The Hollywood Deal – Common Terms for Writers and Directors

Genevieve Jolliffe outlines some of terms a writer or director would expect when working on a Hollywood Studio film.

If you are hired to write (whether this is your own idea or someone else’s) you will get paid your writing fee in steps.

THE TYPICAL DEAL is two drafts and a polish (three steps). Each step has two stages, commencement and delivery. You get paid half your step fee upon commencement and the second half upon delivery. The studio has the right to end a writing deal, but they generally have to pay the writer a penalty if they do so.

This is when the studio thinks the screenplay is very, very close to being ready, but still needs a little work to hit it out of the park. Often studios bring in different writers to do a polish on a standing screenplay.

If you are being hired to ‘re-write’ a screenplay that did not originate with you, you may be looking at a Page One Rewrite.  This is when a screenplay really isn’t working and it needs to be reconceived. The idea is in there somewhere but it needs an overhaul. Often in this case, you may be able to negotiate a better rate than just a rewrite.

What does SCALE PLUS TEN mean?
When a writer is a first time writer in Hollywood (in other words, this is the first screenplay that a studio is interested in picking up); their deal will most likely be scale – which is the WGA’s minimum fee – plus 10%. The 10% is usually related to the 10% that is your agent’s fee – however as most likely you will have an agent, a manager and a lawyer on board – you’re looking at 25%! But that 10% certainly helps towards paying those fees.

If you have an attachment – say a well-known director is going to direct the film – then you have an advantage when negotiating your QUOTE (fee). If you’ve made a film already, then the quote that you received for that film, will be your starting line in negotiating your fee for this film. Generally a screenwriter or director will get a raise from one job to the next. If a well-known director has attached themselves to your film, you have an advantage when negotiating your quote.

Chris Jones Blog | Read the Full Article

An important next step in transitioning from Film to Digital Cinema: FilmConvert

Vincent Laforet discusses the bridging step from silver particles to zeros and ones.

I love film.

Most of us love film.

In fact when I told my father I wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a photographer (my father was a photographer for Gamma Press, and then the Director of Photography and principle photographer for Premiere Magazine in France)  more than 22 years ago – he was so against the idea, that he sent me to the 3 consecutive darkrooms over 3 summers, to try to dissuade me from my career choice…

The first summer was spent in a black and white darkroom with one of the top french master printers, named Guy Ben… the next summer was C-41 and C-41 printing… the last was at an E-6 lab, where I learned to process the film, and also Cibachrome printing… after 3 summers, he finally gave me his blessing because his efforts to dissuade me had failed…

These days, I hate to say it, but I do get frustrated when I see the Kodak ads in film trade publications.  Not because I think they are wrong or irrelevant.  But because I feel like they’re not only losing sight of the bigger picture (and the inevitable realities) but also ignoring the potential of what is truly out there…

There is no arguing that film gives you an incredible image that in most cases far exceeds what can be accomplished with a digital sensor (notably when it comes to highlight retention… However – when you look into the shadows, or into high ISO cinematography… it’s hard to argue against digital cinema cameras.)

At the end of the day however, I get frustrated for the following reason:  there is no arguing that film has a unique quality.  One that in some ways CAN’T be matched by most digital sensors TODAY.

BUT – I am absolutely convinced that in the coming years, that will all change.   I am convinced that digital sensors will come to exceed the dynamic range of celluloid in time… and that it is in every DP’s interest to focus on learning how to best master the emerging (and future) technology (namely digital sensors) – as opposed to fighting what I consider to be a lost battle, in trying to clench onto their (completely justifiable) love of film.

Vincent Laforet | Read the Full Article

Indie Filmmakers Feel Heavy Hand of Beijing

If you are fortunate enough to read this site in a country that values freedom of speech and expression, count your blessings. There are filmmakers in this world who do not enjoy that right unless their films are in line with the views of the state.

BEIJING — Independent filmmaking is tough anywhere in the world, but in China, especially, it is not a vocation for the faint of heart.

A recent attempt to hold a festival of independent film at a public art gallery in front of 500 people was thrown into chaos after a power failure in the middle of the first screening.

Although the authorities denied any interference in the Ninth Beijing Independent Film Festival last month, organizers said local officials had warned them not to show the opening film, “Egg and Stone,” directed by Huang Ji, which is about sexual abuse in a rural family, in a public space. When the power went out, officials showed up and apologized, but then did nothing, witnesses said.

Guests leaving the interrupted opening Aug. 18 said that unidentified men had followed them, asking why they had been there.

“It seems the Film Bureau is merging with the power company,” Jia Zhangke, a prominent director, said on his microblog, referring to the government body that oversees the Chinese movie industry.

Whatever the truth, filmmaking free of the ruling Communist Party is discouraged. The Film Bureau, part of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, vets scripts, grants production licenses, controls studios and equipment and coordinates releases. Making a film without approval risks harassment, warnings and, in extreme cases, blacklisting, a caution to others not to work with offenders.

the New York Times | Read the Full Article

Is the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera the DSLR replacement? Oh yes…

Marco Solorio of One River Media mounted a Blackmagic Cinema Camera to the top of a Canon 5D MkIII to compare the images created by the two cameras. Even with web compression the detail difference between the DSLR and the BMCC is quite dramatic.

That’s not to say you need to ditch your T2i and jump into this camera… but folks looking at a $2500 $3500 5D MkIII may want to consider the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera.

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