Taming The ‘wild West’ Of Independent-film Financing

.tags Anthony Millan, with C22 Entertainment, shines a ray of hope within an otherwise fading industry.

WASHINGTON D.C., January 31, 2010

It’s no secret, at least within the industry, that is, how hard it has been raising money for independent films lately. No one knows this better than Anthony Millan, a Los Angeles-based film producer, and creator of Catch 22 Entertainment (his new full-service production, distribution, and marketing project).

Millan has spent the last decade fighting this downturn in independent films, working as a financing consultant for Relative Media, Lionsgate, Voltage Pictures, and more. He has seen all-too-often how a stalled economy causes fewer slots for distribution, and an ‘exodus of bank and hedge fun money’ causing a drastic dive in the number of movies released. Despite the disparaging trend, he managed to raise nearly $ 10 million from associates and hedge funds to form C-22 Entertainment, along side his already successful fund-raising endeavor C-22 Capital inc. Millan is a testament to those film financiers who still see great opportunity through these hard times. Of course, these optimistic money-men havent forgotten the risks, though they progress unturned and unafraid.

Though sales at the recent Toronto International Film Festival looked promising, Millan cautiously heeds producers to no, anymore, await the promise of pre-sales from foreign resellers and distributors, which have so far served as the ‘life-blood’ of the independent film industry. Driving this point home, he almost considers searching for buyers at the AFM, anymore, a waste of time. While many studios have all but cut their own industry divisions, Millan has been sort of ‘cherry picking’ out talent; recruiting executives at such well-known studios as Paramount Vantage, and others.

Along with recruiting and scouting out potential investment, the inevitable truth is that many producers end up financing projects through their own means and funds. Take for example Catch 22 Entertainment’s first film, ‘Beyond the Mat’, a wrestling-focused drama set within the backdrop of a high school coming-of-age story. Millan fronted about $ 15 million, mostly raised from his side fund – C-22 Capital Investment division. Interestingly enough, this, C-22 Entertainment’s first feature-film, only cost about $ 250,000 to make, bringing to light the funding required, beyond the set, to bring a film to success.

Millan is proving to be an inspiring optimist within a time of nay-saying and pessimism. It’s the Wild West right now in terms of financing a film, says Millan, hoping to invest in many coming films with ranging budgets (from $ 25,000 – $ 25 million). you have to look hard, but there are still great ways to find a nice reward, including making investments in small-budget films and gaining a profit from your own marketing and distribution. It’s clear that the industry, especially the producers, are struggling.. But if they’re willing to look, the money is certainly out there.