A friend of mine who recently sold his show to a Canadian production company is thinking about taking his next show to the US. It’s a super cool show and the Trailer is awesome, but he’s wondering if he should get an agent. He thinks it could help him get a better deal than he did his first time out.
I thought you might be interested in a few of his questions and the answers I gave him.
1) Does your agent hook you up with a production company and the broadcaster? Or just the production company?
For the show I just sold my agent hooked me up with two production companies that make shows similar to mine.EG: shows that are about character and exploring worlds, not cooking shows.
I chose between the two companies based on what they had done in the past, how we worked together on the phone, and my agent’s recommendation. We both liked one more than the other.
However, as I also work in front of camera, he used to (before I got locked into my current talent contract) set up meetings for me with other production companies and Broadcasters that are developing other shows.
2) How included are you in the selling process?
For the initial option agreement with the production company my agent struck the dealand told me what it was going to be. I had nothing to compare it to but have since found out it is a good and fair deal.
When it came time to actually strike the deal to sell the rights of the show (I had to sell the rights to have the demo made that we shot in August) he was very involved.When a Broadcaster is paying to shoot a demo of your show you have to come to terms on the deal that will stand if they decide to pick up the show as a series.
When the offer came from the production company my agent and my lawyer in LA went over everything with me in detail(it’s a 14 a page contract) so I understood every one of them (and there were a lot of them!). The actual negotiations of this contract went back and forth between the production company’s lawyer and my lawyer. But I wasn’t actually involved in those discussions- I was just getting updates.
3) How much do they charge? Or is it just a percentage?
An agent’s standard fee is 10% of what you make.
My entertainment lawyer works on contingency as well and she has done a ton of work, so far for practically nothing, but when I start getting paid she’ll get 5% of everything, which is also standard.
You can get a lawyer to work hourly but at this point you will spend a lot of money you probably don’t have. Having them work on contingency may cost you more when your show goes, but you’ll be able to afford it then.
4) I have partners in this project. Does that make a difference?
Yes, Yes, Yes!! Having partners makes a difference. If you have partners you need to have a legally binding contract saying who owns how much and what your roles are before you take it to market.
I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs but it bears repeating. Some companies won’t look at you unless you have this paperwork in place, and, working these details out before there is money to be made will help maintain a good relationship in your friendship and business partnership.
Some of you might not be in a position to need an agent or lawyer yet, but as you build your network this is good to know so you know if someone is trying to take advantage of you.
If you have questions that I haven’t answered in the eBook or blogs please email it to us and I’ll try to get to it in a blog.