FRIENDLY FEEDBACK: The Distribution of Wealth

Posted: Monday, February 15, 2010
One of our goals with Tilt is to include the audience every step of the way. While we (Phil, Jeremy, Julie & I) are all passionate about filmmaking and storytelling, we aren’t experts on everything that’s involved with making, marketing, or distributing a feature film. In fact, it’s incredibly daunting for all of us. Therefore, we want to tap into our biggest resource: YOU.

Why are you a resource? For many reasons. You might have more experience than us. You may have more expertise. Maybe you’ve already made a feature film (or know someone who has). Or you might simply have a different perspective. Whether you fit one or all of those categories, we’d love to hear what you have to say. So - up for giving us a little Friendly Feedback?

TODAY’S TOPIC: The Distribution of Wealth

Now - first we want to acknowledge that broaching this subject is incredibly presumptuous. We haven’t even finished the script, and we’re already thinking about what happens if we make money. Who do we think we are? Well, for one, we’re people who, despite not having experience making a feature, have life experience that has taught us to be very cautious when embarking on financial endeavors with others.

Going into this, we all understand fully that we may make no money or (please, no!) even lose money. However, from our experience (from Julie’s as a business owner and ours together as filmmakers), we know, beyond a doubt, that this is an issue that needs to be discussed openly and honestly up front. Otherwise, problems could develop later due to unrealistic expectations and assumptions.

Here’s what we’ve agreed on so far:
  • All money raised to make TILT will be used to make this the best movie possible. What does this mean? We will not pay ourselves unless we turn a profit.
  • If people (us, friends, family, members, guardian angels, fairy godmothers, etc.) invest in our movie (outside of Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or other crowdfunding platforms) AND if TILT turns a profit, then those investors will be reimbursed before we divvy up the rest.

So, today’s question is: If TILT turns a profit, how should be split it up?

After examining Hollywood film budgets, it looks as though they usually allot money to people based on their specific roles: the producer and director get the most, followed by the screenwriter, followed by the cinematographer.

However, some of the circumstances of our arrangement make following this model difficult:
  • We are all wearing several different hats. Phil is directing and producing. I am writing and producing. We’re exploring the possibility of sharing editing duties. We’re all contributing to the planning and promotion of the film. The tasks that we all complete are not cut and dry.
  • Julie and I are writing the screenplay together. Does this mean we should we be treated as a unit or as individuals?

Additional questions:
  • Also, we’ll need to set aside money to pay other contributors. Should we pay them up front or give them a share of things later? How much should we set aside for them?
  • Since none of us has marketing, publicity, or distribution experience, should we hire a strategist or consultant right now? Is it too early? And will it really help us make more money in the long run?
  • Are we wack-a-doo to fork over money for a consultant for a movie that hasn’t even been written yet, let alone filmed or edited?
  • Should we plan to set aside money to pay sound designers? Or actors?
  • Most importantly: What questions aren’t we asking that we should be?

Thank you in advance for your insights and ideas on today’s topic. If you don’t know the answers, feel free to bring someone else into the discussion. The more, the merrier.

Posted by Jessica


  1. slushpilehero February 15, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    who's doing your accounting?

  2. /britmic February 15, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    That's a lot of questions.

    My advice to you: concentrate on making meaning. If you have a hit on your hands and have the "problem" of divvying up the net profits later on, well, that's a good problem to have, right?

    Usually markets deal with this issue by allocating shares. The more hats you wear/the greater your responsibility and/or accountability, the more shares you get (I would imagine).

    The more majority shareholders you have the more filmmaking-by-committee you do, resulting in less meaning.

    What value does a consultant bring to you at this stage in the production - only you can answer that. Personally I think it sounds lubricous but as the famous quote goes "no one knows nothing" (including consultants and including me).

    Substitute "company" with "movie"-

  3. Tilt: The Movie February 15, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    Thanks for the comment /britmic. We are in complete agreement about the importance of meaning over money. We are absolutely committed to making a meaningful film, first and foremost.

    These questions don't take away from that. The purpose of settling these things early on is to make sure that we can devote our energies to the creative process. We've all had experiences where these issues were put to the side as unimportant or "to be solved later" and the problems that arise from putting these things off can undo a lot of great and powerful work.

  4. Dave February 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Hi guys,

    First off, congrats on your new venture. I'm looking forward to watching how things develop. I'm also looking forward to talking to you guys about it on the show. =)

    First thing I want to mention is an outside observation about this blog. Now pretend I don't know you. Take a look around. I don't know who's making the movie. And in this space I'm more interested in knowing who's behind the project. Then I'll care more about the project.

    Make sense?

    Gotta go for now, but I'll be back. =)

    P.S. Is there a way to subscribe to comments?

  5. Tilt: The Movie February 16, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    Thank you, Dave. We need to take care of that right away - getting some information up about who is involved.

    I will also look into the comments subscription issue.

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