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Monday, February 15, 2010

Q. What about the fact that this is still largely a numbers game? Let's say for the sake of argument that for every movie that gets made for $25 million, there are a hundred movies that get made for $2.5 million. Wouldn't that imply that your odds of selling a script that can be made for the lesser amount are 100 times greater than the alternative?
There aren't 100 movies that get made for $2.5 mil for every $25+ mil movie, so, no. The point of my earlier post was that there's a reason for that. The surprise is that financing a $2.5 mil movie is just about as big a pain in the ass as financing a $25 mil movie. But there's only 1/10 the payoff for everyone working on it.

There are other reasons not to focus on writing low budget movies. To get paid on a low budget movie, you pretty much need to spec the movie and then hope it gets made. Otherwise you won't get paid. $25 mil movies support a lot more development. You might get paid to write it. Or paid to rewrite it. There will be a real option payment instead of option shenanigans.

Moreover, you may do well out of a $25 mil movie that never gets made. Studios, who make $25 mil movies, buy and commission way more scripts than indie producers, who are the guys who make $2.5 mil cheapies.

And, of course, you get paid a hell of a lot more on a $25 mil movie. The production fee for a $13 mil movie made in Canada is $300K. The production fee for a $2.5 mil movie doesn't even cover the scale payment, which is around $50K. I'm guessing in the US a $25 mil movie would carry a production bonus along the lines of $500K.

All this is really just intended as an antidote to the feeling writers get that they should write small. Don't write small. If your story is small, if it's all on the scale of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, or MOON, say, don't make it bigger than it needs to be. But if your story is an action adventure, don't cut down on the action for budget's sake. Let the producer tell you to do that -- after he signs an option/rewrite contract with you.



I think that it's a good idea for screenwriters, (and all writers in general) to realize the HUGE amounts of money it takes to realize the dream.

I had just started writing,and I live in a tiny little town in northern CA, way in the sticks. I met this very nice lady, and my husband mentioned I wrote a screenplay. A few weeks later she said she would like to read it.

I was puzzled, as the tastes in this area runs to raising livestock, Bud Lite and all other redneck pursuits.

She said, "My Dad was a director. Maybe I can proof read it for you."

"Really? What did he direct? Do I know him?"

"Have you ever heard of Enter the Dragon? With Bruce Lee?"

I just about fell on the floor, as my husband had just rented it, and mentioned it was one of his very favorite movies of all time. What are the chances of that? I was sort of praying for some sort of feedback, in a place where people actually NEVER READ BOOKS. She's a great writer herself, and would work as his assistant and screen scripts, and had been on his sets many times. She told me of his work habits, (he would work from nine to twelve in the morning every day, wandering around chewing on his pipe. He actually turned down the script Chinatown too. Oops! And he was deaf, too, from child ear infections and had assistants to help him direct.)

Anyways, my point was that she said, "He fought the producers constantly. The sound effects, (on my script,) that costs money. Be aware of what's important, on what you want to portray, The reason you're doing this. "

To a certain extent, that is the point. But if you love what you do, than serendipity can find you you anywhere. Even a little tiny cowtown like Browns Valley!

By Blogger Unknown, at 4:02 AM  

More news in low-budget land:

(from the Telefilm website)
"Please note that Telefilm is not accepting new applications for the Low Budget Independent Feature Film Assistance Program because Telefilm is currently reviewing this program. We will provide an update on the status of these programs in April, 2010."

Does anyone know what's going on there? They're also reviewing the Writer's First program.

By Blogger CDP., at 12:07 PM  

I don't know if it means anything. They're reviewing all their programs.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:45 PM  

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