In our recent Screenrights’ member survey, many filmmakers mentioned their growing concern about increasingly fragmented markets, with smaller returns from a larger variety of sources.
It’s a challenging environment and one in which setting up an efficient way of receiving and administering money is becoming increasingly important.
But what’s the best way to do this? In-house? Through a Collection Account Management Agreement (CAMA)? Or through a Disbursement Administration Services Agreement (DASA)?
Let’s have a look at each of these options* …
Collection Account Manager (CAM)
The CAM collects all the world-wide gross revenue for a film (other than specifically excluded territories) before anyone else (including sales agents and distributors) deducts any commissions or expenses. Money is paid into a collection account specifically set up for the film at a financial institution. Distributors and sales agents report to the CAM and the CAM makes payments to them to meet agreed expenses and commissions and advances. Any remaining money is then paid to the producer and investors and other beneficiaries who may have a relevant financial interest in the film (eg. actors) in accordance with the recoupment schedule.
Cost: The set up fee is usually around $5000 and CAM fees and expenses are deducted from gross revenue.
Note: A CAM doesn’t usually knock on doors and chase payment on your behalf. However, there are CAMS which offer that additional service.
Disbursement Administrator (DA)
The DA operates lower down in the food chain. It collects net receipts to the producer after the sales agents and distributors have covered their expenses and deducted their commissions. This may be on a global or limited territory basis. Net receipts are paid into the DA’s collection account, which is a shared account for returns for all DASAs. The distributors and sales agents make payments to the DA and the DA allocates and disburses the returns to the investors and other beneficiaries on behalf of the producer. This is done in accordance with a schedule to the DASA, specifying who gets paid and in what order.
Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation previously offered disbursement services but no longer do so. Screenrights now operates a disbursement service for Australian producers and their investors.
Cost: An upfront base set-up fee of $250-$500 with a disbursement fee charged as a percentage of net receipts for each disbursement
Note: A DA doesn’t knock on doors and chase payment on your behalf.
Collecting and disbursing returns in-house is an option if you feel your company has the necessary skills and experience and can operate this service for the same or lower cost than those available externally.
In some cases funding or investment agreements require the use of a CAM or DASA, which may rule-out an in-house service.
Cost: Administration costs of running the service yourself, including office and staff expenses.
A little bit of everything
Producers can elect to use a CAM for the world or a DASA for the world, or the services can be used in conjunction with each other. For example, you could use a DASA for Australian and New Zealand returns and a CAM for the rest of the world. Screenrights offers an ANZ and a global DASA (note that the Screenrights Disbursement Service is for Australian producers and their investors only).
So what should I do?
You need to weigh up the costs and convenience of these services, and the likely returns from your film, in order to make an informed decision. Read on for more information about Screenrights’ Disbursement Service.
We’re also happy to answer any of your questions. Please contact us.
* Broad descriptions of CAMs and DAs in the options we looked at, aren't Australia specific. The Screenrights Disbursement Service is for Australian producers and their investors only.