Film Finance Forum Zurich 2012

Given the uncertain global economy, some wonder why anyone would want to invest in a traditionally risky venture like film. CAA Film finance and sales division co-lead Roeg Sutherland offers a different take on the market.

“If you looked at investments in real estate and the market six years ago, you could ascertain what your rate of return would be and whether they were safe investments,” he says. “Today, investing in film in a specific, calculated way is as safe as any other investment out there.”

Sutherland is one of the panelists who will discuss the topic Considering the Film Business as an Asset Class and Protecting Film Investments Through Risk Management at the Film Finance Forum at the Zurich Film Festival presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety on Sept. 22.

Many high-net-worth individuals seem to agree, as evidenced by an influx of new money from investors in Eastern Europe, Brazil and China. Several Zurich panel participants are also leading the film finance charge, including Worldview Entertainment and Panorama.

Some Euro producers see English as the ticket to achieving commercial viability on a global scale.

“What we’re experiencing at the moment is that English-language films out of Europe offer a big opportunity,” says another panelist, Berlin-based DCM managing director Marc Schmidheiny (“Quartet”).

He notes that a relatively small number of investors in neighboring Switzerland are funding international fare — Millbrook Pictures is one of the few — but agrees with Sutherland that the opportunities are just as ripe for the Swiss as for Americans or Brits to invest.

“It’s just about taking calculated risks,” Sutherland says. “In most cases, when we start working with an investor, we make sure that on their first couple of movies, we’re able to oversell it internationally so they really only have delivery risk, or they only have a tiny performance risk against the U.S., which we wouldn’t let them take unless we were able to secure distribution.”

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