Looks like you are a new visitor to this site. Hello!

Welcome to Hope For Film! Come participate in the discussion, and I encourage you to enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe. It's free! And easy! If you have any suggestions on how to improve this website or suggestions for topics please don't hesitate to write in to any of the blogs.

You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

(If you keep getting this message, you probably have cookies turned off.)

August 26 at 8:30am

How Much Does An American Indie Producer Get Paid?

By Ted Hope

Even if we are not in it for the money, it does not mean we shouldn’t be rewarded fairly for our knowledge, labor, services, expertise, relationships, and talent. It doesn’t happen much. If you are either starting out or already at an expert level, what can you expect to earn producing in the American Indie Film Industry, circa 2011.

It is often said by financiers that one of the problems with the film biz is that producers do not have enough “skin in the game”. They frequently think that the services Producers provide may not be worth the price they pay. I beg to differ, and I think if they feel that way they are working with the wrong producers.

I think a fair rule of thumb of what to pay for an expert producer, is five percent (5%) of negative costs, subject to a cap based on precedent. If one is not a true producer (i.e. there and responsible for everything from beginning to end), then one is not deserving of that full fee.

But you don’t start there. You need to work your way up to that fee.


What does an indie producer get paid on a film?
2-5% of “budget” — depending on experience.

What is a fair initial salary?
2%: $50K for $2M, w/$25K increase per $1M increase in budget

What kind of cap is fair?
cap at $150K until 5 films produced
cap at $250K until you have a hit
cap at combined director & script fee
increase the cap if you are coming off a hit;
5% of negative cost, up until a budget level of $40M, with balance going on backend.

What does a producer fee mean in terms of earning a living?
Well, to answer that you have to answer a few other questions:

How long does it take to get a project made?
5.5 years (generally speaking)
development 2years
packaging 6 months*
financing 1year
production/post 1year
distrib/mktg.fests 1year

What is the annual take-home for a film
Annual starting producer salary for a $3M film (2%) = $10,900 /yr
Annual starting producer salary for a $5M film (2%) = $18,181 /yr
Annual starting producer salary for a $10M film (2%) = $36,363 /yr

Annual experienced producer salary for a $3M film (5%) = $27,272 /yr
Annual experienced producer salary for a $5M film (5%) = $45,454 /yr
Annual experienced producer salary for a $10M film (5%) = $90,909 /yr

The hard reality is that the American Indie Film Biz average budget is probably below $3M these days. It is the range I expect most of my movies to be in these days. Recognizing what it costs to live in NYC, it looks like one might need to produce 5 -10 features a year to make it work. It doesn’t leave much room for a hands-on craft-oriented approach to producing. A volume business is generally thought to be the antithesis of quality. Content can’t be king if no one is willing to pay for it. Clearly at these fee levels producers have a tremendous amount of “skin in the game” because the only way this could equal a career is if one is betting on the upside of the backend and winning.

  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print


leave a comment
  1. Tom Green / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Welcome to the world musicians have been living in for a decade- and as many, like me, boosted their activities in the media world to make up for the loss (writing music for film, tv, music libraries etc) watching the same thing happen to the film industry isn’t exactly good news for us either. If I want to make even minimum wage by writing music for documentaries, I’d have to be writing at least 15 scores a year. Not only am I unlikely to be offered that many (competition being vicious) I doubt I’d even be capable of it. Craft rarely comes into it, now, however much I try. On my last job, about 45 minutes of original music to picture was expected to be produced in 5 days flat. I managed it, just. The budget, as usual, only allowed the use of sample libraries, not musicians, yet the demands for ‘authentic, real, live, music’ are the same as always.

    We’re being asked to do the impossible. Produce music that sounds like it was played by a real orchestra and composed by a genius, hours of it, within days, and then get paid a pittance. And be thankful we just get the work in the first place. Fairly soon, no doubt, we’ll be expected to provide the same service that consumers get everywhere. “You’re lucky you’re getting the job anyway – what, you expect to get paid as well ?”

    I have nephews and their friends, talented people, asking me “how do I get into the music/film/publishing industries ?”

    My answer is now – “Don’t bother. Do it as a hobby, enjoy yourselves. But make sure you do something else for money. There isn’t any left.”

  2. Yvonna Russell / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Thanks for this post on the reality of producing from one of the best independent producers in New York. (Christine Vachon is the other best).

  3. Tremoloking / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    what about the Russ Meyer business model?

  4. ADKinLA / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    This doesn’t necessarily take into account deferred comp. Certainly producers on Indie’s don’t drive Bentleys from the money but there are other revenue streams other than the upfront fixed.

  5. bleached petmate bistro / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Hi to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this webpage; this website carries remarkable and actually
    good information for visitors.

  6. continue reading / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to mention I am new to blogs and certainly loved you’re web site. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your website . You surely come with perfect stories. Thanks a bunch for revealing your blog.

  7. read post / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I just want to mention I am newbie to blogs and certainly enjoyed your website. Probably I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You definitely have really good articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web site.

  8. discover here / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to say I am just beginner to blogging and definitely liked this web blog. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your website . You really have excellent posts. Thanks for revealing your web site.

  9. read link / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to mention I’m beginner to blogging and honestly liked you’re website. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You surely come with good posts. With thanks for sharing your web site.

  10. great article / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to mention I am just newbie to blogging and site-building and actually savored this blog. Probably I’m likely to bookmark your site . You absolutely have really good articles and reviews. Thanks for sharing with us your website page.

  11. good article / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to say I am just all new to blogging and site-building and really enjoyed this page. Likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly come with really good article content. Thanks for revealing your website page.

  12. find more / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I just want to say I’m beginner to blogs and actually savored your blog site. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You absolutely have outstanding articles. Bless you for sharing with us your web site.

  13. continue reading / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to mention I’m new to blogs and really liked this blog site. Likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You really have awesome stories. Thanks for revealing your blog site.

  14. browse content / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I just want to tell you that I’m all new to blogs and absolutely savored your page. Very likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You amazingly come with amazing article content. With thanks for sharing with us your web page.

  15. read link / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I simply want to say I am very new to weblog and absolutely liked this web blog. More than likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You surely come with perfect article content. Appreciate it for sharing your blog site.

  16. excel builders / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    YP, the YP logo and also all various other YP marks
    had herein are hallmarks of YP LLC and/or YP associated companies.

  17. passage samui villas and resort / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Samui Luxury Villas tend to be independently located and guarantee you a trip that your family will not forget.

  18. interior decorating / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Good info and right to the point. I don’t know if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you people have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thx :)

  19. gamer desk / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Have a look at the room you would love to place your ddesk in and measure the offered space.

  20. continue / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this website.

  21. マグニビート! 私はブログの購読 サイト?アカウントの取引|私は適用に許容される適切な 助け助け。 I されているこのブロードキャストの| |ビット知り合いに精通して 少し小さな 提供 ブリリアント 明確な アイデア
    一部予約販売 新規オープン 開店セール http://victoria-mennrath.de

  22. 種類の記事やブログウェの記事 家。 Yahooの私に探る結局このウェブサイトサイトにつまずきました。に展示その私がした この情報 良い だけ私は必要なものに出くわしました。 I そんなに 間違いなく?| ドントンに必ず一定 無視このサイト と与える​​ それルック 容赦ない基礎。
    商品到着後レビュー記載でプレゼント 激安 本物 http://www.cedartreevr.com

  23. すべての時間私に使用されるが、研究 記事 ネットインターネット このように今私は投稿、ウェブのおかげ。
    商品到着後レビュー記載でプレゼント 新作 2015 正規 http://www.mm-auto.pl

  24. Fredricka Depadua / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    What i don’t realize is actually how you’re not actually a lot more well-appreciated than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent. You understand therefore considerably in relation to this matter, made me in my view believe it from so many varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. Always deal with it up!

  25. Yessenia Joline / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  26. Carol Stallings / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Some truly nice and useful information on this site, too I believe the pattern has got excellent features.

  27. Eugenio Crousore / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    great points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What may you suggest about your publish that you made some days ago? Any certain?

  28. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    It’s hard to find well-informed people for this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  29. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone who actually knows what they are talking about on the net. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to read this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.

  30. padi idc gili trawangan / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Hello. Neat post. There is an concern together with your web site in firefox, and you may want to test this… The browser will be the market chief and a big part of other folks will miss your great writing because of this dilemma.

  31. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  32. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Excellent article. I will be experiencing some of these issues as well..

  33. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I was pretty pleased to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new information on your site.

  34. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Great blog you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  35. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I was excited to find this website. I need to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new stuff in your site.

  36. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  37. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own site now ;)

  38. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  39. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!

  40. www / Aug 26 at 8:30am

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I truly thought you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

Leave a Comment

This site could not have been built without the help and insight of Michael Morgenstern. My thanks go out to him.

Help save indie film and give this guy a job in web design or film!