Composers are generally compensated by taking a flat fee, half up front, and the other half upon completion. I have heard of some people (scoring lower budget films) doing a per-minute dolar amount, as is done with games, but this is not commonplace with films.
If you want to know how much, this is not something that anyone can answer for you. Fees are literally all over the place, depeding on the film, the budget, how much music is needed, etc. Just be sure to put in the contract that any musicians that are hired to play any of the music, are paid for by the production. The last thing you want is to get paid (for ex.) $2,500 to score the film, and then have the director tell you they want this and that live, which will cost you $2,000 between studio time and musicians. You have now been paid $500 to score the film.
Music usually runs 5-10% of the entire film budget.
Originally Posted by narcoman
1 to 3% in my experience - but of course it varies a lot.
But let's not forget that often the lion's share of that budget - whether it be 1% or 10% will go towards LICENSING SONGS. Leaving the composer scraping by any old way he/she can to figure out how to pay musicians and record a decent score.....
Even though you may not actually be paid by the minute, it's not a bad way to calculate how much you should be paid overall.
So, if you're in negotiations about compensation, firstly, ask a lot of questions :
1) what's the total budget of the film (then calculate the 1% to 3% figure)
2) then ask how many minutes of music they expect you to score (then calculate an amount that you'd be comfortable with....$1000/minute..etc...)
3) live musicians ? sweetening, is there any expectation and budget for it ? what about AFof M musicians/contracts etc...?
Somewhere in there will be the figure that you can live with.
Get it all in writing ! Get 50% up-front ! 50% upon delivery.