producer Disclosing other actors salaries

We have a seasoned actor (character actor not an A list name) who we secured a LOI from via his agent. Upon sending him an actors agreement to sign, his daily rate slightly reduced but a huge potential increase on the backend - his agents saying he won’t let him sign until he knows what all the other talent is getting paid. Ever had this issue putting a package together? How do we have our lawyers respond?
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Yes, I've had similar situations.

One point first - as the agent undoubtedly knows, no matter how great your project is, the chance of the actor getting anything on the back end is somewhere between slim and none. That's no knock on your project, just reality. So the agent is only looking at the daily rate.

I was generally able to get the agent to accept an assurance that his or her client was getting paid the largest amount of anyone on the cast (when they were), and that all other provisions were "most favored nation/mfn).

There was one time that another actor had a higher day rate but was just shooting one day, so his overall pay would still be lower. I said honestly that that was the case and named the actor (knowing that he would be respected). I did not say what that higher day rate was.

I also had my casting director sweet talk the agent(s) a bit.

If the agent really won't give, they also might be using that as an excuse to pass on the project - but that's just a guess.
 
Has happened to me several times. Kind of SOP.

Are your lawyers experienced in entertainment contracts?
Or is this a curve ball for them?
They have experience, thankfully as did my mentor, bc this was a huge curveball to me - I was the one who went out and secured this actors LOI through his manager so my boss said he just wanted to keep me in the loop how things were progressing...at the end of this, the agent straight up told my boss “well it’s my job to squeeze you for as much money as I can”
 
Yes, I've had similar situations.

One point first - as the agent undoubtedly knows, no matter how great your project is, the chance of the actor getting anything on the back end is somewhere between slim and none. That's no knock on your project, just reality. So the agent is only looking at the daily rate.

I was generally able to get the agent to accept an assurance that his or her client was getting paid the largest amount of anyone on the cast (when they were), and that all other provisions were "most favored nation/mfn).

There was one time that another actor had a higher day rate but was just shooting one day, so his overall pay would still be lower. I said honestly that that was the case and named the actor (knowing that he would be respected). I did not say what that higher day rate was.

I also had my casting director sweet talk the agent(s) a bit.

If the agent really won't give, they also might be using that as an excuse to pass on the project - but that's just a guess.
We did consider that but what the agent wasn’t aware of was that my boss knows the actor personally, they’ve worked together before and so my boss was more than happy to shoot around the actors schedule
Plus, worse case scenario, he could have called him up and asked him to do his project - circumventing the agent entirely, a route we didn’t want to take
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
They have experience, thankfully as did my mentor, bc this was a huge curveball to me - I was the one who went out and secured this actors LOI through his manager so my boss said he just wanted to keep me in the loop how things were progressing...at the end of this, the agent straight up told my boss “well it’s my job to squeeze you for as much money as I can”
Sounds typical to me. And exactly right - YOU want to pay as little
as you can, the talent wants as much as they can get out of you.

Seems you got it worked out with experienced people. Did you
both end up with a number you can both live with? Did your boss
end up disclosing what he is paying the other talent?
 
So I gather the issue has been resolved?
I don’t take your back end comment as any knock at all. And as I said, I’m brand new to the industry but I’m not sure if I mentioned my background. I am coming from an accounting and financial services background. I have been glutton for anything I can learn and my boss has been in the industry for over 40 years. He’s doing a great job of teaching me. I mention this because I’ve read everywhere that backend is typically illusive.

My boss still seems very optimistic that our picture will have a large backend and I think that his attitude is an appropriate one, although maybe some would argue not realistic.

By appropriate, I mean that I don’t think he’d have choosen this particular project now, if he did not have a HUGE amount of faith in its commercial potential.

I’m not in my office rn but am going to try to answer some of your questions, if I miss any, I’ll circle back later.

I like this actor’s agent very much, he has been a very straight shooter with me and easy to work with. That said, all I did was line him up and shoot him into my boss and his attorneys where I think we saw, he’s also good at what he does and going to bat for his talent.

My boss ultimately did not disclose anyone else’s rates. IMHO my boss is a really nice guy but I think if you only knew him through work, you’d likely describe him as shrewd but fair. He has been the talent and he has, as he calls it, “worked for free” - backend deals that never paid out. So from the beginning he told me, we would never do that. So I think he is not just sensitive to what one actor wants (to be paid and paid what he is worth) but to what any actor wants (to work on a set where the cast gets along and knows their interests are considered).

Instead of opening up our books, which we honestly can’t even do yet 100% because we are still adding crew and talent (and this is a big cast) my boss worked closely with the actor’s agent to reassure him that he was being top billed and receiving all of the perks that go along with that. Plus, the lawyers did draft an MFN contract (not even sure I’m using this term in the proper context). And I’m told the agent is now ready to have his actor sign off.
 
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