Poised to take advantage of what she sees as a recovering film financing market, Christa Thomas has joined SunTrust bank as a managing director and senior film adviser within its Private Wealth Management Sports & Entertainment Specialty Group.
Thomas will oversee the company’s expansion into corporate film financing and related financial services with a focus on established independent production companies.
“After several years of banks exiting (film financing), I think this is a terrific sign for the industry,” Thomas told Variety.
“Business, from a financing standpoint, is coming back,” she said.
Thomas said part of her focus will be on multi-year credit facilities from production shingles, many of which will need to be refinanced in the next few years.
“We’re not going to see a return to the super-aggressive high-risk lending and investing approaches that we saw between 2005 and 2008,” Thomas said, referring in large part to the private equity and hedge fund money that flooded the independent film world in those years.
According to Thomas, while the days of high-risk capitol lending might be over, conservative, well-collateralized lending will be key to getting banks back into the film financing game.
“The guys who still have a dream and a script and some interest on the part of talent, that’s not enough to get bank financing,” Thomas said, adding that equity from high net worth individuals, studios or corporations will play a major role.
Thomas is a 28-year veteran of J.P. Morgan where she most recently served as managing director and senior client executive in the company’s Entertainment Industries Group in Los Angeles.
Headquartered in Atlanta, SunTrust Banks controlled $172.9 billion at the end of 2010 with primary businesses including deposit, credit, trust and investment services.