When it comes to getting films financed, paying attention to global distribution and choosing bold projects is paramount in 2016. That’s according to several top producers and film sales company executives at a state of film financing panel today at the Produced By Conference.
“If you’re going to be an independent producer, you have to pay attention to the international marketplace,” said Basil Iwanyk, founder and owner of financing and production company Thunder Road Pictures, which produced last year’s Sicario, 2010’s Ben Affleck-directed The Town and this year’s Gods of Egypt. (While Gods of Egypt didn’t do well domestically, it made $40 million in China, Iwanyk said.)
Leslie Urdang, president of Mar-Key Pictures (Beginners, Rabbit Hole), noted a lot of international and Russian interest in director Michael Mayer’s upcoming adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull, starring Annette Bening and Saoirse Ronan, produced by her company.
“We had some equity investors who were as passionate about the project as we are,” said Urdang, pointing out the “four prongs of financing”: soft money, pre-sale, debt financing and equity investors. I always say, ‘You WILL a movie into existence.’ You have to pay such attention to it, and make it as beautifully as you can.”
Panelist Nick Meyer, president and CEO of film finance and production company Sierra/Affinity, which sold 2014’s Nightcrawler and Whiplash, managed to quickly sell Aaron Sorkin’s script Molly’s Game at Cannes despite its whopping 190 pages.
He and Iwanyk hammered home that films, more and more, need to have a distinct hook and storyline. “If audiences smell something that’s bold and ballsy and singular,” that’s what will survive as a success, said Iwanyk. “We’ve tried to make and develop projects we would like to see.”