Brian Rosen has been selling his revolutionary scheme of funding Australian films to sales agents, U.K. and German film funds and European producers in Cannes very successfully. Maybe too successfully.
Appointed March 31 as CEO of Film Finance Corp. Australia, Rosen aims to bump up the FFC’s slate by providing distribution guarantees of up to 60% of production budgets, a switch from the traditional policy of equity investments.
Rosen says the concept has been embraced by almost everyone with whom he’s met, including honchos from Working Title, GreeneStreet Films, Fortissimo, Arclight Films, the Works, Myriad Pictures, Portman and U.K. funds Ingenious and Future Films.
The hitch: Rosen is worried the new business model will attract far more projects than the FFC can co-finance.
And the funding agency’s ability to provide distrib guarantees will be further restricted if the FFC board adopts a proposal that a max of A$10 million ($6.4 million) of its film investment can be funneled into that route per year.
The FFC board seems to be taking a conservative approach to the new funding structure because some producers are unsure of how it will work and feel more comfortable with getting equity coin.
But many Oz and international players want the FFC to provide as many distrib guarantees as possible because it would enable them to make bigger budget films. Also, sales agents would have a greater chance of recoupment.
“The ceiling should be higher or there shouldn’t be any ceiling,” said Arclight Films’ Gary Hamilton. “Brian is taking an innovative approach that will change the face of the Australian industry.”
Rosen says, “If the industry embraces (the plan), I hope that will encourage the board to take a more flexible attitude.”
If the $6.4 million cap were imposed, the FFC would be able to provide distrib guarantees for just two films per year, plus equity funds for five films. If there were no ceiling, the agency could co-fund as many as 10 films annually.
First project that will seek a distrib guarantee from the FFC is “Little Fish” from helmer Rowan Woods (“The Boys”), backed by Myriad; Cate Blanchett reportedly is being courted for the lead. It’ll be evaluated at the FFC’s board meeting in July.