Entertainment lawyer Bianca Goodloe talks to Jeremy Kay about guiding wealthy clients into Hollywood investments and reasons for optimism in the independent sector.

When entertainment attorney Bianca Goodloe says it has become easier to make independent films, the time might be right for cautious optimism.

Of course no self-respecting lawyer would counsel reckless behaviour and Goodloe is a believer in the benefits of knowledge and due diligence, as her stable of global high-net-worth individuals would attest.

However the US and European-registered advocate ― and managing partner of Goodloe Law ― does see opportunity in the sector for creative deal-making afforded by the shifting landscape.

“You can gamble that much more in the independent space,” says Goodloe, a regular on the conference circuit.

She should know. As an associate in the Prague and Berlin offices of Linklaters, Goodloe cut her teeth executing legal work on studio franchises such as Harry Potter, Rush Hour and Tomb Raider.

She left Linklaters in 2003 and the following year she established her own practice, Goodloe Law, in New York, specialising in film finance, entertainment law, intellectual property and independent development and production.

In 2009 she set up the Los Angeles office. The firm has a presence in London and Goodloe plans to open a satellite office in Georgia this winter followed by a Dubai hub in 2014.

“There is a lot of private equity coming into the space and it’s getting harder and harder to make studio films and easier and easier to make independent films,” says Goodloe, a highly articulate polyglot who is also an adjunct professor of entertainment law at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Ten years ago it was about putting together a minimum amount of sales and getting as much debt as possible. Private equity was impossible to find,” she says. “But now because private equity seems to be more prevalent and budgets have gone down and technology has enabled productions to take place for not a lot of money, it’s getting easier.

“I don’t know if it’s a meritocracy yet, but it’s not a long way off. With the advent of [The Weinstein Company’s new multi-platform distribution label] Radius-TWC and others, you don’t live or die by theatrical and that’s why it’s exciting now. There’s this new hybrid of independent film-maker and part-distributor.”

Goodloe’s practice has made a name for itself providing services to producers and operating as a “legal concierge service” that guides wealthy clients to Hollywood investments.

These clients range from oil and gas veterans in Australia, to shipping moguls in Greece, to wealthy individuals in Russia and Hawaii.

“Not a lot of them are motivated by the economics alone,” says Goodloe. “There is the lifestyle and red-carpet motivation; there’s a tax component sometimes; or they get post-production back to their region.”

‘Liquid sculpture’

Goodloe’s broad caseload of productions has recently included Al Pacino’s long-gestating Wilde Salome in which the Oscar winner stars alongside Jessica Chastain. The actress was an unknown when she was cast and Goodloe, who handled all the primary talent, production legal and structured the financing, says the rising star and Pacino have never been better in the drama, which is due for release in October. “This film is really a liquid sculpture,” she says.

Specific feature productions in the in-tray include Ron Perlman’s western The Virginian and the Benderspink project Aloha Santa. Goodloe and her firm will work on projects of any budget level, although she notes that technology and talent deferrals have driven budgets down from the $8m-$10m region to around $3m.

Goodloe also spearheads a Germany-UK interim financing fund targeted at cash flowing secured lending for European TV projects, an insurance product for secured lending transactions and a Russian private equity film fund.

“We balance the emotional equity of our clients with our political capital in the industry,” she says. “I also spend a lot of time talking investor clients out of projects they themselves identify, should the projects have an excess of unmitigable risk.”

Bianca Goodloe

  • In 1998 Goodloe works as summer associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP in Prague.
  • Serves as associate at Linklaters in Prague, from 2001-02.
  • In 2002-03, serves as associate at Linklaters in Berlin.
  • Establishes Goodloe Law in New York in 2004.
  • Sets up Los Angeles office in 2009.