Indies battle financing

Finding cash to make indie pix is a constant battle, from lining up foreign pre-sales to securing financing to delivering the negative.

“The difference with independent financing is that it isn’t a green light, it’s a series of yellow lights,” said John Hyde, CEO of MCEG Sterling Inc.

Hyde moderated a two-hour forum on independent project financing at the American Film Market, which offered a series of pointers about how to line up financing for indie flix. The tips ranged from distribution methods to the importance of lining up still photography for marketing.

But the central theme was that indie production is nothing if not a struggle. Unlike studio films, indie projects take significantly more effort to line up financing. And once that’s done, an indie producer’s life boils down to trying to assign risks to banks, completion bond companies, sales agents, distributors and even stars.

“In many cases, the studio — daddy — is going to pick up the problems, whatever they are,” said Adrian Scrope, director of Films (Guernsey) Ltd., a film and TV production financing company. “That doesn’t happen with independent films.”

The tips often boiled down to dishing off those risks. Co-financing with companies such as Canal+ and British TV are becoming increasingly popular, said Barbara Boyle, a producer and former prexy of Sovereign Pictures Inc., which has financed and distributed 25 pix.

Having a U.S. distribber early often helps in lining up foreign pre-sales, said Guy East, chief exec of Majestic Films and Television Intl. and former managing director of Carolco Films Intl.

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