Monday, June 10, 2013

To Defer or Not to Defer: The Real Scoop on Film Deferrals


Film deferrals are a blessing to independent film. I couldn't make a film without a portion of my budget in deferrals (often my own salary - ugh). But, I am here to say that film deferrals are necessary and that, yes, they can get paid.

Many times, I hear people say, I have never received my film deferrals. They don't exist. Well, that may be true that they haven't received their past deferrals yet, but from my own personal experience as a producer who has offered film deferrals, I take them very seriously. Even if it takes years to pay them off, I have not forgotten about them and it's a very high priority for me to try to pay them. And yes, I have had deferrals paid to me in the past. So I know, firsthand, they can work.

Independent films take a village to make and we often don't have the cash resources to pay for everything we need. In those instances, I need some way of acknowledging a person's or vendor's contributions. Deferrals are a great way of doing this.

I can offer a fee that can be paid back upon the sale of the film and the crew member or vendor can decide if they are willing to take that chance. Not everyone will. And that's okay. Deferrals aren't for everyone. But there are a lot of people out there like me, who like to take chances on creative projects. I like to support the arts and new talent. And I think it's important to invest in the future of my industry. And who knows? That project may lead to more PAID gigs.

I am a believer in the idea of what goes around, comes around. So if I go out there and work deferred, I feel that act of kindness will come back around to me some day in a big way - whether in new projects or support from others. Sure, getting the deferral is the ultimate goal but there are many additional perks to enjoy along the way. It's about the journey, not just the end result.

That said, I want to be clear that I am not pushing people to consider film deferrals or investments. They're not for everyone. They aren't guaranteed and if that is going to haunt you, you're better off looking at other opportunities for yourself. But if you enjoy being part of the world of filmmaking and you think you'd be fine accepting a film deferral opportunity knowing you may never see those funds then what's holding you back?

Wondering how deferrals work? Basically, you make an offer of a fee for a service or a product that will be paid out in the future, usually upon the sale of the film. I highly recommend consulting with an entertainment attorney so he or she can give you the right language for the contract. In simple terms though, deferrals are just fees - oftentimes higher than normal since the person or vendor is taking a risk waiting for them - that are paid out in the future under the negotiated terms and timeframe.

I am a huge proponent of deferrals. Every indie filmmaker should have them in their arsenal for financing! Now go got 'em!

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