EXCLUSIVE: Andreas Rothbauer and Alec Schulmann have joined forces to launch the Berlin-based integrated sales and production outfit Picture Tree International (PTI).

The venture is being backed by the Investment Bank Berlin’s (IBB) venture capital fund for the creative industries, VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin, and a number of private investors.

PTI’s core business will be international film licensing and the production of international feature films in an integrated business model which brings production and sales together under one roof. The company also plans to attract production companies from Scandinavia, Canada and South Africa onboard as strategic shareholders.

Speaking exclusively to Screen Daily, Rothbauer, who had been head of sales and acquisitions at Beta Cinema until last year, explained: “It had been clear to me and Alec from the outset when we were drawing up our business concept that the company would be based in Berlin.”

“And one of the key criteria of the VC Fonds is that they expect you to come to them with both a coherent business model and plan as well as another investor or group of investors to match the fund’s investment.”

“What finally clinched it for us at the IBB was our combined wealth of experience in world sales and production as well as the business concept,” added Schulmann, who had first met Rothbauer in 2005 during the shooting of Sergei Bodrov’s Oscar-nominated Mongol – The Rise To Power of Genghis Khan.

“In fact, this is the first film sales and production company ever to have been backed by the VC Fonds,” Rothbauer pointed out.

Berlinale presence

“We will be present at the European Film Market and the Berlinale Co-Production Market to introduce the company and start acquiring projects. The first line-up would then be presented at the Cannes Film Market in May,” he continued.

“Moreover, by Cannes, we should then be able to name the production companies we have won as strategic shareholders/investors in the company. The motivation behind this is about securing content in the long-term for both the sales and co-production operations.”

English focus

“Our focus is primarily on English language productions and this is why we have looked for strategic partners in these three particular regions of Scandinavia, Canada and South Africa,” Schulmann explained.

“There are various scenarios possible for cooperation: one element would see projects from these partners coming to Picture Tree for sales; a second one would be shareholder-producers co-producing with us; a third would give us the flexibility to co-produce with other third parties; and the fourth would be a classic third party acquisition from a non-shareholder-producer,” Rothbauer said.

“We also want to dispel any impression that Picture Tree will be a ‘closed shop’ and the shareholder producers are bound exclusively to us,” he noted. “There will be cases where these producers co-produce with other companies or where, for contractual reasons, their films are handled by another sales agent. It’s all about having the right balance, openness and commitment.”