How do we split the money fairly.
May 29, 2011 9:28 PM   Subscribe

What would be a good way to decide how to split the $ proceeds of a project among three friends?

Me and two buddies wrote a script and soon it may get pitched to a network. It's a long shot but some dollars may come our way.

The question is what would be a sensible way for us to decide amongst ourselves how to split the money percentagewise? (A sensible way would allow us to keep our friendship yet at the same time recognize the contribution of each of us). The situation is complicated because, not everyone did the same amount of work. One person pulled more than a third of his weight, but on the other hand it was something he wanted to do.
posted by storybored to Work & Money (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could try using the Fair Division Calculator
posted by Mchelly at 9:31 PM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Split it in 4. Then decide how to divide up the last piece. This is probably less emotional than trying to think about the total.

Make sure everyone is happy with the arrangement and it probably wouldn't hurt to have a written agreement that everyone is happy.

Do you resent the third+extra guy? Did he "steal" your parts of the project? would you resent him getting a larger cut?
posted by titanium_geek at 9:45 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like titanium_geek's idea of splitting it in 4. Whatever you do though, make sure it put it in writing with everyone's signature before the dollars become a reality.
posted by sophist at 9:56 PM on May 29, 2011

The "4" idea is good...but I would suggest doing it in 10 or 12. Everyone gets 1...and then there will be 7-9 shares left. Figure out how to divvy that up.


You guys can sit down and hash it out before ANY money is mentioned by whoever is going to buy it. Friends get stupid when numbers reach the 4-5 figure range.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:02 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, write it all down...better yet, get it on video and paper.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:02 PM on May 29, 2011

The best thing you can do for your friendship is to treat it like it is - a business deal. Sit down, hash it out and get it in writing now. Get it in front of a lawyer if possible, a notary if not. Best to just have the uncomfortable conversation now, before money is actually involved.

You will be glad later - you might even stay friends. It's only going to get more complicated - you'll be amazed at how far off the rails someone you thought you knew could go. Slogging through the shit part now will let you enjoy any success later, for real.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 10:11 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ditto the "people getting stupid when large sums get involved" - do it when you're laughing, before money gets involved, not when you are starting to pick out what colour you want your ferrari. Do it before anyone mentally assigns themselves a dollar figure.

Work out a rubric for how to divide for work given and you've got a useful default for the future.
posted by titanium_geek at 10:29 PM on May 29, 2011

How much more than a third - 40% or 90%? If we're talking more like 40%, at least, I would be unhappy with - and might not accept - anything other than an equal share.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:42 AM on May 30, 2011


Life ain't always perfectly fair.

You will also get plenty of additional opportunities to be greedy, which is what this appears to be. If it's a lot of money, what do you care? If it's a little money, it makes no difference. You will gain in goodwill, and lose little in the deal, even if it means millions, which it doesn't.

Sequence is everything. If this is the way you intended it, the time to resolve it was before the effort began, not after the reward appeared on the horizon. Post facto adjustment of the scale seems to me to be a legal mentality, not a friend mentality. If you aggravate the friend, I would not be surprised, nor would I blame him/her.

A distant second, if you choose to split hairs in this fashion, would be titanium_geeks idea.
posted by FauxScot at 5:30 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

45 / 30 / 25 %

If you're not comfortable splitting everything equally then you are committing to precisely specifying each person's contribution. You need to decide which way you're leaning and follow through.
posted by carlh at 6:05 AM on May 30, 2011

The WGA should make this easier for you. How credits are assigned, etc. If two of you are a team and the other is responsible for "additional writing", etc.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:55 AM on May 30, 2011

Best answer: One person pulled more than a third of his weight, but on the other hand it was something he wanted to do.

You don't tell us whether he thinks he deserves more than a third of the proceeds and if so by how much - but the sense of your question is that this is potentially an awkward discussion to have, and that to get into this might put your friendship at risk.

Appoint a fourth person to act as honest broker. The three of you each write down independently and secretly the percentage that you would regard as your fair share and give your bids to the broker. If the three bids together come to 100% or less, the job is done and the deal is struck: any remainder gets split equally between you. If the three bids come to more that 100%, the broker simply says "try again" - nothing more. You all rebid. Repeat for as long as it takes. No money is allocated until an agreement is reached.
posted by genesta at 3:50 PM on May 30, 2011

Response by poster: Genesta, thanks for that idea. I don't think we need to go there just yet because we're going to sit down and discuss our expectations beforehand, but it's nice to know that we can use this as a fallback.

Thanks to all for your suggestions.
posted by storybored at 8:24 PM on May 31, 2011

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