Every month, we ask members of the collective to contribute to the BTFC Artist Series by providing original content and sharing their personal journeys with our readers. From missteps to triumphs, and everything else in between, we follow the stories of resident Black Artists working to make a name for themselves in the television and film industry.
What a few weeks it’s been! This is what’s been going on: I got an offer to do an assignment. Great right? I was elated … until they sent the contract over. The money offered was not the issue. This is a reputable company with a bunch of films listed on IMDB.com. Good signs, right? Yep. Good signs. The Creative Director I spoke to was pleasant, enjoyed my writing, and was eager to have me on board, but I expressed a concern I had with the contract. He said the stipulation wouldn’t be changed. That’s how they did business.
So I’m thinking and thinking — Opportunity and slavery? Or freedom and justice? I chose freedom and justice. The Creative Director emailed me and almost tripled the offer! Okay, so opportunity and slavery is looking really appealing right now. I decided not to rush, and think and think some more. How can I maximize this opportunity? Maybe I can get an agent out of this deal? I decided to cold call agencies and tell them that I have a potential deal on the table and needed an agent. CAA, WME, and all the big agencies could care less about this, so I checked out the boutique agencies, and managed to get an agent. I sent my contract over to my agent, and he raised the same concern — and then some. He said the contract was CRAP!
Here was the issue: they would only pay me once the film started production. They wanted three drafts, and they needed to approved them. Now, the standard is, you turn in the treatment and you receive payment. Submit a first draft, and receive payment. Second draft, receive a payment, and so on. Every time you write, you get paid. So I could have worked on this script for 5 years and it may never go into production. Also, if they decided to not film the script, I don’t get it back.
My agent made revisions to the contract, and waited to hear back from the agency with their counter offer. But guess what? They didn’t counter! They passed. Was I sad? Yes. You know how you count money before you get it? Think about places you can go? I thought about all the silver coins I could buy. But you know what, I got representation out of it and that’s a positive. Great things came out of this! I submitted more scripts, so we’ll see what happens. Until next time…keep writing!
The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.
Hailing from New Jersey, Robert McBride began writing from the age of seven, where he was selected into a creative writing program during his formative years in school. Since completing his first screenplay, A Common Life, at the age of twelve, Robert has written and sold several scripts and is currently running the screenplay coverage service, The Shooting Script.