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Toronto: Cutting Edge Scores With Music Rights

10 indie films at fest have added to financing pot with licensing fees

Independent financing has always meant cobbling together a variety of sources, and in the past five years, financing against music licensing has become another funding source to add to the indie menu.

Cutting Edge Group has invested in 10 films screening at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival along with two films in post-production: Zac Efron’s comedy “Are We Officially Dating?” and Taylor Lautner’s action-thriller “Tracers.”

“These films are right in the Cutting Edge sweet spot,” said CEO Phillip Moross. “They’ve got great young casts that have international appeal.”

Five-year-old CEG has invested in more than 200 films including “The King’s Speech,” “Drive” and last year’s TIFF opener “Looper.” Its titles this year: “Oculus,” “The Face of Love,” “Life of Crime,” “Devil’s Knot,” “Belle,” “Don Jon,” “Felony,” “The Railway Man,” “The Right Kind of Wrong” and “Third Person.” (pictured)

CEG makes deals by obtaining music publishing rights and then handling scoring, clearances and music supervision in a film. It recoups from soundtrack and sheet-music sales; licensing and royalties from international tix sales and TV deals; and rights in commercials.

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“Dating” stars Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan with Tom Gormican directing from his own script. CEG worked with Treehouse Pictures and producers Justin Nappi, Andrew O’Connor, Scott Aversano, Kevin Turen on the deal for “Dating,” on which FilmDistrict is the U.S. distributor for an early 2014 release.

Tracers” is directed by Daniel Benmayor and produced by “Twilight” producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill Entertainment.

Earlier this year, CEG raised $100 million in equity and teamed with Wood Creek Captial to acquire Varese Sarabande Records.

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