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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Credit crunch - on films


So, without getting too much in the detail, here is a short synopsis of the film world - from a financial view. I know most blog readers don't relish the prospect of ploughing through trade journals. This is linked to slightly, but not totally, the current economic situation or credit crunch. A picture of the munch bunch was my best effort!

Essentially what used to happen was that the big companies (Universal, Paramount etc) either made films themselves or bought them off of producers for a period of say 20 years to use them as they pleased. The big companies would look after all the deals and the advertising and all that stuff - and keep most of the cash.

What is happening now is more of a service contract. The big companies simply release the film (do the film prints, get them in the cinemas) for a fee of about 8%. The producer does all the rest. And keeps all the rest of the cash.

One way to view this - the producer's job just got harder. They now have to find the all money to make the film AND to advertise it AND they have to look after the myriad of deals. One producer recently stated that they split the budget in half now. Half for making the film, half for marketing.

Another way to look at it - you keep your film and can control what happens to it.

So what does that mean for low budget film makers, indys and writers?

Well it should mean a combination of the two things above. It will mean more control and more influence, financially and creatively. However it could also mean more investment up front - more work for indy types and more back end deals / spec work for writers. In short, there will be more individuality between deals. Each job / deal will be unique.

As a writer I'd be asking questions to producers such as; "can I help you write the marketing material too", "can I co-produce if I bring in finance", "could I swap some payment to hold onto the rights of the characters" etc

As an indie film maker moving into this way of working it becomes very much less about thinking about which big companies will fund my film to who will distribute my film for the best value, how do I fund it creatively, how do I build a team around me to do this? What do I do with the rights now that I'm keeping them?

So both a challenge and an opportunity.

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