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First feature film:- Should everyone get profit share?
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  • You should redesign your script for what you can afford or wait until you get more investors. If you get enough voluntaries kudos to you. But I could not have a crew working for me for free. I always make sure on voluntary projects they get a the bear minimum a 100$ plus food even if it comes out of my pocket. With a great and unique idea you can make a great movie even under 10k. As I sad if you are not able to get money you have to design your script to your budget. Sometimes the greatest scenes and ideas comes when you are forced to think out of the box. Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • I've been producing a lot in the music industry. My only advice is:
    no matter what you do, or if you have high budget or none at all and even if people are willing to work for free: just always make a contract with every participant of the production. It may save you lots of possibly imaginable problems.

  • ( not implying that the OP or anyone here is like this, but some ) No Budget / Low Budget filmmakers often act like bank robbers. They haven't even robbed the bank yet. And they're already thinking about knocking off their accomplices, so they can keep all the loot! Giving up 1% of nada is so hard to do!! Then again, they don't even have all the proper tools and talent to break into the bank, which Hollywood has in droves.

    Hollywood studios think a good movie needs certain "elements" to be successful. Imagine a big cauldron boiling over a fire, being stirred by three witches…er... studio execs. Into the pot they throw name actors, a hot script, a hot director, car crashes, 100 million worth of CGI, stir and hope it does well with a test audience. A lot of it is just gambler's superstition. If the handpicked "elements" gave them lucky numbers before, it will again. They hope. A recipe for beef stew may contain 15-17 ingredients. Along comes the no budget moviemaker who says, "I’ll just make it with salt and carrots. It’s no budget! " Hmmm. Oughta taste good!

    But seriously, I know art films or personal films aren't assembly line industry movies. Skimping is often necessary. Cheese & cardboard pizza vs Steak & Lobster pizza! The non-profit arts sector pays very little if anything, depending mostly on volunteers. But more and more artists in the for-profit cultural industries are being asked to work for nothing. Not good.* Very few if any of the crowdfunded features offer any pay or profit participation to its supporters either, unless the SEC implements sweeping changes. That may mean having to raise more money on each project.


    • Here’s one musician’s response to being asked to work for free:

    … scathing letter from British alternative rock/electronic artist, Whitey, to television production company, Betty TV. They were one company too many to request free music for their productions, claiming to have “no budget for music”. The response is clearly the result of a long simmering irritation that boiled over, and then poured over into social media.

  • I think it's kinda amusing that anyone would think their first feature would make any money at all. I also don't think that anyone who works on such things should even be led to believe that any money will be made at all.

    If you find folks who will work for free, be very upfront to them that they are working for free and that others will be getting paid. If they aren't cool with it, let them go on their way. If they are cool with it, then be sure to at least treat them well.

    You can make whatever promises to distribute revenue to the unpaid cast/crew but you should be very very careful to make sure that all of them know that there is NO guarantee that there will be any money made. People will agree to do things for free but in the back of their minds they are still believing that they will possibly make money. It's human nature to hold onto hopes like this.

  • I think it's kinda amusing that anyone would think their first feature would make any money at all. I also don't think that anyone who works on such things should even be led to believe that any money will be made at all.

    May be in such case work on something that brings money?

  • There's sometimes profits, there isn't always marketing. More important to spend your money wisely, make a good film or video, then use that product to make a larger budget project where you pay more. Take any profit and put it into the next one.

  • As Mark Cousins shows in the documentary “The Story of Film”, some of the most innovative cinema has been made by a bunch of friends with a borrowed camera.

    Whether it's budgeted or no-budget, people can easily make inaccurate assumptions about a project. On rare occasions, friends may agree to work on a project, not because they want to, but because they feel obligated for something else you might have done for them. A different kind of resentment simmers and ten years later, you find out they helped you only because you loaned them a lawnmower every summer!

    On a no budgeter, Casting/recruiting notices should make clear there is no pay. Cast/crew should sign a release form/ deal memo stating something like " I understand that I am to receive no compensation for this appearance/project" A union actor may go though a lengthy audition only to find it’s non-paid. If they are courteous they may say something like:

    “ Oh I had no idea it was unpaid. Sorry I can’t do it…But..I hope I’ll be able to work with you guys in the future on your bigger projects!”

    If they’re less diplomatic they might say:

    ” You A***oles! I took a whole day off Trader Joes to come here! Lost a F’kin day’s pay Your names will be known at SAG, jerks! You'll be stuck in Amateurwood FOR-ever, Pend@@jo! Ay! Enchilada! Audition in Boyle Heights! I shoulda known somethin' was fishy, man!

    It does help to put everything in writing from the start to dispel assumptions. First monies should go to an entertainment attorney. If not, indie film organizations like IFP or Raindance in your area may have attorneys or consulting producers who can help you either gratis or for a small fee.

    Other than that, to paraphrase Harlan Ellison: " Pay the cast & crew!"

  • Think you pretty much have a overwhelming consensus here dude. You need to pay the crew and feed them well. $40,000 is a good amount of money these days with the gear we have at our disposal. Might be time for this thread to die :)

  • Yes I know, that's why I started it in the first place. Thanks all!

  • @vicharris "The first thing in your budget is Crew, Crew and Catering......Period."

    That was the best piece of advice I've ever heard on this topic. Thank you!

  • I think I'm going against the grain here but, whilst it's infinitely preferable, and generally simpler, to pay people you can do food and reasonable travel expenses and/or minimum payment + profit share and if people want to do it/have a reason to do it they will. If you're going to do profit share for one supporting actor you should obviously do it for all the cast and principal crew because when they find out they won't be happy and it's just not fair! Strange to change the whole system for one supporting cast member I'd say.

    I've done several plays and shorts on a profit share basis some with well known actors (within the UK) and no there hasn't been any profit but if people have a reason to do it i.e. a promotion for crew members and a decent role for actors that will help them shine/do something they don't normally get to do because they're type cast they might well be fine about doing it as long as you're not taking the piss and trying to make money off their labour - I've only ever lost time and money even though things have done well. I wouldn't allocate profit to my future projects personally, I always put myself in the same boat as everyone else. I know there's a logic of well if we make another film we will hopefully employ you again, but will that be paid anyway? Would the small amount of profit really make the difference between your next project happening or not? I remember a TV channel wanted to use a short I made, they said it was fantastic exposure, but they were selling air time and not paying people who made the films that generated the advertising revenue, they said they were setting up a fund to allocate to film makers as they saw fit, I said they could fuck off.

    Anyway you would have to be very clear on contracts and you would also need to very diligent with your accounts so you could be, and be seen to be, transparent with your stakeholders. It can also be pretty complicated figuring out all your points allocations, does it change with seniority like money would, how long is each person working on the project etc. So I would say if you can pay do pay, if you can't pay be fair and clear and don't do one deal for one and not the others and make sure there is something else in it for people other than money so there is a reason for them to want to do it, just like there is for you.

  • I am curious to hear how did it go at the end? By now I assume, that the movie is finished and distributed. What happened with the crew, contract, profits, money share etc...? Thanks!