Battsek gives keynote on production finance

Says financial crisis affects movie business 'like any other'

LONDON -- The global financial crisis and shifting distribution windows were among the topics on tap Monday as Miramax president Daniel Battsek opened this year's Production Finance Market.

Battsek described himself to the audience of filmmakers, producers and financiers as "more of a dinosaur than a guru" when it came to the topic of how VOD might change window release patterns.

"There will come a time when windows will shift in terms of how the movies are made available to people," Battsek said. "For companies like ourselves, it is still very risky to be looking at simply shifting money from one window to another to support a release."

The British executive, who was hired to help establish Disney's overseas releasing arm more than a decade ago before joining Miramax as president after Harvey and Bob Weinstein's exit, opened the second PFM, hosted and run by Film London with the support of the Times BFI London Film Festival.

Battsek also said the global financial turmoil is affecting the movie business. "For the moment it means we, like everyone else in every other business, have to be focused on cost efficiencies," he said.

But he pointed to the fact that Miramax, as part of Disney, has financing in place for the movies it green lights. "We do have partners, and one assumes that they will be impacted, but we hope it will not effect our films," he said.

He also told the audience that the percentage of spec scripts without a star director or cast attached that the company makes is now "very small." But Battsek was quick to point out that it still happens, just not very often.

The event, returning for its second year, aims to connect producers and financiers at a two-day event.

Companies with reps on hand include UGC, Rai Cinema, Miramax, Studio Canal, Lionsgate, Nordisk Film, Ingenious Media, Celluloid Dreams, Aramid Capital Partners, Focus Features, Bank of Ireland, Sony Pictures Classics, Warner Bros. and Paramount.

Finance secured during PFM will range from distribution advances to equity and tax finance to development funding.

PFM, held in central London, wraps Tuesday.

The Film Department CEO Mark Gill delivered the keynote at last year's inaugural event.