Experience necessary

Film Finance Forum Zurich 2012

Cross Creek Pictures prexy Brian Oliver has some well-earned advice for producers attending his Sept. 22 European Co-Productions panel during the Zurich Film Festival: “Having the right attorneys on board early, to navigate the muddy waters of these co-productions and find partners who have a good relationship with their local government, is very important,” says Oliver. “Find a partner who’s done recent co-productions in the territory you’re working in, and make sure their co-producer’s experience was good.”

Oliver is among many industryites participating in the Film Finance Forum at Zurich presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety on Sept. 22.

He learned these lessons by partnering with U.S./U.K.-based Exclusive Media to co-fund Ron Howard’s “Rush.” Produced in association with Imagine Entertainment, Working Title Films, Brian Grazer and Revolution Films, the financiers set up Rush Films Ltd. as the Brit half of the U.K.-German project, teaming with an entity formed by Berlin-based financier Egoli Tossell Film and Cologne-based producer Action Concept. Applying the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production formula for an 80-20 U.K.-Germany funding split, they snagged government certificates allowing them to obtain around $9 million in subsidies and tax credits from both countries, a sizeable chunk of the film’s expected $53 million-$54 million budget.

While they may seem like passes to easy money, the certificates often have more in common with Willy Wonka’s golden tickets — the first step into a labyrinth of local subsidy boards and a constant budget balancing act. Germany in particular can be a minefield of uncertainty, according to Oliver and fellow panelist Matthias Braun, the Berlin-based Lacore partner who handled legal issues for the German producers.

Before raising a full budget, foreign producers rely on local producers to pitch films to subsidy boards that meet just a few times a year. “You have to go in a bit blind (as partners) tell you, ‘I think I can get this,’ ” Oliver says. “They’re giving you information you’re relying on to get your bank loan, and if that info is wrong, it can put you in a serious situation.”

“Rush” received one national and two regional subsidies, plus a national tax credit, but Braun says that due to the large amounts it received, producers had to spend a higher-than-normal 250% of each subsidy in the region it came from. “If you don’t, you have to partly pay it back” and face a budget shortfall, he says

Local producers also ensure the right amount is spent in each region — an accounting high-wire act that often leads to spending imbalances. Oliver hopes some extra German shooting days will help fix the budget formula for “Rush.”

Despite its pitfalls, “Rush” is having an easier journey than some projects. Braun worked on the Canadian-German co-production “A Dangerous Method,” which received around half its hoped-for German subsidies, and waited two years after its delivery for final audit results to arrive.

Producers also need one more thing. “I guess you’ve gotta have faith,” Oliver concludes.

Fest Traveler: Zurich Film Festival 2012
Fest stocks pic shop shelves | Zurich tunes up music competish

Film Finance Forum Zurich 2012
Experience necessary | Investors can make safe bet on indies

More Film

  • Disney Movies

    Why Audiences Are Only Going to Disney Movies

    Julie Bikhman of Manhattan might buy the tickets, but when it comes to deciding what movie to see, her three young children are the ones calling the shots. “We pick them,” her 11-year-old daughter Annie declares before heading into a screening of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King.” “If it’s a Marvel movie, we know it’s [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider Running for SAG-AFTRA Board, Supporting Matthew Modine

    Rob Schneider is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate and as a representative of the union’s San Francisco branch. Schneider is a former cast member on “Saturday Night Live” with movie credits on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick,” “The Benchwarmers,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Japan Expresses Its Grief Over Deadly Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Fellow animators and others in the Japanese entertainment industry have expressed their sorrow and solidarity with Kyoto Animation, the well-respected anime studio that suffered a horrific arson attack and the deaths of dozens of staffers. “We are all fellows in the same boat. If we continue to create without being afraid, we will find solace [...]

  • For Lineup Story

    Billie Piper's Directorial Debut, 'Rare Beasts,' to Bow in Venice Critics' Week

    “Rare Beasts,” the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Collateral”) is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers. Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with [...]

  • 'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-

    Alejandro Amenabar, Ricardo Darin, Paco Cabezas Bound for San Sebastian

    MADRID  –  Alejandro Amenábar, Ricardo Darín and Paco Cabezas, director of episodes from “Peaky Blinders” and “American Gods,” look set to join Penelope Cruz, already confirmed as a Donostia Award winner, at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. The biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world, this year’s San Sebastian runs Sept.20-28. Amenábar’s [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content