Hey everyone, I just wanted to open up a topic about and the financial and creative interests of Cinematographers. Everyone here loves shooting, but it is impossible for every D.P. to know exactly what it is that they are worth. Also I figured that there are questions out there that perhaps I could help to answer regarding contracts deal memos etc. I have always enjoyed working with Cinematographers and I feel that opening up this forum may help me to open a line of communication from D.P. to Agent that is I feel incredibly important with where our industry is headed. Unity has always been the tool that has facilitated equal treatment in the film industry, hopefully I won't step on too many toes. It isn't all about money for Agents not the good ones anyways. So if you have questions fire away, I will try and respond as soon as I can.
In the early days there was a house in Malibu that every D.P. would go to and discuss what was going on in Hollywood. Directors began coming and all of a sudden the industry started to notice that a D.P. was an artist and not just an employee.
Thank you for making yourself available. I do have a question. I've tried submitting to agents twice. My packet has consisted of a DVD (3 min. montage and 12 full length samples of music videos, commercials and narrative projects), a paper resume (2 pages, partial list of music videos, commercials and narrative projects as well as skill sets) and my biography (1 page) - all clean, simple and to the point. Should I be including any additional information. Also, what kind of follow-up on my part is appropriate and how often should should I try to contact them after sending this packet.
You know it really depends, no matter what is going on, if your going to a studio or if your just trying to get representation, always do what you feel is most "you". If you want an agency to chase you down, that generally will not happen until your in demand. (in which case EVERYBODY will) Following up is the key, but there is a fine line that has to be walked between following up and just being plain annoying. I think that the package that your sending looks to be a really good comprehensive package of who you are. As long as "YOU" is what the core of your package is about, you will get representation when someone is ready to give you a shot. Going back to that Hollywood Cliché "Right Place at the Right Time" (sound familiar) I hate clichés
When getting an agent the most important thing that a client can bring in is Momentum. This is momentum that is created by the client believe it or not. It is not easy to get a production company to take a chance on someone they don't know BUT if you have other people who are using you, or your fresh off a feature, or better yet, just about to get one. That is your strongest time. This may come as a surprise to you but EVERY agency wants to make money. So if there is someone that you want to represent you, more often than not they will not turn you away if you represent a positive cash proposition. This is of course on a case by case basis, but that is by and large the truth.
If you have buttons on your DVD package that gives the person be them Agent, or Producer, make it easy for them to zone in on what they are looking for. If you have a short that people seem to respond really well to, give it a button, maybe have some reviews of the short scrolling next to the button to play after you click on the SHORT subcatagory. (I hope that makes sense) I have a guy that I know wrote a fake review of his DOC, because it went to the BBC they had no idea anyways because it was a local paper. They wound up getting about $250,000 people want to know that other people dig your stuff.
Does that answer what you were asking?
It doesn't really apply to me, because I'm never going to be that in-demand in my particular line of work that an agent would be relevant or even interested, but it's certainly good to have one around. Questions about representation come up fairly frequently.
Questions about feature Deal memos/contracts for DP's have cropped up on this forum (and the CML) regularly over the years and im wondering if now is a good time to try and put together a basic or standard deal memo that we could all use as a template to try and standardize our working conditions the world over? Granted no two contracts are ever going to be the exact same but we could have a common ground to start from. Im not talking about wages, that will always vary, what im really interested in is DP rights i.e authorship issues, gaurunteed grading (paid!!), prep time, rights to footage and images etc. Surely with an agent like Morgan on the forum and such a large international membership we could begin the process of putting something together?
I could not agree more, however I can't just post a contract, if that is in fact what your asking. Everything that a Cinematographer does for a production, prep, timing, or D.I., there has to be pay. NO MATTER WHAT, if not the next project that D.P. does regardless of what it is, the production will almost always not want to pay more than the other production provided. Thus putting the creative person in a haggle over money, which is something that a creative person in the industry should never have to deal directly with, at some point a bad cop has to come in (usually) and it is really hard to be both. If that isn't what you mean by all means be more specific. Standardizing a deal memo will never really be possible, there are basic things that always need to be asked for but it is really hard for me to lay what those are without being asked directly, about specifics.
Sorry I am afraid that whole response may sound very cryptic.
I understand you cant just post a contract for us to all follow, but could we collectviely create a basic contract, from which we (DP's and agents) could add to but not subtract from? By which i mean we'd all know that the world over we're all working off of some of the same basic tenants - the right to choose ones crew, rights to use the images etc. Obviously fees, overtime rates travel time etc cant be set in stone as it will always vary depending on the job the dp and the agent but what im more specificaly interested in is nailing down some "artistic" rights. Is that too lofty a goal?
If we were all asking for the same artistic rights, and asking in the same way then surely given some time a unified front would be formed and both studios and producers would begin to see a pattern in what was been asked for, and it would become less of an issue for us to get it? Then all we'd really need to negotiate on a job by job basis would be monetary rummneration which will always vary wildly anyway. does that make sense? Is anybody else on the forum interested in this or am i just daydreaming:)?
There are commonly reoccuring themes in a deal memo, but it has to usually be argued point by point between the agent and the producer, and as your career evolves and your star rises, so does your list of demands. I think I would be green with envy if I read Robert Richardson's deal memo, even ignoring the salary aspect.
On each movie, it's different regarding what the production will or will not accept or allow.
David is right when he says that it is a case by case sensitive discussion, the one thing that it will take everyone in the Cinematographer community to agree on will be DVD backend. No Cinematographer receives any money for the digital rights to their work being duplicated and sold. Be it I-Tunes, amazon.com, Best Buy, or X-Box Live, this is where the majority of the money is and only Producers see that money and more often than not even they won't see anything. While the Studios are collecting handover fist. Every Cinematographer I feel should have the right to collect on what is being sold on their behalf, having it just be B.O. only totals (which rarely happens) frequently never makes it to the points required for the Client to ever collect. These are topics that have to be raised and dealt with Right Away. If it is only a few asking for this then there will always be some other party that isn't asking for it.
I want to be clear and say that these are not things that we currently ask for, but I think that these issues are the future of what should be fought for.