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FilmTrack empowers entertainment companies to manage rights

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It’s always been true that in show business, Piper has to be paid.

Compensating Piper has never been more complicated than it is today. The tools used to properly allocate dollars are often outdated.

In the past, the separation between East Coast-based bankers and West Coast-based filmmakers left business processes opaque. Not today. The changes that have happened in the last 120 years have been both technological (TV, cable, VHS, DVD, streaming) and legal (the dissolution of studio/distribution marriages, the rise of stars as independent contractors). They all tend to offer greater transparency.

Needless to say, it’s more complicated. Jason Kassin, founder and CEO of entertainment rights management software company FilmTrack, has been at the forefront of the revolution for over 25 years. “Buying and selling his IP in film and television is unlike most other markets, selling cars he has two situations. [or] you don’t sell cars

“Entertainment is a multi-dimensional model. It’s not just selling movies and not selling them. It’s selling a specific IP in a specific space, region or market for a specific period of time. …not a simple inventory system model. .”

Kassin laughs and puts forward the producer’s hypothesis. 10% she will be 13%. ’ Clearly, this is not the work of my grandfather’s accounting system.

The challenge seems to double when it comes to television, where a series could sell for X amount. Will they receive his 1/16th of the funding, or is there another formula?The actor’s livelihood depends on fair answers to these questions.

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“When you send information to your accounting system, you need to understand the individual details,” Kassin explains from the studio’s point of view. “Is this revenue from a Belgian video-on-demand platform for Flemish?”

“But at the macro-cultural level there is a movement towards greater transparency in this industry. We need a mechanism to know with certainty that the company controlling the

A quick internet search reveals the results when suspicion enters the picture — a question of net and gross margins, or millions of dollars at stake, on an actor’s participation in a series’ syndicated earnings. landmark lawsuits, including

However, many studios and producers took as long to embrace the new complexity as they quickly added more types of intellectual property (short films, mini-episodes). All of these must be licensed and tracked.

“You built a system for the entertainment industry that’s been around for 10 years, right? They’re using a system built for yesterday’s war,” Cassin claims.

“I didn’t know about video on demand, and I didn’t mention what a streaming platform or electronic sell-through deal would look like or how that would change someone’s compensation. did.”

Kassin argues that scale is just as important as the financial tracking system.

“Even a small film or television company with, say, 200 titles across hundreds of territories across multiple rights in dozens of languages ​​and markets must be able to handle massive data sets. Multiply the numbers and you get millions of row combinations.”

Data accuracy is critical to any contract management tool. Ease of use is no different. Entering data and retrieving results should be intuitively easy. So friendly, in fact, that the system should identify earnings opportunities that clients didn’t even know existed.

“You may have a library of content that has already been created or is currently being created,” explains Kassin. “The system your nephew built five years ago doesn’t tell you that the French license for a film you made two years ago has expired, but now you can relicense it. This new VOD platform with European-wide coverage?Now you can license it.The value proposition is ‘We will not only make your company more efficient, but we will help you find pockets of availability’. .”

Kassin also emphasizes the importance of a system’s ability to interact with other systems. Specifically, a system used to withdraw checks of the appropriate amount and distribute them to the appropriate people. Bank-level security is absolutely necessary there.

Verna Grayce Chao, Executive VP of Treasury Management Solutions at City National Bank, appreciates FilmTrack. “We take entertainment her important role in the ecosystem very seriously,” she says. “FilmTrack gives our clients an easy-to-use and accurate way to track their finances and intellectual property. We have a lot of duplicate clients.”

In fact, she reveals that FilmTrack’s data management is expected to merge with City National’s subsidiary, Exactuals’ payment system, to provide clients with full-service accounting and fund distribution.

“FilmTrack acts like a laboratory for City National,” adds Chao. “Its size and scale allow us to be very quick with the technology so we can assess the prospects for certain use cases. They are exploring things like machine learning and artificial intelligence and they It can be used not only in our system, but also in their products.It is really perfect for a bank like ours to have a source of R&D built in.”

Sophisticated software systems that can accurately track contract terms and proper allocation of cash, not to mention identifying new revenue streams and assisting with production schedules, could become a must-have in the entertainment industry. .

FilmTrack and Exactuals are RBC companies and subsidiaries of City National Bank, respectively. City National Bank is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Canada. Citi National Bank Member FDIC.