Good morning Film Doctor Friends. Are you ready to kick-start another productive film-dedicated week?
Our Monday Prescription today is about getting the handle on some of the more puzzling job roles in the film industry, which you might have never come across so far or will be dealing with soon but have no idea what they stand for.
The Film Doctor Team has started a list, but it is definitely not an exhaustive one, so please do add your own comments & “mystical roles” to it.
- Film Sales Rep / Producer’s Rep – Film Sales Reps or Agents are those people who work for (or own) a sales company and this company will work to sell your movie to international territories. What they actually do is license your movie to another company from a territory, say, a German company from Germany, who will then handle its release for that territory. And this is done for as many territories as the Film Sales Agent can license to. Producer’s Rep is a term more common in the US film industry than in the UK, but if you intend to do international business, this is something worth knowing. Largely similar to any Sales Agent, a Producer’s Rep is an agent focused on handling the U.S. distribution deal. They might also help in obtaining a foreign sales agent for the international sales. A Producer’s Rep may either charge a fee up front or they may take a percentage of the final sale. Some of them will license the movie right from you and then go sell it to whoever they can domestically. And some of them will just have a contract with you stating the percentage they earn when a deal is secured – whether via their efforts or your own.
*** When would you come across one? – If you are a Producer who plans to acquire wide distribution for your project.
- Film Financier – Those mystical, magical companies that give you money to make your film. But they’re interested in packaged projects, business plans, savvy figures. So, if you are a Producer on the lookout for film funding, do your homework.
*** When would you come across one? – Depending on your project’s financing model, you might be approaching investment companies.
- Data Wrangler / Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) – One job that wouldn’t exist 15-20 years ago, with tapes not digital cards being the production method. With the change in production flow, and memory cards on digital cameras having certain storage/hours capacity (as much as film stock has a certain amount of shooting hours per roll), Directors & Cinematographers need assistance with offloading ‘dailies’, without losing precious shooting time. A Data Wrangler takes the content from storage media and transfers it to computer/hard drive, backs it up, all while you shoot undisturbed. A DIT is also an on set expert in digital cameras, they help set up the equipment, test the equipment and check that the files are correctly saved and labelled. DIT’s job is to help the Cinematographer achieve the best results. This includes but is not limited to: monitoring exposure, setting up “look up tables” (LUTs), set camera settings, and media management.
*** When would you come across one? – Every time you set out to make a film with a digital camera! So don’t forget to hire a DIT.
- Talent Manager – Not to be confused with an Agent, although the line between the two has been becoming increasingly blurred. If we are to put it rather crudely, agents are sales people, primarily oriented towards receiving their 10% commission, while managers are there to promote/develop/cultivate & overall look after their actors/writers/directors. Agents find ‘gigs’, talent managers deal with issues outside of professional engagements of their clients – e.g. their health & wellbeing, their media presence and publicity, trouble-shooting bad PR, booking restaurant tables, hotels, flights, appointments with lawyers, banks, etc. Talent managers are sometimes easier to get hold of and negotiate with, when it comes to hiring cast for a film – so if you do need to chase for a leading man/woman for your movie, try contacting their manager, rather than agent first. Mind you, managers get a higher commission % (at least in the States they do).
*** When would you come across one? – You might not, unless it is your job to secure actors for the project.
- Production Accountant – Production Accountants are responsible for managing finances and maintaining financial records during film production. They work closely with the Producer and the production office to prepare schedules and budgets for film productions, as well as managing the day-to-day accounting office functions, and reporting the projects’ financial progress against the budgets. During production, they evaluate and approve all purchases and organise VAT and PAYE registration; oversee payments, manage payroll, petty cash and foreign currency and keep accurate financial records; help monitor budgets, and analyse costs and expenditure; and provide daily or weekly cost reports, as well as cost forecasts that evaluate the financial impact of any production changes. They are usually Accountants with experience in film production, and with a thorough knowledge of union, guild, tax and other relevant Government regulations. They usually work on a freelance basis, and the exact level of experience required depends on the size and scale of each specific film production.
*** When would you come across one? – If you are not an indie Producer with limited resources, solely responsible for handling the film’s budget, tax, team’s payment, etc., then a Production Accountant could come on board to alleviate the finance burden.
- Finance/Legal/Stunts/[insert anything] Adviser – The title really says it all, they are people who get paid for giving advice on key matters related to the project. They are experts in their own field and act as consultants. For example, a Technical Adviser gets hired to ensure a complicated area is portrayed accurately in the production: e.g. on a war film or period movie it is a usual practice to hire current or former soldiers/generals/historians/, or even eyewitnesses where possible. Technical advisors typically answer to the director. Their expertise adds realism both to the acting and to the setting of a movie. Some advisors for military movies have been known to run miniature boot camps to give actors a first-hand experience of a military setting.
*** When would you come across one? – At any point when you find yourself with enough money to solicit paid advice for an aspect of filmmaking that you are not expert in. Or when the studio/production house insists on having professional consultant.