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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

Dch, I’m in these meetings with producers and they’re talking points and above line profits and millions of dollars and principal photography.  All I want is to be paid for my script.  Any thoughts?


This week's Answer: 

A "Point" about Producers

Yes, Kirby I do.  Producers love to talk about money that doesn’t exist.  It’s a thing they do.  In fact, the favorite word of producers is “million” (when it comes to talking about film budgets and investors’ money -- any money that isn't theirs).  When they say “back end,” they’re usually talking about something that will never happen or never comes, but, if it does, it usually looks different than the way they describe it (sort of like a horse’s.  Back end.)  “Above line and below line” talk is a way to avoid talking about the actual line (whatever or wherever that is).  Producers offer points so they don’t actually have to say the word, “money” or have to think that they’re agreeing to share profit money.  So, instead of saying “one percent of the money I’d rather keep, but have to agree to give at least something to you since you either wrote or possibly directed or financed or acted in the picture,” they say, “one point.”  It’s as if they’re imagining they’re playing cricket or some game like it.  And don’t worry your screenwriter’s head about principal photography. 

If there’s no principal in your story (or any school administrator whatsoever) you’re fine.


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