Background on Me: I'm director/DP/editor in Atlanta. I dabble in different things but the majority of my work comes from hip hop/rnb/pop music videos. The work in my reel stands out and my quality is considered to be in the top tier for directors in Atlanta.
You can see the reel of my work at www.alphamalevisuals.com/reel
I'm still relatively new to the city, and I have realized that it's not the best directors or cinematographers that get the opportunities to shoot bigger budget videos with bigger artists (which is one of my goals). It's all about your network and who you know that will recommend you to do a particular job. I moved to ATL in March of 2016 where I started completely fresh from ground 0. I started networking and really didn't start making money until around July. Since then, my momentum as slowly been growing as I go out and try to network and get into different circles. However, alot of my work has been from out of towners or "smaller" local artists from instagram or youtube with ok budgets. I do have a decent IG following for a director (40k followers on instagram) and I have been getting my own projects. But I haven't broken into the bigger budget/bigger artist scene yet as a director. I've only been hired on those jobs by other directors to light/dp/ and shoot for them. In 2017, I'm trying to break out into the big stage as a director and ultimately be able to charge these higher prices and make more money.
My Dillemma: I've been approached with an opportunity to have a "manager" who is well connected in the industry and could be "that guy" to plug me into these bigger jobs with bigger budgets and artists. He has worked with a couple well-known directors in the past that I have actually studied and looked up to. He didn't necessarily manage them and get a cut, but he referred clients to that director for work. Now that he has seen my work and I'm a new face, he sees a financial opportunity and has put an offer on the table to form a team where he will push my brand and make connections and referrals for me to get bigger jobs. Once he starts getting me the first few jobs, it will turn into a snowball effect and the door will open for many more bigger budget/bigger artist jobs....supposedly. Over time, we would begin to charge higher prices. The catch here is that, if he's going to plug me in, he wants to sign a contract that states he will receive 20% of ANY project that I shoot going forward. Even the projects that he doesn't bring me.
My Reaction: This sounds like a bit much to me, but maybe because I've never seen what a deal like this is supposed to look like. I assume this is the equivalent to having an agent or representation from a company that can get you jobs you normally couldn't get yourself. I just start thinking about the amount of work that goes into doing a big production because I am the director and the DP, so I spend days preparing, figuring out how I'm going to light it etc. I'm also the editor, so I spend days after the shoot editing it. I'm wondering if taking out that much for a manager would be worth it.
1. What's the average percentage a manager like this should be getting? Is 20% a fair number? Should it be 20% of what I'm getting paid or 20% of the total production budget. For example, the total available budget a client might have to spend on a video is $4,000. I would be getting paid $2,000 and the rest would go to location rentals, props etc. other expenses to make the production. Should he be getting 20% of my pay $2,000 or the total $4,000
2. Is it fair that he would get 20% of jobs that he didn't reccomend me for? I do have some relationships in Atlanta and it's slowly growing over time. I feel like, getting to where I want to be is ultimately a task that that I could reach on my own without a manager, but it would take MUCH longer to build that reputation and name. I'm worried that, I sign the contract, I start getting these bigger budgets & working with bigger names, but a large portion of the money is coming out, I'm not getting paid the money that I feel I should, then I feel like I'm stuck, or the amount of work that I'm doing isn't worth the money I'm getting. etc What good is a good name if I'm not making good money? I don't want to regret signing it.
3. I also work on projects that don't have to deal with the music industry; feature films from unrelated clients, small business commercials, reality tv. Should he be getting a cut from those?
4. On the flip side, I do understand the possibility that once my name starts getting bigger, clients may start reaching out to me directly instead of going through him, and then it will be hard to tell if it was a client I wouldn't have gotten if it wasn't for him.
5. What about jobs I already had lined up before the potential signing of the contract? Should he get a cut out of that?
6. I'm thinking that if I DID sign something like this, there should be a specified time period that it should be in effect for. It shouldn't be an indefinite deal forever. How long should a manager contract like this last for?
7. If I feel at some point during the term that the deal just isn't worth it anymore or I feel like I'm not getting the return that I should, what are my options of getting out of the contract? Can I get out of it? How should this section be written to protect my best interests?
8. When I sit down with him to talk about making changes to the deal, what are some other points that I should bring up that maybe I haven't brought up to protect or be in my best interests?
I'm looking for any type of advice from people who have seen something like this before and what my options might be.