Do you have a question that you’d like to have answered by a longtime Hollywood literary agent? Send it in!


One day I hope to study film and become a screenwriter/director. I don’t know much about the film industry quite yet, so that’s why I plan on getting into a good film program in college. I have only one concern: How do filmmakers such as producers, screenwriters, and directors make money from their films? How do independent filmmakers make money?


The basic answer to this question is that Screenwriters, Directors and Producers have agents who negotiate their deals with the movie Studio and/or production companies who finance the film.  Writers, Directors and Producers often receive money during the development phase of the project and usually receive a large bonus if the movie gets produced.

The amounts of these payments are tied in to the budget of the film.  The bigger the budget, the bigger the pay day.  There are many more deal points that can be negotiated by the agents.

For example the artist may receive a percentage of the profits, they may be paid if the movie becomes a TV series and if there are games and toys produced based on the film, etc.

Independent filmmakers usually only make money if they are lucky enough to secure distribution by a major distribution company and/or sell their picture to a studio.

Michele Wallerstein is a Screenplay & Novel & Career Consultant and author of “MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide To Your Writing Career“.

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