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Interview with UK Producer Simon Fawcett @ 2022 AFM

Interview with UK Producer Simon Fawcett @ 2022 AFM

UK producer/financier Simon Fawcett is a prolific producer with more than thirty films to his credit. In the last five years, Simon has been a producer on eight films, including: “Come Away” (2020) a drama starring Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo; “Compulsion” (2016), a drama starring Analeigh Tipton, an Italian Canadian co production; “No Man's Land” (202), starring Frank Grillo and Andie McDowell; “Edge of the World” (2021), starring Jonathan Rhys Myers and Dominic Monaghan; “Gunfight at Dry River” (2021) starring Charlie Creed Miles and Michael Moriaty; “Across the River and Through the Trees” (2022) starring Liev Schreiber; and “Meet Cute” (2022) comedy starring Kaley Cuoco. Simon is a co-managing director of Empyre Media Capital that has invested in five major studio films, “Two Guns” (2013), “Lone Survivor” (2013), “The Revenant” (2015), “American Made” (2017), and “Rocketman” (2019).

Simon is CEO of Atlantic Screen Music, a music publishing company that specializes in investing in the production of film score music generating income from both music publishing and soundtracks. Prior to Atlantic Screen Music he was the CEO of Aramid Capital Partners, which managed a $250m Fund specializing in Entertainment Loan Finance, and which funded 30+ films, including such films as “How to lose Friends and Alienate People”, “Cheri”, and “W”, and three studio slate deals at Universal, Sony, and Lionsgate. Simon previously worked at Pathé Entertainment and was actively involved in the growth of Pathé from a small independent UK distributor into an international production and distribution studio operation. Simon qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG.


In an interview with Simon during the AFM, here is what he had to say:


How long have you been a producer and how did you get into it?

SIMON: I’ve been producing films since launching a Film Investment Fund, Aramid Entertainment in 2006, this followed six years as COO at Pathe Entertainment, where I was lucky enough to be involved in all aspects of film, from development, production through to distribution and international sales.


Producing is one of the hardest jobs in film, as it's so difficult to finance films. What is the best advice you can give to a beginning producer? 

SIMON: Well, I always say if the script is not strong enough it’s a nonstarter so that’s where one starts. Share your script with a few creatives, but also with a sales agent/distributor as they are the people who ultimately will be your source of revenue. With hopefully a positive response to your project, find your director. Without a good director you will never get the cast you want. Always be flexible on where your film can be set, as vital to financing your film will be maximizing the soft money financing in your overall finance plan.


What have been your biggest challenges in your career? 

SIMON: Finding sources of finance to finance a film. This becomes particularly hard when trying to fund an arthouse movie, although you might think your project is an amazing story the buyers will feel differently, as your average consumer is sadly still hungry for action, violence, horror, and sci fi! Often the more people are killed the easier the project is to sell!


Do you have a project you have worked on that you are most proud of? 

SIMON: Probably one of the earlier films I was involved in being “Bronson” (2008), starring Tom Hardy, and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Anyone who has watched this cult movie has loved it.


You also have a music licensing company. Can you tell us about that? 

SIMON: Yes, Atlantic Screen Music, which is a music publishing company specializing in the publishing of film and TV music. We invest in acquiring the score publishing and soundtrack rights in about 30 productions a year. We also operate a music supervision division, red five, providing supervision on a variety of 20+ productions a year.


You are working on a film fund in Greece. Can you tell us about that? 

SIMON: Yes, Greece has become an attractive location for shoots as there is a 40% rebate on production costs available. Chiltern Media has been established as an Athens based production finance company, cash flowing the rebates and providing additional gap financing for some projects and managing the whole process for the Greek rebate submission.


Do you have a favorite memory in your career? And what do you love most about it? 

SIMON: Probably the day we launched the Aramid Entertainment Fund, of which I was the CEO, and which launched with $250m of funds allowing us to fund 20+ films and provide financing to three studio slate deals over the following 4 years. Overnight we were the new boys on the block that everyone wanted to know!


You attended Cannes and AFM. How important is it to attend film markets as a producer? 

SIMON: I think it is very important to show your face at these events so everyone knows you're still in business! whilst at the same time circulating at the various functions and learning about who is doing what, and for me to understand where the new sources of production financing are!


How was business for you at this Cannes and AFM 2022? 

SIMON: Both markets were important after such a long period of time with covid cancelled events. Whilst we were able to close several new music deals for Atlantic Screen Music, I was also able to sell the merits of bringing production to Greece and selling the services of Chiltern Media.


What's next in the pipeline for you? 

SIMON: We are about to start shooting our next project in Greece being “Dirty Angels” to be directed by Martin Campbell and starring Eva Green, whilst also setting up a further four productions in Greece next year. At the same time, we have just launched an animation company in Greece, Number 9, with our first project, “Heroes in Training” a 28-part TV series under way, with animation also able to attract the 40% rebate program.


Interview by Vanessa McMahon



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