Originally published in July 2014.
1. FAILING TO NEGOTIATE HARD ENOUGH ON THEIR TALENT DEALS
Dealing with talent agencies can be challenging for an independent producer, who may be less able to negotiate the cost of their above-the-line cost. Often, the independent producer ends up paying too much for talent, making the production budget uneconomical from the start.
2. ENGAGING THE WRONG SALES AGENT FOR THEIR PROJECT
Producers need a sales agent who can sell to the market most appropriate for the film based on genre, budget, talent, etc. When a sales agent doesn’t have relationships with the correct buyers, films may struggle to sell regardless of the quality or marketability of the film itself. When the time-sensitivity of film sales, a well-connected sales agent is a must.
3. FAILING TO FULLY RESEARCH TAX INCENTIVE LOCATIONS
Before deciding on where to shoot a film, producers need to identify a location that is suitable for creative needs and financial benefits. Any available financial benefits need to be thoroughly investigated to ensure tax incentives can be easily monetized by a lender.
4. NOT HIRING THE RIGHT LAWYER
Trying to document a complicated loan transaction with a lawyer who does not have sufficient experience will end up costing the producer. Working with inexperienced lawyers can prevent loans from closing, derailing the entire film.
5. BELIEVING THAT ARTISTIC MERIT WILL OVERCOME COMMERCIAL REALITY
Producers need to be in touch with the market for their films. Decisions should be made with an eye on the economic model for the film and how that model translates into territorial sales around the world, starting with the choice of script and the talent involved.
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