Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Stand Up for Your Value as a Producer

Angelo commented on my post Producers: What Are We Worth?: 

You present a strong argument to stand up for yourself in the presence of financiers and distributors. But how? I think every producer feels she is valuable to the project. But when you value is challenged how does one stand his/her ground. Examples would be nice.

Thank you for the comment Angelo. You make an excellent point. Here are some suggestions on how to stand your ground in negotiations for your producing deal on a film: 

  • Provide concrete examples of what you are bringing to the table to the financiers/distributors. They may not realize everything you have done or plan to do that directly correlates to increased value of the project. Perhaps you spent a full year developing the script with the writer and have brought two major cast attachments to the project. This work = value.
  • Show how your involvement is critical to the success of the project. No one wants a parasite on the project that will suck out resources but never give anything of substance back. If you can show how you are a valuable part of the team, you will have a higher chance of getting the deal you want. 
  • Do your research. Make sure the deal you are requesting is industry standard for the type of project.
  • Always keep the door open for continued negotiating. No one likes to hear: Take it or leave it.
  • Be willing to make some concessions so the financiers/distributors feel they are winning in the negotiations too. Everyone likes to win. 
  • Get creative with how you may be recognized. Perhaps they can't afford your salary, but they can give you a bigger credit or a credit for your company or a higher back end percentage. 
  • Be as realistic as possible about your skills and what they mean to an established financier/distributor who is used to working with very successful producers. If you are angling for a similar deal as Brian Grazer then you are aiming too high -- unless you are an equal to him in success and relationships. 
  • Have a good attitude. No one wants to deal with a sour puss. 
  • Remain professional and have high integrity. Back-handed, low blow deal-making breeds negative feelings and will ripple out over the future of everything you do. Bridges are burned in this industry every day.
  • Use an entertainment lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. It's harder for a financier/distributor to bully an entertainment lawyer that they know and have done business with in the past. 
  • There are two sides to every story. Recognize that the financier/distributor may have strong reasons for why they are offering you a smaller deal. Find out why and offer rebuttals for their reasons, again, respectfully. 
  • Network. The more you get out there and establish friends in the business, the more your value increases. Your relationships could directly and positively influence the success of your project!
  • Be willing to walk away -- calmly. If your deal means that much to you then be willing to move on respectfully. Some deals just aren't worth your time and energy. 
I hope these ideas help. And please add more!!

1 comment:

Phantom of Pulp said...

Great advice as usual, Jane.