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DayJobWriter
03-23-2013, 04:55 PM
Well, I have a problem. I recently put a screenplay short up on InkTip -- a cute/funny 11 page piece about a young couple unpacking after arriving at their new house. I figured maybe a film student (like I was once) would be able to use it for a student film or something. I wasn't figuring on charging anything for it as the listing was free -- I was more interested in seeing something dramatic of mine made, as I work in commercials etc., and haven't been able to drum up much interest in anybody looking at my stuff.

Well, a nice young woman, who just graduated from film school, is interested in making it... but she wants to know how much I want for it.

I have no idea what to say and I realize I should have thought more about this before I ever listed it.

Can anyone advise me? How much is a short worth? (I'm not interested in making money but rather in giving the impression that I think it's worth something -- which it is, I think.)

Maybe there's some sort of scale for such things that I know nothing about.

JoshuahBuckle
03-23-2013, 06:23 PM
One option would be to let her know she can make an offer on the film so you know her price range of what she thinks it's worth then work it from there. Just an idea.

SoCalScribe
03-23-2013, 08:37 PM
Well, I have a problem. I recently put a screenplay short up on InkTip -- a cute/funny 11 page piece about a young couple unpacking after arriving at their new house. I figured maybe a film student (like I was once) would be able to use it for a student film or something. I wasn't figuring on charging anything for it as the listing was free -- I was more interested in seeing something dramatic of mine made, as I work in commercials etc., and haven't been able to drum up much interest in anybody looking at my stuff.

Well, a nice young woman, who just graduated from film school, is interested in making it... but she wants to know how much I want for it.

I have no idea what to say and I realize I should have thought more about this before I ever listed it.

Can anyone advise me? How much is a short worth? (I'm not interested in making money but rather in giving the impression that I think it's worth something -- which it is, I think.)

Maybe there's some sort of scale for such things that I know nothing about.

Why not just ask for a percentage of the budget and then a meaningful portion of the backend in the event that it actually turns into something? Even though it's a short, the process to produce it is the same as a feature... this young woman will have to budget it, schedule it, then prep, shoot, edit, etc. Since short film budgets can vary wildly, I would suggest asking for the standard 3% of the budget with some kind of additional consideration in the event that the short film earns money as a result of contest placement, festival showings, acquisition by a larger company, etc. That keeps her costs down, gives you a fair price for the material, and also ensures that you don't get left behind if she's able to cash in on the short.

Margie Kaptanoglu
03-24-2013, 07:54 AM
Asking for 3% of the budget isnít a bad idea; however, if she only spends around $5000 or less (not unheard of), you wonít get much of a paycheck. But the paycheck will be small no matter what.

In terms of what people typically offer for shorts, Iíve most commonly seen numbers in the range of $100-$500, just to give you an idea. It isnít much.

I did once sell a short of mine for $1000, but I donít think you can get many filmmakers to pay this much. I had a track record of successful shorts, so I felt justified in asking for more than the minimum rate. But the main reason I requested it was to gauge the filmmakerís commitment to the project. I felt heíd be more motivated to finish the project and do a great job if he had spent some money on the script.

By all means, include a clause that you get a percentage should the short earn anything. But assume it wonít earn anything. From what I hear, even if it wins an Oscar it still isnít likely to earn back its production funds. This is why most people end up putting their shorts on Youtube (as opposed to websites where the viewer has to pay to download) after the short does the festival rounds. Itís not going to earn any real money, so itís more valuable if you make it available for free and use it to advertise your capabilities.

Also, shorts never earn money on festival rounds. There arenít many cash Best Short awards (canít think of any right now). And in fact, festivals are a huge money drain in terms of submission fees and cost of attending.

One more possibility is to just let her do it for free, but not give her an exclusive option. Then you can let other filmmakers have a go at it in the future. Filmmaking students are often willing to agree to this. I have another short I've been doing this with.

Other bits of advice: keep the copyright in case you want to write a short story out of it. And make sure you put a time limit on the option or sale. Especially if you decide to let her use it for free. If she hasn't started filming in six months, say, you're going to want the rights back so you can make it available to someone else who wants to make a film now.

DayJobWriter
03-24-2013, 08:44 AM
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Whew! Everything you've all said is of great help. In fact, I composed a nice email basically paraphrasing the advice you've given me and sent it off to the aspiring filmmaker.

I sounded VERY well-informed because of your help.

This short thing is kind of exciting, isn't it?:bounce:

Margie Kaptanoglu
03-24-2013, 09:26 AM
It is exciting! Enjoy the process. Go to the set during filming, if your filmmakerís okay with that. Go to the film festivals if you can afford it. Youíll be thrilled to see audiences responding to your work. And youíll make new contacts.

My short films have definitely helped keep me motivated for the long haul.

Congratulations and good luck.
Margie