Packaging an indie film can sometimes feel like a three-ring circus, so it’s fitting that one of the industry’s great showmen, Cassian Elwes, has teamed with Robert Ogden Barnum (no relation to the famed ringleader) to form e2b Capital, which helps filmmakers juggle many financiers.
“It’s a kind of financing collective, something that doesn’t exist right now in the business,” says Elwes, who announced e2b in Cannes. “We wanted to be flexible, so we can find a way to make practically any movie we think is creatively and financially viable inhouse.”
This approach isn’t unique to e2b, but it’s usually seen at agencies. “We’re like an independent film packaging division outside of an agency,” says Barnum, a Silicon Valley vet who arrives from gigs at Benaroya Pictures and Annapurna Pictures. “We help filmmakers with everything from coming up with a finance structure to closing the bond.”
With its growing team of partners (including BiFrost Pictures’ Daniel Wagner, Michael Benaroya and others), e2b helps keep all these plates spinning, thanks in part to the pair’s complementary skill sets.
“Cassian is great at wheeling and dealing. He brings a lot of stuff in, and then I stay up all night trying to close bank loans,” Barnum says with a laugh. The pair met shortly after Elwes left WME four years ago, and they’ve since worked together on “Margin Call,” “Lawless” (pictured) and “All Is Lost.”
Elwes says the new banner allows him to work on films he loves, something he says occurred only about half the time in his agency years. And he’s been emboldened since arranging financing for this summer’s surprise hit, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” “It certainly proves to me,” he says, “that I should be working on more things people tell me not to do.”