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Old January 7th, 2006, 05:05 PM   #1
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Guidelines for Getting Paid? Involved in 2-yr Doc Project

Four months ago I initiated a one-person production of a documentary involving the evolutions and outcomes related to a major current event. Living history. Happening right now. There are numerous layers to the story and one of them involves a billionaire from another country.

Fast forward three months and I have two foreign production teams wanting to work with me to collaborate on their own documentaries about the project. After meeting with teams from each company, I selected the one whose approach and experience I preferred. They want to stay in production for two years. They want me to be associate producer, researcher, creative consultant and additional camera and they want the very key 40 hours of footage I've shot so far.

We're going to talk soon about compensation, and I'd like to go into the discussion with some understanding of what is appropriate, what to expect, and what is realistic to ask for.

How do I price the first 40 hours of footage? My time acquiring it? They've said they'd pay expenses, but the footage is obviously worth more than the blank tapes I bought and my travel expenses.

BTW the moment I heard about the project I upgraded from consumer to prosumer equipment, so I probably have $5-6K in camera and audio and another $6K in computer and software. They said that they'd get an HDV camera and better audio equipment to me. I realize that the computer and software are irrelevant to the project now, but do I factor in equipment costs?

Then the next part of the puzzle is about getting paid for my ongoing involvement. Do folks in this position receive a daily rate, a salary? If a salary, how would that be determined?

Any and all thoughts about this are greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Sam Shore; January 8th, 2006 at 04:57 PM.
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Old January 7th, 2006, 09:48 PM   #2
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You will get 10 opinions anyway, so here is mine. I know little about your situation or teh industry, but alot about business.

The footage you already shot should be sold to them at a value based on their project, and what it is worth to them (or someone else). If they are doing a million dollar production, and this footage is 25%, you should get some proportional piece of that million dollars. WHether you sell it on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis is critical. Being able to sell the same thing twice or ten times is where you make money. It is more about what is replaceable (did the person die or stop doing interviews, did you have special entree to locations, etc...) and what it would cost them to duplicate your work.

As far as future, if they want 100% of your time for two years, make you own decision about whether it is enough money and experience value and teh right lifestyle and gets you the right connections. Can you pay your bills, buy health insurance, fund retirement, taxes, etc. If not full-time gig, same factors apply proportionally. Will you actually get paid? Beware of working for deferred pay unless you are a true partner or unless you can deal with a big zero in that column.
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Old January 7th, 2006, 10:01 PM   #3
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You can figure out what non-monetary things you would like. For example, you may also want a job in the industry. As such, ask for things like a job on their production and a good screen credit.

2- They may not have really paid for 40 hours of key footage from someone before. So they may not have a clue either.

You might be able to figure out what they want, and what they're willing to pay.
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