Most struggling independent filmmakers wish they had an angel on their side - from heaven, or better still from Wall Street. In finance, the term refers to a start-up investor, someone who bankrolls enterprises that have exhausted friends' and family's coffers but haven't grown enough to attract venture capital. Since 2003, an Austrian-born financier named Thomas Trenker has been helping filmmakers meet their "angels" through his Institute for International Film Financing, based in San Francisco. This Saturday, he'll do it in Stowe.
Trenker's organization has already held "town hall meetings" in New York and various California cities with the aim of matching up cinematic creativity and capital. This is his first foray into New England. The event's website promises a "powerful roster of speakers from the worlds of film and finance." And who will hear them? Judging by the fairly steep entry fee and the language of the description, Trenker is looking for the money: "Entrepreneurs, technologists, attorneys, bankers, investment managers, venture capitalists and other non-film professionals are cordially invited to learn more about independent film," the site says. However, would-be Quentin Tarantinos won't be turned away: "Established and aspiring filmmakers are, naturally, more than welcome to join us as well!"
There's a reason for that somewhat guarded invite. In an interview, Trenker estimates that the actual ratio of filmmakers to financiers at the event will approach 7:3. He prefers not to specify indie films the IIFF has helped finance, saying credit should go solely to the individual investors. However, Trenker does talk about the types of film projects that make good investments - typically PG- or PG-13-rated movies made for less than $1 million. While a blockbuster shoestring film is a fluke, he says - think The Blair Witch Project - investors can do well on more modest indie success stories, too. Like yours?