Your pay was the credit on your resume

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Posted by Vincent at on April 27, 2002 at 02:50:20:

In Reply to: Pay for Vulgar crew members?? posted by Hakeem on April 26, 2002 at 17:29:06:

: To date, Vulgar crew members have not been paid. KS was touting an $135,000 budget on Stern, yet we know that the film 'cost' around $30-35,000.

How do you know this? A BETTER PLACE cost over $50,000 total, and VULGAR cost a lot more than that.

: Bryan Johnson is quoted on the website as saying "I still can't believe people work that hard for free." There was no one working for free since we all had deferred deals that, to date, have yet to be fulfilled even though ViewAskew and Shongo have sold the film for a lump sum plus a percentage of gate receipts. Perhaps someone who actually reads this board, would like to give me a valid explanation of why crew members have gone unpaid, and when we should expect payment that we're entitled to under the deferred crew contracts signed by Shongo Filmworks.

It sold for a percentage of the gate receipts? Wow, that's a damn sweet deal indeed, and not the type of deal an indie film usually gets. Usually, there's an advance- which is not only used to cover the initial production costs of the movie (and VULGAR cost around $80,000 to produce, not $35,000- where the hell did you pull that figure from? Hell, it cost $10,000 just to do the initial 16mm sound mix alone!), but is also used to pay for the blow-up to 35mm (an expense of around $30,000-40,000), a remix for 35mm distribution ($10-20,000), and mastering to home video, which today means an HDTV transfer (at least $20,000), plus rating the film for the video release (a couple grand), plus editing the film to get an R-rating on video (another couple grand)- and then, after the distributor (in this case, Lion's Gate) has recouped their investment- the advance plus interest plus the costs of actually promoting and releasing the film- then, a small percentage of the final net profits the distributor makes is thrown the way of the original producers. Assuming the lowest of those completion figures to get VULGAR ready for 35mm release above, VULGAR cost *AT LEAST* $150,000 to complete and deliver to Lion's Gate Films as per their distribution contract in 35mm for theaterical release, as well as the appropriate HD video master as well as R-rated video master.

I'm not at liberty to divulge how much that "lump sum" that Lion's Gate paid as an advance to buy the film was, but I will say it WAS NOT $150,000- not that much by quite a bit. So, View Askew is STILL PERSONALLY IN DEBT on VULGAR- and this isn't even accounting for interest on the initial at-least-$80,000 that was spent in 1997-1998 when the film was produced. If- and this is a big IF- Lion's Gate makes a NET PROFIT on VULGAR after deducting what they paid in advance for the film plus the money they spent promting it, then View Askew will get a SMALL percentage of the NET PROFITS that Lion's Gate made, and then when View Askew's FULL INVESTMENT is finally paid off and the film goes into profit for them, then the deferment contracts for crew will be paid. Read your deferment contract again- when all expenses are paid off and the film is in profit, THEN you will get paid, and that's still a LONG way off.

Indie film is NOT a money making arena. While that happens sometimes (i.e., THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT), more often than not indie film is about the expendature of blood, sweat, tears, and yes, money- money that will more often than not never be recouped. VULGAR may be opening in limited release in theaters, but View Askew is still a LONG way from recouping what they spent on the film. There's a good chance the film will never make money for View Askew, but in the end, making tons of money wasn't the point of the four "View Askew Minis"- the point was Kevin Smith and Scott allowing 4 friends of theirs the chance to make indie films of their owns and jump-start their careers. It wasn't about money, and I'm sorry if it was about money for you (incidentally, I know how little money was even promised for in those deferment deals- I'm amazed you making a stink about so little an amount so long after the fact, but I digress...)- it was about a group of inexperienced people making a FILM for the love of it and as far as the crew members were concerned, I *THOUGHT* it was about that as well as getting a credit on your resumes as well as referrels so you could get jobs in the NYC film scene on bigger-budget productions and make some money where money was to be made- i.e., on projects that HAD MONEY TO SPEND. It really shocks me that somebody would be so petty as to come here demanding payment for something they worked on over 5 years ago and talking about it as if they knew the inner workings of the contract with Lion's Gate as well as the true budget and monetary expendatures on the film by the good folks at View Askew. If you had any clue at all, you'd have more than made up for the few weeks of pro-bono work you did on VULGAR a long time ago by channeling your experience of working on that film into getting paying gigs in Manhattan, which any right-thinking crew member would have done, and in fact I know many of the crew-members on VULGAR (and BIG HELIUM DOG, and A BETTER PLACE, and DRAWNING FLIES...) have. It seems to me that you've misunderstood the entire point of working on independent films, and that's your failing, not ours.


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