THE 51 FUND, an American brand new Major,
by Gabrielle Dubois©
A brand new American Major is born: THE 51 FUND.
51 like 51% of the population in the United States are women.
The trigger of this beautiful adventure of women, heart and money is Naomi McDougall Jones' TED Talk: "What it's like to be a woman in Hollywood."
THE 51 FUND’s Women
Naomi McDougall Jones is an award-winning actress, writer, producer and women in film activist based in New York City. She wrote, produced and starred in the 2014 indie feature film, Imagine I'm Beautiful. McDougall Jones's second feature film, Bite Me, just released, is a subversive romantic comedy ; she wrote the screenplay and stars in the film.
McDougall Jones is a thought leader and activist for bringing gender parity to film, both on and off screen.
Lois Scott, President, Epoch Advisors, is a senior finance executive, entrepreneur and civic leader. From 2011-2015, Lois served as the Chief Financial Officer for the City of Chicago, the first woman to ever serve in that capacity. Lois is well known as one of the founders of Women in Public Finance, she was also a driving force behind creation of the “Women of the Year” event honoring the accomplishments of women in the public finance field. Today, Lois divides her time between Epoch Advisors, corporate boards and leadership on key civic initiatives, philanthropic causes and social investments.
To see women in film, Lois Scott proposed to Naomi McDougall Jones to create THE 51 FUND, a venture capital fund that finances films written, directed and produced by women. Together, they looked for a director and a talented woman joined their project:
Jessica Sandler Goodman has been working in the entertainment business for over 20 years ― Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox. She has overseen at least 30 studio films from development to through their release which have grossed well over 2 billion dollars at the box office.
During her tenure at Warner Bros, Jessica noticed a gap in the marketplace for movies geared toward female tweens and pushed the traditionally male oriented studio to fulfill this niche by making smaller budgeted vehicles for Disney TV and Nickelodeon stars. She serves on the board of STEP UP and is involved with other national charities.
Caitlin Gold is the Co-Founder of New York-based production company, Nine Lives Pictures. She has produced numerous feature films
In 2013, while simultaneously working as a producer, Caitlin forayed into film distribution, becoming Head of Acquisitions at the boutique distribution company, Candy Factory Films,
Lionsgate where she managed home entertainment sales and distribution of the company’s new release and catalogue titles. She currently oversees acquisitions at the streaming platform Seed&Spark. Caitlin is thrilled to join in this critical endeavor to bring equality to the world of filmmaking.
Lindsay is an independent producer. She moved from Toronto, Canada to create Candleridge Entertainment, where she has embarked on a career of supporting filmmakers and discovering new talent. In support of future filmmakers, Lindsay is in development on multiple projects with a diverse group of filmmakers and genres. She lives in Los Angeles.
The 51 Fund founding team offers a unique blend of high finance and both veteran and innovative filmmaking experience, by utilizing Lois’ 35 years of experience in the financial investment sector, and applying her skill set to Naomi’s vision for change while combining it with Jessica, Caitlin and Lindsay’s collective industry knowledge and access to the richest troves of both seasoned and up-and-coming female filmmaking talent.
THE 51 FUND in a Nutshell
THE 51 FUND will produce and distribute films written and directed by women and whose main character is female.
The size of a producer investment in the fund will be a minimum of $500K. The average budget of Target film budget should be $500K-$15M. The Fund’s unique value proposition and the opportune timing of our strategy will position itself to yield a superior rate of return on investment. Is this optimism? Not at all. This expected rate of return is the result of a market analysis of the US film industry since 2010.
The American Film Industry ― a solidly profitable Industry
The average annual return over the most recent ten years for the industry overall has been 20%. The financial results are even more impressive for women-generated films. This category has outperformed the industry across every functional area (producer, director, screenwriter, lead acting role). In the most remarkable case, the ROIs of films by women screenwriters outpaced the ROI of films by male screenwriters nearly threefold (53% vs 18%).
We see that when an entire industry ignores hard marketplace data, it sometimes requires a team to think outside the box and apply a fresh solution to an acknowledged problem.
THE 51 FUND, high-quality Films and Filmmakers
THE 51 FUND’s carefully curated team of tastemakers with unparalleled track records of film greenlight and investment will provide audiences with the high-quality content that they are demanding by financing high caliber film projects across genres, thus creating fresh content that will appeal across audiences of all genders, backgrounds, and interests. It will disrupt entrenched industry cycles which lead to stale, cynical storytelling ; Dramatically elevate the careers of a substantial number of female filmmakers ; Demonstrate that a diversified, female creators film fund is a viable asset class.
When will THE 51 FUND select its first Projects?
THE 51 FUND was officially born on November 5, 2018. Within 48 hours, the Fund received over 300 expressions of interest from filmmakers worldwide. The ensuing responses included those from established filmmakers, those with high recognition names and strong track records, as well as up-and-coming untapped talent. This response affirms our belief that there is a staggering backlog of high quality projects from female filmmakers that have been unable to find financing through the current, broken system.
But all hopes will not be met. A high bar for submission will be established with the following requirements. Applicants must …
THE 51 FUND will employ a disciplined selection process with a commitment to the highest artistic quality and commercial viability. Female filmmakers must have previously made a feature film that received distribution (exceptions may be made …).
They must submit complete budget, finance plan, and distribution plan demonstrating recoupment; exhibit strong artistic merit with script submission; have a producer/director/writer with proven track records ; provide a contingency plan documenting resilience and tenacity to address unforeseen obstacles.
As we can see, the dream industry is not only based on artistic gifts, far from it. Female filmmakers must already have a history of female fighters. They must have carried out, alone, films from production, realization to distribution. They must be financial, men leaders, resistant.
Why only produce Films made by Women?
Female screenwriters tell stories that directly resonate with the historically underserved female audience, consumers who are hungry for films that reflect their own experience of the world.
“Women are being given less money on their movies, but their ROIs are higher across the board…Women are crushing it, but nobody knows this. That’s the joke. Everybody thinks if you bet on women, you lose. But the data is saying, if you’re in this to make a return on your capital, you should be betting on women.” -Stephan Paternot, CEO of Slated
THE 51 FUND further hypothesize that, just as women watch films created by men, that, contrary to outdated industry myths, sectors of the male audience also respond positively to female-driven content.
Investing in Women's Films means strong Returns and social Impact
While the market for the film industry creates an exciting investment opportunity, the investment landscape has also shifted in recent years. Investors are increasingly demanding that their investments also have a social impact.
Socially responsible investing has become a proven model, growing by over 10%/year. Importantly, research shows that responsible investing need not mean sacrificing return.
With constrained and volatile rates of return from other asset classes, investing for social impact and investing in women is not just the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.
The Importance of the Narrator’s Gender
“The fact is – women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of the globe, not just on-screen. But for the most part we‘re simply not aware of the extent. And media images exert a powerful influence in creating and perpetuating our unconscious biases. However, media images can also have a very positive impact on our perceptions. In the time it takes to make a movie, we can change what the future looks like.” Geena Davis, Institut Geena Davis on Gender in Media.
We are not necessarily aware of it, but the impact of stories, movies and television or computer shows on our lives is profound. Why ?
Because movies are stories and stories invented by Men are the oldest teaching of humanity. Whether they are oral histories transmitted by word of mouth from generation to generation, video games or books, plays, films or series, forever and always, we project ourselves into real life, we apprehend the world, we understand each other and situate ourselves in society through stories.
Women are 50% of the world's population, invent as many stories as men, it is fair that they can tell and spread just as much.
“Storytelling, then, is not a frivolity. (…) In 2017, when the average American consumes ten hours of media a day, cinema is our society’s form of storytelling (…) In a time when the world is overwhelmed with problems of depth and weight, it is easy to dismiss films as mere entertainment – something perhaps unworthy of our serious time and resources. But to do so misses the fact that films are a great deal more than two hours in a darkened theater.
The impact, then, of that storytelling representing almost exclusively the male perspective, omitting the experience of 51% of our population, is profound. It ripples out into our daily lives, shaping our behavior, relationships, and identities, affecting girls, boys, men, and women alike. (…) It affects us all. We can not even imagine how much, because that's all we've always known.
By changing the story, we can truly change the world.” Naomi McDougall Jones.
Founding General Partner de THE 51 FUND
THE 51 FUND, an American brand new Major,