Amy Poehler Shines at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala

Last week, some of the most luminous stars in cinema, both in front and behind the camera, came out to shine as Women In Film, Los Angeles (WIF, LA) celebrated exceptional women in the entertainment industry at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala.

The Women In Film Annual Gala honored film entrepreneurs working in the cinematic arts. The event brought attention and recognition and celebrated the potential and performance of women crafting skilled work in the film world. The 2019 Gala cast a bright spotlight as Natasha Lyonne presented The Women In Film Entrepreneur in Entertainment Award to noted actor/director Amy Poehler.

Other creatives who were honored included Cathy Schulman, who was acknowledged with The Crystal Award for Advocacy in Entertainment. Shulman’s award was presented by actor/activist Viola Davis. Maria Giulia Maramotti presented The Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award to Elizabeth Debicki. And Stephanie Allain introduced the irrepressible Issa Rae with The Women In Film Emerging Entrepreneur Award.

The Stars Come Out
Among the cinematic VIPs who came out for the Gala were performer Charlie Barnett, famous for her work in “Orange is the New Black,” “Russian Doll,” and “You,” WIF, LA Board President Amy Baer, and powerhouse creative Cindy Chupack, director and writer of “Otherhood.”

The WIF Members’ Choice Awards
The sisterhood was strong at the Gala, and the criteria for winning the WIF, LA Members’ Choice Awards focused on female directors who created fantastic narrative feature films that hit the big screen in the US in 2018. Lake Bell, who presented the awards to the winners, got to call on talents and laud works like “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” by Marielle Heller, “Leave No Trace” by Debra Granik, “On The Basis Of Sex” by Mimi Leder, “Dumplin’” by Anne Fletcher, and “The Rider” by Chloé Zhao.

ReFrame for Film
ReFrame, a creative collaborative for cinema under the auspices of WIF, LA and Sundance Institute announced the first class of ReFrame Rise directors and Kyra Sedgwick proudly played the host to the directors who had been selected. The honors went to directors Akhavan, al-Mansour, Cardoso, Culpepper, Freeland, Fuentes, Mabry, and Menon. Sedgwick, a triple-threat as a performer/director/producer noted in her speech that in her experience as an actor and director, she understood and empathized with the necessity of support within the profession. She also noted the need to present fresh vantage points in all areas of the film arts and how cinema was made stronger by hearing from a diverse range of voices to craft stories that resonate with audiences.

ReFrame Rise is providing sponsorship that supports opportunities, recognition, and visibility for female film entrepreneurs. The program is intended to help film artists take on an array of positions, including studio honchos, directors, and producers who create content for feature films and television programs. ReFrame and Hulu announced their plans for a 3-year commitment to foster talent and to create innovative new content.

What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company’s Financial Strength

What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company's Financial Strength
What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company’s Financial Strength

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The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), a large-cap worth US$252b, comes to mind for investors seeking a strong and reliable stock investment. Market participants who are conscious of risk tend to search for large firms, attracted by the prospect of varied revenue sources and strong returns on capital. But, its financial health remains the key to continued success. This article will examine Walt Disney’s financial liquidity and debt levels to get an idea of whether the company can deal with cyclical downturns and maintain funds to accommodate strategic spending for future growth. Remember this is a very top-level look that focuses exclusively on financial health, so I recommend a deeper analysis into DIS here.

Does DIS Produce Much Cash Relative To Its Debt?

Over the past year, DIS has ramped up its debt from US$25b to US$57b – this includes long-term debt. With this increase in debt, DIS’s cash and short-term investments stands at US$10b to keep the business going. Moreover, DIS has generated US$14b in operating cash flow during the same period of time, leading to an operating cash to total debt ratio of 24%, meaning that DIS’s debt is appropriately covered by operating cash.

Does DIS’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?

Looking at DIS’s US$44b in current liabilities, it seems that the business may not have an easy time meeting these commitments with a current assets level of US$34b, leading to a current ratio of 0.77x. The current ratio is the number you get when you divide current assets by current liabilities.

Does DIS face the risk of succumbing to its debt-load?

With a debt-to-equity ratio of 54%, DIS can be considered as an above-average leveraged company. This is common amongst large-cap companies because debt can often be a less expensive alternative to equity due to tax deductibility of interest payments. Since large-caps are seen as safer than their smaller constituents, they tend to enjoy lower cost of capital. We can assess the sustainability of DIS’s debt levels to the test by looking at how well interest payments are covered by earnings. Net interest should be covered by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by at least three times to be safe. For DIS, the ratio of 25.05x suggests that interest is comfortably covered. It is considered a responsible and reassuring practice to maintain high interest coverage, which makes DIS and other large-cap investments thought to be safe.

Next Steps:

DIS’s cash flow coverage indicates it could improve its operating efficiency in order to meet demand for debt repayments should unforeseen events arise. Furthermore, its lack of liquidity raises questions over current asset management practices for the large-cap. I admit this is a fairly basic analysis for DIS’s financial health. Other important fundamentals need to be considered alongside. You should continue to research Walt Disney to get a better picture of the stock by looking at:

  • Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for DIS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for DIS’s outlook.
  • Valuation: What is DIS worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether DIS is currently mispriced by the market.
  • Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here

Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?

Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?
Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?

Whether you work in the movie business, use movies to entertain business clients or support charities through ticket purchases, it is very likely you can claim movie tickets as a business expense, even if there is no tax on movie tickets. Since movies are widely viewed as a form of personal entertainment, it is imperative to be thorough with your record-keeping to support your claims. Make sure you are claiming movie tickets for the right reasons to pass inspection when you file

Tip

The IRS allows for business deductions that are considered ordinary and necessary for your type of business. This means it may be possible for you to deduct those movie tickets come tax time.

Business Expenses Defined

A business expense is a cost that is incurred while a business is operating. This could mean the amount spent on advertising to new customers, or money spent on potential clients to attempt to gain their business. If movie tickets are part of the cost of doing business, then at least a portion of the expense can be claimed as a business expense. But how the tickets and used and the reason for them comes into play.

Entertaining Clients

When entertaining a client for business reasons, from rounds of golf to movie tickets, you can deduct half your entertainment expenses. However, there are a few things you should do to support your deduction claim so you do not run afoul of the IRS. Keep timely track of your entertainment expenses. Keep a journal, diary or calendar updated with the following information: who was present, where the theater is located, when it happened, why the meeting was important and how much it cost. If you do not record this information immediately, you may not be able to deduct the movie tickets. Any expense over $75 requires keeping a receipt.

General Work-Related Education

Expenses you incur to maintain or improve your skills for your job are deductible, according to the IRS. That means if you are a history teacher, tickets for a documentary movie with new, related information about a historical event is deductible because you are watching it to maintain or improve your professional knowledge. However, education expenses for a new job are not deductible. The movie has to be related to your current job for you to claim it. Keep detailed records concerning the time, place and importance of the film to support your claim.

Charitable Organizations

If your movie tickets are part of a charitable donation, you may be able to claim a deduction. The fine print on this example is that you can deduct only what you spend beyond the fair market price of the ticket. For instance, if at a fundraiser you purchase movie tickets for $100 that would typically cost $30, your charitable contribution is $70. That $70 is deductible. Benefits for film-funding charities sometimes offer overpriced tickets to a screening to raise money for students and grants. If you support an institution in this manner, the amount you spend that is over the fair market value of the entertainment you receive is considered a deductible expense.

Film Industry Professionals

Simply because you work in movies doesn’t mean that every movie you see will be considered a business expense by the IRS. In fact, if you attempt to deduct every movie you see, that will raise a red flag. The most important element of claiming movie tickets as a business expense as a film professional or claiming tax deductions for entertainment industry professionals is keeping thorough records and receipts that explain the business need to see each film. Whether you are an actor, technician, writer, director or producer, make claiming a movie ticket easier on yourself by keeping the receipt and the ticket stapled together, along with an explanation of why this particular film was a business requirement.

Rules to Live By When Launching a Franchise Program

1. Self-evaluation: what interests to you about opening a franchised business? Are you ready, willing and able to work long hours, including weekends and holidays (especially in the beginning)? Can you commit to following pre-determined business methods with very little variation, if any variation at all? Can you accept paying a portion of your profits to another entity (the franchisor)? Are you comfortable with the reputation of your business being largely reliant on the franchise’s network and not just your business unit?

Moreover, how much of your personal cash are you willing to part with to establish the business? Unless you’re fortunate enough to have enough money personally, do you have adequate assets (savings accounts, real estate, securities, etc.) to secure a loan?

2. Pick a franchise consultant to assist you (optional): despite all of the information available online, it’s still a good notion to enlist the help of a franchise consultant to help guide you through the process.

Much like a real estate agent is a good ally in the purchase of a home, a franchise consultant has industry-specific knowledge and can relate possibly complicated topics (including aspects of agreements and disclosure documents) to you in a more understandable way. A franchise consultant could also potentially keep you from experiencing pitfalls that may happen without their expertise.

3. Research: what kind of businesses can your area sustain—and are those the type of businesses you’re interested in opening? Federal and state governments provide free access to statistics and other data. Use the info gathered to match up your personal situation and the business environment of your area with a suitable franchise system. Plus, your common sense and gut feelings are good guides to figuring out what businesses are and could be sustainable in your locale.

Once you’ve narrowed your research down to a few strong contenders, request the franchise application from those companies. After the franchise decides that you could be a good match for their system, they will send you a copy of their franchise disclosure document (FDD). The FDD will give an even deeper look into their business system.

4. Visit a ‘discovery day’: a discovery day is an in-depth meeting between the franchisor and one or more potential franchisees. It can take place at a local outlet, but most likely will happen at the company’s corporate office.

Often, the franchisee or franchisees in attendance will see presentations about what the franchisor can offer in terms of support, and can ask questions. If done at the corporate office, a tour of the different departments and introductions to franchisee training and support personnel are common.

5. Speak to other franchisees: within the FDD provided by the franchisor is a listing of all current franchisees in their system. Find a few that are close to you and pay them a visit. Are they satisfied with the franchisor’s support? Is the reality of the business in line with prior expectations (financially and otherwise)?

6. Find a suitable location: if you’re located in a low traffic area or an area where there are no complementary businesses around, how are you going to get customers? The franchisor will delineate certain parameters for your territory in the FDD and franchise agreement. In addition, most franchisors assist with site selection. If you choose a suitable place for business on your own, the franchisor will have to approve your location before you can move forward.

7. Choose a franchise and secure funding: after you’ve completed your research, it’s time to make the big decision—which franchise system will you invest in?

Once you have decided, you’ll have all of the information necessary to complete a business plan and present it to potential lenders. There are numerous financing options out there for you to consider: bank loans, SBA (Small Business Administration) loans, HELOC (home equity line of credit), etc. Remember, you’ll need enough cash reserves to cover expenses until the business begins to turn a profit, which in some cases can be months after opening.

8. Sign the agreement: while many franchisors have rigid franchise agreements, some franchisors may be more flexible about negotiating terms in the agreement.

If the franchisor is willing to negotiate certain terms (like lease parameters), it’s a good idea to seek counsel from a lawyer with franchise-specific experience to find the best solutions for your particular situation. If the franchisor does have a rigid franchise agreement, that isn’t a cause for concern. Remember, franchises are based upon a proven system and consistency of the brand. If the franchise agreement for the brand you chose is overly negotiable, it could be cause for deeper investigation.

9. Obtain all necessary permits and insurance: each industry has its own requirements for permits and insurance. Regulations by state, city, county, etc. will vary as well. The franchisor will likely have background knowledge of the permits and insurance needed to operate their business system.

However, it’s a good idea to check with local authorities to ensure compliance. Two good websites to use as a reference to what permits and insurance might be necessary for U.S. businesses to obtain are the Small Business Administration and FindLaw.

10. Hire staff and attend the training: the number of staff members needed to run the operation will depend on the type of franchise chosen.

One of the most appealing aspects of franchising to those wanting to open a business is the training component. Franchisors usually provide training, in a combination of classroom and practical experiences, to at least the franchisee and another manager. A copy of the franchise operations manual is also typically presented at this time.

11. Open your franchise business: before opening, you will need to alert potential customers to their new marketplace option. Franchisors will often have defined processes for signage, ads, and other initiatives to be performed. Estimates for these initiatives will usually be a part of the start-up costs quoted in the FDD.

Some franchisors will do a ‘soft opening’ before the ‘grand opening’. A soft opening is designed to smooth out problems with the operation of the business before the big marketing blitz and hopefully larger crowds that will come with the grand opening. Some franchisors also arrange for a corporate trainer to be on hand at the franchise location during the opening days.

3 Smart Ways to Overcome Your Anxieties about Investing

Anxieties about Investing

Most of us have the most basic understanding of finances. We work hard to earn our money. We use that money to pay our bills, buy a house, pay for our kids’ education, and whatever is left over we put in the bank to save for the “future,” whatever that means. But we all know there is another world out there. A world with people in nice suits and fancy cars. People who seem to know how to get their money to work for them. The people of Wall St. We don’t want to be like them. Most of us just want to lead simple lives but, man, wouldn’t it be great to be a little like them? But there’s no way. There’s just too much to learn and it requires skills we just don’t have, right?

No. That kind of “I don’t belong” fear is what prevents most people from investing. Here’s what you can do to get over it.

Start learning
You want to get over your fear of investing? Learn how to invest. It’s not as hard as you think. You don’t need an Ivy League education to become a wise investor. You can teach yourself by buying a few books. Just Google, “top rated investment books for beginners,” and you will see many options to choose from with detailed reviews. There are also websites dedicated to the subject such as The Balance, Bloomberg, and Yahoo Finance. Teaching yourself how to invest is easier than you think.

Realize you are just as wise as everyone else
Remember those Wall St. people with their fancy stuff? A lot of them go on TV to talk about “dividend plays,” and “price to earnings multiples,” and whatever highfalutin terms that don’t make sense to us. They obviously know something we don’t know, right? No. Believe it or not, most investors under-perform the market. That means if all you do is put money in an index fund and do nothing else for the next 20 years you will have outperformed most investors. Seriously. Why? Most investors are really bad at timing. They buy when they should sell and sell when they should buy. Does that mean you should just put your money in an index fund and forget it? No, there are a few really good investors who consistently outperform the market. Learn from them. Buy their books.

Go with what you know
You might not know which pharmaceutical company might be developing the next great cancer drug, but maybe you love watching movies on Netflix, or eating at Chipotle. Behind each great company you love there is a stock that you can invest in. Do some homework on them and invest if their future looks bright. You’ll feel more comfortable investing in companies you understand than ones you don’t. 

Remember, investing isn’t a members-only club. You belong. Go out there and buy wisely.

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing
5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing

Every father and mother wants the best for their kids, and this often includes financial security. Financially savvy parents often provide sufficient financial education for their kids throughout their time in the house. This may begin with a basic savings account and learning about the benefits of saving regularly, and it can grow into stock investing. Financial planning and personal finance are topics that many adults prefer to avoid altogether, and this can be a source of stress. However, when you talk to your kids about long term investments and financial security earlier in life, they can actually get excited about the money. By understanding these steps, you may be able to get your kids excited about their economic investments.

Encourage Them to Save Money For Their Own Investments


Saving money can generally be rather boring for kids, and it may even seem like a punishment to some. For example, if a child received money for allowance or as a birthday gift and you require the child to put half of that money into a savings account, he or she may feel punished because the money cannot be spent on their terms. However, when kids are permitted to save money for their own investment purchases, they may see a reason for their savings. 

Let Them Research and Pick Their Own Stocks


Everyone likes to be in control of their money, and this includes kids. There are many ways to pick stocks, and you may want to save an earnings per share analysis or another similar form of analysis until kids are well into their teen years. Younger kids may be able to pick their stocks by choosing brands they are familiar with, reviewing stock charts on a basic level and looking at buy, sell or hold recommendations from experts. Of course, you should have the final say in their stock picks. You also should show them how dividends work and the benefits of choosing dividend stocks.

Make Investing a Regular Activity They Can Look Forward To


The best way to watch your child’s account grow is to make regular contributions. Consider setting up a regular time when you and your child sit down to make stock picks and to review account growth. By making investing a regular activity that you do together, you may find that he or she begins to enjoy this quality time with you.

Show Them How to Monitor Account Growth


Everyone loves to see their money grow, and this holds true for kids as well. Show your kids how to read their account information online. Clearly, show them the number of donations they have made, their total balance and the current growth. Monitoring account growth is an excellent way to encourage kids to take a greater interest in their finances.

Use an Online Investment Growth Calculator to Project Their Future Wealth


Even children understand the importance and value of money on some level, and this knowledge expands as they get older. When you think your child has a solid grasp on how much things cost and how much money they may need when they get older, show them investment growth calculators online. These are excellent tools that can be used to determine your future account value if you continue to enjoy the same rate of growth and make the same regular contributions to your account. Many kids who start investing at an early age and who continue the activity into their young adult years can retire with financial security at a very young age. 

Finances and investments are common challenges for adults, and the unfortunate reality is that many adults were never formally educated by their parents about these matters. By teaching your child about finances and by getting him or her excited about money, you are taking great strides to promote your child’s financial security. 

Has the World Wide WebModified the Film Trade?

Has the INTERNET CHANGED the MOVIE BUSINESS?

There is no denying it: the Internet has changed our world.  Nearly every aspect of our society has been affected by it and has had to adapt.  If telephones and airplanes made the world smaller, the Internet shrank it many times more. The ability to communicate instantly with anyone in the world—with words, pictures, music, and video—has forced us to change how we do business, how we interact with the world around us.  The Internet has changed the movie business drastically as well, not only by affecting how movies are marketed and watched but also by changing the pathways and entrances to the movie industry itself.

It used to be that if you wanted a career in film, there was a narrow path to take to get there—one that involved a lot of face-to-face networking and “dues” paying.  Most people couldn’t make independent films, much less get them seen, unless they went to school to get access to the equipment, or grew up on the set.  Most people didn’t make the right connections unless they moved to Hollywood and were lucky enough to land a job on a movie set doing whatever.

Today, there still is a lot of networking and dues-paying to get into the movie business, but the Internet has radically changed what that looks like; and the biggest change has been in accessibility.  Combined with the advent of cheap digital technology, the Internet now makes it much easier for almost anyone to do a video project and get it seen.  Web sites like YouTube and Vimeo have made it so anyone with a camera can post a video, and computers now have editing capabilities to help anyone “tweak” their projects and make them look better.  As a result, millions of aspiring filmmakers, who otherwise would not have the resources to get seen, can now “go public” on their own. 

The Internet simplifies the process of entering films into contests and makes it possible to network with many more people. Most of all, it allows filmmakers to get their work “out there”, getting attention on the web before a movie mogul ever sees it.  There are also (obviously) a lot of mediocre projects posted by amateurs for fun, but for the serious-minded, the Internet has become a virtual “calling card”.  Not only does it help unknown filmmakers gain more access to the public and to industry professionals; it also makes a possible career in film more accessible to more filmmakers.

As with anything else, the movie business has had to adapt to the changes the Internet has brought and is still adapting; neither is the Internet a guaranteed ticket to Hollywood. You still have to be good to stand out, especially with all the competition on the web.  But the Internet does provide much more access than before, and forward-thinking individuals may even find more innovative ways to use the web for filmmaking in the future.

5 tips to send stress on vacation and recharge

These 5 Destressing Practices Will Restore Your Energy Levels

Between family obligations and career responsibilities, stress mounts up quickly and can leave you feeling drained and unmotivated. If you’re like most people, you don’t take the time you need to distress, believing you’re too busy to worry about stress. In fact, if you make the time to follow these five tips, you’ll find that your energy levels are restored, you feel better about life in general, and you’re more productive on a daily basis. 

Take One Vacation Per Year

Taking a vacation isn’t just about doing something fun. There are very serious health-related reasons for taking one week a year to yourself. First of all, it takes you away from those daily stressors and helps you recharge your spirit. Just getting away from the everyday frustrations in your life is enough to relieve tension, but it will also help you live longer. Studies have found that people who don’t take yearly vacations have a significantly higher mortality rate at younger ages.

Schedule Meditation into Your Day

The best thing about meditation is that it only takes a few minutes and you can do it almost anyplace. There’s no reason you can’t meditate at least once a day. You can do it in your office, your car, a secluded area of the park, or in your own home. As long as you can arrange to be left undisturbed for five to 10 minutes, any location will suffice. In addition to eliminating stress, regular meditation improves memory and boosts cognitive functioning. If you’re unsure how to get started, you can find many tutorials online.

Exercise Each Day

This may be the most important suggestion on this list. Doctors wore that failing to get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise daily will have negative effects on your health. Ultimately, it will decrease your lifespan. Alternatively, working physical activity into your daily routine will have the opposite effect. In addition to reducing stress, it will have positive effects on mood, concentration, heart health, digestion, and respiration. In fact, there isn’t a system in the body that isn’t helped by some exercise.

Socialize with Family and Friends

Socialization is important to emotional health, so making more time for your loved ones will help you. When you spend time with family and friends, it gives you an opportunity to vent your frustrations and share your insights about your day. This is enough to relieve stress in itself. Additionally, laughing, having fun, and simply communicating with people you like will reduce stress and strengthen your emotional health. Your loved ones will appreciate it, too. This is an opportunity to attend your child’s game, or take your spouse out for dinner.

Eat a Healthier Diet

Most of us don’t realize that the foods we eat have direct effects on how we feel. One obvious example is excessive sugar intake, which gives us a quick high that only lasts for a brief period. Conversely, whole grains and a plant-based diet provides us with energy that the body regulates over a longer period of time. The vitamins, nutrients, and proteins in healthier foods also chase away feelings of anxiety and depression, while promoting better mood balance. A plant-based diet has also been found to strengthen cognitive functioning over a longer period of time, reducing the risks of developing age-related mental illnesses.
Emotional health is as vital to your wellbeing as your physical health. It may mean making some sacrifices, but taking the time to follow these suggestions will have a positive effect on your life. You’ll feel happier, be healthier, and live a longer life.