Fintech makes Trees of Life documentary series possible
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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:47
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Fintech finance solutions have made it possible for Johannesburg based wildlife and natural history film production company, Obsessively Creative, to start filming a new television documentary series titled Trees of Life. Finance provided by Fintech has enabled them to get the film equipment required for production.

The Trees of Life trilogy centres around three iconic African trees and the wildlife surrounding them in three different environments.

The series will be broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel in the US, Canada, and Caribbean countries, on ARTE France in French and German territories in Europe, and on Animal Planet in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Obsessively Creative are in final negotiations with NHU Africa for the worldwide distribution.

Obsessively Creative secured a multi-million rand grant from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the aforementioned international broadcasters to fund their project. This three part one-hour HD, surround sound, blue chip documentary, is the second Obsessively Creative production funded in part by the DTI.

“The DTI have been absolutely great. They were on board for my previous two-part series White Lions – Living Wild, produced with Joe Kennedy from Table Mountain Films. The DTI have a list of requirements that the film has to meet, if it does then it's a simple process. The DTI's contribution has made these new three films possible,” says Stefania Mόller, Producer, Director, and Owner at Obsessively Creative.

It is vital to use the latest production equipment for international broadcast platforms, and suppliers demand cash on delivery (COD). The planning and securing of funding and broadcasters for The Trees of Life took two years. Over the two year period Obsessively Creative only acquired income from royalties they received from their previous series’. Film industry professionals are mostly freelancers and financing structures differ from other industries in the private sector.

The budget is being allocated in four installments. The challenge that Obsessively Creative faced having met their funding targets for the production budget, was that the initial funding installment was not enough to cover their equipment costs and working capital until the next payment came in.

Unlike commercials or feature films, this type of wildlife documentary needs to be filmed over an extended period of time, and the rental of the equipment from a film equipment rental company would cost more than buying it.

“Production budgets are all paid in installments except the straight sales. You get paid once you've reached certain milestones set out in the contract. I approached two banks for equipment finance with signed contracts ensuring sufficient funds were available to pay off the loans completely by the end of the production period, and had property as surety, and I was turned down by both.’

“Fintech's rental agreement spreads the budget over the entire production. Equipment suppliers need to be paid COD, and the production budget installments cannot cover only equipment costs. The sales executive at Fintech was willing to look at our project proposal and needs and went out of her way to come up with a financing plan,” says Mόller.

Fintech tailor made a finance solution that included video and stills cameras as well as supporting equipment including two Sony F55 kits, a Camball , EZ Jib, a Liliput Zacuto, adaptors, filters, two shotgun recorders, and two Macbook’s for the Trees of Life production.

The DTI’s contribution and Fintech’s finance option has made the filming of Trees of Life possible. However, securing sponsorship was difficult because the programs are based around three iconic trees. Albeit iconic trees, they are still trees and Obsessively Creative had no pilot footage, so funders had to trust the written interpretation of the vision.

“We will bring the trees alive with the use of new specialised equipment. Trees of Life is not only about the trees, we identify key characters that live in, on and around the tree, and follow their story. Herbert Brauer is my co-producer and Director of Photography (DOP), and we brought in Nathan Pilcher, who always wanted to do a program on the sausage tree in Zambia, to be co-producer and DOP for the Zambian episode. We'll contact Fintech again soon if we go into 3D or I-Max,” says Mόller.

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