‘Business First.’ Do any other two words sound so American?? Okay, maybe ‘TV First’ or ‘Stayinyourowndamnlane, Please’ might give them a run, but ‘Business First’ is definitely in the running.
Some magazine folks evidently thought so, too. Business First of Louisville is a weekly focused on, suprisingly enough, the business community. This week they ran a nice piece on Slated, my crowdfunding film-finance site, and me, the once and former and sometime Louisville native and visitor and resident. [Click on the article to the right to open it in a new window.] Here’s hoping that some BFL readers who would love to invest in films will realize that Slated offers them that opportunity.
Crowdfunding has been all over the news this week since both parties in D.C. came together to push the JOBS Act into law. [Crowdfunding is the method of raising money from a large group of people, usually online.] Why should you care? Two quick reasons: One, it will help private businesses raise money, which helps create jobs, which helps you buy stuff and be a good American. Two, it will help give you access to invest (hopefully, even small amounts) in businesses and industries that you believe in. Okay, politics and finance mash-up over for today.
Here’s the Business First piece:
As a film and television actor for 15 years, William Mapother Jr.knows firsthand how hard it is for independent filmmakers to raise money to fund their movies.
“The finding of capital for independent films is painfully, horribly inefficient and difficult,” said the Louisville native, who now lives in Los Angeles. But Mapother thinks he has found an answer on the Internet by linking people who want to invest in movies with independent filmmakers who need financing.
In 2009, Slated Inc., owner of the Web site www.slated.com, was founded by Mapother and three other investors — Duncan Cork, who handles the company’s day-to-day operations in New York City, Stephan Paternot and Gavan Gravesen.
The foursome together contribute a variety of business expertise, ranging from technology to investment banking to law to filmmaking, Mapother said. He added that Slated is the independent filmmaker’s answer to AngelList, a Web site that links people who want to invest in startup companies with people who have startup companies that need money.
Total of $3.8 million raised
The company has been through two rounds of funding, the last of which wrapped up earlier this year, Mapother said, and has raised a total of $3.8 million, including funds from 15 Louisville investors.
Two films, a feature and a documentary, recently completed their funding through the site. They were the first two films ever to complete their funding through Slated.com, Mapother said. The company plans to disclose the names of the films within a few weeks. Once word about those two fundings gets out, Mapother said, interest in the site will grow quickly.
“When you demonstrate that you actually can do it, that’s when they take you seriously,” said Mapother, who noted that the site is a way for any accredited investor — not just the most well-heeled financiers — to get into backing films.
Introduction to the industry
Sandra Frazier, founder and managing member of Tandem Public Relations LLC, made one of the first outside investments in the company in December 2010. She declined to say how much she invested.
The investment struck her as a great way to help out independent filmmakers, she said. It also is an opportunity for her to learn more about the motion picture industry. Frazier said she considered minoring in film in college.
“I think the group that William and his team have assembled are fantastic,” she said.
Another local investor, Tom Mueller, chief operating officer of River Road Asset Management LLC, was contacted by Mapother about investing because they have been friends for some time. Both of them graduated from St. Xavier High School and from University of Notre Dame, Mueller said.
Mapother initially thought some of Mueller’s clients at River Road might want to invest, but Mueller told him this wasn’t the kind of investing those clients do. Mueller told him he might be interested himself, and he offered to get together a group of friends, including Frazier, whom he thought also might be interested.
Mueller said he and four other local investors had lunch with Mapother several times during the fall of 2010. Mapother declined to identify the other investors. After Mapother explained the concept and told the group about the management team that had been assembled, Mueller said, they were hooked. He declined to say how much he invested.
Mapother “is an actor by trade, but he would make a phenomenal salesman,” Mueller said. “He did a great job explaining what they are going to do, and pitching us on the project.”
Mueller likes being involved in the movie industry, he said, but opportunities to invest locally in that industry are limited. He also likes the design of www.slated.com, calling it “very cutting edge.” He is a passive investor, and his involvement is limited to his financial interest. But he does get quarterly financial statements from the company and e-mails when new investors or films are put on the site.
As yet, no revenue from site
The big focus for the past six months at Slated.com has been to make the Web site as efficient and as clean as AngelList, angel.co, Mapother said.
Slated Inc. now has six employees at its New York City headquarters, including a lead developer, a coder and technical staff. The site exists now in beta form at www.slated.com, with 44 films listed out of more than 2,000 that were submitted for listing.
According to the Web site, only feature films with budgets of $500,000 to $15 million and documentaries with broad commercial appeal and budgets of $250,000 to $2 million are eligible for listing. Mapother said the management team and the founders select the projects based on their budgets and on the experience of those involved.
There is no charge for using the site, but Mapother expects that to change late this year or early next year. The site could make money from listing fees, from finders’ fees or from subscriptions, he said.
“Based on the response we’ve gotten, users will have no reservations about paying for a site that makes it easier to give them access to capital,” Mapother said. For now, he added, the plan is to corner the market and get a lead on any potential competitors. Mapother knows of no other site that links independent films with investors, he said, but there is a Web site, www.kickstarter.com, that enables donations to independent films.
The company ties together several of Mapother’s interests, including acting, technology and venture capital. (See related item below.) It also gives him something to do while he’s waiting for the next movie or TV role, he said.
“I’m thrilled to provide the opportunity for filmmakers to be able to tell their stories,” he said of Slated. “I love what we’re building.”
About William Mapother Jr.
Louisville native William Mapother Jr. is a full-time actor and part-time screenwriter, real estate owner and investor in startup businesses.
His father, the late William Mapother Sr., was an attorney with Louisville law firm Mapother & Mapother PSC and an author of 14 books on creditors’ rights.
The younger Mapother is a cousin of actor Tom Cruise. His notable acting roles include Ethan Rom on the TV series “Lost” and Richard Stout in the 2011 movie “In The Bedroom.” He also has appeared in the TV series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Touched by an Angel,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Mentalist.”
The Los Angeles resident owns a building in the NuLu neighborhood of Louisville with Gill Holland, Augusta Holland, Tim Peters and Lois Mateus, at 721 E. Jefferson St. He is on the investment committee of Evermore Investments LLC in Louisville and on the board of the Community Foundation of Louisville. He served on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild from 2007 to 2011.