Film fund VIP pacts with Brass Hat

Duo have $190 mil production kitty

German film fund VIP and London-based financier Brass Hat Films have pacted to co-invest in movies and say they can bankroll $190 million in production, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Typically they will provide equity covering 20% of a pic’s budget, and lay off the rest of funding through distribution deals or other forms of trade financing.

They’re also starting their own foreign sales operation, headed by Glenn Kendrick Ackerman, to handle the rights for all upcoming productions that don’t have sales agents attached.

Brass Hat, which has co-financed 16 movies with total budgets of $380 million over the past three years, including “Premonition” and “Shopgirl,” will take the lead in identifying projects and negotiating with producers.

The partnership reps VIP’s latest move to rebuild its business and reputation following the previous management’s criminal prosecution for fraud, and the changes in German tax rules that clamped down on film funds.

For the past year, VIP has been under new management — managing director Dirk Specht, who has no connection to the old team.

With VIP’s investors unable to withdraw their money from the fund until 2014, Specht’s task is to keep finding movies to back that will provide the best possible return, even without the benefit of a tax break.

Brass Hat has always pursued a pure equity investment strategy not reliant on tax breaks, so VIP is hoping to tap this expertise and Brass Hat’s Hollywood contacts.

“After some turbulent times for German funds and, in particular, also for VIP, we are looking forward to achieving the best possible opportunities for our investors,” Specht said. “The partnership with Brass Hat gives us the opportunity to strengthen VIP’s position in the international film production market.”

He also admitted that he hoped the alliance would help to solve VIP’s “image problem,” particularly in Los Angeles.

Brass Hat typically puts up 30% of budgets against North American rights, with a studio handling the distribution for a fee. Recent projects include “Death Sentence,” “Dreamer,” “The Persuaders” and “The Other End of the Line.”

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