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Old 08-25-2017, 10:37 AM   #16
mlesemann
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Originally posted by Mr.: Two years ago I began writing on a micro budget feature. The script is now complete
I spent 3 years (off and on) working on the script for my first feature (Surviving Family) and it was absolutely worth the time I spent on it. Congrats for finishing!

I agree with the comments from IndieTalk re deferred payment. Just be sure that your budget includes $$ to feed people.

Last edited by mlesemann; 08-25-2017 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 08-25-2017, 10:40 AM   #17
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A good tip is to follow union rules for meals and breaks, even if non-union. This ensures you are treating your people right, and what they are used to as well, if they have worked union. Food is important! Must have the craft service table with munchies/bev all day too. Happy crew, happy movie (a variation of happy wife, happy life, but works lol).
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Old 08-25-2017, 11:36 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Quality View Post
Two years to write one script? xD

If you're not sure how many people will be involved in the production, to begin with, you can't legally write an agreement.
Another example of misinformation.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:40 AM   #19
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Thanks guys for your thought and input on this, I truly appreciate your taking your time helping me! Reading your comments though I realised the need for more information about the project and my situation.

I've been very honest about the financial conditions of this project to everyone involved since day one. Some of the cast and crew are friends of mine from film school, they know exactly what this project is about. I already consider those who've joined this project as of late my friends, and again, I've been very upfront about the financial situation.

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Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
Offering points on a microbudget, of potential profits, means, working for free, with the off chance, like the lottery, they will get paid. I don't see it as a way of thanks.
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Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Indietalk, and AcousticAL are right in their caution to you about this kind of payment – any person with a little experience knows they will never get paid so my advice is to be very open and up front about that.
I've told everyone who's now aboard since day one that I'll only be able to cover their expenses (rent, travel costs and accommodation etc.) during principle photography. I've told them that other than that, I have no money to offer.

We're all young filmmakers trying to break into the industry. I've told them they'll be able to use material from this film for their reels, I've offered myself to cut their reels. That's one way for me to say thanks! But another way is to offer them a piece of the cake IF we happen to sell the movie. To me that's just fair considering I can't pay them a salary. Every body knows that they're making an investment. For them it's not an investment of money, but time. Everybody is fully aware that the movie may not make a single dime, but if it does make any profit (again, everybody's aware that's a big IF), then they know they own a piece of that pie. They've also invested in this film. They should get a generous cut from that potential profit.

That's a fine way of saying thanks according to me.

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Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Aside; I prefer to be asked to work for free and then someday in the future
a check arrives with a little note thanking me for my time and here's a little
something because the movie made a profit. I don't like that carrot dangled
in front of me.
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Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
I agree with this. Instead of, "we could all be rich," how about "I need help" and then surprise them with $ if it makes any. Good will.
Let's say a micro budget film costs 30.000$ to make. The producer of that film asks you to work for free. As an example, let's say the film gets sold for 100.000$, that's a 70.000$ profit (I know it's not this simple, and that there's a lot of other expenses etc, it's just an example). At the end of the day, you wind up getting paid 4% of that profit, 2800$, despite the fact you were basically asked to work for free. How's that a bad thing? To me that's the producer saying "Thank you for working on this project! WE made a profit and here's your cut!"... If I were the one getting paid those 4%, I'd love to work with that producer again!

If the movie only made 30.000$, the producer would break even, but neither he nor cast and crew would actually earn anything from this film. Is that fair or greedy? Should the producer hand out a percentage of what the film makes instead of the profit it makes, and accept that everyone earned a little something except him who lost most of his investment?

In the latter example the producer lost his money but got a finished feature, and the cast and crew got paid. What would you have done?

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Originally Posted by AcousticAl View Post
Mr., I also have to ask the other glaring question here. From what you've said about taking time off to learn screenwriting, this sounds like it's a first feature. Is that correct? What do you realistically think is the potential for profits from this film? First efforts rarely break even, much less turn any kind of profit (or even see much incomemat all). This is another reason you need to work out something with your cast and crew up front. If there are points offered for any potential profits, make that a very clear "when and if", but don't rely on that. The honest reality is there's nit much chance of that happening.
That's correct. I have no idea what this film could make in profit... Probably nothing. I'll probably loose all the money I've invested in this film (again). I'm fine with that (It's still a lot cheaper than going to most film schools). We already tried shooting another version of this film 2 years ago, and we failed. I wasn't ready, no one was. I invested 15.000$ of my own saving. That was all the money I had at the time. Lost everything. Once I realised why we failed, I started working as much as I could at my day job at the time to save up more money for a second shot, and here we are. Giving it another shot. A little bit older. Maybe somewhat wiser, maybe not. I like to think we've learned a thing or two from our last mistakes. But you're right, we'll probably not make any money at all, and I've been very upfront about that fact.

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Originally Posted by AcousticAl View Post
And don't forget to feed them. Every shoot day, and for each meal time through which you work.
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Originally Posted by mlesemann View Post
Just be sure that your budget includes $$ to feed people.
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Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
A good tip is to follow union rules for meals and breaks, even if non-union. This ensures you are treating your people right, and what they are used to as well, if they have worked union. Food is important! Must have the craft service table with munchies/bev all day too. Happy crew, happy movie (a variation of happy wife, happy life, but works lol).
Absolutely, I'll keep that in mind!

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Originally Posted by mlesemann View Post
I spent 3 years (off and on) working on the script for my first feature (Surviving Family) and it was absolutely worth the time I spent on it. Congrats for finishing!
Awesome! It's a great feeling knowing you've actually written a script, regardless of how long it took! Thanks!

I hope you guys have a better understanding of what I'm trying to achieve. What would you've done in a situation like this?

Last edited by Mr.; 08-27-2017 at 05:27 PM. Reason: Corrected some information to clarify
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Old 08-27-2017, 09:43 AM   #20
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. View Post
At the end of the day, you wind up getting paid 4% of that profit, 2800$, despite the fact you were basically asked to work for free. How's that a bad thing?
Neither of the statements you quoted suggested offering money after
the film makes a profit is a bad thing. I said, I don't like that carrot
dangled in front of me. and gave you my reason why I feel that way
and offered an alternative method. You can disagree, but I never said
or suggested that it's a bad thing.

I even gave you a percentage that I think is fair.
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Originally Posted by Mr. View Post
What would you've done in a situation like this?
I have been in a situation like this. As a crew member, as a producer,
as a director. Offering a percentage is a bookkeeping nightmare and
can devolve into hurt feeling and sometimes legal issues even among
friends. I wish I hadn't made that offer when my third feature actually
made some money. I never made that mistake again.
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:41 PM   #21
Mr.
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Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Neither of the statements you quoted suggested offering money after
the film makes a profit is a bad thing. I said, I don't like that carrot
dangled in front of me. and gave you my reason why I feel that way
and offered an alternative method. You can disagree, but I never said
or suggested that it's a bad thing.
I'm sorry, I clearly misunderstood the carrot analogy in that sense! Thanks for your help directorik! We'll see how this turns out. I'm sort of already half way into making the percentage / points kind of deal considering I previously told them some sort of such a deal will take place. Sounded like a stellar deal for everyone involved to my ears at first, but I guess you're right regarding the bookkeeping nightmare scenario. It's easy to be wise after the event. If it ends up in a major clusterf@#!, I'll learn the hard way, a not so unfamiliar outcome.

I'll let you guys know what we end up going with!
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:33 PM   #22
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I'm sort of already half way into making the percentage / points kind of deal considering I previously told them some sort of such a deal will take place.
I'd like to see the percentage points allocation when you finish it, if you don't mind.
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Old 08-27-2017, 09:37 PM   #23
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Let's say a micro budget film costs 30.000$ to make. The producer of that film asks you to work for free. As an example, let's say the film gets sold for 100.000$, that's a 70.000$ profit (I know it's not this simple, and that there's a lot of other expenses etc, it's just an example). At the end of the day, you wind up getting paid 4% of that profit, 2800$, despite the fact you were basically asked to work for free. How's that a bad thing? To me that's the producer saying "Thank you for working on this project! WE made a profit and here's your cut!"... If I were the one getting paid those 4%, I'd love to work with that producer again!

If the movie only made 30.000$, the producer would break even, but neither he nor cast and crew would actually earn anything from this film. Is that fair or greedy? Should the producer hand out a percentage of what the film makes instead of the profit it makes, and accept that everyone earned a little something except him who lost most of his investment?

In the latter example the producer lost his money but got a finished feature, and the cast and crew got paid. What would you have done?
This is why deferred payments are messy and problematic.

Another point of view: Why isn't time invested the same as a cash invested? It's called sweat equity for a reason. No?

The way you're doing it isn't bad, it just isn't as fair as you'd expect.

I always look at the way most people use deferred agreements as a one sided investment. If you're not paying them, you're asking people to invest their time. At least you're offering a share of the profits as opposed to getting paid their wages if the project succeeds, thus putting all the risk but none of the benefits of said risk.
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Old 08-27-2017, 11:11 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mr. View Post
I'm sort of already half way into making the percentage / points kind of deal considering I previously told them some sort of such a deal will take place. Sounded like a stellar deal for everyone involved to my ears at first, but I guess you're right regarding the bookkeeping nightmare scenario.
Are you going to be handling all the money? Will you be the person
accepting the money, paying expenses and determining the percentage
payouts? Will you be doing this under a business entity or from a
personal account?

Right now these are your friends which is why I suggested you ask them
to work for free and leave it at that. If in 18 months to three years after
you find distribution you get a large check then you get your friends together
present them with a check for their time. As soon as you go outside your
circle of friends and offer them a percentage you need to fully understand
the accounting and legal issues you face.

I suspect you don't know the laws of your state regarding this kind of
payment agreement. As Sweetie points those profit participants are now
investors and there are SEC laws protecting them.

Proceed carefully. All it takes is ONE person to question a decision on your
part to open up a federal investigation. Even if you are 100% right and fair
an investigation will financially break you.
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:03 AM   #25
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As Sweetie points those profit participants are now
investors and there are SEC laws protecting them.
I'm not sure but my understanding, equity partners are treated very differently, legally speaking in the US. Without the sweat equity, you never know, you may fall foul of minimum wage laws and/or intern rules. It's potentially a big can of worms, but I guess that's why producers are paid the big bucks.
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Old 08-28-2017, 09:20 AM   #26
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You will need a good lawyer to help you with the business entity, and the contracts, to make sure you don't give ownership of your film away. It needs proper wording of gross, or net, and any other profits, licensing, in perpetuity, etc. Giving points to everyone sounds careless and dangerous. Since you have no money, and you SHOULD NOT do this w/o a lawyer, take that money that would be for the lawyer, and pay your people with it, imo.

It would be silly to pay a lawyer to help you word contracts to not pay people when that money, well, can pay them something.
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:59 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
This is why deferred payments are messy and problematic.

Another point of view: Why isn't time invested the same as a cash invested? It's called sweat equity for a reason. No?
Sweetie - This is likely because time invested won't pay the production costs. Would you rather have somebody invest actual cash into your production or provide free labor? My guess would be you'd rather have an actual cash investor. Of course that's not to say that time invested shouldn't be worth anything, because it absolutely should be. Just not equal to actual cash invested.

I often work on deferred agreements or percentage points. Having said that, I don't need the money from the movies to survive so I can understand why some people stay clear from them.
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:13 PM   #28
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...that's not to say that time invested shouldn't be worth anything, because it absolutely should be. Just not equal to actual cash invested.
It's different for every production, but I think time invested can have equal or more value than cash invested. A lot depends on the skills & standing of the person investing the time.

Last edited by buscando; 08-28-2017 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 08-28-2017, 08:26 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by DeJager View Post
Sweetie - This is likely because time invested won't pay the production costs. Would you rather have somebody invest actual cash into your production or provide free labor?
Sweetie isn't making that comparison: cash or labor. He's pointing out
that time invested has value when it comes to profit participation. And
often the same value.

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Originally Posted by DeJager View Post
I often work on deferred agreements or percentage points.
How many of those projects paid out?

I, too, have often worked for "deferred" payment or have been offered
profit participation. That's why I prefer to be asked to help out for no
pay as a favor. That way I'm not hoping for or expecting money in the
future. That makes me feel my sweat equity is appreciated. Having that
carrot on a stick makes me feel they don't appreciate the hard work
and talent I bring to a project. Ask for help or pay me is my motto.
Don't tease me with riches down the road.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:58 AM   #30
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Sweetie - This is likely because time invested won't pay the production costs. Would you rather have somebody invest actual cash into your production or provide free labor? My guess would be you'd rather have an actual cash investor. Of course that's not to say that time invested shouldn't be worth anything, because it absolutely should be. Just not equal to actual cash invested.
You're right. It's not equal, but not the way you expect. If you collect the right people, the sweat equity is in fact worth more, way more than the money. It's the exact reason that when you get the right talent together, you can attract larger investment and a greater expected return than if you have weaker talent.

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I often work on deferred agreements or percentage points. Having said that, I don't need the money from the movies to survive so I can understand why some people stay clear from them.
That's your decision and I respect that. I'm glad you're in the position where you're happy to help others earn money without the need to be a partner in the

I don't accept that cash is more important than talent. I believe that there needs to be some level of respect between the talent and the cash investors. If the investors cannot afford or the venture is too risky to assume the entire project cost, asking others to cover the shortfall with time and talent makes them partners in the venture. Both sides need each other.

Quote:
Sweetie isn't making that comparison: cash or labor. He's pointing out
that time invested has value when it comes to profit participation. And
often the same value.
Kind of. I hope I was clear above. While I don't expect others to share my view, I do hope that it's considered and it's fair. Not that life is fair.
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