Marissa Román Griffith on Financing for Independents Panel at Film in California Conference

Akin Gump entertainment partner Marissa Román Griffith was one of the featured panelists on the “Film Financing for Independents” roundtable at the 2017 Film in California Conference.

The topics she and the panel covered included: the completion bond process; the first steps in getting financing for a project; the importance of production counsel; the impact of genre, talent, presales and distribution on financing; product placement; and self-financing.

Among Griffith’s observations:

  • “One thing that’s important to emphasize in talking about banks is…you need cash now to make your project, even if you’ve lined up presales from distributors who are saying, ‘When you tell me this picture is completed, I will pay you X dollars” or the tax incentives that are available. They’re not paid up front; they’re after the fact…You need to figure out how, ‘How do I leverage those promises to pay me in the future to get cash now?’ And that’s why you have to approach banks and other sources of financing to make sure that’s available for you.”
  • “You need to factor in the cost [of bridge financing]. Because, for bridge financing, they charge higher fees. It’s very expensive. And the reason why is: it’s the riskiest money. Because they’re really taking a risk of coming in early before everything is locked down. All the things we’re talking about, there’s a transaction cost associated. That’s something else you have to factor in when you’re preparing your finance plan.”
  • “[Talent] definitely impacts the pre-sales market. If there’s a name talent attached or a known director or both, those are things buyers are interested in. Also, is this someone who has name recognition internationally? Because that helps as well. So, it’s quite important.”

Earlier this year, Griffith was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s Power Lawyers List (learn more here) and “Top 20 Dealmakers” list (learn more here), as well as to Variety’s Legal Impact Report (learn more here).