How To Finance Indie Films In The Age Of The Streamers? – Deadline

This year’s Zurich Summit kicked off with a bang as a host of top industry execs gathered on stage to discuss one of the most challenging topics facing the independent film world today – how to finance an independent film in the streaming age?

The panel inevitably was drawn to the pros and cons of going down the streaming route.

Former Lionsgate film chief Patrick Wachsberger, who recently was a producer on Oscar-winning hit CODA, spoke at length about the challenges he faced when financing the project. The Pathé title was a project he helped develop at Lionsgate and took with him when he left the US studio. The film had pre-sold to a number of international territories but famously caused a stir when Apple came in and acquired the film at Sundance for $25M in a worldwide deal, causing the streamer to make buyback deals with those rights holders.

“We needed equity, the budget of the movie was $14M,” he said. “There was a pandemic, there was no theatrical market at all and we were selected to go to Sundance – we needed it,” he said. “The movie was in the can.”

When asked if that movie would have worked theatrically and won the Best Picture Oscar had it continued down the traditional pre-sales model, he replied “I don’t know.”

Frank Smith, president and CEO of Walden Media, who has a strong track record of working with streamers and studios, having recently produced The Babysitter’s Club for Netflix and Finch for Apple TV+,…

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