U.S. financier opens Oz outpost

FPC chief Will French wants to capitalize on tax incentives

Follow the money is a mantra for the entertainment industry, and Will French, co-founder and president of tax credit-based financing leader Film Production Capital, is a man who does just that.

French -- who landed at the American Film Market earlier this year with more than $50 million available for the financing and acquisition of tax incentives for productions filming in states around the country -- is going Down Under.

The financier is opening an outpost in Australia to capitalize on growing government tax incentives available there.

French is finalizing plans for a syndicate of U.S. and Australian banks to provide a credit facility, which FPC will then use to lend against the territory's producer and location offset programs.

The producer program offers a refundable offset of up to 40% of the Aussie production spend for films with significant Australian content, while the location program is a refundable offset of up to 15% of the Australian production spend for any producer shooting in Australia, regardless of the film's Australian content.

"Opening an office in Australia has immediate and long-term benefits for FPC," French said. "Traditionally, Australian banks have not financed films to any degree, especially using tax incentives as collateral, so there's an underserved market that we can quickly begin servicing. Additionally, once the dollar begins to strengthen, Australia's Location Offset and English-speaking crew base will be a magnet for producers that FPC currently lends to in the U.S."

French promises producers greatly reduced red tape, documentation, delay and closing costs. "Our capital will be simple and easy for producers to access," he said.

During AFM, French put up financing for Nu Image's "Trust," directed by David Schwimmer and starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, and the Wesley Snipes starrer "Game of Death," a Philippe Martinez production to be released Stateside by Sony. FPC currently has cash in 12 movies in various stages of production.

The financier first opened its doors in Louisiana in 2003, having financed or acquired tax credits for nearly 70 productions, including the upcoming "The Expendables," starring Sylvester Stallone and Jet Li, and "Stone," with Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Milla Jovovich.

FPC has increased its bank credit capacity more than threefold since March of this year.

FPC has offices in Louisiana, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona, and aims to expand into other top-tier incentive states such as New Mexico, Massachusetts and New York.