Industry Report: Financing
Tracking the Programme’s Exploitation and Revenues
by Cartoon, the European Association of Animation Film
24/06/2010 - Martijn is partner in the Freeway Entertainment Group, a financial services company operating in the international entertainment industry. As a trusted third party, Freeway collects, administers and disburses revenues derived from the exploitation of films, TV programmes and video games, providing clients fully transparent and impartial overviews of the financial status of the exploitation of their projects.
How Freeway Entertainment Group does operate?
Freeway maximizes the earning potential of our clients’ entertainment assets through the placement and exploitation of intellectual property rights and collection of entertainment assets. Our activities include Collection Account Management, International Licensing and Distribution and Revenue Reconciliations.
How can you define the Collection Account Management?
The Collection Account Management is the impartial receipt, administration and disbursement of an audiovisual production’s worldwide revenues by a neutral and trusted third party.
What are the objectives of the Collection Account Management?
First of all the Collection Account can ensure the correct and impartial handling of proceeds. Through the Account it is possible to provide to our clients a transparent overview status of their exploitation. The Collection Account can also help in harmonizing the underlying agreements between the different partners involved in a project as it provides long-term visible partner during the whole production’s life cycle.
The account has been proved to be very useful to secure funds against disappearance or bankruptcy of parties in the distribution chain. In the same line, the Account is very useful in securing receipts in event of disagreement or dispute and safeguard revenues against manipulation by sales agents or distributors. It is in fact very easy to monitor the payment terms and behavior of distributors.
We realize that the Collection Account force the different stakeholders involved in a project to think about the right allocation of revenues in a very early stage.
Who are the financial stakeholders of the Collecting Account?
The stakeholders are producers and co-producers, financing entities, founders and film councils, talents, international distributors and sales agents, completion guarantors and guilds.
What are the advantages for producers and co-producers?
First of all the Collection Account can help in establishing a clear allocation revenues at early stage of production to prevent disputes about application revenues at later stage. In this way the producers can concentrate on core activities by outsourcing administrative burden.
The account ensures a diligent reporting to third parties (financial institutions, banks, cinema centers) after producers move on. Furthermore the Account allows a correct and timely disbursement of shares due to beneficiaries and an impartial administration of revenues. The Account ensures a correct and impartial tracking of payments from distributors even when sales agents may be impeded by need to protect a relationship with distributor.
When the producers do pays the fees?
Producers and co-producers pay sales commissions, fees and expenses only when earned and due.
What are the advantages for financing entities and film councils?
The financing entities can have access to transparent information thus reducing risk of their investment. The Account allows a strict control on the royalty income from chain of title and distribution chain. We provide regular and timely reporting, a contact point for questions and enquiries and a long term visibility.
Is the Collecting Account useful for talent as well?
Beside all the advantages described before, the talents can have access to an un-manipulated and transparent information. Thanks to the monitoring status exploitation system, talents can properly calculate their revenues, beyond eventual limitations of agreements with the producer.
What are the benefits for the sales agent?
The main advantage for sales agents, but also for international distributors, is to receive deposit payments in secured account. The administrative burden is reduced thanks to timely monitoring and reporting systems.
Are completion guarantors using the Collecting Accounts?
Yes, the main advantage for guarantors is that revenues deposited in the account are usually not released prior to delivery. The Collecting Account safeguards the completion guarantor’s recoupment from revenues in the event of providing completion sums or advancing funds.
What are the procedures to get a Collection Account Management system?
There are seven simple steps:
1. Parties enter into Collection Account Management (CAM) agreement;
2. CAM opens a single picture collection account;
3. Distributors are directed to pay license fees into collection account;
4. CAM confirms all receipts and keeps in trust;
5. Revenues are administered and allocated pursuant to agreed waterfall;
6. Activity reports and statements are issued periodically;
7. Entitlements are released to beneficiaries.
What kind of reports do you deliver?
The reporting reflects the actual sales, receipts, outstanding funds, application of receipts, beneficiaries’ entitlements and actual payment dates. The partners of the CAM have also access to an Intranet site to verify the status of the production.
What kind of information can a partner find in the Intranet?
The Intranet allows a constant monitoring of the status of the exploitation of the production with daily updated receipts and activity reports. All information available to Freeway, such as distribution agreements, incoming payments, etc. are recorded daily and as a result the beneficiaries can access to a highly up-to-date overview of the status of exploitation of the production. The reports can be customized around the needs of the beneficiary, either per individual title or across multiple titles. The system allows to export all data to PDF or to Excel to avoid any eventual key entering of same data.
How much does it cost?
The cost depends on the projects’ variables, such as financing structure, the complexity of the recoupment structure, the reporting needs, the disbursement requirements, sales estimates and if there are any revenues excluded from our involvement. Generally our fee is around 1% of the revenues. When the revenues are expected to be modest, we charge an initial amount payable to Freeway from the first revenue.