While insurance companies and other financiers worldwide have excluded COVID-19 from their policies, Melbourne-based Elevate Production Finance (EPF) is stepping into the breach.
Backed by Australian and international institutions and private equity, EPF is prepared to immediately provide debt funding to film and television productions in Australia and New Zealand despite the pandemic.
Managing director Craig McMahon, who founded EPF in 2018, tells IF: “We have the ability to take on a significant amount of work. We are excited to re-open our doors to producers seeking debt finance for their productions.
“The landscape has significantly changed, producers have had to adjust to new working environments and as a lender, we have responded swiftly by reviewing our lending protocols.
“These new protocols will enable us to consider projects impacted by the lack of COVID-19 coverage within insurance policies and completion guarantees, which is a crucial first step in redefining our lending conditions.
“It is a lot harder for international lenders to come into this environment in Australia. We want to help ensure that cast and crew can get back to work and that producers are able to continue creating new content.”
EPF cash flows the Producer Offsets and other federal and state government rebates, tax credits and incentives as well as lending against distribution guarantees, sales agent advances, pre-sales and gap finance.
McMahon says the success of Australia and New Zealand in dealing with the pandemic gave him the confidence to quantify and mitigate the risk.
Since launching the firm has served as a financier and executive producer on Mark Lamprell’s Never Too Late, Seth Larney’s 2067 and writer-director Liu Yiwei’s At Last, a Chinese-Australian co-production, and purely as a lender, Daniel J Phillips’ Awoken.
A former EP on Patrick Hughes’ thriller Red Hill, McMahon has had discussions with the New Zealand Film Commission and intends to support some Kiwi productions, taking advantage of the NZ government’s tax incentives for screen production.
He designed the new lending protocols after talking to CJZ’s Nick Murray who, with See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman, made a detailed submission calling on the federal government to underwrite the COVID-19 insurance risk.
On each production EPF will evaluate the COVID-Safe plan and have it independently verified. McMahon says there will be a slight increase in the interest margin.
Highly experienced production manager and line producer Yvonne Collins, whose credits include Jack Irish, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, Jungle and Winchester, joined EPF a year ago as head of physical production.