It was during her time at Fulcrum Media Finance that Sara McFarlane started to think about how to bridge the gap between creative and legal for producers.
McFarlane (nee Gajic) has since relocated to The States, where after a stint working for CinePointe Advisors on projects like Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, On The Rocks and I’m Thinking of Ending Things, she has established her own business, E/S Collab.
An executive producing and business affairs company, it aims to assist from development through to delivery, on issues such as underlying rights and chain of title, finance plans, closing financing deals, production business affairs work, closing talent agreements, and distribution and sales deals.
This includes leveraging relationships with law firms, insurance brokers, production accountants, clearance companies and publicity firms that can be brought on board, based on a production’s needs.
“I felt like filmmakers got into film because they wanted to tell stories, not to figure out the best finance plan, negotiate deals, review paperwork, or chase people down for signatures, and a lot of the time, these questions fell to the other stakeholders involved like financiers, distributors, sales agents and their lawyers,” she tells IF.
“Larger production companies will have in-house business affairs that work alongside their lawyers to handle this sort of stuff, but there are a lot of independent producers that don’t have this support and so much of that business and commercial responsibility falls on them, while simultaneously overseeing the creative aspects of a project. So I felt there was a huge gap between creative and legal that E/S Collab. could fill and contribute to projects in a real and meaningful way.”
McFarlane is currently executive producing Justin Geldzahler’s debut feature Glue Trap, and has a client roster that includes Abigail Disney’s Fork Films, Rollercoaster Road Productions, Civil Society, and several new start up production companies including P2 Pictures, In The Cut Productions and 1888 Productions.
The executive credits many of her Aussie colleagues for helping her to forge connections in the US that have allowed her to get the company off the ground. In particular, she pays special credit to Matchbox’s Helen Pankhurst, Nick Sinclair (now business and legal affairs with Fremantle) and COO Matts Vitins.
Based in New York, McFarlane emigrated to the US because she felt it important to learn how the industry operated outside of Australia.
However, she is keen to maintain a connection with producers back home. While most of her clients are currently US-based, she hopes to eventually have a 50/50 split between the two countries. Current Australian E/S Collab. clients include Unko, Acuity Productions, Birdcage Films and J M Liley Productions.
She also partnered with the Australian International Screen Forum in New York for the Women in Screen Workshop in 2020 and Screen ABC for their Lab Skills program this year.
“I’m still building my Australian partnerships and relationships. I have a number of existing relationships but my next stop is to find a go to insurance broker and production accountant,” she says.
“I’m excited to be back working in the Australian industry just in a different capacity.”