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Dubai Seeks Closer Ties Between Global Producers, Arab Entrepreneurs

Variety logo Variety 12/7/2016 Nick Vivarelli
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A group of high-caliber American and British film executives have made the trek to the Dubai Film Market for the newly launched Dubai Investors Club where they will show the ropes and hobnob with Arab entrepreneurs who have grown weary of Hollywood seeing them as ATM machines for propositions known to have disastrous consequences.

“They’ve all heard these terrible stories,” says U.S. producer Paul Miller, a former head of financing at the Doha Film Institute, who is organising the two-day, Dec. 8 and 9, closed-doors event at the Madinat Jumeirah resort (pictured).

“The point is to say: ‘look, we are going to introduce you to the fundamentals of what film investment is and explain that it’s not about writing the check and just praying.” There are so many more sophisticated ways to invest in film,” he notes.

Up to 15 undisclosed top-level potential Arab investors will be walked through each step of the value chain, hearing about it directly from top industry people including Film Nation COO Milan Poleka; Voltage COO Jonathan Deckter; Studio Canal U.K. Head of Production Jenny Burgers; and Tim O’Hair and Arcadiy Golubovich, partners in U.S. production and film financing company Primeridian Entertainment.

Lauren Selig from Los Angeles-based Shake and Bake Productions will provide a personal case study. “She will talk about some movies where she put her own money in and others where she didn’t. It’s wonderful for these investors to hear from other investors who’ve taken the plunge,” says Miller

Cinetic CEO John Sloss and Sam Englebardt, who is Chief Strategy Officer of virtual reality entertainment company The Void will explain the dynamic of “what the producer is looking for and what the investor is looking for,” while John Hadity, Executive Vice President for EP Financial Solutions, will talk about risk mitigation.

High net worth individuals from the Arab world aren’t any different from those in any part of the world, Miller points out.

“They are pretty savvy people who made their money in some way by being smart about things…and yet they’ve all heard horror stories about how you can lose money by not being smart in dipping your toe in that water.” So the idea of this two-day event is really to say: “come, we know you are enthusiastic. We know you want to diversify your portfolio into what they call alternative asset classes.”

“I know from being out there that obviously there is a lot of money there, a lot of it wrapped up in real estate and some of the more blue chip stuff, but there’s thirst to get interested in film.”

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