Real estate tycoon Bob Yari has teamed with WMA Independent, the independent finance and packaging arm of The William Morris Agency, to form El Camino Pictures, a dedicated film financing fund for WMA packages which will be run by WMA Independent co-chiefs Cassian Elwes and Rena Ronson.
The first film under the El Camino banner will be A Love Song For Bobby Long starring John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson which is close to a domestic distribution deal with Screen Gems and international sales representation with Kathy Morgan International.
Yari will produce and Shainee Gabel will direct from her own script which was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
'Some of the films will be WMA client packages and some won't,' explained Ronson. 'Sometimes we'll have films with other elements and incorporate WMA clients.'
The films, added Elwes, will be in the $10m average budget range and distribution arrangements will be co-ordinated on a picture-by-picture basis, although WMA Independent is looking at creating output arrangements in key territories. El Camino plans to fund ten films in the next two years.
'Usually clients bring us pictures and we figure out how best to finance them,' said Elwes. 'With El Camino we can start with the equity financing and get them going that way before covering the budget with tax fund money, soft money or pre-sales.'
Yari is also the financial force behind two LA production outfits Stratus Film Co with Mark Gill and Mark Gordon and Bull's Eye Entertainment with Mark Curcio, but says that each of the three entities will be run autonomously. 'The more vehicles I am involved with in producing pictures, the broader my risk is spread,' explained Yari.
Among previous WMA Independent packages are films such as The Good Girl, Monster's Ball, 13 Conversations About One Thing and The United States Of Leland.