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Cannes: Fabien Westerhoff, Films Distribution Launch Film Constellation

Westerhoff’s Film Constellation to serve as a bespoke film finance/licensing company

Fabien Westerhoff, Film Constellation

Seasoned international film executive Fabien Westerhoff, a former head of sales and distribution at WestEnd Films and HanWay Films, has teamed with Paris-based sales agent Films Distribution, one of France’s most prominent sales companies, to launch Film Constellation, an international licensing/film finance company.

Unveiled in the run-up to Cannes Festival, deal sees Films Distribution taking an equity investment in Film Constellation, facilitating an up-to €10 million ($11.2 million) credit facility for Film Constellation film investments, said Westerhoff.

London-based, Constellation will reveal its first titles at next month’s Cannes market. They will range from youth-orientated commercial fare to talent-driven films for mature audiences.

Film Constellation bows as the global launch of Netflix and targeted roll-out of Amazon Prime and HBO are broadening options open to producers as they seek to both finance and license their movies. As overseas markets contract for many arthouse films but the gamut of types of movies made out of international opens up, the needs of many filmmakers, whether in financing or pre-sales festival and brand positioning are at once more-targeted and far-broader than at any moment in recent film industry times.

In this context, Film Constellation will offer producers and financiers targeted, tailor-made international licensing and executive production services.

“This is a destination of expression for trusted filmmakers and emerging new talent, embracing new distribution models, globally,” Westerhoff commented in a statement Tuesday.

He added: “The road to market is tailor-made for each one of our films. We are dedicated to enabling rights-holders to maximize value and ownership of their projects along the value chain.”

The Film Constellation deal adds to Films Distribution’s network of European companies. In addition to its Paris office, in 2008 Films Distribution set up Berlin-based subsidiary Films Boutique, which is focused on special-interest movies and discoveries. In 2014, it launched Be For Film, a Brussels sales agency that handles European foreign-language cross-over movies. Film Constellation and Films Distribution will act independently on the acquisition/sales front.

A Paris-born graduate from France’s prestigious Femis film school, Westerhoff is one of a select number of executives with extensive experience in both France and the U.K. film industries, experience that also takes in cinema’s digital and emerging market revolutions.

He joined London’s HanWay Films, Jeremy Thomas’ sales, distribution and marketing company in 2008, where he sold Fernando Trueba’s “Chico & Rita” and Takashi Miike’s “13 Assassins,” rising to become its director of sales and distribution. There he also spearheaded the launch of HanWay Select, a classics, speciality and documentary label, which created collections around its distinguished filmmaking figures – Bernardo Bertolucci, Wim Wenders, Thomas himself – firing up VOD sales around the world plus theatrical re-issues via Hollywood Classics.

Westerhoff cut his teeth at Philippe Bobber’s Coproduction Office before serving as a consultant to Peter Danner’s Funny Balloons as it forged its sales relationship with “No” director Pablo Larrain, acquiring world sales on “Tony Manero.”

At WestEnd Films, he oversaw the international roll-out of movies by David Gordon Green (“Joe,” “Mangelhorn”), Michael Winterbottom (“The Face of an Angel”), Jeremy Saunier (“Green Room”).

Having pursued a career in both the U.K. and France, Westerhoff looks to work a two-way street at Film Constellation, offering “a fast-track bridge to the European market’s funding resources and determinant festival scene for Anglo-Saxon independent filmmakers looking to build up their authorial voice,” and “a port of call for European filmmakers wanting to expand their career and audience to the English-speaking market.”