Money For Nothing

Posted by – December 12, 2008

So, odds are good we will have the same budget that we had on Infest Wisely — $0 — and personally, I think this makes things simpler than having to decide who gets a tiny bit of money, and who gets none. What I want to talk about is the small, but present, possibility we are able to sell this after it’s made. How will we divide any profit fairly on a project where some people will be contributing an hour, and others hundreds of hours?

This is largely a hypothetical exercise in alternative economics, but also a practical consideration of fairness. My gut says that an hour my time is worth no more than someone who’s holding the boom pole (especially since I did both with the last movie). If people consider me more integral to the project as the writer, well, I also get a “bonus” of attention and having my vision realized. I propose that we log our hours, and divide up any money at the end accordingly.

Please let me know what you think in the comments, and if you’ve heard of other projects with alternative profit-sharing schemes please point us at them. Obviously we will need to further flesh this out but I wanted to float it first.

5 Comments on Money For Nothing

  1. Anthony says:

    and the chicks for free.
    indie flicks i have worked on before as an actor had me sign a “deferred payment” contract which meant i agreed to be paid once film has incurred enough income to cover full budget, and depending on the size of role (lead, principle, actor, extra) the amount would be less respectfully. in a few cases, where i was a lead, i also was offered a small percentage (usually 2 to 5%). i think percentages of the income might be the best way to do this.
    of course first moneys are used to pay any incurred costs, but after that there is a percentage chart that should be followed. if we all feel we own this film we will all work with great intent and pride. some people involved may have two positions and get more percentage (ie: executive producer a% and writer b%, so jim would be getting a% + b%).
    oh, and why is there no budget? we don’t want a budget? nobody wants to give money?
    is there no interest in shameful product placement? or just simple donations or grants?

  2. Jim says:

    Thanks, Anthony.

    What I’m suggesting is similar to what you’ve explained — everyone’s payment will be “deferred” until incurred costs are paid back — except I don’t think the percentage should be based on traditional film hierarchy. I think the extra and the lead should get paid the same for an hour of their time. The lead gets a “bonus” of extra exposure and respect.

    Based on my two previous failed grant apps, lo-fi sci-fi isn’t a great arts grant fit. If there were people clamouring to finance the project, I’d be fine with negotiating something. But it seems from my minimal film experience that the half the industry at any point is waiting for some kind of approval. But the winter’s over, to use a metaphor, and they can get where they want to go on a bike now and don’t need to be dependent on someone to drive them.

    In terms of how to deal with incurred required costs as it progresses, we’ll deal with that as we need to. I think if it’s over $100 it should be posted to this blog so people can be aware of it, provide cheaper or free alternatives, and even contest it if they feel strongly.

    Not interested in product placement, you’ll be shocked to hear *grin*.

  3. Tate says:

    Actually, I dig this approach. I set up something similar on an indie/student show that never did make any money–basically, it was the idea that a person’s percentage of the total hours worked would equal their percentage of the total dollars earned (after expenses).

    Example:

    Jim puts in 1000 hours on project.
    Tate puts in 40 hours on project.
    Total crew puts in 5000 hours on project.
    Total money made is $10,000.

    Then:

    Jim gets 1000/5000=20% of total, or $2000.
    Tate gets 40/5000=2% of total, or $80.

    In this example, everyone gets their $2/hour. Straightforward, seems like a pretty fair way to do it. Maybe if someone is providing crucial gear (like a camera) their hours could count as ‘double-time hours’ or something. But I think the simpler the better, in this case.

  4. Jim says:

    Cool. I also heard from Chris that he thinks this sounds fair.

    A key thing for this working will be people logging their hours diligently and honestly. Many of the people involved have done this to invoice clients, so it shouldn’t be that tough. Unlike invoicing clients, I’d ask people to consider that padding or guesstimating the time you’ve spent is taking (hypothetical) money away from people that are being accurate.

    I propose people keep tally in the Autobiographical Info section on their Profile (in the right sidebar). You can see my tally so far by clicking the Jim link above where it says “Money note posted by Jim on December 12, 2008″. As you can see, I’ve broken it down as well by task, which will be useful for being able to timeline future projects — it would be great if people did this too, but for the purposes of profit sharing it’s not necessary.

    Thoughts?

  5. Dave says:

    OK – I am now officially logging hours.

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