Magazine article Screen International

Phil Hunt, Head Gear Films

Magazine article Screen International

Phil Hunt, Head Gear Films

Article excerpt

London-based Head Gear Films is having a boom year backing larger-scale films starring the likes of Julianne Moore and Mickey Rourke. Phil Hunt tells Michael Rosser about fostering more relationships with the US.

It has been an extraordinary year for Head Gear Films, the London-based film investment firm led by Phil Hunt.

After spending a decade investing in around 70 movies, the past 12 months have seen activity ramp up significantly with $34.8m ploughed into 27 features including Samuel L Jackson thriller Big Game and crime drama Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Head Gear's sister international sales company, Bankside Films, has also enjoyed a period of major growth with a string of successes in the international marketplace.

Hunt points out that while Head Gear has a growing appetite to invest in third-party productions, the finance company will always back Bankside titles.

"With Head Gear's backing, Bankside has become much more aggressive in its acquisitions policy and we are now financing and distributing films of larger scale with world-class writers, directors and cast," says Hunt.

One success story to come out of the arrangement is Belle, Amma Asante's period drama about a mixed-race woman raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England, which made more than $15.5m at the box office.

"We put some late-stage development finance in after seemingly everyone had passed on the project," Hunt recalls. "Bankside saw its potential so we helped piece the finance together. It was a great movie, a great deal and also performed at the box office. It did everything we always hope films will do."

Titles on Bankside's AFM slate that Head Gear has co-financed include Julianne Moore drama Freeheld, Mickey Rourke feature Ashby and Morgan Matthews' X+Y, which debuted at Toronto.

'We now have the knowledge to make better judgments on which films we believe will find the right audience with the right budget'Phil Hunt, Head Gear

Hunt, a former advertising and music photographer who began producing films in the mid-1990s, says part of the shift is down to confidence in judging what films can deliver.

"With the wealth of experience we have accumulated over the years, we now have the knowledge to make better judgments on which films we believe will find the right audience with the right budget," he says.

The long way round

This is no overnight success. Hunt first looked to launch a company 12 years ago after meeting writer-director Greg Cruttwell on UK indie film Chunky Monkey. They brought in a third partner, investor Compton Ross, and Head Gear Films was launched in 2002. …

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