Dr. P.V. Viswanath



Economics/Finance on the Web
Student Interest

  Courses / EDHEC: Film Finance /  

EDHEC: Film Finance Summer 2008

June 25 to July 9 at the New York campus, Rm W512
Email: pviswanath@pace.edu Tel: (212) 618-6518
Webpage: http://webpage.pace.edu/pviswanath
Blackboard: http://blackboard.pace.edu

Office W416, Pace New York
Office hours: By appointment.
Note:  I am in my office most of the week; send me e-mail, give me a call or just drop by!

Course Objectives

The course will look at the structure of the film industry and how it has evolved in recent years. This will be a prelude to a study of the nature of contracts in the industry -- between producers and distributors, between distributors and exhibitors, and between producers and actors. Another aspect of contracting in the industry is the nature of financing -- how much debt and equity are used, and how it varies across different kinds of films. Finally, time permitting, we will discuss the valuation of film companies, including a look at a unique kind of stock exchange -- the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which is a virtual internet exchange.

During the course of the module, students will be taught the relevant finance concepts, such as bankruptcy costs, information asymmetry and moral hazard. Students will be required to investigate various aspects of the American film industry and make a presentation on the last day of class; students can choose from topics provided or come up with their own topics, which will have to be approved.

As part of the course, we will also see and analyze the film, Lost in La Mancha (2002). In this film, filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe chronicle the making of a movie that was never actually completed in this documentary. Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) made numerous attempts to bring the story of Don Quixote to the big screen -- and all of them failed. In the end, it seems his passionate project -- which also starred Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis and Jean Rochefort -- metamorphosed into the impossible dream. Lost in La Mancha is interesting to us because we see from the developments, how crucial financing, contract details and insurance are to the completion of a movie.

There will also be a final exam. Instruction will be, in addition to Lost in Mancha, through lectures, games and discussion.

Course Text

Required Text:

  • Movie Money by Bill Daniels, David Leedy, Steven D. Sills, 2nd edition, Silman-James Press LA., $15.38 from Amazon
  • The Movie Business Book, Third Edition (Movie Business Book) by Jason E. Squire $11.53 from Amazon

I will also have notes available, which will be available on my website. Also, you should have access to a good Corporate Finance textbook, such as the one below:

You should also have access to the Wall Street Journal.

Computer Use and E-mail Policy:

Check your e-mail on a regular basis.  This will enable you to get the maximum from the course. I am available for consultation by e-mail at pviswanath@pace.edu. I check my e-mail practically every day, and, in most cases, you should get a speedy response to any questions.  

We will also be using Blackboard as a gateway for some aspects of the course.  Please log in to Blackboard at the earliest opportunity.    Blackboard login procedures can be found on the appropriate Blackboard site.  Essentially, your login ID for Blackboard will be your email ID, and your password will be your 9-digit social security number (for more details, go to the Blackboard site).  

Course Requirements

Class Attendance and Participation

Class attendance is mandatory.  I also require that you read the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis. Some exam questions will be based on current newspaper and magazine articles that are related to course material. Hence you should cultivate and improve your ability to read newspaper articles critically. 

Presentation and Working with Teams

On the penultimate day of class, you will be making a presentation based on a selected article. Several articles have been provided for you to choose from and can be found on Blackboard in the Documents Section under Part II of Finance. You will have to work in teams, with at least six persons per team. There will not be a lot of extra time, so make sure you have thought out and structured your presentations well. You must also provided a two-page summary of the article that you will be presenting.


In addition to the presentation, I may assign extra readings.  The main purpose of these assignments is to make sure that you understand the material and to provide perspective on the concepts discussed in class.  Details regarding assignments will be provided during the course; check Blackboard on a regular basis, as well. Assignments that are required to be turned in should be typed.

Academic Integrity and Library Resources

Any student taking this course is presumed to agree to abide by the statement on academic integrity, as described in the latest Graduate Catalog. You can get a copy of the Catalog from Lubin Undergraduate Academic Advisement. If you have any doubts as to what plagiarism is, please go to http://appserv.pace.edu/library/pages/apollo/. You will need to create a login name and password to begin. However, this resource is very useful, not only to understand what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it, but also how to use library resources.

Disability Policy

School policy regarding disabilities can be found on the school website. You can contact the disabilities coordinator at 212-346-1526. Information can also be found on the University webpage.


There will be one exam at the end of the course. Exams are closed book -- no help sheets. If you miss the exam without being excused, I cannot give you any credit.  University policy allows make-ups only for serious personal illness or death in the family, for which documentation may be required.  Please bring your own calculators to the exams; PDAs, however, are not allowed.  Get in touch with me regarding any question you may have regarding the exams, or the course in general.

Study Aids

Media Articles

On my webpages, you will find recent media articles.  From time to time, I will add to this list.  There are several reasons why you should look regularly at these pages.  

  • I will be posting interesting and recent articles to this page.  As such, it will be a useful way for you to keep abreast of topical issues (in addition to your regular perusal of the Wall Street Journal.)
  • I will pose questions on the subject matter of several of the articles.  These questions will be good preparation for the media article based questions on the exams.
  • You can draw on the articles for classroom discussions.
  • These articles and the appended questions are useful preparation for job interviews.
  • Some of these articles may be required reading, to be followed up by Blackboard postings.

The password, necessary to access the Media Articles section will be announced in class, and can also be found at the Blackboard website, under Course Information. In case of emergency, you can contact me for the password.


Your grade will be determined based on your contribution to class discussions, on your presentation, and on the final exam. Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Factor  Impact on grade
Presentation 20%
Final Exam 60%
Assignments 10%
Class Attendance and Participation 10%

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:  

Course Grade Quantitative Class Score
A 93%-100%
A- 90%-92.99%
B+ 87% - 89.99%
B 83% - 86.99%
B- 80% - 82.99%

C+ 77% - 79.99%
C 73% - 76.99%
C- 70% - 72.99%
D+ 67% - 69.99%
D 60% - 66.99%
F 0% - 59.99%

Note that the minimum and maximum quantitative scores for plus and minus refinements to the letter grades will be at my discretion. These will be partly determined by the distribution of student scores within each letter grade category.   I place a high value on effort; at my discretion, I will raise your grade one notch if I feel that you have tried hard to satisfy all the requirements of the course.