Cross Creek Pictures launches equity fund & film company

MUMBAI: Producer Brian Oliver, former principle of Arthaus Pictures, has partnered with new production company, Cross Creek Pictures, formed by the Thompson family, private business investors from Louisiana.

The company, with offices in Los Angeles, Memphis, Houston and New Orleans, will fully finance and produce three to five motion pictures per year, with budgets ranging from $5 million to $100 million. For production budgets greater than $15 million, the company will secure a domestic theatrical distribution agreement with a studio.

The company is currently in pre-production on its first feature, the crime thriller Delivering Gen, which begins filming in January 2010. Written by Sons of Anarchy creator, writer, executive producer, Kurt Sutter, who is also attached to direct, the film will be produced by Oliver and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura. The film is based on an original screenplay conceived by Sutter.

"I’m thrilled to have it come back as my directorial debut with Lorenzo and Brian producing," said Sutter.

Cross Creek Pictures will finance its productions through a combination of tax incentives, international sales and equity investments. Cross Creek Pictures has committed to invest at least $40 million over the next thirty-six months. In addition to Delivering Gen, the fund’s slate includes the quirky comedy Bathing Suits, written by Buck Henry, a Steve McQueen biopic written by Jesse Wigutow; The Hellfire Club, about a notorious social club in 18th Century London, written by Jeffrey Hatcher; Black Mass, based on a true story about FBI corruption and the Irish mob in South Boston, written by Nye Heron with six-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan attached to direct; and 12 other titles in various stages of development.

The private equity fund was put together by Bryan E. Nearn III, a former investment banker with Jefferies & Company, Inc. and CPA with Ernst & Young, LLP, who chairs the fund’s investment committee.

Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver said, "I’ve spent the past few years assembling a diverse development slate of artistically compelling and commercially viable motion pictures with the intention of partnering with a serious equity partner. I’m thrilled to have found that partner in Cross Creek."

Oliver notes that the fund provides Cross Creek Pictures with a unique advantage over independent producers seeking to assemble financing on a project-by-project basis, especially in today’s economic climate.

"There are fewer foreign tax financing schemes and bank gap financing is harder to get. Producers faced with putting together a jigsaw puzzle of local tax incentives and one-off equity sources often find there’s a piece missing when the deal is ready to close. Our equity fund will serve as the glue holding the financing together and keeping the talent in place until the bank deal is finalized," says Oliver.

Before forming Arthaus Pictures, Oliver was vice president of production at Propaganda Films where he served as producer on the Paul Schrader-directed film Auto Focus, starring Greg Kinnear and Willem Defoe and executive producer on The Badge, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Patricia Arquette. He began his entertainment career at the William Morris Agency after graduating law school.