The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

1 Looking back

What is a completion guarantee? This has been mentioned already in this course – it's sometimes referred to as the completion bond. James Shirras, Managing Director of Film Finances, the first ever company specialising in completion guarantees, explains the origin of the concept.

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Transcript: Video 2 James Shirras explains the origin of the guarantee

JAMES SHIRRAS
The completion guarantee is designed specifically to enable a producer to say to a financier, I can provide you with the assurance that if you give me this amount of money, that will be the end of it. And there would be no more that I'll be coming back to you for. And that is the origin of the completion guarantee. In its first year of operation, it provided completion guarantees for 15 films. And we have the pape- we have the scripts, we have the progress reports, we have the budgets for all of those, and also, very interestingly, the correspondence which went back and forth at that time between the company, the producers, and their financiers.
End transcript: Video 2 James Shirras explains the origin of the guarantee
Video 2 James Shirras explains the origin of the guarantee
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Founded in 1950 at a time when the banks had grown extremely nervous about lending to film producers, his company has been providing completion guarantee services to financiers ever since. In the process it has amassed an archive of documentary records for several thousand films. This extraordinary archive of production documents relates to some of the most famous British films, particularly from the 1950s and 1960s. There are documents to be found in the archive from films such as The African QueenZuluCabaret and Dr. No.

Before taking a much closer look at the Dr. No case study, let’s find out why the completion guarantee is so important and what a completion guarantor does – especially when the film production gets out of hand. Here’s James Shirras again.

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Transcript: Video 3 James Shirras what a completion guarantor does

JAMES SHIRRAS
The reason that financiers need completion guarantees is, of course, to ensure that there is an expert available in the event that things start to go wrong. So if something appears untoward, for example, if the schedule is not being shot, if the film is falling behind, if it looks as though it's going to take longer than the time allowed to get the shooting finished, or if the costs are going beyond what they should reasonably be at that point, then we will take a very close interest in that.
 Sometimes we might feel that it would help if we controlled the cash flow, so that the producers have to think hard before they try to make payments, if they know that we're also going to have to approve them. That's quite an effective form of disciplining producers.
End transcript: Video 3 James Shirras what a completion guarantor does
Video 3 James Shirras what a completion guarantor does
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