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Can Ad-Funded Financing Spur Film Production?

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The movie industry is historically adept at holding true the proverb "necessity is the mother of invention," especially when it comes to developing fresh production funding plans.

The latest plan is being developed by the U.K. Film Council and film partnership specialist Film Tree.

The pair has teamed to develop an advertiser-funded movie production finance model for the industry here.

Think big brands paying for movie production and the resulting associations both on film and in the afterlife a movie enjoys and the idea takes shape. But it is not glorified production placement in exchange for hard production cash, a council spokesman said.

Council chief executive John Woodward said the plans, still in their infancy, are a product of the old adage concerning necessity being the mother of invention.

"At a time when traditional sources of finance and revenues are diminishing, part of the U.K. Film Council's job is to help the film sector with practical solutions," Woodward said. "Essentially we are establishing a partnership that will enable brands to speak more directly to filmmakers about financing new films, creating a genuine fit between the brand and the film project looking for production finance."

Film Tree is charged with helping brand owners and filmmakers find ways of working together.

Film Tree partner Ed Sharp told The Hollywood Reporter the deals could see brand owners fronting a percentage of the production cash during pre-production in exchange for an equity position in the movie or upside from future rights exploitation. Sharp said it was bigger than simple product placement deals because any brand involved in a movie would be in it to develop much more sophisticated marketing strands. One idea floating around would be the possibility of parallel content creation for the Web or spin-off character episodes to help feed the growing digital outlet appetite around the movie itself.

But both Film Tree and the council stress that there will be no question of filmmaker editorial freedom being eroded or influenced.

The plan would be to provide film companies with better access to brand financing, offer new ways of engaging with audiences, and promote closer working relationships between the creative industries.

Sharp said: "Branded entertainment can create even more engaging marketing campaigns and deliver tangible returns on investment -- for all involved."

There have been precedents for such relationships, with filmmaker Shane Meadows and his film Somers Town being one of the most recent and highest profile examples.

In 2008, Meadows wrote and directed Somers Town, after Eurostar commissioned the filmmaker to make a short subject celebrating a new rail line between Paris and London.


Nielsen Business Media