Sunday, March 4, 2007

Guggenheim Film Fund

Guggenheim Sets Up
Film Fund
Gregg Goldstein
Hollywood Reporter
March 5, 2007
NEW YORK -- Financial services firm Guggenheim Partners is launching its first film finance initiative, spearheaded by founding ThinkFilm executive Daniel Katz (pictured at left) .

The initiative is part of a Guggenheim division that manages $10 billion. Katz will lead funding for independent feature producers with slates of about four to 12 films budgeted in the $5 million-$12 million range. The money will be used for production financing, P&A and distribution financing for independent features, studio films and corporate financing as opportunities arise.

"We're trying to empower filmmakers that are businessmen," Katz said. "This initiative is primarily for a handful of first-class producers interested in putting together a library of films and expanding the scope of their abilities, giving them the power to sell these films on their own. Studios are focusing almost exclusively on tentpoles and franchises, and we'd love to be the financial engine to fill the void they've left behind."

The practice also will support existing production companies that want to increase their production capacity, own more of their content, beef up their libraries and maintain and control the way their films are distributed.

Katz said he began meeting with people in the entertainment financing arena during his trip last year to the Festival de Cannes, and he approached Guggenheim with the idea for the venture a few months ago while he was ThinkFilm's vp acquisitions. Guggenheim had been considering a similar enterprise.

While it's an unusual transition for someone on the creative side of the business to move into film financing, the executive said his background makes him well-suited for his new position.

"After more than eight years in production, distribution, acquisitions and international sales, I know what it's like to be on the ground and experience the same obstacles and challenges as independent producers," Katz said, "so I'm better equipped to empower and invest in them and know what they need to succeed."

Katz served as an executive producer on two ThinkFilm projects, the Beastie Boys concert film "Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That!" and the upcoming bestiality docu "Zoo." Since his start as ThinkFilm director of acquisitions when the indie distributor was launched in 2001, Katz was instrumental in finding such indie hits as the comedy docu "The Aristocrats," the Oscar-nominated drama "Half Nelson" and the Oscar-winning docu "Born Into Brothels."

Guggenheim Partners, founded in 1999 with backing from the Guggenheim family's more than century-old fortune, supervises more than $110 billion in assets and provides capital markets services and portfolio and risk management advice.

Here Comes Hollywood

With a win for Best Foreign Language Film, Hollywood filmakers have swooped in on Germany's The Lives of Others and plan a remake.
Former Miramax heads, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, have teamed with Anthony Minghella and Sidney Pollack to bring the story to a wider, global audience.
The film was written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in his first-time full-length feature.

"Lives of Others set for Hollywood remake Staff and agencies"
Thursday March 1, 2007
Guardian Unlimited
Fresh from its success at this week's Oscars, The Lives of Others is to be overhauled as a Hollywood thriller. The German-language production won the Academy award for best foreign film to add to the European film award it won last December. The American remake is being arranged by former Miramax bosses Bob and Harvey Weinstein in tandem with the Oscar-winning film-makers Anthony Minghella and Sidney Pollack. Since its opening on limited release in the U.S. three weeks ago, The Lives of Others has made a respectable $1.3m. But a big budget, English-language version would guarantee a wider audience. "We would just desperately love for that film to be something that reaches more people," Pollack told Variety magazine. "We haven't gotten locked into making it yet, but we're working hard at trying to get it made." Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others plays out in 1980s East Germany, at the tail end of the cold war. The plot charts the experiences of a Stasi agent who is ordered by the East German culture minister to wiretap the home of a local poet. Von Donnersmarck's film has been compared to Francis Ford Coppola's paranoid thriller The Conversation and has been seen as an antidote to the cold war "ostalgie" peddled by other recent German films such as Good Bye Lenin.