E is for Ego.
Here’s the thing. There’s definitely a delicate balance between confident producer with a healthy dose of reality distortion complex (google it), and an egotistical asshole. Sometimes you need to be a little of both, sometimes at the same time. Suffice it to say, armed with these two, you will u doubtedly be successful. In fact, you will likely go on to make more, even better projects, attracting well known talent in front of and behind the lens. You will feel like a million.dollar.bill.
But wait, you didn’t do that shit alone. You couldn’t have.
Filmmaking by its very nature is a collaborative sport. More times that I care to name I’ve seen producers who rightfully are so grateful for any help they receive, as they are receiving it. Then after the film is in the can, feel justified in stripping away the credit of others. Don’t play that game. Not only is it unfair, but in life, we reap what we sow. The easiest way to protect yourself and others is with clearly defined deal memos.
In reality, everyone’s role on a project, the expectations upon them, the credit, even the placement of that credit should be clearly detailed in a deal memo. It helps them to understand their rights and responsibilities working on your production, and also holds you accountable. The memory fades, but the ink does not. If an associate producer is expected to work through post, put that in the deal memo, and include how long post is expected to last. It’s unfair to ask someone to work on your project for months upon months, maybe even years, for little financial compensation and credit.
Most of the people in this business are in it for the love. They are in it with the hope of advancing to larger more financially lucrative projects as well, just like you. Don’t expect that they will not move on. When they do, you very well may be left alone to bring it over the finish line. It’s the nature of the beast. If you expect otherwise; it should be known. It should be in the production crew deal memo. If you have a problem asking someone to sign a deal memo, you are not alone. But get over yourself. This is bigger than you. Rise up. Your project demands it.
Here is a link to a bundle of sample producing contracts. Included in the bundle are templates for crew deal memos, location agreements and more. You will notice a couple of items are explicitly stated in the deal memo including, the compensation, the credit, the responsibilities of the role, the length of the project, and more.
At the end of the day, there is nothing more satisfying than completing your film, with your ego in check…and with your integrity.
Next Up? F stands for “Festivals”.
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.
Huriyyah Muhammad is the Founder of the Black TV & Film Collective and Managing Partner of Infinite Wings Media. As an independent feature film producer, she has led the production of multiple independent feature films from development to market, and most recently completed filming projects in Nairobi, Kenya and Madhya Pradesh, India. Her documentary,Bulbul: Song of the Nightingale is currently in post-production, while Soko Sonko, Swahili for Market King, continues to win awards. She has over 20 producing credits, and will make her narrative directorial debut this winter with the supernatural suspense Keloid.
Huriyyah is an avid writer, director and producer who is passionate about creating long-lasting opportunities for people of color within the film, TV and digital media industries. She holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science from Spelman College.