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Articles Published by Kathryn Arnold


Recent Articles by Kathryn Arnold

Sales Company's Liability for Low Film Sales

Sales of independent film is a volatile undertaking, even under the best of circumstances. The competition is stiff, buyer’s tastes shift, and thousands of films are produced globally each year. According to IMDB, in the last 10 years, film production has doubled from 4,585 in 2005 to 9,387 films in 2015.

Sales Company's Liability for Low Film Sales

Sales of independent film is a volatile undertaking, even under the best of circumstances. The competition is stiff, buyer’s tastes shift, and thousands of films are produced globally each year. According to IMDB, in the last 10 years, film production has doubled from 4,585 in 2005 to 9,387 films in 2015.

Strong Thesis Leads to Clear-Cut Opinion in John Steinbeck Estate Trial

Serving as an expert on the John Steinbeck Estate trial (Waverly Scott Kaffaga, as Executor of the Estate of Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, Plaintiff, vs. Thomas Steinbeck, Gail Knight Steinbeck and The Palladin Group, Inc. Case No. 14-CV-08699 TJH FFMx) this past year was both complicated and clear-cut.

“Day and Date” Release Patterns: What is Video-on-Demand's (VOD) Impact on the Distribution Timeline?

Release windows in content distribution are still a challenge for the exhibitor, distributor and filmmaker alike. The exhibitor wants exclusivity in the theatre for as long as possible so they can earn as much revenue before other platforms claim their share of the pie.

John Steinbeck's Son Breached Contract Over Talks Over "Grapes Of Wrath"

When Thomas Steinbeck, the eldest son of Nobel Prize-winning fiction author John Steinbeck, died at the age of 72 in August 2016, he left behind a bitter family dispute that occupied more than three decades of his life.

False Representation vs. Breach of Contract in Film Financing – Who Wins?

Investment in film has potential for high reward but is always combined with high risk. Little or no collateral, lack of liquidity, changing consumer demand, market competition and over zealous promises made by the filmmakers all contribute to the risk factor. Investors must rely on strong market analysis, distribution pre-sales and the integrity of the filmmakers. If any one of these elements is fraudulent, that can mean disaster for the investor and potential violation of contract elements.

Economic Damages - A Case Study: The Actor

The large majority of lawsuits that involve individuals in the entertainment industry revolve around lost wages or fees. These claims often allege millions of dollars in lost earnings depending on the role the person plays within the industry. Given the exorbitant amount that some actors, writers, directors and producers earn, it’s easy to understand how often these claims get made. However, the operative word in this scenario is some.

Transmedia Infusion...Are Indie Film Distributors' Days Numbered?

Hollywood’s move into the OTT/direct to consumer service, seen by HBO and potentially Showtime and Starz, is both inevitable and a game changer. As more and more consumers cut the cord and view their programing direct from the creator —as seen for the last several years on YouTube— and now on Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, it makes sense for the major content creators like HBO to follow suit.

To What Length Will Broadcasters Go to Exploit Human Drama?

He's either recognizable, or he's not, was the relevant question on a recent case where I served as an expert on behalf of a deceased man’s family. They were horrified and distraught after seeing their loved one in his coffin, on a highly successful cable network. Yes, the man was shown in his blue suit, in a coffin over 11 times during a 5-minute segment. Even though his faced was partially blurred, it was not blurred enough, and the family recognized him.

A Case Study: Guild Residual Calculations – Studio vs. Independent Film Finance Models

While serving as an Expert for a production/distribution company who was being sued by one of the major guilds to pay outstanding royalties on a slate of pictures, the fundamental difference between the way Studios and Independent production/distribution companies finance and distribute films became very apparent.

Unpublished Authors and The Battle Against Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is a hot topic in the entertainment industry and I have worked on my fair share of cases on this issue. Having testified for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, successful and not so successful writers, the published and the unpublished, the questions remain the same - don’t all authors deserve copyright protection?

A Banker’s Perspective: Banks, Hedge Funds and New Distribution Platforms

Adrian Ward is a smart, producer friendly banker who has been in the trenches of independent film financing for close to 20 years. Having started with the Lew Horwitz Organization, a stalwart in the indie film world of the 90’s, Adrian is now at Pacific Mercantile Bank. I sat down with Adrian to get a banker’s perspective on the industry landscape and where producers should be putting their energies.

How to Make Indie Filmmaking Profitable in the Age of Tentpole Franchises

To some, indie filmmaking is an art form, to others a dream of of seeing their story come to life on the big screen, however, it is meant to be a profitable business. Investors put money into a film, and expect to get their money back and receive a decent return on their investment. Cindy Nelson-Mullen, Co-CEO of MonteCristo International, an international sales agent/production company, and discusses with her the elements it takes to make a profitable film.

The Sales Agent Perspective on Indie Film Financing

In the first installment of our interview with Michele Taverna of MonteCristo Entertainment, "The New Core of the Film Industry," we discussed your position as sales agent being the “natural first stop” on the road to producing films. Let’s take a look at how you go about making the all important decisions on which films to produce and how to get them financed.

The New Core of the Film Industry - The Sales Agent

The film financing and distribution arena is constantly changing, and with that so does the epicenter of action. It is a well-known fact that talent drives movie making. Since the advent of CAA in the late 80’s the gatekeeper to those stars has been the agent, and still is. However a new power-broker in film financing has surfaced in the last couple of years…and that player is the International Sales Agent.

Getting Real with Indie Film Finance and Distribution...Part 2

In Part I, we talked with Financier/Producer Michael Mendelsohn about Hedge funds and what they are looking for in terms of financing films. They prefer slates, which create a portfolio effect with which they can amortize the risk across a variety of film, genres and budgets. If that’s the game Hedges funds are playing, what are equity/wealthy individuals looking for?

Getting Real with Indie Film Finance - Part 1

Seeking to get an inside look from a former banker now producer, I asked Michael Mendelsohn, Chairman and CEO of Patriot Pictures, what is really going on with film finance in today’s market. The following is his down to earth and “genuine” perspective on the indie film biz.

In the Trenches…The Producers Part 2 – The Shifting Landscape

Continuing the dialogue with producers Jonathan Dana and Cindy Cowan, let’s take a look at the shifting landscape of film financing and distribution.

In the Trenches…The Producers Part 1 – Independent Film Production

I often receive inquiries from around the world on how best to go about obtaining film financing. Projects come in all shapes and sizes – a wide array of genres, varying budgets and an assortment of experience levels. In every case, the biggest questions are: How do I put together financing for a movie? What elements need to be attached? Where does the money come from?

Writers, Producers, Directors — The DEAL

In addition to film financing, the writer, producer and director deals are a major factor in getting films produced − each deal differs depending on the experience and clout of the players involved. These deals will in turn have a huge impact on back end money that may or may not be available for the producer.

Economic Damage Claims in the Entertainment Industry – Speculative or Beyond a Reasonable Certainty

The large majority of lawsuits that involve individuals in the entertainment industry revolve around lost wages or fees. These claims often allege millions of dollars in lost earnings depending on the role the person plays within the industry. Given the exorbitant amount that some actors, writers, directors and producers earn, it’s easy to understand how often these claims get made. However, the operative word in this scenario is some.

The Basics of Film Finance

Financing of film projects often requires an elaborate patchwork of investors, banks, soft money tax credits and in-kind services, and some companies specialize in financing specific stages of production. One of the overall themes of the industry that can at times make obtaining financing hard is the risks involved in making films, many of which may have very little tangible value at the end of the process.

The Entertainment Industry — Points to Consider When Evaluating a Case

Of the thousands of screenplays written every year, only 450 to 500 of these are "lucky" enough to be made into motion pictures. Of those produced, less than half are released in theatres and of those remaining, only a portion are released directly to DVD.

About Kathryn Arnold

Entertainment Industry Expert Witness & Litigation Support

Kathryn Arnold, an award winning film producer and executive with over 20 years experience in production, acquisition, distribution, international sales and gap financing. Extensive experience in development, packaging and fund raising, working with talent agents, production crew, distribution executives, investors, lawyers. Ms. Arnold has produced 6 feature films and directed a documentary on the iconic band Earth Wind & Fire. She worked in Corporate Sponsorship, Commercials, Product Licensing, Corporate Relations and Product Placement. Kathryn has served on close to 3 dozen litigation cases.

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