AFM: Cassian Elwes And Cohorts Launch Bridge-Financing Service Lifeboat Capital

EXCLUSIVE: e2b Capital’s Robert Ogden Barnum and Cassian Elwes have teamed with Windy Hill Pictures’ Buddy Patrick to form Lifeboat Capital, a service that will provide bridge financing to makers of indie films. The trio will manage the fund from Los Angeles and New Orleans. The plan is to make loans of between $1 million and $5 million to between 15-20 films. Piecing together indie films is a tightrope walk, and the service aims to be a resource for filmmakers who fall short of the funding mark, or have to scramble if a financial commitment disappears. Between Barnum, Elwes and Patrick, they’ve financed or assisted in funding over 200 films. They will use a combination of institutional lenders, private equity and commercial banks here.  

“Bridge lending, while considered a high risk business, is often a requirement on independent films that need to commence production while simultaneously closing loans and completion bonds,” Barnum said in a statement. “With Cassian and I overseeing the loans, we’re able to assist filmmakers in the closing—protecting both the producers and the bridge lender.”    

Said Patrick: “In some cases, lack of bridge funding could cause the production to lose creative elements that result in financiers backing out or the production to fold. We hope to ensure a smooth pre-production period and confidence to all parties as they approach closing.”

Elwes, the longtime WMA independent chief who has become a prolific producer or exec producer of films that this year include Lee Daniels’ The Butler, All Is Lost, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Dallas Buyers Club, formed e2b in May with Barnum. Elwes has seen funding dilemmas from both sides, and sees a niche here that can be profitable and serve a need in the indie space.

“The film financing process has become increasingly difficult because most deals now involve multiple parties,” he said. “We’ve seen a real need out there for bridge financing and are in a unique position to not just fund but to help producers close their deals. We expect this fund to grow as we prove our model. We are open for business immediately.”  

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