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Old 09-02-2015, 03:54 PM   #1
Terri
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Question % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

So let's say you agree to sell your screenplay for 3% of the film's budget.

At what point do they even know the budget of the film? And does the budget change? (If it does, does your pay change as well?)

Also, do they typically give you a ballpark estimate of the budget just to give you an idea of what you as the screenwriter will be paid? And how accurate does that tend to be?


I hope my questions make sense.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

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Originally Posted by Terri View Post
So let's say you agree to sell your screenplay for 3% of the film's budget.

At what point do they even know the budget of the film? And does the budget change? (If it does, does your pay change as well?)

Also, do they typically give you a ballpark estimate of the budget just to give you an idea of what you as the screenwriter will be paid? And how accurate does that tend to be?


I hope my questions make sense.
This is what floors and ceilings are for.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

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Originally Posted by Terri View Post
So let's say you agree to sell your screenplay for 3% of the film's budget.

At what point do they even know the budget of the film? And does the budget change? (If it does, does your pay change as well?)

Also, do they typically give you a ballpark estimate of the budget just to give you an idea of what you as the screenwriter will be paid? And how accurate does that tend to be?


I hope my questions make sense.
As Cthulu mentioned, in your purchase terms you'll generally have a floor (minimum) purchase price. Usually it's based off the WGA minimum which is like 45 grand? I forget. There will also be a ceiling where the purchase price maxes out. Maybe 300k or something. That's just in case somehow the movie gets a 200 million dollar budget, they won't have to pay you 6 million for the script.

There's a budget estimate that the producer makes based off breaking down the script (locations, actors, extras, set etc.). They use this to find financing. The final budget isn't known until all the financing is actually secured. Then they cut you check.

I don't know much of the specifics of that process. And if the budget changes during production (like they need more money and get it) if you get an extra check or what. But that gives you a general idea.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

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And if the budget changes during production (like they need more money and get it) if you get an extra check or what.
In that scenario you'll only get more if the producer hasn't done his/her job properly.
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Old 09-03-2015, 08:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

I have a clause in a contract for a movie about to go into preproduction where if the budget exceeds a certain amount I get a specified bonus. That's a good way of being covered by a higher budget -- but make sure you work through a good entertainment attorney. No way should you negotiate this yourself.
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Old 09-03-2015, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

Thanks for the answers everyone. Makes sense.
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Old 09-04-2015, 02:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: % of the budget - Questions about budget, timing, accuracy?

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Thanks for the answers everyone. Makes sense.
Just to add a bit--

If it is a buyer (studio or indie financier) and the are the ultimate buyers of the script, it would likely be a number equal to about 2.5% of the budget. so, 250k for a 10m film, for example. But, of course, buyers have been known to both overpay and underpay depending upon how much they want the script.

If it's an option, then it's typically going to be 2.5% with a floor and a ceiling as others have mentioned. Possibly additional bonuses built in contingent upon how badly they want it, such as sole credit, theatrical release, or box office performance bonuses.
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