Paris-based investor preps B Media Global fund

Backup Media Group, a Paris-based film consultancy and investor, is readying the B Media Global film fund aimed at non-French movies.

A tax vehicle sourcing high-net-worth individuals in France plus debt finance, B Media Global will invest in foreign movies, providing gap finance. The fund will invest against films’ international sales.

In general, B Media Global will take equity positions on movies in the €1 million to €15 million ($1.3 million to $19.7 million) range, Backup partner Joel Thibout said at Berlin.

These include U.S. indie pics budgeted at $3 million to $10 million and upper midlevel European films in the $1.3 million to $19.7 million bracket.

Thibout said Backup was also interested in the more commercially ambitious Latin American films now being made.

In France, Backup has traditionally put up 5% to 10% of a film’s budget in completion finance. But investment on films could run up to 40%, depending on budget and collateral, Thibout said.

“B Media Global isn’t like the Sofica schemes we run in France, but it answers the same needs as they do for French-qualifying films in France,” Thibout said.

Introduced in 1985, a Sofica (Societe pour le Financement du Cinema et de l’Audiovisuel) is a public limited companies that acts as investment fund to finance films approved by the CNC, the French National Film Center.

Unlike Sofica, B Media Global will be able to take a position in a film after it has begun production, he added. Itwill begin to invest in films at the Cannes Festival. It will fund around five movies in 2012, then 10-15 a year.

Other funds already provide gap investment for films but few have Backup’s geographical span.

Backup’s move into foreign film financing is a logical growth step. Through B Media Export and B Media Kids, the two latest-generation Sofica schemes run by its investment arm B Media Management, Backup already works closely with Paris-based sales agents, lending to their French films against foreign sales revenues.

Paris has become an international film production and sales company hub, Thibout said.

But some French sales agents handle as many foreign as French films. B Media Global allows Backup to invest in both, committing to a film at the same time as sales agents’ pickups.

As national industries become more ambitious in Asia and Latin America, there is also a growing need for B Media-style finance and an ever-larger number of films that justify it.

“It’s an exciting prospect. When you assess the international sales prospect of a film, it shouldn’t matter if it’s French or American. B Media Global allows Backup to invest in films, whatever their nationality,” Thibout said.

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