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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Q. I'm up for a job on a TV show being produced by a TV station. Can you tell me what I can expect to be paid?
No, I can't. There are too many variables. The most basic one is, is it a WGA show? If so, there are minimums for story editors and for episodic scripts. All network shows are Guild, but I'm not sure about shows produced locally by a TV station. You can always call the Guild and ask if the station itself, or the show itself, is signatory. They're very good about that sort of thing, as you can imagine.

The WGC has minimums for TV scripts, but not for story editor salaries. Still there are norms. You're not going to get $500 a week, and you're not going to get $10,000 a week.

The person who can answer your question is an agent. If a show is actually interested in hiring you, it is not hard to get an agent to rep you, at least for this transaction. Who wouldn't want 10% of your future earnings on a TV show, in exchange for a few phone calls? Just shoot an email to a couple or three agents you like and say, "a show wants to hire me and I need an agent to negotiate for me." Someone will probably get back to you.

You do not want to negotiate for yourself. You'll ask for too little or too much, you won't know what contractual points to insist on, and it makes your first contact with the production an adversarial one. I have had to negotiate for myself a few times, and it was always awkward. 10% is not a lot to pay to be able to say, "Oh, well, you know, I'd love to work for you. I'd do it for free. But my agent won't let me."

If a producer seriously tries to avoid negotiating through your agent, they are probably trying to rip you off. (If they merely whine that your agent is a ball-buster, just laugh and say, "Yeah, isn't she great?")

In the States, there are agents that focus on TV and agents that focus on features; any larger agency will cover both. Canadian agents don't specialize to this degree. If you have a job offer, get an agent that works in the field of your job offer.


I think this largely depends on geography. In LA, sure, have an agent call. In Arkansas, maybe not.

And in some places the salary may actually be $500 a week.

By Blogger Lisa Hunter, at 8:12 AM  

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