Storm Surfers 3D: The financing plan
Cost of filming 3D in the open ocean deemed “insane”
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 September, 2012 : - - Since Storm Surfers 3D was released on August 14, it has become the eighth highest grossing local feature documentary of all time. The group behind Storm Surfers saw the production of a 3D feature film as a necessary step in their quest to create a truly international brand and they paid for it, in part, by leveraging the interest of 3D television channel operators.
“The benefit of using television pre-sales to finance the feature and other properties is that it is non-recoupable finance and the producer ends up with a bigger equity position,” said Marcus Gillezeau, who produced the latest chapter in the Storm Surfers franchise. "Television pre-sales are licenses, so they don't take an equity position in the finance package whereas theatrical distributors or sales agents provide a minimum guarantee (MG) which is recouped in first position. This means they recoup the MG before sharing in any revenue.
“There is also more ability to limit the scope of the rights [financing the film] this way. We trademarked Storm Surfers globally and told partners the licensing and merchandising rights were available, but that they were a separate set of rights.
Gillezeau and Cox are known for their interest in multi-platform producing and won an International Digital Emmy in the best fiction category for telemovie Scorched in early-2009.
On Storm Surfers 3D, they worked with directors Chris Nelius and Justin McMillan to simultaneously produce a feature, which was released by Madman on August 14, a traditional television series, two series for the internet and other uses, an ebook and an interactive application with a gaming flavour.
The stars of the show are 40-something surf-mad mates, tow-surfing veteran Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll, and forecaster and meteorologist Ben Matson who tracked the storms that delivered the death-defying surfing pair some of the biggest and most dangerous waves on the planet, albeit up to two weeks later than the storms and thousands of kilometres away.
Lender Fulcrum Media Finance was the first on board, signifying that the Producer Offset was the first piece of finance on the table. Post-production and services company Deluxe followed as an investor. Gillezeau took the property – and others – to MIPTV in October 2010. Before the channel had even launched, he had won over a good number of clients. Subsequently Servus TV got on board with a presale and Red Bull Media House as an investor.
Gillezeau won’t reveal the actual budget but said it was relatively big by documentary standards: “Storm Surfers was a very expensive show to make. We're shooting out at sea, often in the middle of storms.”
A mother ship, a camera boat, one (sometimes two) helicopters, one (sometimes two) light planes, up to six jet skis, and 25 crew were needed for most of the eight surfing missions undertaken over four months and involving 17,000 kilometres of travel. In one case all the action happened 75 kilometres out to sea. The research and development costs of filming in 3D in the open ocean was “insane” and the team ended up capturing 130 million frames of film on HD.
The Storm Surfers team are riding not just the waves in the Great Southern Ocean but also the waves of change in technology, media and entertainment. Their “tongue-in-cheek” 10 x 2-minute 3D instructional series on how to surf – and survive a wipe-out! – is a case in point: to the 3D television partners it will be interstitial material but it will also be rolled out to 3D-enabled mobile devices, offered on YouTube 3D, and made available to 3D television manufacturers for use on over-the-top (OTT) services such as Sony’s 3D Experience.
Storm Surfers 3D was produced by 6ixty Foot Films – owned by the producers, directors and three key actors – in association with Gillezeau and Cox’s production company Firelight Productions. Firelight invested in the project over and above the Producer Offset.
Author: Sandy George
Tags: Storm Surfers, 3D, Financing, Industry