When Glen Basner, former topper at the Weinstein Co. and Focus Features, launched international sales outfit FilmNation in 2008, the remit was simple: “be marketable, be distinctive.” Currently, the sales agent is handling international sales on “The King’s Speech,” “Hungry Rabbit Jumps,” Pedro Almodovar’s “La Piel que habito” (The Skin I Live In), “Looper,” “The Oranges,” “Midnight’s Children,” “Under the Skin” and Terrence Malick’s untitled love story starring Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams. FilmNation recently inked a multi-year deal with Relativity Media, in which the outfit will oversee foreign sales and distribution of Relativity titles and are currently collaborating on the upcoming Relativity/Universal release of James Cameron’s “Sanctum.” Basner’s company is also the exclusive sales agent for Media Rights Capital, Samuels Media Group and Greenstreet Films and has a nonexclusive multipicture deal with Endgame Entertainment.
Said Ben Said
Founder, SBS Prods.
As Hollywood studios pull out of older-skewing fare, some European producers are moving in, with few so notably as Ben Said. UGC alumus Ben Said’s recently launched SBS Prods. has made an impact from its inception, attaching Roman Polanski to direct “God of Carnage,” with Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, and Brian de Palma for “Passion,” a remake of Gallic psychodrama “Love Crime.” Ben Said aims to twin American directors and Euro finance — many of the former will be only too thankful.
Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, coordinator, film funding
Berg oversees film funding, international co-productions, animation, distribution and cinema support. While the Medienboard is headed by Kirsten Niehuus and Elmar Giglinger, Berg plays an integral role in all aspects of funding, particularly international co-productions. Recent pics to receive Medienboard funding include Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers”; Joe Wright’s “Hanna”; and Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s “Chicken With Plums.”
Optimum Releasing, head of production
Backed by the deep pockets of its French parent StudioCanal, U.K. distrib Optimum Releasing is ramping up a prolific in-house slate under Borgars. A former head of development at the U.K. Film Council, Borgars is driving projects including “Brighton Rock,” “Rafta Rafta,” “The Awakening,” “Attack the Block” and “Before I Go To Sleep.”
Prescience topper Brett will be basking in the glow of “The King’s Speech” at Berlin. The financier covered 65% of the pic’s budget via its debt fund Aegis, and its investors got their money back well before the U.S. release. Aegis is now raising more coin and looking to back bigger American projects, while Prescience continues to invest its equity funds alongside Aegis in pics such as “The Sweeney,” “Horrid Henry” and “Cheerleaders.”
Film 4, head of commercial development
If you want to do a deal with Film4, Bruce-Smith is the woman to make it happen. A change in management at Channel 4 has brought a 50% increase in Film4’s budget to £15 million ($23 million) a year, and Bruce-Smith works closely with topper Tessa Ross in deciding how to spend it. New projects with the likes of Jonathan Glazer and Lynne Ramsay follow recent success with “127 Hours,” “Another Year,” “Submarine” and “Neds.”
Exclusive Films Intl., co-president
The new co-prexy of Exclusive Films Intl., the sales arm of Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s production and distribution shingle, will, alongside Sinclair and sales prexy Alex Walton, run a new fund to pick up foreign rights to two to four films a year, paying minimum guarantees of up to $20 million per pic, supplementing Exclusive’s slate of inhouse projects. He’ll also scout acquisitions for Exclusive’s U.S. distribution arm Newmarket.
CEO and President, Voltage Pictures
How do you top “The Hurt Locker” Oscar last year? Chartier’s international sales, financing and production operation Voltage Pictures partnered with Craig Flores to form Voltage Prods., which aims to make pics in the $15 million to $40 million range. The outfit’s slate includes “The Whistleblower,” exec produced by Voltage; “The Good Doctor,” toplining Orlando Bloom; and Robert Redford’s thriller “The Company You Keep,” which will be Voltage’s second in-house financed production.
Cinecitta Luce, president; Rome fest’s Business Street, director
Cicutto is a respected Italo producer who has more recently become the Italo film industry’s international ambassador as Cinecitta Luce prexy and also as chief of the Rome fest’s Business Street. Cicutto is the man to know for anyone interested in doing biz with Italy, including tax credits, co-prods and acquisitions. He’s also the key contect for fests who want to show Italian movies or pay tribute to Italo helmers like Bernardo Bertolucci, whose recent Museum of Modern Art homage was set up by Cicutto.
A European production-distribution-sales giant, StudioCanal fully financed one 2010’s biggest low-budget hits, “The Last Exorcism.” That’s only a superficial irony. Under Courson, StudioCanal has grown in scope by establishing Europe’s only distribution network in France, Germany and Britain while creating alliances with Spyglass, Original and Dark Castle, nabbing big U.S. titles, backing animation and local production hubs and movies from Eli Roth, Walter Salles, and Kim Jee -woon.
CEO, IM Global
Backed by multi-billion dollar Indian outfit Reliance Big Entertainment, Ford has been confidently closing high-profile deals such as the $30 million pre-sales on the $45 million 3D pic “Dredd” and the multi-territory deal with Fox on $65 million “Walking With Dinosaurs.” Shingle also has a diverse sales operation with labels Opus, Octane, Acclaim and Anthem handling action, genre, arthouse and foreign-language pics while its Apsara label is a prolific buyer of distribution rights across Asia.
President, Summit Intl.
Based in London, Garrett has overseen a raft of Summit-produced, co-produced and acquired titles including “American Pie,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Babel.” Since Summit snapped up rights to Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, which has grossed $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office, the outfit has been catapulted to the top tier of profitable film companies in Hollywood outside of the majors.
David Glasser & Hugo Grumbar
President, intl. distribution, the Weinstein Co.; President, Icon Film Distribution
In November, TWC joined forces with Icon Group U.K., owned by Access Industries, and launched a film-finance production fund, which will be administered by Icon that will focus on commercial pics in the $5 million-$20 million range. Through Glasser, TWC will handle domestic distribution while Icon will handle U.K. distribution through Hugo Grumbar.
Executive director, Quinta Communications’ independent film division
Based in London, Jaafar is spearheading the independent film unit of Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications, focusing on producing, financing and distributing pics sourced from new and established Arab and Middle Eastern talent. Average budgets will sit in the $2 million to $3.4 million range and aim to take Arab film production to the next level.
Bavaria Pictures, managing director
As head of Bavaria Pictures, Kaiser has overseen the company’s increasing focus on feature production and its international expansion as a co-production partner. Part of the multifaceted Bavaria Film group, Bavaria Pictures has a slew of films in the works, including Leander Haussmann’s upcoming Stalin-era comedy “Hotel Lux” and Ian Fitzgibbon’s English-language “Superhero.”
CEO, Relativity Media
Under Kavanaugh’s rule, five-year-old outfit Relativity has transformed itself in the last year or so into a full-fledged studio, inking deals with Netflix, Overture and Virgin. Kavanaugh’s fast rise as a financier and producer started when he raised $8 billion in private equity coin during fiscally hard times; he has now structured 110 output deals across the globe but has yet to tap into Japan, Spain and Italy.
President, Antena 3 Films
With CEO Mercedes Gamero, Lejarza runs one of Spain’s most powerful film and TV operations, A3 Films, broadcaster Antena 3’s production and acquisition arm. In 2010, A3 Films had a banner year in Spain: It financed all five top Spanish B.O. hits. It also wields international clout through investments into pics such as Clive Owen-starrer “Intruders,” and its pre-buys of big titles such “Transporter 3.”
President, worldwide distribution, Alliance Films-Momentum Pictures
With a reach that includes Canada, the U.K., Spain and now Italy, Alliance Films is a key financier of film production, either as a direct equity player or through territorial MGs that provide a cornerstone for financing pics. London-based Marchand also heads up its Brit arm, Momentum Pictures, which backed “The King’s Speech.” It also invests in excess of $120 million per year in acquisitions and productions.
Venice Film Festival, director
Mueller is a Berlin aficionado who speaks fluent German, plus at least five other languages, and uses the Teuton fest to kick off his hunt for Lido pics in earnest. This is Mueller’s last year heading Venice, unless his mandate gets renewed. So besides his next lineup, expect Mueller to be mulling either returning to being a producer, or taking a post with another top-tier fest.
Exclusive Media Group, president, intl. sales and distribution
Walton heads the sales unit of Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Exclusive Media Group, which is gearing up its productions. He joined the outfit last May, having previously served at Paramount Vantage and HanWay. Slate includes the Miley Cyrus vehicle “So Undercover,” George Clooney’s political drama “The Ides of March,” and Daniel Radclyffe in “The Woman in Black.”
Recorded Picture Co. managing director; HanWay, deputy chairman
In his dual roles, Watson is the key dealmaker for legendary Brit producer Jeremy Thomas. They used an innovative jigsaw of German funds and Euro pre-sales to finance David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” which shot in Berlin, Cologne and Vienna last year, and recently finalized the big Scandi co-pro “Kon-tiki.” Those pics are part of strong HanWay slate that includes Steve McQueen’s “Shame,” Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut “Quartet” and Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights.”
Studio Babelsberg, CEO/Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures, managing director
Since taking over Studio Babelsberg in 2004 with partner Christoph Fisser, Woebcken has solidified its position as a major European co-production partner and full-service studio, attracting international projects such as Tommy Wirkola’s upcoming “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” which starts shooting in March. Last year it formed TheManipulators, a production joint venture with Celluloid Dreams, and it also has a co-production deal with Joel Silver’s Dark Castle.