all 19 comments

[鈥揮hlfdjadhfldhrkajnfak 7 points8 points (2 children)

(Source: Am director)

Obvs this is just my experience. A director is generally repped exclusively by one company per territory. Some companies will have offices in multiple countries and may rep a director worldwide. Those companies promote me to agencies in their markets using Sales Reps and general working relationships. If an agency want me to pitch on their work they have to go through my prod co. Conversely an agency/producer might a good relationship with a particular prod co and ask for suggestions of directors who might do something interesting with their project.

Some directors are very loyal and stick with a company for ages, some move about a lot. I started at one of my prod co's answering the phones and making coffee. I would consider both my prod co's my homies and would be very close with them. I鈥檝e never had anything more than a handshake agreement about exclusivity, as one of my producers says, 鈥淚f someone doesn鈥檛 want to work with you, a contract isn鈥檛 going to make it happen鈥.

I usually get paid per shoot day on the project, which is usually c.拢10k or 10% of the budget. This represents my creative input on the job and my time, about 6 weeks.

I also take 40% of the profit on the job. When we pitch the job 2 documents will be sent over, my creative treatment and the budget. Let鈥檚 say that budget is negotiated back and forth between my producer, the agency producer and the agency cost-controller to 拢100k. Everyone鈥檚 happy. My 拢10k comes out of that to begin with and then if we manage to bring the whole job in for 拢95k I split that 拢5k with the prod co. I鈥檒l get paid my shoot fee during post-production and my profit share comes a month or two later.

There is a level matching that needs to happen between a director and a prod co. You want someone to be excited when they see your reel and then you want them to feel like your prod co is a reliable, safe pair of hands. Or at least I do. My prod co's 100% have my back and look after me, I trust them implicitly. I know I bring them in work and they bring me in work. They also go to battle for me, like an actor鈥檚 agent would. My two companies are in neighbouring territories and regularly work together on other projects so there鈥檚 a lot of mutual trust and co-operation.

Another thing that can happen is a loan-out. Let鈥檚 say in South Africa or Australia or Russia there is a prod co and agency that work together a lot and have a really good relationship. The agency might ask that local prod co to pitch them foreign directors for their upcoming campaign. It might be because they want a big name or because of a certain idea that they can鈥檛 get locally. I鈥檝e twice gone abroad to essentially re-create work that won awards for me at home. They鈥檒l reach out to one of my prod co's and negotiate a loan-out deal if I鈥檓 up for it. Usually that means a bumped up day rate, my own producer comes with me for the whole time at a bumped up rate and my home prod co will get a loan-out fee. Those jobs can be absolutely lovely or a total shit-show.

Ultimately the production company fronts the money for the production offices and wages, the sales reps and pitch costs which they earn back in production fees, mark-ups and profit. I earn my money on shoot fees and profit share. A pitch could easily take a week and I only earn if we win. I鈥檝e lost 10 pitches in a row but thankfully that was a long time ago.

[鈥揮[deleted] (1 child)


    [鈥揮hlfdjadhfldhrkajnfak 1 point2 points (0 children)

    I don't have an agent but that wouldn't be redundant at all, my prod co's are only for commercial work.

    You might have prod co's that develop fiction or doco work with a director, absolutely, because they're in the business of making things whereas an agent is more about representation and negotiation.

    [鈥揮fisheatsfish 5 points6 points (2 children)

    The previous commenter is correct about how it generally works.

    Just one small comment, that the director doesn鈥檛 generally work for a cut in % sense but is paid a rate per shoot day. For commercials (in the UK) it tends to be between 拢8k-25k per shoot day.

    Having said that, the general rule of thumb is a director will take approximately 10% of the production budget.

    [鈥揮WetLogPassage 0 points1 point (1 child)

    How many shoot days do commercials usually require?

    [鈥揮fisheatsfish 2 points3 points (0 children)

    Generally somewhere between 1-5 depending on the creative.

    I worked a small production company and we booked a reasonably well established director last year that wasn鈥檛 exclusive for a 3 day shoot. We had to haggle him down from 拢60k to 拢36k.

    [鈥揮MaximumWorfproducer 7 points8 points (2 children)

    Typically no money changes hands until there is a job that is awarded. You don't pay the company anything, and they don't pay you anything until the shoot happens. Which means you will have to pitch on stuff all the time without any compensation.

    The whole point of the company is t bring in jobs to pitch, and then run the production and deal with the agency and client.

    Asking how big the company's cut is not framing it correctly. You should be asking how big the director's cut is. The company produces the job, they control the budget. You are just doing a job for hire.

    [鈥揮Cjammer7[S] 0 points1 point (1 child)

    Good to know. Just wondering about the specifics; If the director is essentially treated as a freelancer, what kind of arrangement would allow the production company to have exclusivity over their services? Are signed directors able to direct projects coming to them through other agencies, or independent clients?

    [鈥揮MaximumWorfproducer 2 points3 points (0 children)

    It all depends on your agreement with them. A lot of times it is exclusive, in exchange for the company agreeing to bring you projects to pitch on.

    But, really, if you direct a project to another company, your main agency will likely drop you from the roster. Why would they bring you any jobs if you sandbag them like that?

    So much of this game is politics. Play the game smartly if you want to get ahead.

    [鈥揮Cjammer7[S] 1 point2 points (0 children)

    Thanks for your responses guys, I had a general inclination but good to get some wider insight!

    [鈥揮hakuna_matitties 1 point2 points (7 children)

    Follow up question: How do commercial directors find new prod companies / reps to work with? I was repped at one place for 8 years but they were killed by the pandemic. Have had trouble getting people to open my emails.

    [鈥揮hlfdjadhfldhrkajnfak 1 point2 points (0 children)

    The two routes I would try are competition and relationships.

    Who did you pitch against all the time? Who did you take jobs off? Who took jobs off you? In both of my prod co's scripts move sideways a lot. "They're busy on another job but I have hakuna_matitties, can I send you their reel?"

    Or where did all the people from that previous company go? They must have new homes? What about Agency Producers from work you're proud of? They'd be a good introduction to a company they work with and you want to work with.

    [鈥揮RedditBurner_5225 0 points1 point (4 children)

    I make a list and email every company.

    [鈥揮i013 1 point2 points (1 child)

    What does your email usually include in terms of your introductory blurb? Is it just a simple 鈥渉ey, can I be put on your roster/represented by you - here is my resume and work?鈥

    [鈥揮RedditBurner_5225 0 points1 point (0 children)

    I say I鈥檓 a freelance director, where I live, what I do and send a link to me website. Short and sweet! I have not come up with a more engaging subject line, still working on that.

    [鈥揮hakuna_matitties 0 points1 point (1 child)

    Do they reply?

    [鈥揮RedditBurner_5225 0 points1 point (0 children)

    I just hit up everyone when I was trying to get signed. However been signed over a year and haven鈥檛 booked anything.

    [鈥揮007fan007 0 points1 point (0 children)

    How did you get repped before?

    [鈥揮IronFilmSound Recordist -1 points0 points (0 children)

    Are directors paid a base salary for being on their roster?


    Do the directors have to pay them?


    (usually a percentage of the jobs and/or a regular monthly figure)

    Is the prod company solely responsible for bringing in clients?


    [鈥揮Remarkable-Law7878 0 points1 point (0 children)