Company looking to back Brit indie fare

Brit shingle Goldcrest is going back to its roots. The name behind such pics as “Chariots of Fire,” “Local Hero” and “The Killing Fields” has had more recent success putting coin into U.S. fare such as Summit’s “Twilight” and DreamWorks’ “Tropic Thunder.”

Now, Goldcrest is looking to once again back solid U.K. indie fare.

“The brand is primarily a U.K. brand and, as part of its reinvigoration, we feel it’s good to have visibility in the U.K. film industry,” says principal Adam Kulick, who heads up its financing arm, Goldcrest Capital, which structures equity investments and specialty transactions for pics. “We want a more global footprint and, by continuing to finance studio films and also moving to indie U.K. films, we can provide more services, more bits of financing, have more influence and hopefully make films more commercial.”

It’s this commercial flavor that many in the Brit pic industry would say has been lacking from much of its homegrown product.

The outfit, which began in London in 1977, has three arms, with post-production facilities in Gotham and London, headed up by Keith Williams; Kulick Goldcrest Capital, headed up by Kulick; and the international sales arm, spearheaded by former HBO and Capitol Films topper Penny Wolf.

These tentacles, the group hopes, will provide an attractive one-stop shop for international and domestic producers.

At present, Kulick says the shingle will invest in around three to five pics per year and says it is still spending money from its £19.1 million ($29.5 million) EIS pot, raised in 2009 from mostly high net-worth individuals.

It has already put coin into helmer Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” — 20% of the pic’s near-$7 million budget. “She’s got such a unique vision — just the kind of project we’re looking for,” says Kulick.

He adds that the U.K. indie sector is one that has “fallen out of favor” in recent days, and it is this notion that is causing the outfit to turn toward more Brit fare.

“It’s hard to finance these films with less equity and debt,” says Kulick. “Competition for projects has decreased and, in addition, corridors have gone up tremendously. Producers need our money more, and we’re looking to continue to develop strong partnerships with companies like Ecosse, HanWay and Film 4.”

And with the recent abolishment of public funding body the U.K. Film Council, he says the current climate in Blighty offers great potential to reassess the scope of public and private investment in film. “It’s great the government is continuing to develop funding; we want to be part of the process of shaping what will happen going forward.”

Wolf says her role has been to push the outfit back into a theatrical sales company. “The Goldcrest name has such a reputation and, over the last five years, nothing was really done on the theatrical side.”

That has already changed: At Toronto, Goldcrest will be selling Justin Chadwick’s “The First Grader,” about an elderly Kenyan man who goes to school to receive the education he never had, and docu “Sound of Mumbai: A Musical,” helmed by Sarah McCarthy. Further pics on the slate include coming-of-age romance “Homework,” Sundance docu winner “Restrepo,” Dutch pic “Stricken,” “I Am You” and upcoming drama “The Girl.”

She says the sales division will be looking at picking up projects, from all genres, up to a budget of $10 million.

Kulick makes no secret that the aspirations at the outfit are high. And it’s no wonder considering Goldcrest Capital’s advisory board includes a slew of industryites such as Michael Kuhn, Graham Broadbent and David Parfitt.

“The more elements we can bring and the more we can shape production into what we believe is commercial, the better,” he says.

The group is also looking to invest in TV, an avenue that is fast becoming an attractive option for many Brit producers and investors.

“Anybody who is clever and looking at financing will look at that sector,” says Kulick.

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