Premiere arrives at AFM with cash in hand

U.K.-based company unveiling funding package

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Film financier Premiere Picture is landing at this year's AFM with the promise of something unusual -- cash for projects.

The U.K.-based company is unveiling a fresh funding package to producers and financiers called Media Pro.

The fund aims to allow producers to access funding for feature film, TV and other media activities including production services and P&A.

It mirrors an earlier fund, Sovereign, set up and operated by Premiere Picture which saw the financier raise and place $45 million in the last 12 months across a variety of projects.

Premiere Picture raises the cash for its fund from a network of high networth individuals looking to invest in movies.

Premiere Picture chief operating officer Adam Betteridge told THR that Media Pro will operate as a standalone fund, separate from Sovereign and is the next step for a sector badly in need of innovation in financing.

Through Media Pro, Premiere seeks to finance in the region of 10% -- net of fees decided on a case by case basis -- of a production budget for selected feature film and/ or TV projects.

The main focus is on films in the $2 million to $25 million range "with attractive cast and strong commercial prospects," Betteridge said.

Projects outside of this range may be considered "if there is a compelling rationale."

For AFM goers, suitable projects should be at least at an advanced stage with a solid finance plan and commitments from talent.

Media Pro financing is compatible with many other traditional forms of financing, including tax credits, other equity and senior debt such as bank gap.

Premiere Picture has backed several film projects including the Demi Moore and David Duchovny starrer "The Joneses," one of the buzz titles at this year's Toronto Film Festival, and John Carpenter's psychological thriller "The Ward."

Other Premiere beneficiaries include "Perrier's Bounty" starring Cillian Murphy and Jim Broadbent, the upcoming "Ironclad" directed by Jonathan English, and Yann Samuell's "Great Ghost Rescue."

Betteridge, a former producer, said: "Premiere has grown year on year over its nine-year history with prudent investment and a clear understanding of the needs of our market. At a time when many competitors are cutting back their reach, Premiere Picture is seeing substantial growth in funds and investment, with Media Pro being the latest initiative, offering choice and real opportunity to our investors."

Since Premiere Picture's launch as Great British Films in 2000 before becoming Premiere Picture in 2007, the outfit has grown year on year and reached a point where funding capacity has enabled it to typically bring up to 15% of a film's budget.

And Betteridge told THR the cash offered wasn't too expensive for producers "in the current market climate."