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Topic: Investing in a film

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  1. #1

    Investing in a film

    Has anyone here ever paid to be hired as a film composer for a project?

    this scenario is mostly for newbies like myself but what I mean is if there's an intersting, high quality film in production, probably a low- to mid-level indie (because a feature would be too expensive), which you'd really like to be a part of and you do good work and the director is someone you'd LOVE to work with but basically there's a whole line of other composers with better experience, credentials and connections in front of you vying for the same spot, what if you proposed to the director to sort of "invest" in the film in return for the chance to score it. if the director goes for this, the benefits would be obvious but is this ethical? does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? any thoughts?

  2. #2

    Re: Investing in a film

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony M
    this scenario is mostly for newbies like myself but what I mean is if there's an intersting, high quality film in production, probably a low- to mid-level indie (because a feature would be too expensive), which you'd really like to be a part of and you do good work and the director is someone you'd LOVE to work with but basically there's a whole line of other composers with better experience, credentials and connections in front of you vying for the same spot, what if you proposed to the director to sort of "invest" in the film in return for the chance to score it. if the director goes for this, the benefits would be obvious but is this ethical? does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? any thoughts?
    Ethical issues aside (there are some IMHO), the main thing you should be concerned about when doing such a thing is how it will affect your way of working in the future. This is exactly the sort of thing that decreases the sense of value of music a producer or director might have. Remember those people tend to talk to each other aswell, and once word has spread that you provided your music for nothing (or, worse yet, payed money for being able to provide it) on this project, you'll have one hell of a hard time to ask for even reasonable pay on the next one. That is, IF you'll get another one anyway - what keeps the director from booting you and giving the job to the next beginner who does it for nothing as soon as you change your mind?

    IMHO, You should never pay for doing work. If there's a really cool project with NO budget (!), it's legitimate to consider doing it for free, but as soon as money is involved, you're sending a clear message if you pass on your right to get a share of it, and that message is "my work is not worth your money". Not exactly the best image you'd want for starting a career.

    Just my 2 cents anyway.

    Cheers,
    jan

  3. #3

    Wink Re: Investing in a film

    The first rule in filmmaking is always spend someone elses money!

  4. #4

    Re: Investing in a film

    If you're going to be a producer then be a producer. If you're going to be a composer then be a composer.

    There's nothing wrong with investing in a film. There is something highly suspect of investing in a film then providing the music for free.

    Separate it out. Be an invester if you want to. But, then also get paid for providing the music. They'll have to pay somebody if you don't do it. So if you invest then just get paid as a seperate thing.

    On my first film(hunk of junk imho but I didn't know any better) I invested in the movie by way of investing my own money to do demos and hire musicians and that sort of thing. They then turned around and hired me because I showed some initiative and wasn't affraid to spend my own money. But that was an investment for me. I still got paid for doing the music.

    So invest with a purpose in mind. The purpose is to make a deal for more money. That's what investing is. Not just giving money away to work on a feature.

    Chances are that if you invested a thousand in this feature that you probably won't even get that back. So invest in the hustle it takes to get the job. Just tell them that you'll start working on the music at your expenses then if they like what they hear you'll sell it to them. If not, then at least you invested in a good demo reel for yourself.

    Cheers,


    Jose

  5. #5

    Re: Investing in a film

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony M
    Has anyone here ever paid to be hired as a film composer for a project?

    this scenario is mostly for newbies like myself but what I mean is if there's an intersting, high quality film in production, probably a low- to mid-level indie (because a feature would be too expensive), which you'd really like to be a part of and you do good work and the director is someone you'd LOVE to work with but basically there's a whole line of other composers with better experience, credentials and connections in front of you vying for the same spot, what if you proposed to the director to sort of "invest" in the film in return for the chance to score it. if the director goes for this, the benefits would be obvious but is this ethical? does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? any thoughts?
    First off, you think a lot like I do!

    But I don't think your plan would work. Unless you chipped in a LOT of money, the director will still hire the guy he thinks will give him the best score, not the guy with the lowest (even as a financial contributor) bid. His ultimate goal, don't forget, is a quality movie, not boasting rights for shrewdest pennypinching (RobG notwithstanding.) The director knows it's a penny wise, dollar foolish situation.

    Now, if your demo reel can convince him you're a viable candidate, you might say you intend to spend your whole budget hiring musicians to get the best sound. I saw this strategy work once (not me.) Interestingly, the music wound up being a disaster (Lesson: a sampled orcestra is better than a cheap live orchestra!)

    - Mike Greene

  6. #6

    Re: Investing in a film

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greene
    Unless you chipped in a LOT of money, the director will still hire the guy he thinks will give him the best score, not the guy with the lowest (even as a financial contributor) bid.
    I just realized that I urgently need to relocate to... whereever you are.



    Cheers,
    jan

  7. #7

    Re: Investing in a film

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greene
    But I don't think your plan would work. Unless you chipped in a LOT of money, the director will still hire the guy he thinks will give him the best score, not the guy with the lowest (even as a financial contributor) bid. His ultimate goal, don't forget, is a quality movie, not boasting rights for shrewdest pennypinching (RobG notwithstanding.) The director knows it's a penny wise, dollar foolish situation.
    - Mike Greene
    Good chance he'll take your money and hire the guy who won't do if for free but who he wants. At the same time, he'll let you write away, never telling you he's not planning to use your music.

    Perhaps you could come up with an agreement that if you don't score the film and it's not released you own his house and get back ten times what you put in. If he doesn't like an agreement wherein your music must be used, that might be a sign.

    I agree with Jose that producting and working on must be separate. Do you get any say so with your monetary contribution?

    Even by working for free, one is contributing the cost of what it would cost to buy and/or rent the DAW, etc.

    Perhaps the old line down a paper technique would help. On the left side write down all the positives, on the right all the negatives. How do they balance out.

    Perhaps if you spent time and money you would invest here into promoting yourself, preparing some demos/clips, and finding another filmmaker who has a budget, your investment will be better paid back.

    Rather than paying to score a film, it makes more sense to me to look for a filmmaker who is looking for investors. This guy will have some film shot that he needs music for to show as a promo to money people. Something like this would be less work and much more exposure.

    Bottom line, while there are times working for "free" upfront might be reasonable, I don't see a time when paying to work for someone else is ever reasonable. If it's your money, it should be your project. And even then, it's best if it's someone else's money.

    I never can tell on this forum if people are talking video or film. But video projects, whether they are called "films" or not are a nickel a gross. Rodriguez doesn't shoot DV and his low budget intro work was on film.

    Has this film been shot? What do you think of the footage? The indie In the Bedroom was taken to the editor after it was shot. I believe the same with the composer. The footage got these people to work on it. Have you seen the footage of the project you are thinking about here?

    Bottomline 2: Find a brilliant young filmmaker, and make a demo with him. Promote yourself and find the producer who loves your music and can give you a chance.

  8. #8

    Re: Investing in a film

    You should only invest if you think there's a good chance you'll see a return on your investment.

    I think what you're proposing would only make you seem desparate and cause the director to lose respect for you and hire somebody else anyway.

    And remember if this film tanks, you will have wasted your time and your money.

  9. #9

    Re: Investing in a film

    Oh man....what huge can of worms you might be opening with this one. Remember when bands would get paid for playing at a club? Do you really want people to say "remember when composers didn't have to pay to write music for a film?" Even though most people feel that their actions will have no repercussions on the industry, they could be more devastating than people imagine.

    Having said that, I have lost gigs because the investors wanted someone specific on board.....so your best bet is to become friends with the investors and not the director!

    I'm assuming by your scenario, that you are financially not dependant on music, and that you're just doing it because it would be a lot of fun?

    I like Jose's point the best, separate the two, if you want to invest in the film, do so....but also charge the producers an appropriate fee for your work as composer.

    If you really have some money that's burning a hole in your wallet, I would suggest that it would be best spent by hiring a good web designer and possibly a marketing consultant to help you have a really great web site and promotional package. For a few thousands you can have yourself glossy brochures and silkscreened CD's which will help you stand out from the rest of your competition.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  10. #10

    Re: Investing in a film

    Quote Originally Posted by Looper
    I think what you're proposing would only make you seem desparate and cause the director to lose respect for you and hire somebody else anyway.
    Thanks everyone for your input. The above quote is exactly what I was afraid of. I think, theoretically, the scenario I presented would work but it's the respect of not only the director and crew but also my composer colleagues which I would be afraid I might loose.

    The reason why I posted this topic is because someone mentioned to me about a screenwriter, whose name I forgot, but he was a Wall St. banker and he invested an important amount in a feature film. He was also a screenwriter, I guess as a hobby. Being an investor in this film, he had influence with the director and other producers and was hired as the screenwriter for the film. Anyway, the film was a success and the banker/screenwriter was nominated for an Oscar.

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