By Srimathi Sridhar | Indiewire July 31, 2012 at 4:13PM
A new credit card, CASHét Card LLC, has been launched jointly by Film Finances, Inc and Fintage House. The basic idea is that the companies will give one percent cash back to film and TV productions every time the card is used.
Filmmakers will usually do anything to cut costs. But is CASHét Card the panacea they've been looking for? It depends. To give you a better idea of how the card works, here are five ways that CASHét pitches itself toward the budgetary needs of today's filmmakers.
Card usage is said to save production companies money in the areas of travel, lodging, transportation, construction materials and equipment rental through discounts. Let's take "Avatar 2" as an example; the first film shot in places like Hawaii and New Zealand. if James Cameron were to swipe this card, it seems he could, if we take the travel route, cut back from spending airfare to fly out cast and crew to international locales to shoot scenes. International airfare is costly for one person--add in multiple people to that and expensive equipment and this card might be saving Cameron a ton of money. Keeping thousands of dollars, or millions at bay then becomes a godsend for producers who don't exceed their budgets but can now use that "extra" money to finance other areas of their projects that may be lagging.
But it begs asking the question: what about amateur filmmakers who are monetarily restricted from the beginning? Where travel is running to the nearest store, not New Zealand? The card seems to be very beneficial for producers who might overspend or just have a lot of money to work with, but it seems like film size and budget are important factors to take into consideration for the success of this card.
The card can be used at any time during the production process, allowing directors to have control over how much they spend in each department. Budget is not so much an issue, either--producers could be working with $5 million or $100 million, according to CASHét COO Paul Rogers. But it seems production companies will need to be somewhat financially stable to take advantage of this card (sorry, amateur home movie directors). Again, movie size seems like it might matter for filmmakers to take advantage of the card.
Companies must have security and be able to pay off the card every seven days, so maxing it out isn't really an option. Meaning, the card is not going to help with monumental epic that runs over budget everytime the camera rolls. With power comes great responsibility...this card sounds very beneficial, but will producers have the time, or want to deal with a card that they have to keep track of on a weekly basis? If they forget to pay off their costs every week, they're suddenly being pulled into debt, not out of it.
The card has been used in eight films so far since its soft launch in May. It was used for the first time in the indie film "Better Living Through Chemistry" with Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Sam Rockwell and Jane Fonda. Producer Joe Neurauter praised CASHét for its easy set-up and additional financial oversight, especially in regards to using the card's online monitoring and accounting tools. Other producers noted similar reactions, happy with the wide range of production expenses they could put on the card as well as the cash back they would receive. But it's worth wondering how specifically this movie and the other seven films have benefited from getting cash back and discounts on the noted areas of travel, transportation, etc.
- Film Finances and Fintage House, the companies behind CASHét, are big in the entertainment financial industry. Combined, their budgets are over $3 billion as they annually take part in over 300 new film and TV productions. Film Finances has bonded about 200 films a year, some being "The Hunger Games," "Moonrise Kingdom," "King's Speech," "The Descendants," "Black Swan" and more. Fintage's films include "Paranormal Activity," "Terminator: 3," "Crash," and on a whole, they were involved with movies that got 75 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. It's no doubt that CASHét is backed by talent that knows what it's doing. But how much money have the films that have worked with this card been able to save? Perhaps with CASHét, only time will tell.