17 March 2014 – Square Mile Magazine
WHEN GERAINT ANDERSON DECIDED TO MAKE A FILM VERSION OF HIS BEST-SELLING MEMOIR CITYBOY, HE SOON DISCOVERED THAT, AS WITH BANKING, MONEY TALKS AND BULS**T WALKS…
The script is everything. If you don’t have something that’s interesting, exciting and original then no-one’s going to want to direct it, act in it or finance it. It also has to be 100-120 pages long, perfectly formatted and have a first ten pages that grabs you by the short and curlies. The good news is that Hollywood’s obsession with box-ticking, CGI-based, infantile crap means that there is a gap in the market for some intelligent, adult films. I spent a year and a half writing the Cityboy screenplay, which is about a bumbling Welsh hippy-turned-stockbroker who accidentally sets off the global financial crisis (no relation, obviously).
Once you’ve got your script you need to hook up with a film-making ‘industry professional’ which, as oxymorons go, is up there with ‘military intelligence’ and ‘honest broker’. I discovered very quickly that William Goldman’s famous line “in Hollywood, no-one knows anything” is just as true in London. If you think banking is full of chancers confidently talking about things they clearly don’t understand you want to hang out with some of the characters I’ve met over the last few months. Still, there are a hundred production companies in London and if your bulls**t radar is as attuned as it should be for someone working in the Square Mile then you’ll pick the right crew to roll with. (I chose The Artists Partnership.)
An aged Orson Welles claimed his life was “95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% actually making them”. Fortunately, the UK’s tax incentives for films are now incredible, with the government paying 20% of a British film’s production costs. We’re financing Cityboy via an EIS scheme, which means that any high-rate income tax payer with a CGT liability risks at most 42% of the cash he invests. Since profits are also tax-free there can surely be few better places to invest a bonus. That’s why I’ll be visiting a fair few ex-clients, PowerPoint presentation in hand, over the next two months – just like the good old days – but this time I’ll be selling them a worthwhile product with prospects rather than shares in some dreadful utility company.