The “Financing Your Film” Panel is Coming to Sundance

Published On January 17, 2012 | By admin | Blog Post, film distribution, Film Festival, film finance, Independent Film

If you are one of the lucky people headed to the Sundance Film Festival and are interested in attending a panel discussion that could help you with your filmmaking career be sure to check out “Financing Your Film: Avoiding the Pitfalls from Business Plan to Distribution”, which will be held on Monday, January 23, 2012 from 1:30pm-4:00pm at The Blind Dog in Park City.  The cost for the event is $15.00 so space is limited to the first hundred registrants and over 30 individuals have signed up already during pre-registration.

This seminar is structured so that it will help filmmakers approach investors and/or financiers and aid them in getting their projects into the theaters, while learning how to avoid many of the potential pitfalls they’ll encounter during the process.  It will also cover how to develop and execute an effective business plan.  A must for anyone in the development stage several industry experts will share their own experiences and expertise related to the filmmaking process and answer specific questions.  It will also provide a step-by-step explanation of how the business looks at a film project and explains the necessity of having a business plan, which contracts need to be in place, the subtleties of comparing the various state incentives, pre-production pitfalls to avoid and how all of these factors effect financing and distribution deals.

Specific topics include: How to protect your material including the importance of copyright and the “Chain of Title”; When is a screenplay “Ready to Go?”; How to build a pitch team for investors and who to stay away from; Attaching talent, casting directors, agents and managers; How to attach a Director, DP, Production Designer and other key personnel; Determining when you need an attorney, an accountant and a line producer; Preparing a production budget and schedule, Why you need a business plan and how it is different from a “producer’s package”; Legal and business pitfalls in the process; Monetizing tax rebates and credits; The Importance of financial projections and cash flow; How and where to look for funding; What to look for in distribution deals; and how to qualify investors and recognize scams. 

One of the key industry people featured on the panel includes Entertainment Attorney Hal “Corky” Kessler from Deutsch, Levy & Engel.  Corky has been speaking at events that are aimed at helping independent filmmakers for years and has extensive entertainment industry experience.  He is well known for his expertise with tax incentives and has worked with governors andUnited Stateslawmakers in many states to implement incentives including Sections 181 and 198 of The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.  Corky has been the attorney and/or executive producer of over 18 films and 3 films funds and is currently active on over 20 projects. 

Another familiar face in the world of film is Louise Levison, President of Business Strategies (, who has been a financial consultant in the film industry for over 20 years.  She specializes in creating business plans and consulting on other aspects of independent filmmaking and distribution.  Author of “Filmmakers & Financing: Business Plans for Independents” and publisher/editor of “The Film Entrepreneur: A Newsletter for the Independent Filmmaker and Investors” perhaps Louise’s most well known independent low-budget film client has been the producers of “The Blair Witch Project although she has assisted companies in raising as much as $300 million dollars. 

Todd Hein, the Senior Manager of the Federal Tax Unit in the Los Angeles Office of Crowe Horwath James will also be on the panel.  He specializes in income tax compliance and planning for entertainment industry clients and related service businesses.

Representing the Distribution side of the business will be Gil Agaure, President of Koan, which was founded in 1993.  Prior to that he worked as Director of Sales for a French production company and was heavily involved in developing the concept of a 40 episode documentary series hosted by Christopher Reeve called “Adventure”, which sold to 112 countries.  Koan focuses primarily on feature films and is a front runner in the family film arena and an important resource for buyers from television stations and DVD companies worldwide. 

The subject of Risk Management will be addressed by David Mackin, the Vice President of JMB Insurance, who works with all of the sources, domestic, international and captive, for film insurance and completion bonding.  This includes innovative protective providers who may now comprehensively offer viable general insurance, errors and omissions insurance and surety bonding with a synthesized single underwriting. 

Rounding out the panel is Line Producer John Corser, who will be acting as Moderator.  An award-winning producer of commercials, promotional films, music videos, features, television productions and education films, his projects have spanned 20 countries, 5 continents and a variety of settings.  An expert in digital media production, John has earned numerous awards and distinctions. 

More information about the panel is available at  


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