Toronto 2012: Film Veterans Launch Movie Financier Cascade Pictures

Led by CEO Mark Fisher, former CFO of Icon U.K., the company is starting with first-look deals with Pari Passu Films and Culmination Productions.

LONDON - Three film veterans have joined forces to launch U.K.-based film and TV financier Cascade Pictures.

The company was founded by former Icon U.K. CFO Mark Fisher who serves as CEO.

He is joined by COO Cora Palfrey, a former European CFO of Exclusive Media Group, and Daniel Campos Pavoncelli, who used to work for the Rome Film Festival, Exclusive Media and Fandango Portobello and will serve as acquisitions and development executive.

At Exclusive Media, Pavoncelli worked with the sales and marketing team on such films as The Woman in Black and The Ides of March.
After some of the Cascade principals attended the European Film Market in Berlin, Palfrey and Campos Pavoncelli are attending the Toronto International Film Festival as the upstart's first official market.

Cascade launches with first-look deals in place with Pari Passu Films producers Jessica Parker and Jessica Malik, as well as Tom Butterfield and Emily Man of Culmination Productions.

Fisher and his team said Cascade will not focus on any particular genre, but is looking for good projects and talented writers and producers that need help packaging films.

"I felt there was a gap in the market for low- and medium-budget independent films," Fisher told THR. "We are trying to help people with those."

"Buyers buy all the big-budget films at markets," Palfrey echoed. "There's a gap there for smaller indie films. Producers are not getting them made. We're financing and packaging for the producers."

What does a project need to attract Cascade? "We are looking for a good idea and script," said Campos Pavoncelli. "We all read it, so it will be a project we all like."

Added Palfrey: "It has to be commercially viable." And Fisher said: "Quality films will sell."

In a statement Friday, Fisher also said: "Our collective experience demonstrates that there is great talent out there with exciting projects that have international potential, looking for the kind of financial and production expertise and support that Cascade can offer at every stage, from film and DVD distribution through to international sales, production and financing. We are at the early stages in sourcing projects and cementing relationships with independent producers, but are ready to start financing projects as we are now in the final stages of preparing to open our film production and development funds."

The principals told THR that Cascade is looking to invest in four to six films a year with budgets of $5 million or less in its first year of operations.

It is planning to invest in more films and expand its budget limit per film to $15 million-plus as early as its second year.

Cascade is eyeing equity investments of up to around 30 percent to 35 percent of films' budgets.

The company aims to raise gap and debt financing and help independent producers secure money via international tax credits, post-production deals and pre-sales.  

It also promises to look to develop new writers and producers via its Cascade Media Development arm, which is opening a seed fund.

It is looking to option books that can be developed into projects.

Culmination's current slate includes romantic comedy Festival Calling, teen thriller Vanishing Act, action movie Hustle that involves American Pie producer Craig Perry  and thriller The Arbitrator.

Campos Pavoncelli lauded the firm's "really diverse and commercially exciting range of projects, which will also find traction in the international marketplace."

Culmination's Butterfield moved from the American Pie franchise to the now defunct U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund where he was involved as a production executive on such indie hits as Man on Wire and The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Pari Passu has been working on January, a low-budget genre film currently in post-production, and is developing Corin Hardy’s Fest. Malik is an executive producer on Eran Riklis’ Zaytoun, which is premiering at TIFF. 

“Pari Passu’s unique partnership that encompasses Jessica Parker's experience in development, production and finance coupled with Jessica Malik's experience in international sales, marketing and distribution means they understand the global value of a film, and the budget required to deliver," said Campos Pavoncelli.

"They are developing and partnering on projects that appeal to the international market and that buyers are looking for, with clear marketing strategies and sensible production budgets, which is crucial and extremely attractive to us as investors."