After establishing itself with the financing and sales of low-budget U.S. indie hits such as “The Visitor” and “Get Low,” Munich’s K5 Media Group is stepping up its commercial ambitions.
The arrival of London-based sales veteran Carl Clifton to run K5 Intl. heralds a move into bigger films for a more mainstream audience. The group is now targeting projects in the $10 million-$40 million range, and recently hired New York-based Erica Motley as head of acquisitions.
“It was always our goal to get into direct competition with the bigger sales companies like Summit, IM Global and Focus,” says K5 partner Daniel Baur, who runs the group’s business and legal affairs.
K5 was founded as a production outfit in 2001 by Oliver Simon, a Munich talent agent. After making a handful of German movies, he joined forces in 2006 with Baur, an entertainment lawyer with experience in film packaging. They hatched a strategy to move into international financing and sales.
They raised private equity from German investors, launched their sales arm K5 Intl. and created K5 Media Capital with former Internationalmedia exec Sasha Prestel to provide debt finance for production. It cashflows presales and tax credits, and advances gap finance against unsold territories.
The group struck a seven-figure deal for foreign rights to “The Visitor,” which went on to gross $20 million worldwide, and then put together the $10 million financing for “Get Low,” bringing in equity finance from Poland, Germany and the U.S. alongside K5’s own coin. To date, K5 has financed six films.
“No outside financier that has invested with us in a movie has lost their money,” Baur claims. “That reputation goes around. Banks see we can deliver, and they want to see us move up to the next level.”
K5 also bought a stake in L.A.-based development outfit Palm Star Entertainment to gain access to high-caliber American material. Palm Star, run by Kevin Frakes, has a private equity fund, Palm Star Media Capital, which works closely with K5.
K5 is working on an eight-figure fund to fuel its expansion into bigger international films, the first of which it expects to unveil at Cannes.