Thursday, February 1, 2007

Thinking Out Loud or The "Writer" Credit

My thoughts about how we're going to treat writers.

I mean, other than "they're lucky if they get two dollars a day and a kick in the pants".

There seems to be three kinds of writers on any given project. One is the person who comes up with the "story". The next writer is the "main" writer. That's the writer who brain vomits a big mess of a story with most of the structure in tact. The third kind of writer I'd call the "editor" writer, of which there are frequently many.

I'm thinking that our standard way of dealing with scripts is that we will have a single-title card with a "writer" credit -- that's the "main" writer (the one who did all the brain vomiting.)
Then there will be another title card with all the "additional" writers (if there are any -- in most cases there will be but who knows?). I don't know what to call "additional" writers. But I think that all writers should be credited (something the Writers Guild of America does not agree with.)
I don't know where to put the "story by" credit. Maybe it should be a single - title card too. That makes sense because usually our movies are too short, not too long.

So, by this thinking:
1. Single Title Credit "Story by" (only if a different credit than "Written by")
2. Single Title Credit "Written by" (may be more than one person)
3. Multiple Title Credit "Additional Writers"

Who makes the credit decision?
Ultimately, I do. I imagine that in a number of cases the credit may be contractual. Still, ultimately the buck will stop with me. I think and hope that we'll be fair and everyone will be happy before we go into production on any given picture. We don't want to start a production company in order to just lose our friends, after all.

And what about the "A Film By" credit? I hate this credit. But I've used it anyway. Basically, I'll end up taking it on pictures I direct if it helps me professionally. If not, it's just a dumb credit. I mean -- "A Film By" -- pershaw! Lots of people worked on the picture! I mean, Titian had lots of people helping him, it's not just him, "his" work is the work of dozens of people. And he probably helped some of them with "their" work. Feh.

OK, so the last big question is renumeration. At this point we're looking at writers working for free. My feeling is that for a $60,000 cash movie that the writer is an "early investor" and should see some portion of "first dollar". Competing with that notion is the fact that whomever invests is putting in actual money so they should see 100% of "first dollar" for, like, 300% before any money is doled out to creatives.

But I think what will really end up happening is some combination of these ideas.

If the cash investment is, say, $250K then I think the writer will get paid in cash, the director and DP (typically me) will get paid in cash, and the investor will get a 300% return ($750K) before the creatives start seeing a portion of "net" receipts.

If an investor puts in $60K then Pandora Machine (being the producing entity) is putting up the equivalent, and the writer, director, and other creatives (actors, etc.) start getting their portion (typically .25% or .0025 of "net" receipts) after the investor and Pandora Machine (combined) recoup $125K.

These numbers will take some thought. Note that the producer's rep will be taking upwards of 30% of "gross" receipts.

Note also that we don't use "net" and "gross". Instead we typically say a real number like "$125,000" as being the recoupable amount -- no matter how much is actually spent.

This will all take a bit of thought in order to try to be fair and for it to work. So... I'm thinkin!

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