As co-owner of the entertainment consulting firm Film Closings, Inc., Jeff Steele is a noted film finance expert in all matters of debt and equity, but also has a significant array of hands-on producing credits. Currently he is consulting for Inferno Entertainment on their slate, and previously consulted on films such as the recent thriller “DARK TIDE” starring Halle Berry and Oliver Stone’s “W.”
Steele is publisher of the film finance blog, FilmClosings.com, where he offers his own unique perspective on the industry.
Film Closings focuses on the management and development of financial solutions and strategies for agencies, management firms, foreign sales companies, and independent producers. Steele is often considered unorthodox within the indie financing world and is known amongst his peers for cultivating strategies atypical of the traditional Hollywood model. The company offers its services to producers and companies working within all budget ranges—from small independent projects under $1 million to tent pole and major studio franchise films—and covers all areas of finance such as equity, gap, pre-sale, tax credit, and bridge funding. Film Closings will also create finance plans for clients, source financing for packaged projects, and steer filmmakers through the vigorous film closing process.
Steele was previously the Chief Financial Officer of Magnet Media Group (MMG), an equity finance, production, and distribution fund based in Los Angeles. At Magnet, he oversaw and closed deals for the company’s projects including “DARK TIDE”. Prior to handling the film closings at MMG, Steele served as a director of film finance for Screen Capital International, a leading entertainment financier and founding shareholder of Aramid Entertainment.
As partner in Film Closings, the film finance firm that she co-founded with her business partner and spouse Jeff Steele. She is responsible for overseeing the company’s new business development and lunching of a new film investment fund.
Her backgrounds in technology, social entrepreneurship, film production and finance have combined to make Friedman an accomplished force in convergent media and understanding the needs of the masses.
Friedman Steele’s work as a film and television producer has garnered her accolades from organizations around the world. In 2005, she won the Genesis Award for her theatrical documentary, BEST FRIEND FORGOTTEN. The feature length project, which Friedman wrote, directed and produced was hosted by David Duchovny and dealt with the epidemic of animal overpopulation. In addition to a U.S. theatrical release, the film aired nationally on PBS and was shown on Discovery Networks worldwide, and continues to sell on DVD.
Impressed with her success with the film, Friedman Steele was recruited by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to spearhead the creation of their first TV/Film division: Animal Content in Entertainment (ACE), where she worked with network television writers and feature film producers to develop and support animal content in mainstream television and film. Friedman Steele worked closely with foreign and domestic distributors to facilitate distribution deals for documentary filmmakers, in a highly competitive marketplace. At the same time, she also worked with philanthropists from across the country to create the ACE Film Grant, which continues to award production grants to professional and student documentary filmmakers who highlight animal issues in their films.
Cable television’s shift to reality-television virtually eliminated the few remaining outlets for factual entertainment, and recognizing the need for alternative access points for documentary filmmakers to reach their audiences, Friedman Steele left HSUS in 2006 to create the technology company Hot Potato, Inc. Under her leadership, Hot Potato developed an unprecedented video search technology that utilized a propriety ingestion engine for the metadata that supports professionally produced content. The Hot Potato technology eventually came to the attention of MPEG (the Motion Picture Experts Group), the international body in charge of developing and adopting standards for the global media industries such as: DVD, mp3, and H.264/Blue-Ray. Friedman Steele was appointed as the Co-Chair of the ad-hoc committee to develop MPEG-M, an international standard for post-production deliverable documentation and meta-data search technology. While not an engineer by trade, she came out of this experience an engineer by proxy — one of the very few non-engineers to ever sit at the forefront of leading an international group of the best and brightest engineers from tech companies, media conglomerates, and governments from all over the world.
Over the years, Friedman has written, produced and directed comedy, drama, and reality shows at major Hollywood studios and networks including NBC, Buena Vista, PBS, Animal Planet, and USA Networks. One of her first jobs was writing for comedienne Louie Anderson on ‘Family Feud’.
Friedman has been involved with the entertainment industry since she was a young girl growing up in Chicago, performing with Ben Vereen, the Steppenwolf Theatre, and Northwestern University Cherubs.
Friedman is a regular panelist at film festivals and markets. She regularly consults filmmakers, technologists, broadcasters, non-profits, and filmanthropists looking to make a greater impact through traditional and alternative entertainment-based mediums. Went not investing in commercial real estate projects, restaurants, or night clubs. Film Finance models is where top creative financiers come together with top creatives.
Prior to her position with Film Closings, S.J. Main worked with a number of companies, including with Stanley Donen, Merchant Ivory Productions and River Road Entertainment. Main’s expertise as Producer is in the development and production of US-based and international productions. Her command of language and story structure was earned through Script Reader positions at New York-based production companies, including Walden Media and Radical Media, as well as through the ownership of an international essay editing firm. Main is vital to the Film Closings team, offering project development and writing skills to the Contextual Learning Project currently in development. At Film Closings, Main has also been responsible for packaging feature projects for financing consideration and other duties with a focus on business communication. Main received a BA from UCLA’s School of TFT, a Master’s Degree from the Graduate Film Program of Columbia University of New York, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Media and Communications at the European Graduate School.