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Individual Investors, Private Equity: Exploring the Myths and Realities of the Present State of Film Finance

This panel will include real stories about how indie filmmakers raise their financing - including working with another country to bring in the money. The different types of financing to be defined and discussed will include Debt (Gap, Mezzanine, Pre-Sales) and Private Equity, as well as more unconventional sources.

Alexis Alexanian
has over twenty years of industry experience. Most recently as President of Production at Locomotive, a film, television and financing company which invested in and executive produced Rebecca Miller’s, Maggie’s Plan. Alexanian just completed post on Locomotive’s feature, Look Away. Alexanian’s career in production began on studio films including Mississippi Burning, Bonfire of the Vanities, A League of Their Own, and Striptease. In 1999, she partnered with Gary Winick to establish the digital film initiative, InDigEnt, financed by IFC. At InDigEnt, Alexanian produced Sundance favorites Tadpole, Pieces of April, Personal Velocity and Ethan Hawke’s directorial debut Chelsea Walls. Under her banner, Elixir Films, she produced the international hit TV series Long Way Round, featuring Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke’s second feature, The Hottest State. As a consultant, she is often called upon by the completion bond company, Film Finances, to trouble-shoot on big-budget features struggling with creative and financial challenges. Alexanian has served as the President of the Board of Directors for New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) for the past five years.

Andrea F. Cannistraci
is a seasoned transactional attorney, deal maker and “fixer” with a broad range of experience in the motion picture, television and digital media industries. Her clients include cutting-edge feature and documentary filmmakers, award-winning producers, major studios, leading cable networks, independent production companies, “new media” and web-based businesses as well as various not-for-profit organizations. Cannistraci has counseled clients in the structuring of international co-productions, debt, equity and deficit financings and worldwide sales deals. She has extensive experience protecting and acquiring on behalf of her clients, a variety of intellectual property rights. Cannistraci has provided legal services in connection with dozens of motion pictures and television and digital media programming, including, Casting JonBenet directed by Kitty Green; James Schamus’s directorial debut Indignation, Norman starring Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Shannon, and Charlotte Gainsbourg; American Honey directed by Academy Award winner, Andrea Arnold and starring Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf; the upcoming Wilde Wedding starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Patrick Stewart and produced by Andy Karsch (Moneyball); A Prayer Before Dawn starring Joe Cole; Creative Capital Foundation and Entertainment Industry Foundation/Stand Up to Cancer.

Vicki Cherkas
has an extensive background in the entertainment industry in the areas of business development, strategic planning, raising capital, business affairs and legal counsel. Cherkas has provided financial, business and legal consulting services on films in competition in the Sundance, SXSW, Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Toronto Film Festivals and was the financing, business and legal consultant for a financier of Birdman, winner of multiple 2015 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Cherkas Strategic Consulting was launched following her affiliation with Picturehouse Films as Senior EVP of Operations. During her tenure at Picturehouse, Cherkas was integral in the exploitation of such films as the Academy Award winning La Vie En Rose, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Orphanage. Prior to joining Picturehouse Films, Cherkas headed business affairs, business development and new ventures at GreeneStreet Films. She played a major role in all business, financial and legal aspects of the company’s operations, including raising capital and building an international sales division. She orchestrated the deals on such projects as A Prairie Home Companion and the Academy Award nominated In The Bedroom. Before her position with GreeneStreet, Cherkas was Senior VP of Business and Legal Affairs at Miramax Films where she spearheaded the transactions for such high profile films as the Academy Award winning Chicago, Shakespeare In Love, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The English Patient and Pulp Fiction.

Susan Muir
is a Senior Vice President-Production with Film Finances, Inc., the leading completion guarantor in the world. She joined Film Finances in 1996 after working as a freelance production accountant on both Studio and Independent films. Some of Muir's credits include Atomic Blonde, Hell or High Water, The Grand Budapest Hotel, One Fine Day and Broken Arrow.

John Hadity
(Moderator) is the Executive Vice President of EP Financial Solutions, the film financing subsidiary of Entertainment Partners, the global leader in entertainment payroll, residuals, extras casting, tax incentives, finance and other integrated production management solutions. Hadity specializes in the monetization of tax credits. With over 20 years of studio experience, Hadity previously served as the Executive Vice President of Motion Picture & Television Production Finance for Miramax Films. During his 12 year tenure with the company he was responsible for a portfolio of production budgets valued in excess of $4 Billion. Hadity is a former Chair of the Producers Guild of America East, and has a seat on the National Board of Directors. He has served on the MPAA’s Worldwide Production and International Tax Committees, and has extensive experience working with governments on the local, provincial and national levels to incentivize production in those areas. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Film Finance at Columbia University and is a graduate of Hamilton College. His board service includes the IFP and Tectonic Theater Project.

Produced by Alexis Alexanian and John Hadity

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts