TBS spoke with the brains behind Lindfield Partners, John Scutt, about upcoming ambitious yet transformative doco project Red Soul.
TBS: Hi John. Could you please tell TBS readers what led you to starting Lindfield Partners and how it feels to be involved in helping out small businesses across Australia?
After 35 years in the corporate world I decided it was time to put into practice many of the ideas and experiences I had learned as a CEO/senior manager working in large multinational companies, in practical ways to help early-stage and family businesses grow and achieve sustainable profitability.
Over the past nine years, Lindfield Partners has been a leading small business advisory firm providing a range of business and Board-related services, including assistance with raising debt and equity capital for new ventures. Our philosophy is that small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy. We love working with family businesses to grow profitably and we also strongly believe that every family business should have a succession plan to maximize the value created in the business. We have a strong track record helping family businesses since 2006.
I have found the whole experience very rewarding, working with CEOs and Boards to find ways (often through difficult circumstances) to achieve their goals. My role varies from executive recruitment, strategic planning, succession planning, new business development, operational productivity initiatives, and the list goes on. Occasionally the business needs a capital injection, debt or equity to achieve these goals and again it is rewarding to help the business find the necessary capital to deliver the business goals.
For more information contact John Scutt on 0401767639 or visit www.lindfieldpartners.com.au.
You are currently raising funds for the film Red Soul, with Oscar winner Brigitte Berman helming the piece. Why invest in film; why invest in the arts?
Australian film producers over the years have produced many films that have won both critical acclaim and box office success. As with any investment you have to do your homework and ultimately it is about backing the people involved. The arts in Australia has punched above its weight in the international world of arts and entertainment for many years. One of Lindfield’s current projects is to raise $1.2m for Red Soul. I know the people behind this project very well and they have extensive experience in film production. The story in Red Soul has universal appeal and for savvy investors, we believe this project represents a wonderful opportunity to diversify their investment portfolio.
As Lindfield Partners are seeking investors for Red Soul, what can investors expect to see at the box office; ROI; what are the expected results?
With any capital-raising project Lindfield is involved in, we do not act as investment advisors. We have an extensive network of high net-worth investors who take their own financial advice when it comes to what they invest in. There is a professionally-prepared Information Memorandum that sets out the financial forecasts for Red Soul. For any potential investors reading this, we would encourage you to contact us and we will provide the Information Memorandum to you.
Indigenous protest is one of the foundations of soul music. With your three leads stemming from countries with a rich tradition of that (South Africa, Australia, Jamaica), how much of this history do you expect to influence the present?
There is a universal appeal for music generally. Since the 1960s, soul music has been the platform for many successful and famous musicians, particularly those from an underprivileged background. Look at this list of soul musicians: Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and who could forget, Marvin Gaye. No wonder the indigenous Soul singers in South Africa, Australia and Jamaica have been inspired. Red Soul captures this spirit and brings it to life in this film.
The Buena Vista Social Club was about forgotten history; Searching for Sugar Man was about death, the failure of stardom and confirming rumours; Amy about tragic excess and the cost of genius; 20 Feet from Stardom about not getting there at all. What is Red Soul bringing to the table?
We cannot possibly do justice to the Red Soul film project in a single answer, but these are some of the reasons we believe the film has the potential to be both critically acclaimed as well as being a commercial success at the box office. Having researched the analytics for films released over the past decade which were produced in Australia, our belief that Red Soul is well placed to be a commercial success, starts with the success of soul music since the 1960s, and the fact that it has a universal appeal. Red Soul takes you on an exciting and sometimes nostalgic journey across this world of soul music. Coupled with the film, an exciting new original music soundtrack is being written for Red Soul as well, making the whole package new and different. To get a taste for the film Red Soul, a movie trailer is linked at https://vimeo.com/170583397. Once you see and hear this trailer, I am sure you will understand why we believe Red Soul is one of the most exciting film projects in Australia at present.
Being someone who’s consulted GEM, what have you noticed of the commercial approach, and in particular the approach to funding the arts in Australia, and do you have any advice for those who may be working on the periphery at present?
We are seeking sophisticated investors for our client Global Entertainment Media. Our extensive investor network has expressed considerable interest in the Red Soul film project. There are excellent government incentives, including the Producer Offset Rebate, to encourage film producers to work from an Australian base. This is good for Australian jobs in the entertainment and arts sector of the economy. Having said this, there is a general reluctance to invest in asset categories that are outside of real estate and the stock market. No matter how innovative Australians are – and we as a nation are very innovative – the fact remains that we have a small market for most products and services in Australia and this means we must be constantly thinking universal strategies to ensure commercial success. Our advice is straightforward: if you are thinking of producing a film in Australia you must be prepared to do so with an international audience in mind and to only work with acting talent that has a universal appeal.
What do you think is the biggest mistake businesses make when working with an advisory firm like Lindfield Partners?
With our clients there are no big mistakes being made. However, there are constantly more questions on commitment, focus and understanding of what it takes to be commercially successful. It is easy to become distracted from the main goals, and I would say this is the biggest mistake most family business owners make.
What advice would you give to risk averse investors who may be hesitant to support the arts, particularly in Australia?
For me personally, this is the greatest challenge to raising debt and equity capital in Australia. In terms of entertainment and the arts, there is a small set of investors who understand what it takes to undertake a commercially successful arts project, and of course, previous project failures are often used as an excuse not to commit to a new project. My advice as always is to examine the fundamentals of each project and to look at the people involved rather than the category overall. Many investors are risk averse to start with and the lack of proper research simply means it is easier to say no. If there is a truism in raising capital in Australia it is that it is much easier to say no than do the homework to say yes. This truism is coupled with a herd mentality as well, sometimes known as the Packer affect. If the Packers are investing we will as well.