Tomb Raider director Simon West backs away from ‘creativity stifling’ studios and crowdfunds latest film

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

July 30, 2014 | 3 min read

The director of Tomb Raider and Con Air has turned to crowdfunding to source £1.8m for his new action comedy Salty.

Determined to “break away” from the big budget, big studio model, Simon West has offered investors a portion of the films profits and, if the donation is sizeable enough, a chance to feature in the movie.

“With the studios’ deep pockets comes bureaucracy that’s inefficient, expensive and which can stifle creativity,” he said.

“Salty will be different – and not just because it’s the first time smaller investors have been able to buy into a major film’s potential returns. As it’s a privately funded film, my production team and I will keep creative control while keeping costs down, while also giving free rein to the very best the cast and crew have to offer.

West claims to be the first A-List Hollywood director to fund a movie this way.

Investors have been invited to buy shares in a specially created company, Salty Film Ltd, via the equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom.

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SyndicateRoom’s funding model allows small investors to invest alongside professional “angel” investors. Angel investors have already bought £450,000 of equity in Salty Films, and now the crowdfunding platform is selling the remaining shares to anyone willing to invest a minimum of £1,000.

Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, founder and CEO, SyndicateRoom said that West’s decision to crowdsource was “revolutionary.”

“Simon’s contacts book reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood, and there is no shortage of cigar-chomping movie moguls willing to back his films. So his decision to use crowdfunding to raise an important part of the budget for Salty is truly revolutionary.”

Anyone investing £90,000 or more will be offered the chance to appear in the film as an extra.

Earlier this year, the producer of House of Cards, The Social Network and Fifty Shades of Grey, Dana Brunetti, said that movies should not be funded through crowdsourcing as "it takes away from little guys."

"I don't really approve if it," he said at SXSW, adding that there were " a lot of other great things on Kickstarter" and that "people have great ideas that benefit human kind" that were more deserving of funding than movies. "They are just bad business."

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