It Happened Again, Part Two

By Kelly Mahan Jaramillo, Oct. 29th 2007

I mentioned in the last post, part one, that I felt there were exceptions on the budget issue. Writing a score for free (and mind you, this is only for us – many of you other composers have your own exceptions) – is seriously limited to:

If the person is a good friend, we can trust the deferred payment issue, we know that they are going to do everything they can to get their film out there, and not just disappear. They are a good enough friend to have no compunction about signing a contract, they understand that despite being friends, this is the business end of a creative endeavor. And they also understand that because it is for free, they cannot pressure a deadline – Tomas will fit it in as best as he can. If there is a good chunk of cash at the beginning of the film, then naturally, that film is the priority. Otherwise, there is no way to give a definitive deadline date.

The only other possible consideration for a deferred payment score is if the filmmaker has managed to get a name star in their film – it makes the chances of distribution much more realistic, and there will be money down the line, and it is a step up to have a “name” starring in a film that you scored. And if the filmmaker managed to get a name, there is money there, one way or another.

It is a drag to talk about when creative work and business collide, but it has to be done. As I have said in other posts, but I have to say it again, if you, the composer, loves to write music to film, but continually lets these young filmmakers talk you into free or deferred payment – you will never have a career as a composer. It will wind up being a very time consuming and expensive hobby for you.

Composers generally do not “hang out” with other composers, as we are all competing to be the best and get the job. This is an exception. As Tomas Hradcky’s co-producer, he and I are asking the film composing community to band together and stop accepting free work.

Thank you.
Kelly Mahan Jaramillo

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