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#1 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 09:43 PM

I apologize if this has been asked before, I searched around but couldn't find one that flat out answered what I was asking. I realize that every film is different, it depends on the budget, etc. But the "accepted" payment for a writer is 5% of the budget. Is there some kind of magical number for Cinematographers? If not, what's the "acceptable" amount that most DPs will work for?
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#2 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 10:00 PM

not sure where you pulled 5% from? the acceptable terms for a good writer are defined by the WGA. A lot of producers use that as the standard for deals that are non-WGA as well. I assure you writers are not getting 5 million on a $100m movie.

maybe you're talking low budgets, but i'm still not sure that your 5% example works. i've more commonly heard 2-3%, aka 200k on a $10m movie.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 11:09 PM

maybe you're talking low budgets, but i'm still not sure that your 5% example works. i've more commonly heard 2-3%, aka 200k on a $10m movie.


I wish... unless you were talking about the writer.

For a DP, more like .5% to 1%. It seems these days no one wants to pay much above scale (union minimum) for features even if they have a 10-mil budget, which is about $4000/wk for the DP, so maybe $5000 or $6000/wk if they are lucky, and that's usually about 10-weeks of work, prep + shoot, so do the math.

Of course, the big-timers can command more. And the non-union features can pay less...

And commercials pay a lot more.
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#4 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 11:17 PM

I got the 5% number from Wikipedia, a few books on screenwriting I have, etc. So we're looking at $40,000 per film? Assuming you do at least 2 films a year you should be able to live fairly well off, correct? Or is being a cinematographer more of a "starving arts" kind of thing?

Even if it's 1% of the budget, on a $100M budget, that's $1M, but how often are there $100M budgets?

Edited by Tyler Leisher, 03 November 2007 - 11:19 PM.

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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 05:23 AM

I've never heard of this 5% number, and it seems awfully high to me. Think about it, on 250M Superman Returns the writers would have gotten 12.5M, I just can't see that happening.

The only percentage I've ever heard of is on commercials where the directors usually get 10% of the budget.
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 09:47 AM

Writers rates vary, although the Writers Guild rates seem to be often used as a starting point. However, there's a lot of speculative work involved in writing and often projects can take years before they're made. Most feature film scripts will never get made and most you can hope for is development funding to pay the writer's fees.

Due to the volume of production, TV offers more regular work than feature films. Unless you get into the world of being paid for doing rewrites, it's unlikely you'll be writing two feature films a year. To do so, given that 2 years is a pretty common development time, you'd need to have a number of feature projects at various stages of development.

A good successful cinematographer can earn just as much as your writer, if not more than the $80,000 a year you mentioned.
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#7 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 12:26 PM

How many projects does the average Cinematographer work on per year, if they are somewhat successful (That is, not an award winner, but has worked on some well known films).
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 03:21 PM

I've never heard of this 5% number, and it seems awfully high to me. Think about it, on 250M Superman Returns the writers would have gotten 12.5M, I just can't see that happening.

The only percentage I've ever heard of is on commercials where the directors usually get 10% of the budget.


Hi Max,

I knew a British (comedy) director who reputedly got 25% of the budget in the 1970's on a couple of features.

Stephen
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