Emails That Go Bump In The Night

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he email came in late at night. I should have left it til morning. Didn’t.

Read the first few lines and was not happy.

I’m still in negotiation to option my screenplay. The prospective Producers have replied to my last counter offer. My ultimatum. The  sticking point of our negotiation has been the purchase price. They’ve been offering a flat payment. I have been pushing for a percentage of the budget (which is fairly standard, as I understand it).

They’ve finally flat out refused my request. Said they’d never accept a percentage. Gave Lawyer a final offer. They ultimatummed by ultimatum! Some new version of their previous flat rate– I skimmed it– Late, tired– Was disappointed, perplexed, a little pissed off.

Computer off. Late night talk with Wife. Told her I just didn’t think I could do it. I couldn’t accept this deal. It just wasn’t right. And if I set the precedent that I’m going to accept a lesser deal at the beginning of this – my new career – then I’d be setting myself up as a doormat for every future negotiation.

On the other hand, would there even be another option to negotiate if I walk away from this one?

When you reach adulthood and you start down the road less traveled; the road outside the 9 to 5; the road of freelance or contract work; quite early, you’re faced with evaluating your own worth. Sometimes there’s an industry standard. Sometimes – as in the case with emerging industries – things are more nebulous.

I began in new media. Decided for myself back then what I should get paid. Transitioned to a very traditional media. Film. But a the film industry is in the midst of upheaval. Things are being re-evaluated all the time. Am I now going to let someone else determine what my time and creativity is worth?

I can’t.

Ego? Maybe. A bit.

But really it’s about looking at everything I’ve put in up to this point. All that effort to hone my skills. To knock on doors. To make the right choices. That’s worth something. Embedded within the pages of my screenplay. It’s a subjective worth. But so is the worth of any painting or sculpture. Any Van Gogh or Michelangelo or child’s drawing. The difference is only in how many individuals perceive that embedded value. It’s all just paper or canvas or crayon.

My wife-like creature is my most loyal supporter. She’s been here every step. Felt every pass. Grinned with me through every unbelievable phone call. I could tell that walking away from this final offer was going to be hard on her. That was harder on me than the actual decision to pass.

But decide we did.

Computer on. This morning. I read through the email again. Pulled out the calculator. This time ran the numbers on what these producers were actually proposing…

Hang on a minute…

It’s not a percentage, true, but turns out it’s pretty damn close! The flat rate was a actually a different sort of variable dependent on a few factors. More complicated than a straight percentage but at it’s core, a simple algorithm still based upon the budget. Which is what I wanted in the first place!

In fact… At a certain budget range, I actually stand to earn more than I’d asked for. Hats off to Lawyer on that one!

Looking at these numbers now was literally night and day. A disappointing evening spent making a gut wrenching decision was premature. Foolish.

Lesson learned: Don’t open important emails late at night.

Whatever the reason for not bending on the percentage issue, these producers had basically come around to the same.

I’m taking the deal.

They can do the math however they want; let’s make a movie.

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Filed under Misadventures, The Journey

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