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Working with the Casting Director

International Distribution
What is "international distribution with financials"? I'm unfamiliar with these terms and I'm try to do some research into distribution deals. I would appreciate an answer you can give me.

Preselling Distribution
I was thinking of including it [Australian Distribution rights] as part of the compensation package to a potential DP, who is too expensive for me to hire at full rate but (since he is Australian) he might see the Australian rights as something of real value. My concern is that I don't know how the foreign sales world works and, if I end up with a good but marginal product, will I have shot myself in the foot by having given away a valuable English-speaking market and make my film an unwanted commodity. (I realize that if I manage to produce Pulp Fiction it won't matter -- and if my movie is awful it won't matter -- but I'm betting on a more mixed outcome).

Handshake Legally Binding
I'm getting ready to edit an independent feature and I have just found an editor that is willing to do the work for next to nothing. The problem is that I'm getting some interest from some independent distributors and I'm not so sure I want to go with this editor anymore. If I shook hands on the deal am I obligated to honor it?

Top Sheet Budget
Do you know the difference between a top sheet budget and a full budget?

Product Fee
Could you give me an idea of what to charge sponsors for product placement? How is the cost determined? Should filmmakers guage it by how many seconds the product is in view; how close the shot is; whether the lead character uses the product throughout the film, ie. brand-name clothing, and cheaper rates for minor characters being connected to product?

Is there some sort of advertising industry standard or guideline for product placement in films, or is it all negotiated between the producer and each individual sponsor? Thank you.

Contributed by Glen Berry

If I need name talent to secure funding and I need funding to secure name talent, is the Casting Director the person that breaks this deadlock?

Not really. Most casting directors are not going to want to mess with a producer that doesn't have the funding to A) pay them their fees and B) make an offer to the talent.

Casting Directors have contacts with agencies, agents and talent. That's why you hire them. And when I say "hire", I do mean pay them money. If you pay them money to present your project to the agents representing the talent you want to hire for your film, the expectation is that part of that presentation will include an offer of money. The agent and the casting director are professionals and they aren't interested in wasting time.

However, many producers have to play this game where they tell the investor they can get the talent but they can't get the talent without the money. Some casting directors will play that game along with you. You raise part of the money, hire the casting director and make the offer and then raise the rest of the money once you pay the agent and talent an initial fee to hold open the time in their schedule. You would need to feel out the casting director ahead of time to see if they like to get involved in the producing side of things and work with you. Many casting directors just don't want to touch it, so do your footwork in advance.

Remember that on a low budget indie where no one is making real money, it is all about the script. You can't take a cookie cutter, B-grade horror script to a star and ask them to work for union scale. They won't do it. You have to have a stellar script that offers them a juicy role, something unique and artistically appealing. If you don't, they won't bite. Either it pays, and pays well, or it is all about the art.

Berry started his career as an editor and post production supervisor, having worked on documentaries for PBS and The Discovery Channel. Berry’s award-winning short fiction, documentary and experimental films have screened at festivals around the world. His first feature film secured a rare worldwide distribution deal and received a limited theatrical release.

The publisher of Film Underground and founder of Northwest Film School, Berry has taught production at Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. Berry was awarded a Master of Arts in Production and Direction from the National University of Ireland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Theatre Arts from Montana State University.

Berry’s academic work has been published in scholarly journals as well as trade publications such as MovieMaker Magazine, and as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Filmmaking. He is the publisher of Film Underground and has served as an expert source for international newspaper and radio media outlets. Berry twice served as the Director of the Northwest Projections Film Festival and as a panel judge on numerous festivals and competitions.

Glen Berry is the Director of the Northwest Film School where he teaches directing, producing and editing. He has specialized in creative editing and post production techniques with independent film. His interests include the cognitive functions of the mind as it applies to motion picture editing as well as new forms of communications in the visual arts.

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