Deciding to become a film maker always means you need to prepare for disappointment. There are always the good moments, but the general understanding we all operate under is that our films will not get into every festival, that we will not always get the funding we want and that there will always be feedback on our scripts that we don’t want to hear. That being said for me there is no greater disappointment than when a frequent collaborator lets you down.
With all the work that needs to go into getting a film project off the ground it is incredibly important that those working with you are all on the same page, and that page should be a physical one signed by all parties. We have all heard the stories about creative bust-ups and we all believe that it is not something that will happen to us, but when a sniff of money appears some people change and it important to protect yourself.
This doesn’t have to be a horrible nasty thing, it just needs to be a simple document that outlines everyone’s expectations. The kinds of questions you should be asking when creating content, just from the writing perspective, are:
- What do we all want out of this (best to start general as it can uncover future issues early)?
- What kind of credits and percentages does everyone want?
- How will the workload be shared to ensure the percentages/credits are fair?
- When will the arrangement be re-looked at (certain number of drafts, before financing applications etc)
- How do you want to go about addressing the issue (i.e. Taking the advisement of the Writers Guild)
Luckily in New Zealand we have an amazing infrastructure built around our industry with some of the most amazingly supportive people to help you out of messy situations (I highly recommend joining both WIFT and the Writers Guild), but stopping them before they happen will save you a lot of pain and disappointment.