MEDIA CFO — Episode 008 — Sky Moore talks to Tobias Jaeger about becoming the leading tax attorney in the media & entertainment industry and building a career through brutal honesty

We sat down with Schuyler „Sky“ Moore, Partner at Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles. Being the prime authority on tax law for the media and entertainment industry is a reputation and expertise he has built over the last 30 years. Sky literally wrote the handbook on tax in media & entertainment as his landmark Treatise is used as a training book by the IRS for their entertainment group.

Tobias Jaeger
Jun 12 · 26 min read
Sky Moore of Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles

“You have to translate from the way they think, which is often creative and spontaneous into legal speak, which means slow down, we have to do the documents, we have to do it right. Don’t stand up at a meeting and shake hands and say the deal’s done. We’ve got to look out for that. I act as the buffer between them and other business people in particular, whether that’s lawyers or studios.”

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE

WATCH THE FULL CONVERSATION ON YOUTUBE

READ THE WHOLE CONVERSATION HERE

“In Hollywood, they love to do short deal memos, term sheets, letters of intent napkin deals. They love to do that. I never let my clients do that. I always have to temper their expectation and say, “We’re not going to do a one-page deal memo. That’s not how this works. That will end up in litigation. I’m trying to keep you out of litigation. We’re going to do this right. I can draft a short document, but it’s going to be a final document.””

“Often, they think that that transaction will close overnight, and I say, “No, no, think about it. They’ve got lawyers, you’ve got lawyers, and there’s going to be business people making comments. This is going to take a while.” I have to say, “This is going to take time, relax.” Those are the biggest ones, it’s more complex than you think. People often come in and they say they have visionary ideas, and I understand how to translate that into reality, and I know that it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take… We’re going to have to do entities or there’s tax issues or something. I have to slow them down and say, “This is going to take time, and it’s going to be more complex than you think.””

“The big issue really that’s lurking is litigation. If you don’t do it right up front, you’re going to end up in litigation. That’s what I always tell my clients. You can’t close on a deal memo with term sheet of… We’ve got to do this right. We’ve got to structure it right, draft it right, and keep you out of litigation because that’s the biggest fear in Hollywood, is because once you’re… To be sued is to lose, and you just go down a rabbit hole at that point.”

“I tend to be too harsh. I’m not as bad as I used to be. I used to call Sky Heavy and now I’m Sky Light. Sky Heavy, if someone made a mistake, I would say, “You idiot.” But I don’t do that anymore.”

“I don’t have much of an impact on legislation itself. What I do do is make comments on regulation, so I can at least write to the IRS when they issue a proposed set of regulations. I do make comments on that. Also, my Treatise is used as a training book by the IRS for their entertainment group.”

“If I was going to categorize trends, I’d say the death of theatrical film experience for films under $100 million dollars. Below $100 million, dead. Serious problems. Bankruptcy, distributors going bankrupt, films not working, not being able to be sold. I’ve got films for clients that I can’t sell right now because they’re in that dead zone below $100 million. That shift is the death of theatrical or the bifurcation of it.”

“Just a check and the hand-eye coordination to write a check because it’s very simple. I work for anybody that pays the bills, and I just prioritize the work and who pays the bills the fastest, their work goes first. If they realize the importance of speed, then I do. Very simple. I don’t care what it is, I’ll do windows or whatever they want.”

“Plus what we’re talking about today is just one aspect of what I do. I also do the real estate tax for this firm, and they have a huge real estate group. I’m also the cannabis tax expert because they have the whole cannabis practice, and so I do the tax planning for that.”




FOLLOW MEDIA CFO

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST

CREDITS

ABOUT MEDIA CFO

ABOUT TOBIAS JAEGER

Media CFO

Stories from the frontlines of finance, strategy, business affairs, and legal in the global media & entertainment industry.

Tobias Jaeger

Written by

Entertainment investment banker turned CFO at Colibri Studios. Proud father and husband. Love all things media & entertainment industry, finance, and aviation.

Media CFO

Media CFO

Stories from the frontlines of finance, strategy, business affairs, and legal in the global media & entertainment industry.