People think of the entertainment biz in general as a sexy industry - that’s why most investors are eager to buy their way in. They may have made their fortunes in tech, shipping, or investment banking, but calling yourself a “Producer” in LA seems to be a guaranteed panty dropper.
I recently went to dinner with a potential investor for a film I am producing. He was in his late 70s, made his money on Wall Street, and was interested in dabbling in the Biz. Since he was recently divorced, I wasn’t sure whether or not he would be bringing a date to dinner with my husband and I – so I awkwardly asked if I should make the reservation for 3 or 4 people. “4” he said proudly.
Once we arrived at the restaurant, there she appeared, like a gift from the stereotype gods – Investor had brought along a 21 year old Russian prostitute, thick accent, only recently having arrived in the US, and certainly dressed the part.
I am used to seeing a dazzling array of usually Eastern European professionals in Cannes, poolside at the Du Cap, or perched at the Four Seasons bar in Berlin, but this was my first experience one on one at the dinner table.
As soon as we sat down and ordered drinks (and my husband and I finished kicking each other under the table), Investor and his arm candy started getting a bit handsy. I just couldn’t help myself – I had to ask: “So how did you two love birds meet?”
Investor swallowed hard and barked: “Through a mutual friend.” He very quickly changed the subject. I did my best to engage the girl throughout dinner – she was perfectly sweet, though had trouble following the conversation since her English wasn’t that strong. I must say, I have nothing but respect for the world’s oldest profession. I almost feel bad that single girls these days give it up for free so quickly on Tinder – the pros must be losing a lot of business.
Investor spent most of the meal talking about how rich he was, how many things he owned, fancy places he had visited, and showing pictures of all of the above to really impress the girl. And then, the bomb dropped. Investor was excited to tell us that Yulia was actually an aspiring model and actress, and wouldn’t it be great to give her a part in the film we were developing.
This is where things get sticky. From tech giants, to real estate tycoons and oligarchs, there seems to always be a girlfriend, daughter, wife, or side piece, who must be written into a project.
Sometimes it isn’t that bad, and said caveat can easily fit in and have some talent. And luckily, the relationships don’t always last, and the whole thing is dropped. But on occasion, you realize that maybe your investor isn’t as interested in actually financing a project as he is bringing his dates to a dinner meeting or premieres for showboating purposes.
It has become an acceptable norm in our business. There really isn’t any embarrassment or hesitation on insisting on these stipulations anymore, and no one in my circle was surprised at all when I shared the story.
The whole incident reminded me of another time where one of my investors bought a table for 6 figures at a fancy industry charity event, all at the request of his current girlfriend, so she could walk the red carpet in a gown and be photographed. At least the cause benefited from the gold digger’s demands.
It never ceases to amaze me how much money someone will spend to get laid. Financing a film that may or may not recoup seems like a huge amount of effort for an orgasm.
The deal with that investor for my film never did close by the way, but I’m sure he closed all night with poor Yulia.