Tag Archives: Producer Angel Cassani

Changing with the Times: Film Producer Angel Cassani

Film Producer Angel Cassani

A film’s creative power exists in the possibility it offers us to get lost in another world, and perhaps experience life from a new perspective, but at the end of the day, making films is still a business. 

Just as changes and advances in technology have affected nearly every other existing business model, the film industry continues to experience massive changes in its own right. 

From the way we watch films to the way films are produced there’s no doubt about it, everything is changing. To be successful as a producer in the modern film world means looking to the future and anticipating where the industry is going, something that renowned producer and finance guru Angel Cassani knows all about. 

“The industry has changed a lot, starting with the platforms with their new rules, ways of buying and demanding content. In recent times the industry has grown a lot, and there have been a lot of bad productions,” explains Cassani. “Because of this, it is necessary to take a lot of aspects into consideration when choosing a project, in order to have the smaller chance of loss and to give the investor major security, this is why we present a project accompanied by a business plan to the investors. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘Hollywood is Wall Street’.” 

It’s been over a decade since the Latin American finance expert burst onto the international film scene with his brilliant idea of adapting the colossal world of the UFC to the big screen.

Launching a career that marries his financial expertise with his passion for film and the UFC, Cassani quickly found himself climbing the ranks in Hollywood. In 2008 the reputable film studio Lionsgate offered him a six picture deal along with his partner, Argentinian film and television star and the former Kickboxing Champion of the World, Hector Echavarria.

The successful duo joined forces after Angel shared his impressive idea with Echavarria. 

Cassani recalls, “[Echavarria] had a spectacular film and television career in Argentina, where we had met a few years before. I had talked to him about my love of filmmaking, and I suggested I could help him with financing and production.” 

Merging Cassani’s success in finance with Echavarria’s on-screen talent, the pair teamed up for what would be the start of a very successful film collaboration.

Cassani recalls, “He [Echavarria] instantly agreed, and we produced the movie [Never Surrender] for Lionsgate studio in Hollywood.” 

Cassani effortlessly stepped into the producer role on the 2008 film “Never Surrender,” a fight-for-your-life thriller that exposes the brutal world of underground fighting, directed by and starring Echavarria.

The film also stars real life UFC fighters B.J Penn and Georges St-Pierre, who both played  fictionalised versions of themselves, as well as Patrick Kilpatrick who starred alongside Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” and James Russo of Tarrentino’s “Django Unchained.”

The film was the stepping stone to success that helped the duo capitalize on the popularity of the UFC, seeing the pair join forces on a total of eight films over a 10 year period. 

“Never Surrender” Movie Poster

Their collaborative success continued with the edgy 2015 film “No Way Out,” which was executively produced by both Echavarria and Cassani and starred Danny Trejo (“Machete,” “From Dusk till Dawn”).

Prior to following his dreams into his now successful career in filmmaking, Cassani was an established financial investor throughout South America. His advisory work earned fortunes for international corporations and clients such as BellSouth, Motorola, Avon and more.

His portfolio of financial success aided a smooth transition from finance to film, and his work since has proven him as a visionary producer who can predict trends. 

As the world continues to adapt to the towering urges of high speed internet and streaming services, industry figures are constantly being faced with the high demands of consumers who want to access films with the click of a button.

The increasing popularity of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and others are changing the way films are being made on every level, from the production and turnaround time to the budget and contract terms.

The phrase “Netflix & Chill” has literally become the latest form of dating, leaving behind the days of subtle arm-around-shoulder moves at the local movie theatre. 

Cassani reflects, “The platforms offer you to watch what content from the comfort of your home, this is why people stopped going to the cinema.” 

The demand for streaming services saw the once booming box office numbers begin to rapidly decline, forcing producers and industry figures to find a new direction to achieve success in  filmmaking. 

Using his extensive knowledge as a financial expert, Cassani took to the industry changes quickly. 

“The main challenge the studios are facing is how to adapt the new budgets to their productions,” he explains. “Investors are becoming stricter and are looking for more financially secure projects, for this reason it has become a prerequisite to have a good business plan in mind.” 

Boasting over 130 million viewers today, in 2018 Netflix spent an estimated US$13 billion on original content; and at the tail end of 2019, multinational mass media and entertainment providers Disney and Apple recently unveiled their streaming services

With these companies securing deals with some of the industry’s biggest stars for their original series, it’s becoming more apparent that the future of Hollywood is now swiftly moving towards online streaming.

Just when the industry grew accustomed to these changes, Hollywood found itself on a standstill recently when it was faced with it’s biggest challenge yet. 

The unsettling Coronavirus dilemma has had a significant impact on the film and television industry, just as it has on the rest of the world. It’s estimated that nearly 200,000 people will have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 

Cassani adds, “Nowadays we have to pay the most attention to enter into negotiations with the platformas, due to the Coronavirus crisis we don’t have cinemas open and we don’t know when they are going to open.” 

While COVID-19 is causing multiple cancellations, postponements and changes to film industry schedules, platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and others are comfortably reaping the quarantine benefits. 

With strict lockdown laws in place forcing millions to stay inside, and many without work and waiting patiently for the world to reopen, indulging in daily episode binges and movie marathons seems like the most comforting way to spend the time. 

While it’s easy to focus on the negative impact of COVID-19, not all hope has been lost in Hollywood. Streaming platforms are seeing an incredibly high demand in sourcing new content, with industry profilers finding a new burst of creation whilst in lockdown. 

Angel has kept his creativity flowing through his work alongside producer and award-winning filmmaker Joel M. Gonzales. In 2019 the pair founded Matte Pictures and have three upcoming films in pre-production; the action packed “The Sister Assassins” which again stars Danny Trejo, as well as “Power and Glory” and “Can You Hear Me.” 

When speaking on the exciting partnership between him and Gonzales, Cassani says, “We have a relationship based on respect and creative freedom, I have always felt that Joel gave me my space to exhibit my ideas.”

Cassani is also busy working on the upcoming series “DNA,” a short form series of 20 minute episodes that focus on the sudden shifts in perspective that people experience in their ordinary life. 

Illustrating a different story through each chapter, the series will bring to life subjects that could potentially have an impact on society, another impressive way in which Cassani stays relevant to change. 

“The industry is currently experiencing a lot of changes, with one of those being the platform,” Angel states. “Youth are used to watching what, when and where they want… the duration of the content is increasingly shorter.”

With online streaming services and worldwide pandemics keeping Hollywood on it’s toes, having the creative ability to adapt to change is the key to success. 

An industrialist in his own form providing expertise on all levels, Angel Cassani not only remains at the head of the game, he predicts trends that are fundamental to filmmaking today.

Film Financing Today by the Experts

Traditional financial models are a thing of the past, with digital platforms offering a double-edged sword of bigger buying with hard-hitting competition, and with economic volatility overseas, many experts say global independent film financing is riskier than ever.

Indeed, studios released today are only franchises, “We’re in a period of uncertainty, both domestically and internationally,” told IM Global CFO Miguel Palos to Variety. Other industry heavyweights like Weinstein Co. COO/President David Glasser says, “In the U.S., you used to say, ‘If my budget is $30 [million]-$35 million and I spend $20 million on P&A, I’ll get a minimum amount from home video and a minimum MG from certain territories.’ Now Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others are creating so much content that it’s difficult to model out what return you’ll get on your investment.”

Though the scenery is wobbly, some specialists note that the opportunities are superior now more than ever. “Independent financiers are now instrumental in the backing of almost every independent movie inside and outside of studio slates, and more often, they’re the ones that greenlight many of the most successful commercial films,” says executive producer and financial expert Angel Cassani. “This is not what the business looked like 10 years ago.”

Angel has made incredible strides on an international scale as the executive producer of critically acclaimed films such as the fast paced assassin film “Hell’s Chain” with Latin American action star Hector Echavarria from “Los extermineitors,” one of Argentina’s most successful action films in history. As an expert finance guru and film producer, Angel knows exactly what it takes to produce a high-grossing film, and his keen attention to changes in the market combined with his ability to adapt is what keeps him ahead of the curve.

Angel says, “The increased risk is moving financiers to focus on either $10 to $20 million-and-under films, and to partner with studios on select features above $60 million, where you can hopefully protect the majority of it from international presales,” Angel also believes that. “Budgets are probably lower now for international distributors, and how much product they can acquire has lessened.”

Angel has produced successful independent films and now is set to play a big part in Hollywood. Since entering the industry in 2009 as the producer of the film “Never Surrender,” starring Hector Echavarria (“Death Warrior,” “Unrivaled”), award-winning actor James Russo (“Django Unchained,” “Not a Stranger,” “Donnie Brasco”) and Patrick Kilpatrick (“Minority Report”), Angel has continued to make a powerful mark in the industry internationally. And much of that success comes from the fact that he has not only found a niche and ever-growing market by focusing on producing films that tie in the popularity of the world of UFC fighting, but also because he knows how to adapt to the demands of the industry.

An informal survey of sellers points to some of the top buyers in key international territories: eOne in the U.K., Australia, and Canada; StudioCanal in France, Germany, and the U.K.; along with several other well-capitalized distributors such as Universum, TeleMunchen, and Constantin in Germany; Metropolitan and SND in France; Roadshow in Australia; Elevation in Canada; and Entertainment Film Distributors in the U.K. “And In a lot of circumstances, we’re selling to studios’ international divisions, whether it be Sony or Universal or LionsGate,” says Solution Entertainment Group co-founder Myles Nestel.

Angel Cassani is one producer/financier taking a new approach to the way he leads the film business. “When I started producing seven years ago, there was seemingly one way we made films. We fully financed them and didn’t need foreign pre-sales in order to cash flow the film, or need to sell them for distribution to greenlight them,” says Angel. “That’s all still true, except now it feels like each movie has a creative way to be made so I have come up with the perfect formula that make sense and we are now implementing and is working at perfection.”

“China is recognizably much more significant,” Angel says, “and even though you get a smaller percentage of the box office with what the government gets to take, it’s only rising at great speed.”

Angel is known for producing some of the best fight films in recent years, such as the action-packed love story “Death Calls” starring Echavarria, Yolanda Pecoraro (“Dancing Still,” “Death Tunnel”) and Ron Roggé from the five-time Emmy Award winning series “Stranger Things,” and Echavarria’s recent film “No Way Out,” which stars “Machete” star Danny Trejo as the villain and the dazzling Estella Warren (“Transparency”)  In order to increase the profit margin, Angel brilliantly decided to have the film “No Way Out” released on Blu-Ray and DVD in Germany where he saw a special opportunity to increase sales, in addition to having the film theatrically released in the U.S.

As for new trends in film financing, Angel says while the basic formula has remained the same — a combination of debt and equity from P&A lenders, mezzanine lenders, and money providers — “there are several new mezzanine players in the marketplace who are taking a more aggressive position than traditional lenders like the banks would.”

“Any producer looking at a program has to think about an incentives certainty in the law, in the process, and in the funding, to be sure the state or country actually has the money to pay you,” he says.

Atlanta, New York, and New Mexico are now among the top selections due to their incentives and organization, and he’s also seen a recent tendency of producers heading to Canada to take advantage of a 20%-25% tax rebate, on top of federal and provincial encouragements.

In China Dalian Wanda Group and the Qingdao municipal government’s new 40% rebate (offering $750 million over five years to attract productions) possibly impacting U.S. productions that might else go to Australia, Canada, etc.

The much-discussed arrival of Netflix and other high-end digital platforms has proven to be a mixed blessing.

Netflix is a much-appreciated buyer, “especially with U.S. distributors that have gone into bankruptcy in the last few years, and in this tumultuous period where you’re not sure if companies are going to be able to continue their services,” Palos of IM Global notes.

The ways financiers and sellers are acclimating reveal growing tendencies in global financing: more co-funding partnerships, more companies developing TV divisions, and a greater emphasis on developing projects with international appeal.

“Producers have to be open to change, take more risks, create content that’s not as U.S.-centric,” Angel says, “and not necessarily follow traditional models over the next few years, since things are up in the air.”