John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, once said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” Albeit true, President Adams would never come to know the “Hollywood” experience much less the complexities of funding an independent feature motion picture.
Truth be told, patience and perseverance have, indeed, played a significant role in the gradual but undeniable success currently being enjoyed by executive film producer Franco Sama, owner and CEO of Samaco Productions located in Brentwood, California.
Sama has produced and/or executive produced over seventeen independent feature films since 2005. Three of his most recent films are being released in 2012 including, “Black Limousine” starring David Arquette and Vivica A. Fox which is now available through Netflix, Blockbuster and Amazon, “Petunia” starring Academy Award winner Christine Lahti, Thora Birch (“American Beauty”) and Brittany Snow (“Hairspray”) which recently premiered at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, California and “Guns, Girls and Gambling” starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook which is slated for release soon.
Over the past decade, Sama has focused on packaging films by providing producers with a combination of equity financing, debt financing, distribution minimum guarantees and/or pre-sales and by cash flowing state tax incentives; however since he was recently appointed “Executive in Charge of Production” for a large private equity film fund based in Los Angeles, he no longer needs to seek financing for his projects.
Sama says, “Working with [the film fund] allows me the freedom to approach projects from an entirely new and unique position; instead of seeking funding for film projects that are presented to me, I am now seeking film projects that fit our funding criteria”.
What is most remarkable about the funding structure that Sama represents is that, as long as the films’ production budget falls within their minimum requirement of one million dollars and maximum of five million dollars, the producers are not required to obtain a completion bond for their picture, saving tens of thousands of dollars in production costs.
In addition, since the funding company provides pure cash equity and does not rely on state tax incentives to fund their films, producers are able to shoot their movies anywhere they wish, including Los Angeles. Having this freedom to shoot in Los Angeles not only prevents runaway production to outside locales, keeping production within California state lines, but also makes it easier for producers to attract name talent who prefer not to travel outside of the local area, saving producers thousands of dollars in airfare and hotel accommodations.
Needless to say, Samaco Productions is experiencing brisk business these days. In fact, two of the five films slated for production including the film “No Valley” starring the incomparable Shirley Jones and Marty Ingles, directed by John Asher (“Chick Flick”, “One Tree Hill”) and co-produced by RealStreamEdia as well as a truly psychological thriller aptly titled “Dark Habits” which was written by one of Sama’s favorite screenwriters, Maha Calderon, are expected to begin principle photography before the end of this year.