Silver Reel, a new film lender with offices in Zurich and London, has closed the financing on Ironclad, the medieval action movie now in post-production. At a cost of £12 million to make, the pic was pitched as “300 in a castle.” James Purefoy and Paul Giamatti star along with Brian Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Jason Flemyng and Derek Jacobi. Content Film International is selling the movie internationally. The financing has taken four months to close, despite Ironclad‘s October 9 start date which was met. No less than 18(!) executive producers are listed on the credits, giving some idea of the financing’s complexity. Other British financiers include Premiere Pictures, Perpetual Media Capital and post-production company Molinare. (The reason? UK post-production companies have increasingly been injecting slugs of equity into features to help them capture editing work). German media fund VIP Media Fonds is also on board.
Killing Bono, a comedy about the rock band U2, was Silver Reel’s first investment. That closed in November. The feature is currently in its second week of shooting in Northern Ireland. Other financiers of film include Sony Music Entertainment, Isotope and Matador. Silver Reel’s got another three or four projects in the pipeline. The fund offers to cover up to 20% of a project’s budget against the value of unsold territories. In addition to offering gap finance, it also discounts sales agents’ minimum guarantees and tax credits. The fund aims to raise at least $100 million. Family offices, institutional investors and wealthy individuals have already committed a good portion of that. Assuming that the fund does reach its planned size, Silver Reel plans to back around 10-20 films a year. Because, for the time being, it’s unlikely that any of the banks are going to return to lending to one-off pictures. Ian Hutchinson, the fund’s principal, said, “Things are going to remain very difficult for the independent producer. I don’t see banks returning to niche sectors such as film. This is despite there being a fantastic opportunity for one of the European banks to return this year.”
Silver Reel is one of a number of recent additions to the individual project finance scene in Britain. Aegis Film Fund, a London-based fund, has gone back out into the market trying to raise another £20 million by March. Aegis, which has financed 4 projects so far including St Trinian’s 2, plans to raise £200 million over the next couple of years. Producer/financier Matador has also been plugging quietly away, raising money through its tax-based film funds. Financiers such as these and Aramid Capital are filling in the space vacated by banks such as Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank, which have quit lending to one-off projects under pressure from higher up.