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The Fragmented Future of Film Finance Presented by Women in Film and TV International

Women in Film and Television International panel on new methods and old for financing features.

I moderated a Women in Film and Television International panel on new methods and old for financing features with:

Julie Baines 

Producer, Dan Films, UK

 has had an extensive career in the film industry.  She founded the independent production company Dan Films in 1994. In 1998 she was named one of the Top Ten Producers to Watch by Variety. Since then, she has established herself as a leading figure in both British Films and international multi-party co-productions. 

Julie most recently produced Christopher Smith’s Triangle, a psychological thriller starring Melissa George, which is being distributed worldwide by Icon.

As well as producing with acclaimed directors including Nicolas Roeg, Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Van Passel, Michael Winterbottom, Mika Kaurismaki and Deepa Mehta, she enjoys discovering and working with new talent. Julie acts as the external examiner for the MA Producing course at the National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield.  In effect her final comment was that one must be clever to finance films today.  Their U.K./ German coproduction uses funds, tax credits, distribution pre-buys and now private equity.

Christine Berg, Deputy Director, FFA, German Federal Film Board has been deputy chairman of the German Federal Film Board (FFA) since 1 February 2012. In this capacity she is responsible for all FFA funding. She was previously project director of the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), which was initiated on 1 January 2007 by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) and coordinated by the FFA.

In addition, Christine Berg, a native of Hamburg, headed up the MSH – Gesellschaft zur Förderung audiovisueller Werke in Schleswig-Holstein mbH (Society for the Promotion of Audio-visual Works in Schleswig-Holstein), was artistic director of the festival Nordic Film Days in Lübeck, as well as being director of the Hamburg Filmförderung Office and producer at Kinowelt.  She announced she is soon going to a new job….but meanwhile, the DFFF is automatic.  If 25% of the budget of a film with German distribution attached is spent in Germany then there is a 20% rebate on the spend. Not bad…

Debbie Elbin, Founder and President, The New York Picture Company launched launched PS:USA, Inc. a subsidiary of The N.Y. Picture Company Inc., at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. Specifically targeted at international producers interested in producing content in the U.S., PS:USA, Inc. offers access to the new U.S. production incentives and tax credits.  In 2007, Debbie was based in Berlin, Germany, where she served as production consultant during the prep phase of the Wachowski Brothers’ picture Speed Racer. On tap for Joel Silver, Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow, she was asked to report on the January ’07 German film incentive program, as well as local VFX capabilities.

Prior, Elbin was based in Moscow, Russia, where she held the position of VP Production, Sony Pictures TV International for the territories Russia and the CIS. Her mandate was to found a new Russian company for the studio and head it as General Manager. Other than investigating how to structure such an entity, this also entailed finding viable producing partners and building creative teams of local writers and directors. In addition to selling two comedy formats, one of which was Bete La Fea, which subsequently rated #1 for CTC, she was in charge of six productions in various stages of development, production, or post production. Genre-wise, they ranged from telenovellas to comedy series and a game show. Among those were the highly rated Russian versions of Married with Children entitled Happy Together, The Nanny, and the original Talisman of Love and Nastia.

Fall 2004, Elbin founded the Dutch production company, The N.L. Picture Company B.V. in Rotterdam, Holland. Created to develop and produce international film and TV co-productions as an EU partner, The N.L. Picture Company B.V. XTC, a U.S./Netherlands co-production, which was selected for the Holland Film Meeting sidebar of the Netherlands Film Festival, Utrecht, is the first film in development. The Kitchen, a television comedy series, was developed for WDR in conjunction with Colonia Media. Debbie was Executive Producer of Germany’s no. 1 rated prime-time series,Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (1992) (Good Times, Bad Times) for RTL and Grundy UFA. As show runner, she was responsible for the entire overhaul of the 10 year old series. She created twelve new lead characters, updated storylines and implemented new looks for everything from lighting to make-up, costumes and scenery. In addition she wrote the 10th anniversary week (five episodes), which dramatically increased audience share from 23% to 37%. In the U.S., she served as Co-Executive Producer of Sidney Lumet’s 100 Centre Street (2001), A&E TV Networks first original drama series. This was the groundbreaker in 24p HDTV format production. 100 Centre Street was a co-production of Jaffe/Braunstein Films and Pearson Television Entertainment. Not only did the series receive critical acclaim, but it won the 2001 Koln Screenings Award for “Top Ten Dramas Worldwide”.  She is a member of the DGA as Director and UPM, serves as a member of the Directors East Coast Council and works on sundry committees, including the Special Projects and Disciplinary Committees. She is the initiator of the Global Cinema Initiative. She is also one of the first members of the Dean’s Council of New York University and is the founder of the Dramatic and Comedy Writing Awards for NYU Graduate and Undergraduate students.

Kristine KnudsenProducer studied film theory at the College of Lillehammer and worked for Nordisk Film & TV in Bergen, Norway. Later she studied film production at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Germany, followed by the MEGA Master in audiovisual management in Ronda, Spain.In 2006 she established the company Knudsen & Streuber Medienmanufaktur GmbH in Berlin together with German producing partner Tom Streuber. In 2010 she established the company Den Siste Skilling AS in Bergen, Norway.  Knudsen & Streuber Medienmanufaktur GmbH (est. 2006) develop and produce both prestigious and entertaining feature and documentary films, focusing on the German and Scandinavian market.

Currently the feature film Gnade (Mercy), written by Kim F. Aakeson and directed by Matthias Glasner is in the Berlinale Competition.  It took one year to raise financing in Germany.  They also have the documentary ATW – To Be or To Perform is in pre-production. Their previous films include the feature film Reine Geschmacksache (Fashion Victims).

Pati Keilwerth, of Patisserie Film, produced Utopia in Ethiopia , whose financing was done via crowd funding on The Fledgling Fund.  Utopia in Ethiopia is an interactive web documentary about Awra Amba – a small, Ethiopian village whose way of life has become a model for development, gender equality and democracy worldwide. Founded almost 40 years ago by an illiterate farmer, who had a vision of a better world, Awra Amba is a thriving self-help community, comprised of 400 people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. They have come together with the common belief that there is a way out of poverty by making women equal with men, by working instead of praying and by discarding ancient traditional practices. With such remarkable results without any external help, Awra Amba receives thousands of curious visitors every year, who come to learn from their way of life.  

After finishing law school with a specialisation in Copyright Law, Competitive Law and Anti-Trust Law at the University Passau, Pati Keilwerth was hired to coordinate the protocol of the Berlin Film Festival. She continued working for the Berlinale in various departments and for the Broadcaster rbb, while studying Audiovisual Media Science at the Filmschool HFF “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Directly after her diploma with a thesis on international Co-Production she began employment with Wim Wenders.

After a three-year tenure as Wim Wenders’s Executive Assistant, she embarked on new terrain in the media industry and has been engaged in digital distribution, online and social media marketing, as well as branded entertainment ever since.

The discussion ensuing about how to treat monies raised via crowd funding, the need to account for 2,000 donors who do not get charitable tax write-offs and who must be accounted for as investors raised the level of excitement between panelists and the audience perceptively.

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