Negotiations occur every day. Sometimes we negotiate with ourselves over simple tasks like going the gym in the morning, in the evening or not at all. Cost-benefit analysis of each decision is usually based on preset goals and commitments. When two parties negotiate, they ideally work towards mutual gain within a proposed project. Knowing yourself and knowing your project from the outset sets the tone by determining direction and focus. When interviewed, Jenna Edwards, Producer of the film, “April Showers,” and Producing Advisor for The Film Method podcast, spoke about the importance of also knowing with whom you are negotiating. “Know your investor. What do they want out of this project? Are they the right fit for the project? Look at it from their point of view. What is their ultimate goal?” Still, clearly defining what the project is and where it is going takes precedence. But if either party does not understand or see the project’s vision, an end decision cannot be effectively met.
Film productions often involve heightened emotions. Many of the projects are personal in nature, and new filmmakers have a strong desire to land their “big break.” But these elements have a tendency to cloud deal-making discussions. You may have a well-known industry talent sitting in front of you, but if they aren’t the right fit for the project, it’s better to walk away than succumb to the emotions of the moment. Instead, focus should rest on the interests of the project rather than the positions of parties involved. Jenna advises filmmakers to follow their gut. “It’s not worth it if the deal doesn’t benefit the project. You want to build on integrity first. Trust your instinct.” Roger Fisher writes in Beyond Reason, “The difference between having a core concern ignored or met can be as important as having your nose underwater or above it.” Building the wrong team on the wrong terms not only creates future hassles, but also increases the likelihood for conflict down the road. Each party comes to the table with individual roles, goals and expectations, which should be respected with equality and autonomy, but deciding what is best for the project is paramount. It can make the difference between the success and the failure of a film.