Despite being both a media and FinTech powerhouse, Atlanta has yet to become a hub for film financing.
But one startup founding team — bringing together backgrounds in financial services, media, film funding, and venture capital — is ready to change that narrative.
FilmHedge was born after Jon Gosier, an entrepreneur and film financier himself, wanted to help streamline the investing process for those who previously struggled to navigate the media space. While co-financing several movies, he realized the inefficiencies around getting a film off the ground. “And that is the calling card for a tech solution,” he told Hypepotamus
“FilmHedge is for [investors] who put money into Hollywood and have been burned before, who’ve dealt with fraud, and who’ve dealt with creative Hollywood accounting,” he added.
The solution is a proprietary FinTech platform providing short-term bridge and gap loans to complete media projects in the $3 million to $50 million budget range, lending up to 10% of the total budget.
HELPING FILM INVESTORS
“The perception is that big movies don’t need money. And it’s quite the opposite,” said Gosier. “They just ask for money differently. They usually go through entertainment attorneys or to private equity funds directly, but they still need the capital. They don’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s efficient.”
The platform looks specifically to eliminate ego and emotion from the film financing process, which has traditionally been seen as a human-intensive process. Those financing films might require script or cast changes based on their own preferences.
By taking a “private equity-type approach,” scripts and cast attachments are not decisive factors in the loan process. Instead, the platform looks for distribution deals, tax credits, pre-sales, or more traditional hard assets like personal net worth for security.
Janelle Alexander, FilmHedge’s COO, describes it as being “creatively agnostic.”
Alexander worked in investment banking in New York before moving into venture capital and ultimately catching the entrepreneurial bug. Her FinTech background has helped grow FilmHedge’s tech-enabled onboarding and underwriting process. By providing real-time transaction reporting and analytics during the life of the loan, investors are paid back more efficiently than traditionally seen in the media landscape.
On top of their algorithm, FilmHedge integrates with DocuSign, Experian, LendingFront, and Plaid to further streamline the lending process.
The network of investors includes hedge funds, private equity funds, family offices, and others who have played in the media financing space and are looking for a better option. FilmHedge’s algorithm can assign the borrower’s loan based on risk profile.
Alexander added that focusing on the investor-side of film financing will ultimately benefit the creative community. “What we’re doing will democratize access to capital for some filmmakers that don’t have a network to be able to go out and do the fundraising,” she said.
“By making it safer for the investor to start funding movies, they start doing more deals…and then the market grows on the creative side,” Gosier added. “I think the more Hollywood can just look at the economic terms, eventually, the more diverse the creative community will be, because the unconscious things keeping people out of the industry will go away.”
ATLANTA’S MOVIE & FINTECH WORLDS COLLIDE
Gosier worked across Atlanta’s media industry with Doppler Studios and Tyler Perry Studios before turning to the tech startup and investing world.
He sees FilmHedge as part of moving Atlanta away from its perception of being “cheap real estate for Hollywood.”
“[Atlanta] is not part of the decision-making structure. So in order for Atlanta to change that dynamic, yes, we need creators here. But we also need capital here,” he added.
The FilmHedge team also sees the platform helping the Atlanta media landscape follow in the footsteps of the tech VC space, where more funds in town have increased the local tech startup pipeline.
Alongside Gosier and Alexander is a marketing director, an in-house CTO, underwriters, and film finance experts. The team has a $5 million seed round open and is actively looking to add new institutional lending partners to the platform.
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Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash