EXCLUSIVE: Financer 120dB Films principals Stephen Hays and Peter Graham are joining forces with producer and consultant Scott Einbinder and distribution veteran Gary Rubin to form strategic consulting firm, 120dB Advisors.
The new company is designed to guide clients on a worldwide basis. Areas covered include capital structuring and sourcing, content packaging, acquisitions, distribution, banking, state tax credit oversight; solving production, insurance, delivery problems, and sales. Offerings will also include distressed asset, residuals and library valuations and monetization, workouts, litigation support and expert testimony. A core service will be assisting its clients in prudently managing and investing their media sector exposure.
The firm will begin operations immediately. Hays, Graham, Einbinder and Rubin will keep a special eye on COVID-19 related production, financing and insurance issues, and similar challenges in a rapidly changing environment. Each partner will continue separately with their respective non-advisory businesses.
Managed by former hedge fund executive Hays and entertainment banking veteran Graham, 120dB Films was founded in 2004. To date, it has executive produced and provided tax credit, pre-sale, gap, bridge, finishing funds and P&A financing to over 100 films and television series.
Hays tells Deadline the timing is right to start 120dB Advisors, even without the challenges the coronavirus crisis will throw into the mix for the industry ahead. Says the Wall Street veteran, “Film is a whole other matter in magnitude, in terms of doing it properly and making sure investors are protected. Add in COVID, the evolution away from theatrical to digital distribution, and competition from the big guys… You really need to do it right and structure things properly to maximize recovery.”
The existing company, which announced a $100M fund in 2018, gets “so much demand for intelligence as well as financing,” says Hays who sees a need for “better intelligence so people can be more thoughful and prudent about how they enter the (film) space.”
The advisory partners have extensive global experience from financing to distribution, acquisitions and production and “want to be end-to-end, making sure clients really get the full spectrum of counsel and to help guide people so they are not making small movies for big budgets that aren’t going to find a home. If you don’t set it up properly from the beginning, you will pay the price later… Objective third-party advice is critical,” Hays suggests.
Prior to starting 120dB Films, Hays was a co-founder and Managing Member at hedge fund Seneca Capital and a Managing Director at investment bank Furman Selz. Graham was a Managing Director of the Lewis Horwitz Organization, which financed indie projects. Einbinder was most recently President and co-CEO of China-backed Cristal Pictures which co-financed Hitman’s Bodyguard and is in post on the China/Hong Kong co-production Twin Blades. Rubin has over 30 years of experience in distribution and has held senior executive roles at such companies as Artisan Entertainment, October Films, Cohen Media and his own First Independent.
Say Hays and Graham, “We believe this new team will provide sophisticated and innovative advisory services to investors, asset managers and producers in all aspects of media financing, production, marketing, risk management and distribution. As successful fiduciaries, combined with an accomplished producer and a noted distribution executive, all with deep industry relationships, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to help our clients navigate this particularly challenging asset class.”
Einbinder adds, “I have worked closely with Steve and Peter for years, and have known Gary as well. From properly structuring complex financings and international co-productions, to solving the almost inevitable production, delivery and distribution issues, we look forward to helping producers, investors and stakeholders accomplish their goals.”
Rubin notes, “I look forward to working with Steve, Peter and Scott and expect to assist our clients utilizing my decades of distribution experience and deep industry relationships. This is even more critical now with all the new hurdles facing the industry.”