The emergence of Media RiskManagement (MRM) is significant news for independent filmmakers, given only ahandful of companies offer completion bonds and the difficulty of securingreinsurance usually prevents new players from appearing.

Melbourne-based GeorgeAdams, who was one of the executive producers on Wolf Creek, and Roger Brewitt have set up in association with SantamRisk Finance Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of South African insurance giantSantam. Lloyds of London and Munich Reinsurance are the underwriters.

"Getting the underwriting inplace was always going to be the tough thing," Adams told Screendaily. Indeed,several companies lost their re-insurance immediately after 9/11, forcing themout of the business, and one of MRM's Australian competitors, Rob Fisher, saysreinsurance rates have doubled since then.

Adams expects to have 30% of the Australian market afterone year of trading and aims to expand into China and other Asian markets after two years in the hopethat this region will make up 20-40% of the business in time.

"These markets are becomingmore sophisticated and are growing. Yes, they are culturally challenging, butto ignore them would be insane from a business point of view."

MRM has not signed on anyclients yet but has letters of intent on four projects, including a substantialdocumentary to be shot in Fiji.

"There are two very goodplayers in Australia that have been here a long time and are part of theold guard. It is an exciting time because a lot of new filmmakers are enteringthe market and it will be good for them to have more choice," Adams said.

All the bonds issued onAustralian films are either from US-based Film Finances or cineFinance, whichare 55 and 30 years old respectively. The third key global player, IFG, concentrateson North America and on pictures with links to the Hollywood studios.

In Australia, Sue Milliken of Samson Productions represents FilmFinances and The First Australian Completion Bond Company (FACB) representscineFinance.

"I will be surprised if thismarket can sustain three companies given the cost of reinsurance, servicingproductions properly and other overheads," said Milliken.

Customers pay 2.8-3% of thebudget on a completion bond and have to put aside a 10% contingency. Accordingto Adams, bond companies should offer more for this. MRM'seventual aim is to help producers access finance using Brewitt's banking andfinancing background.

But FACB CEO Rob Fisher, whowas Adams' boss for 30 months, says that finding financiershas great potential for conflict of interest. He is also skeptical about theopportunities available in Asia.

"We have spent time, moneyand energy trying to develop that market, including the establishment ofrelationships in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Eventually we decided our best and the mostprofitable work was done at home.

"In the short-term,indigenous industries are not going to require or embrace bonds, although somefilms firmly rooted in Asia and requiring a bond because of their budget size orco-financing arrangements will keep arising. It is an emerging market but I donot know when it is going to emerge."

Adams was executive in charge of drama production at Granada in the UK before moving to Australia nearly five years ago. He has also held similar postsat Golden Square and Carlton.