.

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