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James M. Vernon, Managing director, Media Funds Management
Films Financed: MFM has two large-budget motion pictures in postproduction: “The Cup,” directed by Simon Wincer; and “The Eye of the Storm,” directed by Fred Schepisi
Money to spend: MFM has a number of motion pictures and television series moving toward financial close with budgets ranging from $2 million-$24.5 million.
Business philosophy: “To attempt to fund whatever comes our way with a flexible and innovative pro-producer attitude. With the independent film funding process relying more and more on international partnerships, MFM’s focus is on co-productions of both features and TV series. In particular MFM is keen to provide funding on U.K., Irish, German, French and China co-productions wishing to take advantage of the very attractive Australian Producer Offset and the New Zealand rebate.” — Pip Bulbeck
Chen Xiaowei, CEO, Chengtian Entertainment
Films financed: None since she joined Chengtian in July and announced, in October, the purchase of 3.3% share of “Inception” producers Legendary Pictures for $25 million.
Money to spend: Chen says of the planned annual Chengtian-Legendary China co-productions: “Neither ‘Inception’ nor ‘The Dark Knight’ was a particularly low-budget film, but ‘The Town,’ for instance, was and it has made an amazing success. Chengtian will not be particularly tight about budget. The quality of the content is key.”
Business philosophy: “Though China’s film business is growing fast, I believe it’s smart to hedge its bets by developing content across platforms. In gaming, there’s a much bigger audience and we’re looking at properties that will make great games first, then possibly crossover into the realm of theatrical release, where success is far harder to achieve as competition heats up.” — Jonathan Landreth
Jean-Baptiste Babin, CEO and founder, Backup Films
Films financed: 180 titles financed to date, including Julie Bertucelli’s “The Tree,” Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” and Francois Ozon’s “Le Refuge”
Money to spend: Backup will have invested $18 million by year’s end and brokered $6.2 million worth of deals.
Business philosophy: Founded in 2002, Backup Films is France’s premiere film financing company that gathers funds from individual financiers to invest in local and international production. “Good films stem from the encounter between talent and a producer. That’s where creativity arises. Our goal is to achieve the same level of creativity at the financing stage so we can bring in both money and support, because money alone doesn’t last.” — Rebecca Leffler
Ruben Dishdishyan, President, Central Partnership
Films financed: “Wolfhound,” “Shadow Boxing 2,” “House Spirit”
Money to spend: Private investments and money disbursed by the government to Russia’s eight main production companies, including Central Partnership. Each production company received $8.5 million for 2010.
Business philosophy: “The Russian film industry had a very promising period in the mid 2000s when films like “The Turkish Gambit,” “Wolfhound,” “Night Watch” and “Day Watch” were released, showing that domestic films could do just as well at the box office as Hollywood blockbusters. But after those movies, there was a flow of mediocre movies that discredited Russian films in general. Now our main task is to get over audiences’ distrust in the domestic film product.” — Vladimir Koslov
Stephen Margolis, CEO, Future Films
Films financed: “Cracks,” “50 Dead Men Walking,” “Malice in Wonderland”
Money to spend: One source of money is in the region of $112 million through Taurus Media Finance, a fund backed by the European Investment Bank.
Business philosophy: “We’re looking basically for two kinds of projects: One kind will be the bigger American projects that we can help provide funding for and possibly help with European production services. The second is smaller-budgeted movies, or made-for-TV projects that we could package and become bigger owners of. We have institutional investment and we’re structuring an European Investment Bank backed fund.” — Stuart Kemp
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