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Topic: OT: indie film composer fees

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  1. #1

    OT: indie film composer fees

    Hi there,

    Just a quick poll as to what is 'normal' fee structure for an indie film of late. I usually give a 3.5-5%/budget rate but uncertain with this one since I know the producer (like him but still need to protect myself). I don't want to turn this into 'one of the family' kind of rates. Perhaps $300-400 minute?

    Of course, I am not interested in downstream options (% of door, DVD sales). As we all know what happens there more than not.

    Some opinions would be appreciated.

    Many thanks.


    Rob

    (BTW, they have heard my music and will accept and sample score.)
    Rob Elliott Music
    www.robelliottmusic.com

  2. #2

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Rob,

    Yup. I think you're in the ball park depending on their budget. . maybe even lower. If it's a sample score (nothing live) than maybe a blanket fee with a set number of revisions.

    sincerely,

    Jonathan

  3. #3

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    His current budget is $450K-500K. I think 5% is realistic as he just called me to co-write a couple of the 'closing credits' tunes as well. Of course, I'll keep all ownership on those tunes. I have given him these numbers this afternoon and he feels they are fair. Now let's see if he gets the last 30-40% of his funding

    He appears to have excellent distribution but I still want to cover my time up front (I'll be doing nothing else for 2-3 months) . Your 'revisions' idea is a very good one. This can sometimes get out of control.

    Rob
    Rob Elliott Music
    www.robelliottmusic.com

  4. #4

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Since, one never makes that much on indie films I always look for the payoff down the line. The pay off being--does the film have any potential of selling and getting noticed? Can I use the finished DVD copy to get more work?

    Get paid sure. But don't do it by the minute. That's going to limit the quality of the score and its impact on the movie and if anybody ever does get to see it... You don't want potential clients down the line saying, "yeah great film, but how come there's only 15 minutes of score?".

    If you need to use this movie to get future work you want to make sure that it's fully scored. I recently got hired to do a film and the first thing the producer asked me was, "do you have anything I can see?". I gave him a film I had done that was bought by HBO. That film I did for a flat rate and gave them as much music as they needed. When the budget ran out I turned to samples to finish it.

    So set a reasonable "all in" budget with the filmmakers and make them happy by giving them as much music as they need for their film.

    Find out what he's willing to pay, then bump him up a notch or two. Chances are that if he's a friend of yours that he'll want to pay you as much as he can afford. Then I always ask for just a little more than they're comfortable paying so that they know that I'm not cheap.

    But, if you check IMDB you'll find that John William's accepted a score for a fee of $50,000.00. That's about a million less than his normal fee. He's not worried about his fee and these days neither am I. Working is the most important part. Delivering great music and getting paid is the next most important thing. How much? Well you got to create the demand for your work first. So get as much as you can and kick a** all over the score. Don't worry about how much you're getting paid per min.

    imho

    Jose

  5. #5

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Indie films should be looked at as a vehicle of potential upward mobility. You might be scoring a film for someone on their way up, or you might be scoring a piece that will get your reel a much better shake.

    FWIW, I think fee schedules are consistent with specific projects; yet there is no set standard. Period. I recently passed on scoring a prime time original feature for Sci-Fi channel. The budget for the music was an astonishing 15K. At that rate, and pounding away on fairly orchestrated cues totally roughly 75 minutes, it's about $200 a minute.

    It's unbelievable where the industry has lead itself in regards to music. Every seeming outlet for working musicians is getting swallowed up by perceptions that are married to technology.

    On the flipside, there are guys out there that can shed 5 high quality minutes a day...making that kind of budget tolerable. But burnout is a likely price, which is a really unsavory one.

    I always say, if you like the material, and can afford to do it, then go for it!

  6. #6
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    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Wow... 75 minutes for 15k, what a bargain.... I'm surprised you didn't jump all over that? (sarcastic)

    My question is this, as I am in a similar spot as Rob (so obviously I can't answer your question Rob )

    I'm gonna be doing something with a budget of 4 to 5 mil. I was thinking 1% "all in" deal. Does that sound about right? Talking about 75% sampled instruments. Maybe 45 minutes of music at 40 to 50k.... Am I off base?

    BTW-- it's indie.

    I'm gonna have an agent do the actual deal but am not certain what I should ask for.... why the heck is the no union?

    Anyone?

    PS... sorry to hijack, but maybe it'll help you too Rob. And good luck with your flick.

    BTW -- How do you guys 'eat' if you're not concerned what your deals are?


    Thanks!

    KID

  7. #7

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    I'm not saying don't eat. I'm saying don't be so concerned with eating that it blocks you from futhering your career...hehe

    No all joking aside. Always go for as much money as you can get. Scoring films is hard work. It's not easy to get films. The most successful film composers I know would have never let money stand in the way of getting a gig early on in their careers. And, these same names still do work way below their market value if they believe in the film.

    Art vs. Money. Tricky balance.

    Congrats on your film by the way.

    Cheers,


    Jose

  8. #8

    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Quote Originally Posted by kid-surf
    Wow... 75 minutes for 15k, what a bargain.... I'm surprised you didn't jump all over that? (sarcastic)

    My question is this, as I am in a similar spot as Rob (so obviously I can't answer your question Rob )

    I'm gonna be doing something with a budget of 4 to 5 mil. I was thinking 1% "all in" deal. Does that sound about right? Talking about 75% sampled instruments. Maybe 45 minutes of music at 40 to 50k.... Am I off base?

    BTW-- it's indie.

    I'm gonna have an agent do the actual deal but am not certain what I should ask for.... why the heck is the no union?

    Anyone?

    PS... sorry to hijack, but maybe it'll help you too Rob. And good luck with your flick.

    BTW -- How do you guys 'eat' if you're not concerned what your deals are?


    Thanks!

    KID
    On face value, considering the budget, the 40-50K for 45 minutes of music seems right (especially for an indie). If it is a project that is good and the people that are collaborating on it are a cut above I say jump at it. Good luck to you kid.

    Rob
    Rob Elliott Music
    www.robelliottmusic.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member Patthoven's Avatar
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    Talking Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    Hi Guys,

    I find this topic fascinating as I love film music and always wondered what the range is that someone gets paid and based on what.

    It seems to me that if I'm interpreting things correctly, the following ideas seem to apply as general guidelines: ( please correct my neophite understanding):

    1. A good scoring contract would be one that pays approximately $1000/ minute of music used in the film; while getting your feet wet in indies might require you to settle for $200-500 / minute. And the Big Dogs Might be looking at and "all you need situation" for arpound the $1,000,000 level.

    2. Its preferable to do all in one deals because of the creative blows that an accountant can do to a film. Yes?

    3. Is it assumed that you are going to score for live orchestration when you sign on or is synth and sampled material OK if it sounds good?

    4. Where are there other boards that discuss these kinds of things? Or is this it?

    5. Does one get these kinds of projects through an agency only, or do you hunt for them yourself; .......and if so, where does one hunt?

    I am most interested in scoring for the shows on Animal Planet, Discover Channel, PBS, The Learning Channel, and the Food Network, type of stuff. These are my target audience. Question is,.....how do I reach these people to submit material for these gigs.

    And dare I ask..... what is expected to be paid for these gigs?

    I know its a mouthful. But I would be most grateful for all of your comments and input. Thanks!!

    Pat

  10. #10
    Power Profile User lukpcn's Avatar
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    Re: OT: indie film composer fees

    I would love to know this too.

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