5 Negotiation Tips for Producers

Sales guys make the best Producers.

Producers are businessmen.

Producers are deal makers.

When producing a film, you’re negotiating production equipment rates, talent agents, catering companies, film labs, distribution companies, attorneys, etc. etc. etc.

Sales is an ART that can make you VERY powerful.

If you want to be a successful Producer then you need to not only know the sales process but be a master when executing it. You need to learn about profit margins. You need to be able to feel out your counter’s bottom-line and get as close to it as possible. The more money you can save in the shooting budget then the more money you will have to market the hell out of your project.

Below are five basic gambits that will help you along the way. I’ll post many more in future posts because I’m full of these things.

1.) Ask for more than you expect to get.

When you go in high, you’re setting the negotiation environment in your favor. The other person already knows that they’re going to have to bend over backwards in order to make a deal work with you. It gives you more room to play with. If  you start out where you ultimately need to be then you simply have nowhere to go.

2.) Never accept the first offer.

You ever visit a website or walk into a brick and mortar business that lists all their prices on a rate card? NEVER PAY RATE CARD RATES! Why? Simple. A business owner looks at the cost of his product or the cost of his overhead and then dreams up his largest ideal profit margin that he feels he can get away with while still being competitive in the market. You can always negotiate rate prices down. There are always discounts. If you go get a job at a camera rental facility, one of the first things the recruiter will tell you is your commission rate and how much of a percentage discount you can give to your prospects in order to make a deal. That means not only do you have the company’s percentage discount as wiggle room but you also have the sales guy’s commission to wiggle with. If you tell a sales guy that you’ve got four other quotes and one of those quotes already meets his maxed out discount authority then he’s going to start giving away some of his commission in order to get the deal. SO NEGOTIATE!!! Balk at the first offer. Say you’re a student filmmaker and you’re broke. BAM 15% off. That’s one of MANY excuses you can come up with. KNOW that they have plenty of mark-up. ALSO keep in mind that if it’s something you’re renting then it’s like renting a hotel. If they don’t have somebody sleeping in the bed that night then they’re not going to make any money. They’d rather give it away for a steal price then make no money. THINK about it.

3.) Flinch at proposals:

This gambit works best when you’re dealing with a sales guy face to face. If a sales guy throws out a number you can use your body language to let him know that his offer just freaked you out. His next move is to start back peddling. If it’s over the phone then you can use your voice tones and inflections to your advantage.

4.) Reluctant Buyer/Reluctant Seller

This basically means you should act like you don’t really give a shit whether you buy the product or not. You want the ball in your court as often as possible. You want to be the guy getting pitched–not the guy pitching. You can also play this gambit when someone wants to buy something from you, i.e. a script or the distribution rights in a a specific area for your movie. You’ve got to make them think that there’s no way you’re going to sell in a million years. It’s a sales guy’s job to convince you to do what they want you to do which means they’re going to start pitching you. They’re going into the pitch knowing that they’re going to have to pay top dollar for your film, script, etc.

5.) Good Cop/Bad Cop

Some people think that they will be more advantageous when playing the role as the decision maker or head honcho. However, if you play the role of the errand boy or just any likable “good cop” then you can always negotiate down as low as they’ll agree and then say “let me run it by the producer and see if I can get it approved”. You then return to the seller and say “Dude… I’m sorry man, but my boss is kind of an a**hole. He says your price is too high, but if you could come down to X price then I can go ahead and pay you today”. You get the picture.

If you guys have any questions about gambits or what to do in an advanced negotiation then feel free to e-mail me directly and I’ll give you all the advice I can.


Nathaniel Latimer
Direct: 323.898.9976
Email: nathaniel.latimer@gmail.com
Social Norm Movie Blog: http://www.socialnormmovie.wordpress.com
Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nathaniellatimer


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