EXCLUSIVE: Fulcrum Media Finance, the London- and Sydney-based film and TV financier, has closed its first wholly British deal. Rachel Weisz stars in Davies’ new screen version of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea. Shooting on the UK Film Council and Film4 backed project begins in November. Tom Hiddleston will play Weisz’s reprobate RAF pilot lover and Simon Russell Beale her stolid husband. Fulcrum is cash-flowing the UK tax credit, worth 20% of the budget. In the movie business, that’s as risk free as you can get.
The financier hopes to finance 24 UK projects a year. Fulcrum is co-owned by Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, producers of Oscar-tipped The King’s Speech. Fulcrum offers to lend up to 95% of the value of the tax credit. Until now the financier has been financing either wholly Australian films or Australian/UK co-productions such as Oranges and Sunshine and Triangle. Canning tells me that UK producers should welcome working with a financier who’s a filmmaker too. Fulcrum says it will undercut banks such as Barclays and Coutts that offer this kind of finance. “As producers ourselves, we know filmmakers just want financiers to be straightforward with them and just get the job done,” Canning tells me.
Money behind Fulcrum’s push into the UK is coming from private investors. Australian pension fund Media Super arranged a $17 million facility for Fulcrum in July. This has freed up individuals who first invested in Fulcrum when it launched May 2008. Media Super currently has more than A$$2.5 billion under management. Fulcrum has provided A$30 million of finance to 23 film and TV projects in both Australia and New Zealand to date, representing total production value of A$230 million. Apart from cash-flowing Australian Producer Offset and New Zealand Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF), Fulcrum also offers some gap finance, discounting distribution guarantees and bridging finance. Alice Clough, ex-head of business affairs at Future Films, has been hired to run the London business. Sharon Menzies, who manages Fulcrum in Australia and New Zealand, tells me: “We’ve got a pretty good reputation in Australia and we’re producer friendly.”
See-Saw Films, Canning and Sherman’s production company, is certainly busy preparing for the international rollout of The King’s Speech. The film is due to play in next month’s London Film Festival. The Weinstein Company is releasing the film in the US.
Shooting begins in New York in January on See-Saw’s next production, Steve McQueen’s Shame. Michael Fassbender stars as a New Yorker whose life spins out of control when his sister comes to stay. Hanway Films is selling the Film4 project. Abi Morgan (Brick Lane) has written the screenplay with McQueen. Canning produced McQueen’s first film Hunger, which also starred Fassbender as Irish Republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. Shame won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2008.
And BBC2 has boarded Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, the 6-part TV series which See-Saw is making on location in New Zealand. Filming begins mid- to late 2011. Top of the Lake follows a woman detective embroiled in a mysterious case. The 12-year-old girl stands chest deep in a frozen lake. She is 5 months pregnant, and she won’t say who the father is, insisting it was “no one.” Then she disappears. “It’s a gift to be able to work with Jane Campion on her first TV production since An Angel At My Table,” Canning tells me.
See-Saw has a first-look deal with UK distributor Momentum Pictures, while its own distribution arm Transmission releases its projects down under. Transmission specialises in releasing British indie films in Australia, including An Education, Made In Dagenham and the forthcoming Chalet Girl.