Hollywood director funding new film through SyndicateRoom

A Cambridge crowdfunding platform has been chosen by Hollywood movie director Simon West to raise £1.8 million – the first time Tinsel town has come to the UK to raise equity through the crowd.

The director of Tomb Raider and Con Air says anyone chipping in £90k or more will be offered an extra’s role in his new action comedy Salty: £40k-plus gets you on set to meet the cast. All investors get to share in any profits.

UK-born West, whose films have taken more than $1billion at the global box office, is thrilled at being the first A-List Hollywood director to fund a movie this way.

SyndicateRoom directors, who normally back technology and general business fundraisings, had stars in their eyes when West made the historic decision to open up funding of the movie to Britain’s crowdfunding investors.

The film’s planned budget is $10million (£5.9million), of which crowdfunding investors are expected to contribute £1.8million. The remainder of the production costs will be funded by pre-sales of the film and tax credits offered by the locations where it is to be filmed.

The film’s expected cost is modest by Hollywood standards, but West’s track record of commercial success – five of his films have topped the US box office chart and altogether his films have taken more than $1billion – will allow him to cast A-list stars in the leading roles.

His previous films have been highly profitable – Expendables 2 made $300m at the global box office. Like Tomb Raider and Con Air, its box office receipts were three times what it cost to make. West’s mid-budget $15m thriller When A Stranger Calls took $6m (more than four times its cost).

SyndicateRoom’s unique funding model allows small investors to invest alongside professional “angel” investors. Angel investors have already bought £450k of equity in Salty Films, and now the crowdfunding platform is selling the remaining shares to anyone willing to invest a minimum of £1000.

Investors will be repaid their capital from any revenue the film generates, and in addition will receive a proportionate share of any profits. Under HMRC rules, they must hold their shares for at least three years in order to enjoy tax relief under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).

Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, founder and CEO, SyndicateRoom said: “For decades, investing in major Hollywood films has been a luxury reserved for the well-connected and the ultra-rich. The rest of us could do little but look on and stump up for a cinema ticket.

“At a stroke, Salty has changed all of that – by offering investors both the chance to get involved in the making of a movie, and a share of its profits.

“Simon West’s contacts book reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood, and there is no shortage of cigar-chomping movie moguls willing to back his films. So his decision to use crowdfunding to raise an important part of the budget for Salty is truly revolutionary.

“A string of professional angel investors have already invested in the film via SyndicateRoom, and now anyone with at least £1000 to invest can join them for an investment opportunity that is usually limited to those who travel to the Cannes Film Festival on their own yacht.”

West added: “Salty is the type of film I’ve wanted to make for years – a tantalising cocktail of anarchic comedy, action and exotic locations. With a script that’s Spinal Tap meets The Hangover, I plan to shoot Salty in a style packed with energy, fun and glamour.

“During my two decades in the movie business I’ve funded films in a variety of ways, but for this one I was determined to break away from the big budget, big studio model. With the studios’ deep pockets comes bureaucracy that’s inefficient, expensive and which can stifle creativity.

“Salty will be different – and not just because it’s the first time smaller investors have been able to buy into a major film’s potential returns. As it’s a privately funded film, my production team and I will keep creative control while keeping costs down, while also giving free rein to the very best the cast and crew have to offer.

“Salty’s ironic humour and witty dialogue will attract US and English-speaking audiences, and its elaborate and exciting action sequences will give it truly global appeal. With a brilliant concept and the creative freedom to push genre boundaries, my goal is to make an instant classic.” www.syndicateroom.com

You can watch the campaign promo below

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