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Phil Thompson

Just finished my first 35mm Feature film

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Richard posted a photograph of one of those a while back.

You know when you buy printer paper by the box? Think two boxes.

 

Bank closing, but yes, same idea.

 

R,

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Well after mailing everyone Troma got backing say they liked it and want to distribute it. What are people's thoughts on that? I have a 26 page contract. Can Anyone read it? I assume I won't make anything but Troma is better than nothing ??

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Well after mailing everyone Troma got backing say they liked it and want to distribute it. What are people's thoughts on that? I have a 26 page contract. Can Anyone read it? I assume I won't make anything but Troma is better than nothing ??

 

Here are some basics, and only because you're a fellow Brit and you made a movie :)

 

1) If it's a straight distribution deal then you will most likely get zero dollars. They will absorb all revenues into their "costs." Famous and true saying, "the only thing creative about Hollywood is the accounting."

 

2) You must try and get an advance, it may be the only money you ever see, but...at least you have something.

 

3) Ask for a "gross dollar corridor." This means you get a percentage off the top of gross revenue before they subtract out a massive load of expenses. If you get an advance a 5% gross dollar corridor would be acceptable.

 

4) There must be a cap on all their expenses written into the contract, a cap on marketing costs, a cap on art, a cap on trailer production, everything. Otherwise they are going to massively inflate all of these costs to ensure you see no revenue. If they want $20, 000.00 for a trailer, balk at that! That's insane, they'll spend maybe $2, 000.00 on it on a good day. You get the idea.

 

5) Insert a clause that says, "if the advance is not paid to you within 30 days of full delivery then all rights automatically revert back to you." This means they have to pay the advance on time. I know producers who have been waiting over two years after delivery and their advance has still not been paid.

 

6) Is there a deliverables list in that contract? Look it over and cost it out carefully.

 

7) Do you have E&O in place? What does the contract say about this?

 

8) Probably the most important, hire the best entertainment lawyer you can find to read it and make changes, otherwise you are about to make a very very big mistake. That contract is designed to ensure that you never see a dime. They are counting on you being desperate enough to sign it and not spend the money on a lawyer.

 

R,

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Thanks for you long and highly informative responsive it's very kind of you.

 

I think anyone who reaches Troma is in a pretty desperate way. I'm quite sure they don't even care if I sign the contract or not which brings me to the point, if I paid for an entertainment lawyer to go over these 26 pages and put together a string of amends, what is the likelihood of them just not returning calls. It's a case of have it sit on the shelf or be seen somehow and then maybe something happens..... I don't know, do you know any entertainment lawyers? What do they charge ?

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Don't be fooled, Troma has been around a long time and they have a successful track record in your genre. It's not a bad place for your film to be. Don't let them say, take it or leave it.

 

An entertainment lawyer in the US is about 350-400/hr, a typical contract revision with back and forth should be about 3500-4000.

 

You can ask Troma for an advance and gross dollar corridor, or, let the lawyer do it.

 

Troma will be used to dealing with producers who have lawyers.

 

Are you going to tell me that after all that work and money you are now going to make the classic indie filmmaker mistake, and not hire a lawyer so you get shafted on your distribution deal? Does that make any sense to you?

 

R,

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Thanks for you long and highly informative responsive it's very kind of you.

 

I think anyone who reaches Troma is in a pretty desperate way.

 

No. If I made a film that matched up with Troma's general genre requirements, I'd be banging on their door...

 

And... I'd find out about how to get an entertainment lawyer involved, because as noted, a film sales may not mean cash in your bank.

 

I think authors of books have had the same problem, where a publisher will give the author an 'advance' then tally up costs, such that 'advance' dwindles to virtually nothing.

 

Of course the author has to declare that income for tax purposes... and so a good accountant/lawyer is required to make sure the author is not 'paying' to see their book in print...

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I really can't afford to be paying 3K for someone to read 26 pieces of paper and tell me Im basically not getting anything out of the deal. I can see that clearly with my own eyes..

 

Does anyones first film make money? I don't think so, well 9 times out of ten. The point of this film was to enable us to make another. Richard did your first film net you cash? I recall it made you the square root of nothing but it got you that next chance.

 

If Troma are " soliciting all VOD platforms including; Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Sony 4K and Playstation" then I could either do it my own with Distribber and pay them 3K for the privilege and not have the Brand cache of Troma and just be a random or..

 

You see my point. Or am i being a spanner?

Edited by Phil Thompson

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Well yes Phil, but you really need to find your own. Type,"entertainment law firms" into Google. Shop around.

 

Tell them you have little money, do they have an associate lawyer you can work with at a lower rate?

 

R,

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so you sent that company your cover art, they sent you a big contract via email, you then stumped up 3K on a lawyer to go over the paperwork and made lots of amends and they were happy, and happy days you made your money? surely just getting it out was more important to you?

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No actually, producers do not think this way. What if Oren Peli took that approach and handed off his $13, 000.00 movie to Paramount and just said, oh well at least I am getting it out there. That movie was Paranormal Activity and made 100 million at the box office.

 

Like I said, you have my opinion, if you are back here in 18 months complaining about how you got screwed over in your distribution deal (and didn't hire a lawyer) who will you have to blame? I hope you won't look to me for any sympathy.

 

R,

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so you sent that company your cover art, they sent you a big contract via email, you then stumped up 3K on a lawyer to go over the paperwork and made lots of amends and they were happy, and happy days you made your money? surely just getting it out was more important to you?

 

Yes, you may have to pay some amount. Perhaps you can find cheaper some where... but also recall... from your bio brief, you are in the UK... I am in California, and Richard is in Canada...

 

All three places are different... and if you were to contact Troma... They are a New York entity... which may have different law than California in certain respects... In the US Federal law governs some aspects of 'entertainment law' in regard to copyright etc. but each state may have different 'contract' law and attendant precedent... For example, most contract have a passage about where conflicts are to be resolved... for California... the contract reads 'California law and courts are to be used'... like wise for New York, where NY law and courts are specified...

 

What this does is supply lawyer's kids with funds for high priced colleges and universities...

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Even if Phil gets the best lawyer in the world, what are his chances of seeing any worthwhile money from it in any case?

 

P

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yeah lets face it, Essex Spacebin isn't going Supernova. And EVEN if by some miracle it makes Troma Millions and we don't make a penny then Im sure we'll get a phone call to do at least something else and to be honest thats all i want, the opportunity to get paid to make another film.

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Even if Phil gets the best lawyer in the world, what are his chances of seeing any worthwhile money from it in any case?

 

P

 

It does have to be made before it can be sliced and diced that is true.

 

Hey, I gave him my .02, he can do as he pleases.

 

R,

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On the legal front Lee and Thompson in London know their stuff, so it might be worth a call to see if they are affordable.

 

On the contract front - I think its unlikely you will make any money so I don't know if I would push it too much, you need to find out what they are offering in terms of helping you find a larger audience.

 

Towards the end of this clip the ways in which you don't make any money from low budget film distribution is discussed.

 

One thing I would look at very carefully is the deliverables requested, what are they and who is paying for them. Sometimes your asked to provide a large list of deliverables and there is a cost attached to making them - so it could cost you money to sign the contract if you have to provide the deliverables. eg: DCP, HDCAM-SR version, M + E Mix, TV Mix, E and O insurance, QC Cert, Dolby License etc...

 

Depending on how you produced the audio the music and effects mix could be expensive/time consuming to make if they are asking for it.

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