Streetlight Cinema

 

January 1, 2001

NOTES ON FINANCIAL PARTICIPATION

The film will be a cooperative both in its creation and its rewards. Each participant will share in financial returns according to as fair a formula we can devise without getting bogged down in nit-picking accounting labyrinths.

The conditions of your participation already indicate your motives are not driven by immediate financial rewards. As the budget for this film, is, in effect, non-existent. In fact the film itself can only go forward with the life-support of your talent and enthusiasm. In the short run, the film can offer in return only gratitude, honor and experience -- and we hope some decent meals and outstanding company.

Actual cash profits may or may not be forthcoming. But there will be other forms of compensation. There is the experience itself and whatever can be learned through it. There will be a credit or credits on what will be a professional work. There will be whatever the joys are of participating in a creation of integrity. And the pleasure of being a part of a long-shot gamble that might pay off in ways we can't predict.

But I would say this film stands more than a fighting chance to be met with at least, critical success. And being a friend of the film, will result in other friendships, some that might well be life-long. And I hope this will not be the last time many of us will work together on a project with merit. And with any luck and a touch of kindness from the gods, the next film will be able to offer a more immediate payment in actual coin of the realm.

I have every reason to believe MEETING VAN GOGH can make it in the marketplace if we bring the story to the screen with even half the verve and wit I envision. If we do better than half, I think we will not only earn a theatrical release, but actually make the cash budget back, and then some. Which would mean we'd all get a paycheck -- no matter how modest, a surprise frosting on the cake of what I trust will be a good and valuable experience.

At the same time, I don't wish to raise false expectations. Even an outsider film with merit, no matter how successful, almost never receives its just rewards at the box-office -- and if it does, most distributors will never allow profits to filter back to the production company. Instead, those hundreds of thousands or millions taken in at the box office will be mysteriously devoured in a book-keeping shell game.

So even if MEETING VAN GOGH manages to become a sleeper art-film hit, please know that whatever distribution deal we've had to make to get distribution at all, will be a compromise that probably won't give us any financial reward after the initial "advance" or purchase. This is not to say there will not be a profit with the up-front money. As it stands, everything I own, my life's savings, and a great deal more that I owe and will repay, is on the line. So I have put my family in incredible jeopardy, something I would not do frivolously or to satisfy some ego urge. I believe the film can succeed, both esthetically and in the marketplace -- or I would not go forward with it.

So, without counting on profits, but being hopeful and prepared, those profits will be shared in the following manner: The actual cash costs of making the film will represent 50%, with "first" money equal to 40% and 10% reserved for finishing, after production money. [The assumption here, is "first money" is more risky and harder to come by and is defined as those funds spent on pre-production, principal photography and rough-cut editing.]

[As it stands, I am personally responsible, thus far, for all of the first money in the amount of $55,000, $42,000 of which has been spent in the acquisition of equipment, which will, at the end of production probably be worth between $18-20,000 on the used equipment market. While it is hoped that the equipment will not have to be "dumped" for 50 cents on the dollar, if need be, it will be. At this point it is taking approximately 2,000 a month to service the debt alone, so time is of the essence. I currently estimate the film will require approximately $85,000 additional cash investment to 35mm answer print stage which will enable it to be submitted to major festivals. As these funds are not available through me (totally borrowed out, tapped out), it is hoped we can scrape through to rough-fine cut off line completion on very little money -- at which point funds can be raised for transfer to 35mm film and for distribution on the festival circuit. This will require approximately $50-60,000 for the on-line transfer to high definition and the 35mm print -- with an additional 5,000 or so for travel, shipping, etc.]

Whatever these direct investment cash moneys are, they will be the first to be repaid out of income. After that all moneys will be distributed according to ownership formulas, with cash investment being 50% and talent, on camera and off, representing the other 50%.

A secondary "formula" will be devised to as fairly as possible give participation talent points. It is hoped that it will be agreeable to reward those who work hard, but are not in the limelight, in ways that are against the general grain. For the success of the film will more than likely have greater impact on the careers of leading actors than it will on "production assistants" So we will try to be less hierarchical than the usual film payment scheme.

The other 50% of the film's value is relegated to talent, both cast and crew. The number of points will be decided on the basis of hours/days actually worked (to be kept by participants on the honor system) with a multiplier according to position. At the end we add it all up and divide to find a percentage/point ownership for which we'll issue certificates. It is anticipated payments will be made bi-annually.

Below is key for multipliers:

Writer/Director x 5

Producer x5

Lead Actor - Rufus -- x 10

Lead Actor - Cindy -- x 10

Supporting Roles -- x5

Secondary Roles -- x3

Cameo Parts -- x2

Extras -- x1

CREW - PRODUCTION PERSONNEL

Director of Photography X7

SOUND/BOOM X4

GAFFER X4

CATERING X3

SET DESIGNER, WARDROBE, MAKE-UP, SCRIPT/CONTINUITY OTHER FIRST LINE JOB DESCRIPTION CREW MEMBERS X3

PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS, LOANS OF LOCATION, ETC X 2

SPECIAL THANKS, FRIENDS OF FILM, ETC. X2 -

10% OF TOTAL AS CONTINGENCY AS/IF NEEDED (REWARDED AS LOCATION FEES, SPECIAL HELP, ETC)

The above is a very general formula. People will undoubtedly fill multiple roles and we will, I hope, not get obsessive or worried about the points and can adjust them accordingly. In general, time spent is earned times the "bonus" of responsibility that goes with a certain position. But some who spend a lot of time on a position with a smaller "bonus" may well have more points than someone with a larger multiplier. And people who fill multiple roles will accumulate multipliers. This is the fairest scheme I could divide, but is certainly open to suggestion.

I hope this formula -- with mutually acceptable amendments -- will be acceptable to all. For in order to pull off the dozen or so miracles this film will require to be a success, we'll all have to be concerned about other things. In short, we'll all have to be friends of the film -- and each other -- and put egos aside and say the film itself is the boss for the two or three months we're inside its womb.

This can't serve as a legal contract, but a contract of spirit and good will. We will discuss this and amend it as a group if need be. And since, for all intents and purposes, this is a kind of guerilla film, I trust we will, like a band of tight-knit fighters, know our purpose and bond accordingly and share hardship and reward together.

At the end of principal photography, when we pass out a certificate/letter listing participation points-- any who feel that they have been unduly shorted may appeal to the Film Family -- and we will vote to reach a consensus of fairness.

 

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