This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
I live in Venice. I guess, these days, I should be a little more protective of my privacy. Maybe I shouldn't be broadcasting where I live, although after a year of doing these commentaries, it's impossible to imagine there's someone out there thinking, "I; wonder where he lives? I'd sure like to get to know him better."
Anyway, along Lincoln Boulevard, there's like a dozen used car lots. And most of them have huge banners flapping out front, that say something like, "No; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone!" And somewhere on those banners there's a tiny asterisk, or a small-type parenthetical, and three tiny letters. "O.A.C.;"
What could those letters stand for? I'd drive up and down Lincoln, and it would drive me crazy. "No; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone!" And then, in small type: "OAC.;"
OAC? So, you know what I had to do, right? One day, I pulled into one of those lots. And I asked. Do you know what O.A.C. stands for? It stands for "On; Approved Credit." So, basically, those banners said: "No; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone! On Approved Credit."
So I said to the guy, What's the point of that? If your credit can be approved, then...I mean, why would make such a big deal.... About the ease of...you know? It's a tautology. And it bugs me. But the guy at the used car lot wasn't persuaded.
Now, I told you that so I could tell you this. When you have a contract with a studio, along with stuff like where you can park and how much they're going to pay you, the contract also enumerates how much of the profit -- the back end -- you're going to get. They don't specify an exact percentage, of course. They specify a range. "You; could get as much as X percent," the contract says. "Or; as little as Y percent." Somewhere in that general range. -Y Percent' is known as the "hard; floor." That's as low as it's ever going to get, according to the promises of the studio lawyers. What happens is, when you start a project, you start with X percent of the back end, but as you add directors, and a star or two, you start giving percentage points away, and you get awfully close to the hard floor.
A while ago, negotiating a deal with a studio, they wanted us to contribute to an existing project. Now, we had an agreement with that studio, and in that agreement, we had agreed to a hard floor. So when they wanted us to go lower that the hard floor on the existing project, it was time to redefine words like "hard;" and "floor.;"
"Not; much of a hard floor, is it?" I said to my agent.
"What; are you talking about? It's a hard floor. No one's asking you to go below your hard floor."
"Well;, they are now."
"They; are now, yes. In this specific instance."
-But, if it's a hard floor, and I go below it now, what's to stop them from asking me to do it again?"
-They wouldn't do that. It's a hard floor. You never go below the hard floor."
"Except; in this instance."
"Except; in this instance, yes."
"So; it's still a hard floor."
"Very; much so."
"With; a trap door somewhere, leading to a small crawlspace, where my new percentage is."
"You;'re fixating. It's a hard floor. It's in the contract. On this specific project, you're agreeing to go below the floor..."
"To; the dirt."
"To; the...why are you so negative? Look, your hard floor is your hard floor."
"They; can't ask me to go below it on another project, can they?"
"Well;, they can ask."
"But; I'd say no, right?"
And then it hit me. Whenever anyone makes any kind of declaration -- this is your hard floor! We finance anyone! I'll love you forever! -- you should always hear a small voice say quietly, "On; Approved Credit."
That's it for this week. Next week, we'll steal from real life.
For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.