Attorney John Sloss has decided to shed his role as behind-the-scenes dealmaker for indie films to launch a full-fledged indie financing company.
He’s a establishing a new firm, Cinetic Media, with the aim of finding financing for low-budget movies and is in active negotiations with several prime financing sources and talent agencies to secure pledges of capital for the new entity.
Cinetic will receive a portion of the budget as well as a back-end participation in return for his financing help.
Company’s creation is timely enough: The prospect of a SAG strike and the expectation that indies will be granted waivers will create an urgency for non-U.S. financing that Cinetic Media will be ready to exploit, while strategic alliances with agencies and other entities are already in the works.
“With Cinetic, we’re expanding a service we have performed informally,” Sloss, who will continue to maintain his law firm, said. “There is an increasing globalization of film finance — especially studio level films seeking to share risk with global partners — that has created vast entrepreneurial opportunities. With our strong relationships in the creative community and extensive experience structuring split rights financing, we are positioned to serve a broad range of end users and equity financiers worldwide.”
Sloss is a lawyer and film buff who got his entry into the indie world when he met John Sayles during a pickup basketball game and left the court as the maverick filmmaker’s lawyer.
“Repping John was like a Good Housekeeping seal,” said Sloss, who slowly built a clientele of Sundance staples. While indie-minded agents get most of the Sundance press, Sloss brokered the most deals at the last fest (eight). Past indie films for which Sloss has brokered distribution deals include “Hoop Dreams,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Chasing Amy,” “The Last Days of Disco,” “Girlfight” and “Lone Star.”
Sloss, who has executive produced 25 indie films, will be working alongside Micah Green and has hired indie studio film execs Matt Littin and Erin Heidenreich.
BALABAN TO CLONE FOR HBO: As the Levinson/Fontana Company moves into production at HBO with another eight episodes of the acclaimed prison drama “Oz,” producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana have gotten the greenlight on “Born Again,” an HBO film about the controversial process of cloning. Bob Balaban will direct the contemporary drama about a couple which takes part in a controversial attempt to clone the infant. The film was written by Bradford Winters and Sean Jablonski and casting is underway for a pre-strike start. The UTA-repped company just wrapped production on another HBO pic, the Agnieszka Holland-directed “Shot in the Heart,” starring Giovanni Ribisi and Elias Koteas. Levinson/Fontana also is shooting the CBS drama “Hudson County,” with Rob Morrow starring and Levinson directing.
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT OSCAR: While the Oscars are over, it’s never too early to begin sizing up next year’s possible crop of films. One film that begins production this week in England that certainly has trophy potential is “Iris,” the Richard Eyre-directed story of novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch’s 40-year love affair with John Bayley and their struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Judi Dench plays Murdoch, with Kate Winslet aboard to play her as a young woman, and Jim Broadbent playing Bayley. Charles Wood wrote the script with Eyre, and the pic’s being produced by Scott Rudin and Robert Fox and exec produced by Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack. That’s a lot of prestige for a film costing $5.5 million. The film’s a collaboration between Miramax, BBC and Intermedia.
BIG BUCKS FOR BUSEY: Jake Busey has signed to star with Adam Garcia, Rosario Dawson and Ethan Suplee in “The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest,” the Mick Jackson-directed Fox comedy about computer programmers whose innovations are ripped off. Scripted by Jon Favreau, the pic’s produced by Trevor Albert and Harold Ramis. Busey, who’s in the Revolution comedy “Tomcats,” just signed with ICM’s Nick Styne and Tracy Brennan.
A “TASTE” FOR SCI FI: Telema, the French company behind the Best Foreign Film nominee ‘The Taste of Others,” has made a six-figure deal with Humanoids Publishing for the film rights to the graphic novels “The Carnival of The Immortals” and “The Woman Trap,” two futuristic tales which will be woven together for one film. The graphic novels were created and written by Enki Bilal, who’ll write the script and direct the films. The format’s ambitious, involving a world where gods revisit Earth and extort resources from the inhabitants. Helping Giger is Justin Connolly, the former CAA agent who left the biz to live in Europe.