Who: Causeway Films
Collaborators since: December 2015
Project scope: Business Planning & Accounting
Project scope: Tax, accounting and business advisory
At Generate, we often work with creative businesses to help them balance their commercial goals with their creative ambitions.
Causeway Films is one such business. We’ve been advising producers Kristina Ceyton and Sam Jennings over the last six months, helping them to write a business plan that will help them invest their time and energy more effectively. Causeway is a Sydney-based production company whose psychological thriller The Babadook premiered in 2014 to rave reviews. We asked Kristina to explain what business planning is all about.
Kristina established Causeway Films in 2010, bringing Sam on board as business partner in 2014. In 2015 they decided it was time to set down a plan for the company’s future.
“We wanted an outside perspective because as producers, we’re so attached to our projects. We felt we needed to step back and look at our company as a business,” says Kristina.
She and Sam started having weekly catch-ups with David Sharpe, Director of Advisory & Consulting at Generate.
“It was a bit like going to couples therapy. The process makes you ask questions that you normally wouldn’t, and it forced us to think about our relationship to each other and to the business. David created a safe place to bring up our concerns, articulate things that have the potential to become issues, and find solutions.”
It’s not the first time Kristina and Sam have sat down together to write a business plan, but working with Generate has given them a much clearer idea of where to invest their money and energy.
“Writing a business plan means having a realistic expectation of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and understanding the imperatives that underlie your business – everything from your costs and expenses to the overall market – so you can navigate them in a more informed way,” explains Kristina.
Generate also provides Causeway with accounting services, and Kristina says it’s been helpful having the same company across financial and business planning.
“We now have a much clearer picture of our profit and loss, which means we spend where we need to and save where we can. That’s been really helpful.”
She and Sam are now far more discerning about the kind of projects they take on having devised selection criteria for new film projects. Business planning has also helped them clarify the company’s structure, hire a third producer and align with a legal adviser. Causeway is soon heading into production on three new features: Lonely Girl, Cargo, and The Nightingale.
“There is potential to make money in the Australian film industry, absolutely, but it takes talent, passion, love and care. Every film we make either has to have great potential to break out financially, or critically, or ideally both. Finance isn’t the only benchmark,” says Kristina.
“David understands our creative and financial imperatives, and that was really important. He has been a great sounding board and has kept us focussed.”