Cassian Elwes Launches Crowdfunding Venture Movie Collective

Emma McIntyre/WireImage Cassian Elwes
Emma McIntyre/WireImage
Cassian Elwes

Indie film producer Cassian Elwes has launched Movie Collective, a new crowdfunding film venture which invites fans to invests in a slate of upcoming film projects via equity on social platform The joint venture is being done with another indie filmmaker, Marcus Markou.

“The exciting part of this is to try to find alternative financing for film,” Elwes told Deadline. “It’s really difficult right now to get financing for anything other than superhero films. I do think there is an audience of smart, adult people out there who want to see quality films. I’m searching for ways to continue to bring those kinds of movies to them.”

The first Movie Collective project is the feature film Utopia Road, with Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family), Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). It is expected to shoot this summer. The film will be directed by Rosson Crow, marking the American visual artist’s directorial debut, and is written by Karolina Waclawiak (AWOL). Movie Collective will co-produce alongside other existing partners, while the company has a number of other projects at various stages of development.

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Movie Collective is expected to launch on Crowdcube on May 1. Fans can sign up to the Movie Collective mailing list at the venture’s website to get access to a private investment window to purchase shares in the company at the end of April, before they are made available to the wider public.

How is it different than other crowdfunding efforts? They say that rather than giving investors the opportunity to back one single project and receive perks, Movie Collective has a slate of projects at various stages of development, and investors will receive equity in the production company itself. It is the intention of the company to pay prospective profits as a dividend to equity stakeholders, with remaining profits used to help finance other projects on the slate.

This is also being done, albeit for one film, by faith-based producer Jon Graham for a film called Kind Katie.  Graham had found success doing this kind of equity-stakeholder financing on a documentary, and then decided to try it on a feature. He got the idea from another filmmaker: it had been done for a film titled I’ll Be Next Door For Christmas, so this is not a new idea. But no one has tried it for an entire slate of films before.

The filmmakers behind it are well-versed in independent production and distribution. Markou wrote, directed, and produced British indie hit Papadopoulos & Sons, and then self-distributed the film to becoming the second-highest screen average of any film in its opening weekend at the time. The film is used as a case study within the independent film industry, with the film eventually being bought by Netflix, BBC, and ARTE.

Elwes is very well-known in the indie film world. He most recently sold Mudbound to Netflix for $12.5 million in the biggest deal at Sundance 2017. Other notable films on his resume that he had a hand in include Lee Daniel’s The ButlerThe Dallas Buyers ClubBlue Valentine, and Lawless.

“Because people will be investing in a slate, the risk, as well as the rewards, are spread. We are effectively replacing the single equity investor – the person that will often own the movie – with the crowd: that’s people like you and me, for as little as 10 pounds per share,” said Markou in making the announcement. “These are not micro-budget projects with little hope of distribution.These are commercial gems produced by Cassian. Movie fans will finally be able to say they own a piece of the picture they are seeing.”