The Hollywood director Simon West is offering British investors the chance to share the glamour – and profit – of the movie business by investing in his next film.
British-born Mr West, whose previous work includes Tomb Raider, Expendables 2 and the cult hit Con Air, is now set to direct an action comedy entitled Salty – the first major film to be opened up to Britain’s crowdfunding investors.
Investors are being invited to buy shares in a specially created company, Salty Film Ltd, via the equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom.
The film’s planned budget is $10 million (£5.9 million), of which crowdfunding investors are expected to contribute £1.8 million. The remainder of the production costs will be funded by pre-sales of the film and tax credits offered by the locations where it is to be filmed.
The film’s expected cost is modest by Hollywood standards, but Mr West’s track record of commercial success – five of his films have topped the US box office chart and altogether his films have taken more than $1 billion – will allow him to cast A-list stars in the leading roles.
His previous films have been highly profitable – Expendables 2 made $300 million at the global box office. Like Tomb Raider and Con Air, its box office receipts were three times what it cost to make. West’s mid-budget $15 million thriller When A Stranger Calls took $67 million (more than four times its cost).
SyndicateRoom’s funding model will allow small investors to invest alongside professional 'angel' investors. Angel investors have already bought £450,000 of equity in Salty Films, and now the crowdfunding platform is selling the remaining shares to anyone willing to invest a minimum of £1,000.
Investors will be repaid their capital from any revenue the film generates, and in addition will receive a proportionate share of any profits. Under HMRC rules, they must hold their shares for at least three years in order to enjoy tax relief under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).
Mr West commented: “Salty is the type of film I’ve wanted to make for years – a tantalising cocktail of anarchic comedy, action and exotic locations. With a script that’s Spinal Tap meets The Hangover, I plan to shoot Salty in a style packed with energy, fun and glamour.
“During my two decades in the movie business I’ve funded films in a variety of ways, but for this one I was determined to break away from the big budget, big studio model. With the studios’ deep pockets comes bureaucracy that’s inefficient, expensive and which can stifle creativity.
“Salty will be different – and not just because it’s the first time smaller investors have been able to buy into a major film’s potential returns. As it’s a privately funded film, my production team and I will keep creative control while keeping costs down, while also giving free rein to the very best the cast and crew have to offer.
“Salty’s ironic humour and witty dialogue will attract US and English-speaking audiences, and its elaborate and exciting action sequences will give it truly global appeal. With a brilliant concept and the creative freedom to push genre boundaries, my goal is to make an instant classic."
The minimum investment in Salty Film Ltd via SyndicateRoom is £1,000. Anyone investing £40,000 or more will be invited on set to meet the cast and crew, and anyone investing £90,000 or more will be offered the chance to appear in the film as an extra.