Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the simply Annoying

Lots of new stuff, and as in the title above, "interesting" as some would say. Welcome to the ever-changing world of movie-making.

First the bad, very little interest from distributors at AFM, I was expecting more and it still isn't over, as I've heard from only 2 distribs. Secondly, one of my champions is leaving her company. This was Rachel, the development executive at Eh Channel.She was responsible for my getting attention in Manitoba and now her cable channel is downsizing dramatically in order to survive and thus closing several of their national offices.

But the good part about that is that Rach is smart and wise and will continue to be a driving force. There might even be a chance for her and I to work together on a future project.

Now the good, but not particularly Travel Day in mind. I received a call from my Alberta producers who have had Emperor of Mars, my "big screenplay" for two years and they think there is a strong chance they will be able to fund it with me directing in summer of 2010. In addition there are some new sources interested in working with me in the forseeable future.

So where's TD right now?

We are considering getting some cast names, the ones I mentioned a few posts ago, Sarandon, Bisset, Deneuve, Dunaway and a few more. A lot of you mentioned Helen Mirren and she would be great but she has at least 4 movies coming up and I don't think she would even have time to read our script, even if we could get it to her.

The politics of this business are odd to most people; reflecting money, ego and expectations. As I've mentioned before, the normal way to get actors is to call their agents. But it's not the best way because agents are only interested in one thing: 10%. And the great thing is, they're not really ashamed of it and I guess I respect that part, they are honest in their intention. And of course, not all agents are like that, most are, but there are some real respected agents who deal more honestly and are often more successful for being that way. I was lucky to have one of them, of whom I mention often, Frank Balkin at Paradigm.

There's a joke that goes around about agents; a writer returns to his home to find his house burned down. Police stand outside as he's horrified and asks what happened. Police say his wife was attacked, kids kidnapped, dog killed, house burned down and... his agent called.

Writer listens quietly and the turns to cops and says,  "My agent called?"

So when you call an agent, the first thing he thinks of, and probably the only thing is: How much do I make out of this deal? Which means he asks for top dollar. Take into consideration this; one of our suggested actress's agent was asking for $300,000 for 4 weeks of work.

Yet I found out through my moles that she recently worked on a TV series for scale, around $858 a day or around a flat of $2000 wk. And for our budget of under $2 million, scale is around $1800 wk. These are basic figures, but you get the idea. Her rate for us should be around $8000 for 4 wks rather than $300,000.

Why should this matter?

Because actors normally get the same or more based on the last job they had. And since her last job netted her around $2600 for 3 days, it would seem that was her last job and payment should reflect that.

It all depends on how much you want that actor. And how long the agent will hold out. I had an agent once who was asking $500,000 for a screenplay of mine, and the company was offering scale, around $70,000. I was happy with the smaller fee as I knew the company simply could not pay that much. But my agent said he was insulted and wouldn't compromise and I lost the deal.

When you hear big name actors saying they "worked for nothing", that's not really true. SAG won't allow them to work for nothing. What they mean is minimum scale which again is around $2200 wk. Which is nothing for million-dollar actors.

So that's where we stand with actors right now. The best way is to get the script to the actor through subversive means; finding someone who knows them, throwing the script onto their lawn (believe me, this happens more than you think), or any other way.

I have my work cut out for me. And Christmas is coming up and you know that around December 15th, Hollywood shuts down.