New film funder rises from the West

20 March, 2014 by Don Groves

Launched less than a year ago, Jake Film Finance has put money into two Australian features and has signed letters of intent with a number of producers.

The Perth-based film is cash flowing the producer offset and pre-sales, drawing on funds from high-net worth individuals.


Its first investment was in Kriv Stenders’ crime thriller Kill Me Three Times. The second is Sucker, writer-director Ben Chessell’s saga of a 17-year-old Chinese-Australian boy who embarks on a road trip with the Professor, a colourful, aging conman, and his daughter.

Jake Film Finance founders and directors are Jarod Stone and Michael O’Donnell. They hired entertainment lawyer Joan Peters as executive producer.

“I am the interface between producers and the money, " said Peters, who is also a member of Screen Australia’s board. “The fund is gearing up and we’re open to new projects. We would like to grow to the point where can provide funds of up to $60 million.”

She said Jake Film Finance‘s primary business is to cash flow the offset but it is willing to provide a small amount of gap financing, as it did with Kill Me Three Times, secured against a sale to France.

Due to start shooting next week, Sucker is backed by Screen Australia and produced by Robyn Kershaw and Jason Byrne. Chessell co-wrote the script with Lawrence Leung, based on the latter's play.

As an executive producer on the WA-shot surfing drama Drift, Peters looked in vain to find a financier that would cash flow the sizable minimum guarantee put up by the international sales agent TF1. Eventually the government’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation agreed to participate.

While she was talking to potential investors, she said she discovered many of them realised that lending against the offset “is not as scary as they might have perceived.”

Peters knew Tania Chambers, one of the producers of Kill Me Three Times, from when Chambers ran ScreenWest.

According to its website, the fund aims to provide wholesale investors with a strong yield from an alternative fixed interest product. The fund will consider taking positions in film, television and documentary productions but the initial focus is on feature films where substantial Government equity is already committed.

All monies returned by the producer offset are assigned to the fund and are secured by a suite of production funding and security documents.

Away from work and on a personal note, Peters says her biggest passion is K-Youth Media, a film and media training centre for youth in Nairobi’s Korogocho, the third-largest slum in East Africa. Peters co-founded the school with a Swedish partner.

Its graduates are finding work in entities such as African broadcaster M-Net. She says, “Now I am trying to figure out how to launch a children’s TV network in Nairobi."