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Newb @ Creating a Behind the Scenes Doc

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Mike Debbie
Newb @ Creating a Behind the Scenes Doc
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:42:22 pm

The production company I do most of my post work with recently booked me for eight months to assist in the post production of a feature length art film.
At the conclusion of our first meeting two days ago, I realized there was no plan to film or document the behind the scenes activity of this unique film. After voicing my idea, I was then asked to head up that project. I happily accepted.
I’d love to fill everyone in with the details of the film, but unfortunately I signed the non-disclosure agreement already, so I guess you’ll have to wait and see why this film and moreover the behind the scene goings on will make for a uniquely entertaining and historical documentary. Sorry for the tease.

Down to business:

My plan is to use my own camera and sound equipment to document the entire behind the scenes process, as well as conduct the interviews with all the major players during this creative process up until and maybe even beyond the films completion.
I'd like to use edited sneak peek “snippets” to post on our blog along the way, to help generate buzz for the film as well as eventually create a feature length documentary to release after the film has been completed.
Because my idea for this documentary is in it’s infantile stage there has been no discussion whatsoever about who will have ultimate control and ownership of anything behind the scenes.
My entrepreneurial intuition has been telling me that this opportunity is one that would benefit me the most in the long run if I can somehow retain a percentage of the projects ownership.
Post is scheduled to begin on April 1st, so I’d like to present the producers and director with a rough business plan, which I’m sure will involve a few rounds of negotiations.
Before I draft and present anything though, I’d to like to consult the business community here on how to maximize this potential opportunity for my business and myself.
I’m a skilled motion and still photographer/editor and could shoot and edit this entire thing basically in my sleep. What I lack is the producer-like knowledge needed for a project of this magnitude (business plans, contracts, presentations) but like I said before my entrepreneurial intuition is screaming at me to not let this one slip by.
I’m confident that my ability to “fake it till I make it” topped with some trusty help from the COW community here, will put me in a much better position than I am right now. Thanks for you time.

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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Newb @ Creating a Behind the Scenes Doc
on Mar 22, 2012 at 7:50:01 pm

This is too risky as a stand-alone product in my opinion. Why? The popularity of your documentary (and any return on percentage of ownership) is based solely on the popularity of this film. Film tanks or unforeseen circumstances kill the project and you're done beyond your dayrate.

I would approach this is a payday: They retain the rights and you charge a dayrate or flat fee for the project with a bonus paid out if this documentary is included on dvd/blu-ray with the film.

In my mind, this works better for a few reasons:

I don't think the producers would overvalue this material to the point where they would try to sell it separately -- and think about it, how many stand alone documentaries about the making of a film exist in the marketplace? If you've been granted a percentage of ownership, chances are they would still control it and you'd be under their mercy if they shelved it.

Secondly, if this film is well funded, consider the producer's big bosses: the financiers. It's a lot easier for them to pitch and approve it if they pitch it as marketing material/content from the budget than as a completely separate budget and business plan.

I know you want to "get some" but it seems like you're over complicating the business around EPK material.

FilmsFor.Us - Distribute your indie film online

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Mike Debbie
Re: Newb @ Creating a Behind the Scenes Doc
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:14:26 pm

Thanks for the reply Angelo. One of the reason I was seeking more information on how to approach the "Behind the Scenes" project, from a business standpoint, was due to the fact that the finalized budget did not include any room to film or edit any BTS goings-on.
I simply pitched a super rough idea, and was surprised when they (the producers, director) OK'd it so much as it didn't interfere with the role they originally hired to me fill.
Adding the role of BTS documentarian to my already negotiated day-rate would certainly run me thin.
It would essentially be a budget-less side project I was hoping to turn into "something" down the road (barring I actually had something of interest.)
Do you think it would be worth it to forge ahead with the doc and wait to see if I did indeed have anything of value before ruffling any feathers?

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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Newb @ Creating a Behind the Scenes Doc
on Mar 31, 2012 at 5:19:42 am

When there is no budget for it, things get a little more tricky.

If you aren't getting paid to actually film and edit it, I would only make a deal where I 1) control ownership of the EPK footage and 2) Receive a perpetual license that permits me to use the footage I film (it's weird because they own the rights to the film, so you need a license to film it and use still frames from production and so on).

My first question would be this: is there a marketing/distribution budget separate from the production budget that hasn't been discussed? If the answer is yes, then offer that usage of any of your footage be paid out of that budget including web use and dvd/bluray.

If the answer is no then ask for differed payment. A flat fee that is paid once the film is making a profit to cover your labor. Many low budgets use differed payments and if you're confident on the film's performance, it may be a good strategy.

You should also probably ask your employer (the post house, I assume) if you can work directly with the client. There could be a conflict of interest if you use work time or work property to produce this footage.

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