German producers and filmmakers are set to benefit from a new private film investment fund, entitled German Film Productions (GFP), which is to be launched within the next six weeks to raise $21.6m (DM 50m) from private investors by the end of 2002.

A total of 20 projects, split between cinema and television, are to be financed through an innovative scheme involving raising minimum guarantees from TV and film distributors.

"We are in negotiations over a number of projects with notable and renowned German production companies", revealed Berlin-based fund initiator and media financial consultant David Groenewold whose family has been in the financing business for over 20 years and were involved in Uli Edel's international hit Christiane F - Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo.

The fund, which is looking to initially attract up to $8.7m (DM 20m) by the end of this year, would raise financing for a mix of German-language theatrical films and TV movies.

"We are trying to reduce the downside by getting minimum guarantees from TV stations for TV projects or from distributors for features", says Groenewold, explaining GFP's structure. "For a $2.2m (DM 5m) feature, say, we would seek a minimum guarantee from the distributor for $865,000 (DM 2m), then raise DM 2m in subsidies: half in 'reference' and half as 'project' funding, leaving a gap of $433,000 (DM 1m). We would say: 'Give us the guarantee which would be deferred to the production until one year later and for that we are prepared to put up the $1.3m (DM 3m) and close the gap'.

By our retaining part of the rights - to which the producer has an option for purchase - we are trying to achieve the requirements of Film 20 [an industry pressure group seeking to defend producers' rights] ".

According to Groenewold, GFP will operate a reinvestment model "so the money coming back in minimum guarantees is reinvested over two consecutive years, which means we are looking at [getting in involved in] ten made for cinema features, with an average investment of $1.3m - $1.7m (DM 3-4m) per film, and ten TV movies"

In addition, GFP will draw on the services of three prominent figures from the German film industry - Alfred Holighaus, Inga Pudenz and Matthias Hoffecker - to advise on the selection of projects. "Two of these people have greenlighting experience [Holighaus from his time at Senator and Pudenz as head of TV movies at ProSieben] and all three come with marketing experience [Hoffecker is one of Germany's leading film PR agents through Marketeam in Hamburg].