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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Founder of SoKap, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding go to guy, indie filmmaker, father, mustard maker, meat lover, pseudo vegetarian, devout humanist and overall good moralist.

Jan 28, 2008

agreements for leverage (a must have for all indies)

Here's a really common dilemma that surfaces all the time when your trying to attach "star" equity to a project while working a day job and paying down a mortgage or student loan. The Agency ie: CAA, WMA, ICM, etc etc...wants you to provide proof of funding or a non recoupable advance or pay or play fee to help you get the money from a distributor or private investment group. This is usually around 50,000 dollars and goes toward keeping the clerks who work for the agents employed and working on much bigger deals to provide money for the stars and agents.

The money people want to see a star before they commit and will not sign conditional letters until that time. Where does this leave you as a producer?

My belief is that it starts with the Stars and Agents. Lets use this analogy:

The Script is a piece of dirt that was optioned by a producer or in this case a land developer. The agent is the person who represents the star or in this case the aesthetic treatment of what is going on the dirt. The agent may also represent the architect and the general contractor (director and line producer/PM). Knowing that it is in the best interest of his clients to be on this dirt he goes out of his way to ensure that the funding groups will like the project by "working" on a deal that afterwards can be sold into production and eventually marketing.

This agreement to leverage stars can be done simply by putting a one sheet deal memo of understanding together based on completion of funding, availability of said star at a sliding scale based on monies raised.

If the star is a big shot then the price of the unit sale will increase with demand and the option for that star to earn additional monies will be made upon performance. After all they are performers so should they not "perform" for earnings?

Why should anyone, be on the hook financially more than anyone else in such a risky business that is changing as we speak in areas like distribution, fees, transparency, and DRM.

If Agents and Stars would think like real estate people in that deal flow is the way to keep this business alive and that stars need to be working 300 days a year, instead of 100 at 10X the cost...we'd all be in a better place. This of course could be done if one "universal" agreement on leverage was created.

If anyone with an entertainment law degree wants to work on this with me I would be grateful. I'm not holding my breathe though...most agents are lawyers and its all about billable hours.

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