This article was first published on Linkedin two years ago. Sadly, it’s as relevant now as it ever was which if nothing else, is a pretty good indication of how the film business works.
A few weeks ago I was involved in a conversation with a number of screenwriters about the issue of back end payments and how worthless they are. A fact both experience and my lovely agent have proven beyond doubt many times.
Ironically, as if to underline this point in thick black ink, last night I received the latest participation statement from the producers of Green Street. A movie I wrote back in 2004 and which starred Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam.
For those who don’t know, this movie was quite popular and indeed, still plays regularly on TV here in the UK where it is something of a cult hit (I hesitate to use the word classic, but others do). Given that it spawned two sequels (neither of which I was involved with), it’s also fairly reasonable to expect that it was pretty successful financially and that all those involved made a packet.
Reasonable, but wrong. Very wrong.
You see despite the fact that Green Street was made on a fairly small budget of around $6 million, it is still apparently some $1.8 million from breaking even let alone going into the black. But rather than expand on that, here’s the proof.
To put it in layman’s terms, all those people who worked on Green Street who took points in lieu of wages have lost out because not one of them has seen a penny of the profits generated and nor will they. Ever.
Sadly, this kind of thing is not unusual. In fact some would actually argue that it’s the norm and that what has become known as creative accounting is employed on pretty much every film made purely to maximise profits for the producers and avoid having to pay out to the ‘little people’.
Whatever the reality, if ever anyone working in the film industry needed conclusive proof that the only money they can count on from working on a movie is what they can get upfront in cold hard cash, this should hopefully provide it.
If it doesn’t, then you only have yourself to blame.
I am delighted to announce that the sequel to Top Dog is with the publishers and all being well, I’ll be able to pass on details of publication dates, etc, fairly soon.
I’m also happy to announce that I’ve started work on another novel, this one the first I’ve ever written with a military theme.
Please click on the relevant link for more information.