Live and learn. The deal with Harris worked out okay, but knowing what I know now, I would never sign with a producer's rep that charges money for their services.
They should take a percentage(like 10%, maybe 15% for foreign sales) plus expenses(that you spell out in the contract), and that's it. That's what my current rep does.
March 11th, 2002
In the back of my mind I’d been mulling over whether to try to get a producer’s rep. What they do is sell your movie for you, and take a cut of the profits. They know all the distributors and they attend all the major festivals, so they know who’s looking for what.
The way I heard, they get ten percent of your profits, but they pay for themselves; they’ll get you at least ten percent more than you’d get yourself.
I stumbled onto the web site of producer’s rep Harris Tulchin and Associates. He’s a pretty big-name guy, with offices in Paris, Rome, LA and New York.
I called there to see whether they were interested in seeing the movie. After finding out that Spectrum was interested and that we’d won an award at a festival, they said send it along.
Long story short, I talked to Harris. They take $5000 up front plus ten percent of the profits. I said “Wow, that’s a lot of money”, because, to me, it is. He said “If I make you five hundred grand, it won’t be a lot of money, will it?”
He had a point.
So I decided to play a little mind game with him. I wanted to see how much faith he had that he could sell the movie.
Look at it this way: If he thinks he’s going to sell my movie for five hundred grand—a movie that will clear him fifty grand—is he going to turn me down because of the upfront five grand?
Not if he thinks he’s got a pretty good shot at selling the movie.
A couple of days later I called him back and told him I couldn’t get any more money, that I’d spent it all on the movie. He said he’d thought about it and would change the contract he’d offered so that the money was deferred against the first payments.
I’d done it! Clearly he thinks we have a shot of selling the movie, or there’s no way he’d agree to that. Think about it; all the upfront costs and time is going to be on his dime. He’s working for free until he sells my movie.
If he really does sell my movie, this guy’s going to be in my good graces in a serious way. I may even thank him in my Oscar acceptance speech.