HOW MUCH TO CHARGE?Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

August 2022

September 2022

November 2022

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023

July 2023

September 2023

November 2023

January 2024

February 2024

June 2024


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Q. A producer with a pretty decent idea wants to hire me to do a treatment/outline (based on an existing not-very-compelling 400 page handwritten script written by someone else). I'd charge $6K for the script; what should I charge for the treatment.
As much as you possibly can, of course! You don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate. $6K is an extremely low rate for doing a script; though Bill Cunningham knows people who work for $2,000 a script. If you can get $5K for the treatment and another $5K for the script, go for it. Or any other numbers you can live with. There is obviously no standard since you're in the land of below scale.

I once wrote a horror script for $800. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm not sure that was worse than writing another unsold spec feature.

I would say that the treatment is at least half the work.

I also don't know what on Earth a producer is going to do with a treatment. Treatments aren't good selling documents.

I would also say that any time you have a 400 page handwritten script to start with, you are going to do four times as much work as the producer claims, there will likely be lots of meddling, the producer will expect free rewrites (of the treatment), and the ultimate movie will likely go nowhere. The unprofessional script just sets off alarm bells. It suggests strongly that the producer is doing a friend a favor.

Nonetheless, your contract should give you the right of first refusal to write any script, if any is commissioned by the producer or any of his "assigns" (people he's assigned the rights to the treatment to). Since it's non-Guild, it should guarantee you a sole "story by" credit. Or at least a shared one, since they'll want to give some story credit to the producer's friend who did the 400 page script. (I'd try to hold out for sole story by, giving the original script an "idea by" or "based on a script by" credit.)

You should also have a percentage of the budget of an eventual picture. Since 2% of budget is reasonable for a sole "Written by" I'd say something like .5% of budget is reasonable for a treatment.

Take a look at the contract in the appendices of Crafty Screenwriting for other goodies you may want to negotiate.

As an aside... the first question I'd ask the producer is "what do you see as the movie here?" And then write that movie, regardless what's in the 400 page script. It may not get the picture made, but it will save your sanity as you try to write it.


The fact that this "producer" wants to only take it to treatment sets flags for me. I can see that as part of the step deal toward the first draft, but not an entity in and of itself. It's weird.

You're negotiating for the first draft and not just the treatment. That has to be part of the deal.

The 2% figure is always a good one to go by because it acknowledges your contribution to the project even if the budget is $100K or less.

Ask what the producer has in mind for the budget, and calculate accordingly. If the budget escalates then provide a clause that your fee does as well.

Also get your fee upon script completion, and no "deferment until the picture goes into production". If I do defer anything, it's until the picture is financed, not until production -especially on a low budget picture. Of course, in many low budget situations, if they go to the trouble to commission a script they are looking to move the picture into production asap as they already have the financing in place.

If the producer gets paid when the picture is financed, then you should too, as your script helped sell the financier on the project.

We could go on about this sort of stuff forever. Good luck.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 3:43 PM  

I don't know how you can prove that a picture is "financed," if they don't want to pay. They can always say they're missing a piece. Which till closing, is technically true.

I wouldn't defer your basic fee, ever, or you're likely working for free. That's what the production bonus is for.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:06 PM  

400 pages! Wow! I wrote my first feature on college ruled notebook paper and it was only 129 pages! 400 is just down right unrealistic!

By Blogger Unknown, at 3:55 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.