Because of pressure to keep costs low, nonfiction directors and producers often don't take fees. Established documentary producer Jessica Devaney shares how she builds fees into her budgets so that she and her directors can more sustainably work as filmmakers, and why you should place monetary value on your work.
Key Insights
  • Regardless of your background (racial, class, gender, etc.), it is important that you understand your work has value. Even though it can be scary, make sure you set the expectation that you will be compensated from the approved budget, so you can continue to grow and sustain your career. 
  • Producers need to manage expectations with funders by letting them know the real costs and timelines for projects. Although everyone is trying to make more for less, you also need to protect the well-being of your creative team.
  • There are ways to cut costs on a project, but taking on an unsustainable amount of roles or not paying yourself, should not be the go-to budget solution.
  • Have a discussion with your director about giving yourself fees (even minimal amounts) over the course of the project. The fees can be paid out at different intervals (including deferment), but begin to cultivate the practice of setting expectations for yourself and your team, and then sticking to it. 

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