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One for the Money; One for the Art

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Bob does Project "A" to get the money and creative freedom to do Project "B".

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
backpack on Apr 27th 2014 at 7:00:12 AM
Last Edited By:
Lawman592 on Feb 22nd 2018 at 9:33:52 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

"Do one for them; do one for you. If you can still do projects for yourself, you can keep your soul."

Trivia page about what happens when creators do a project for money or to fulfill a contract so that they'll have the finances and creative freedom to do their artistic dream project.

This can be done indirectly by, for example, an actor or director doing project for money and then turning around to put the money into an indie film he or she wanted to do. In this instance, however, the creators still have to deal with all the problems faced by indie film directors. The paycheck is rarely that huge, they have to find a distributor, and they have to hold casting calls.

The funding can also be done directly when, as part of a multi-film contract, a creator agrees to do a commercial project for a studio while the studio, in exchange, agrees to fund the creator's artistic project. This version ends up being far more convenient for the actor/director. First, the studio is frequently willing to fork over more money for this, as they stand to take a share of the box office cut, so even if the artistic film takes a minor loss they're not out that much. Second, with the power of a major studio behind them, the actor/director now has A-list stars on speed dial, and doesn't have to worry about finding a distributor.

Compare Paying Their Dues for when an artist needs to take smaller gigs before they hit the big time. Contrast with Only in It for the Money, in which the work made for making money clearly is not for personal projects. See also Auteur License.

Can lead to Magnum Opus Dissonance if the project done only for the money is the one that takes flight while the project done for the art never gets off the ground.


Examples

Comics

  • After alienating much of the comic-book industry with his embrace of Objectivism (and losing the rights to many of his most famous creations to DC when they acquired Charleston Comics), Steve Ditko spent the 80s taking low-prestige jobs like drawing for coloring books in order to fund his own Objectivist-themed comics.

Film - Animated

Film - Live Action

Music

  • Famously inverted by David Bowie. After getting a raw deal on his contract, he spent the next several years producing experimental and highly acclaimed but not-very-commercial material. When his contract expired, he produced some more mainstream (but again, highly acclaimed) work for the money.

Video Games

  • Allegedly, the reason that Aliens: Colonial Marines ended up being such a terrible game was because Gearbox used the money that they were paid to make the game in order to fund their own properties, including Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Duke Nukem Forever, and only started working on Colonial Marines in earnest after becoming in danger of violating their contract.

Western Animation


Feedback: 43 replies

Apr 27th 2014 at 8:00:57 AM

Vanity would be the wrong word.

Working X To Fund Y?

Apr 27th 2014 at 8:03:13 AM

Funding Dear Boy? (though that could take some expanding into scientific and military projects)

Apr 27th 2014 at 10:19:48 AM

@DAN 004: I was getting it from the term "vanity project."

@Morning Star: Yeah, I could see that working.

Apr 27th 2014 at 12:10:19 PM

I did some cleanup of your original post...

Apr 27th 2014 at 4:40:33 PM

Well, this isn't limited to funding movies, games or any kind of creations right? It can fund scientific projects, or for charity...

Apr 27th 2014 at 4:41:36 PM

For movies at least, B Movie is often involved.

Apr 27th 2014 at 9:49:07 PM

  • Lampshaded in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back:
    Ben Affleck: What've I been telling you? You gotta do the safe picture. Then you can do the art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him.
  • Benjamin Disraeli became a best-selling Romance Novel author in order to fund his political career.

Apr 28th 2014 at 12:49:42 AM

  • Examples section formatting.
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Added the word "Examples".
  • Changed First Variation to "Indirect Funding" and Second Variation to "Direct Funding" as they're much more clear and avoid the risk of violating Type Labels Are Not Examples.

Seconding Funding Dear Boy as it's much clearer.

Apr 28th 2014 at 12:53:29 AM

I think this trope is an example of the maxim, "Do one for them; do one for you." In fact, Do One For Them; Do One For You would be a better name.

Apr 28th 2014 at 8:41:19 PM

Ok, I'm giving Funding Dear Boy a third. I put in the Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back example, but I'm a bit uncertain about Benjamin Disraeli, because he did art to fund something that wasn't art. That risks this trope becoming too broad, and becoming indistinguishable from Money Dear Boy. I mean, where would it stop? "I did this movie to fund my ham sandwich!"

Apr 28th 2014 at 9:54:03 PM

^ this is a subtrope of Money Dear Boy, only that here, a purpose of the money is given.

Apr 28th 2014 at 11:50:23 PM

I'm not sure which categories these would fall into, but I think they fit this trope.

Comics

  • After alienating much of the comic-book industry with his embrace of Objectivism (and losing the rights to many of his most famous creations to DC when they acquired Charleston Comics), Steve Ditko spent the 80s taking low-prestige jobs like drawing for coloring books in order to fund his own Objectivist-themed comics.

Video Games

  • Allegedly, the reason that Aliens Colonial Marines ended up being such a terrible game was because Gearbox used the money that they were paid to make the game in order to fund their own properties, including Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Duke Nukem Forever, and only started working on Colonial Marines in earnest after becoming in danger of violating their contract.

Apr 29th 2014 at 9:50:00 AM

Chirstopher Reeve did Superman IV so the studio would produce Street Smart.

Apr 29th 2014 at 11:07:33 AM

A more mundane Real Life example is investing. Buying shares in a company you have no interest in, so that when the value of the shares goes up, you can sell them to get capital for whatever your originally wanted.

Jul 31st 2014 at 5:29:27 PM

Bumped again because I think this could be an interesting Triva page. I'll also vouch for my suggestion that it be named Do One For Them; Do One For You.

Jul 31st 2014 at 6:45:52 PM

The Wachowski siblings debuted with the film Bound as a way to establish the credibility they needed to sell The Matrix.

Jul 31st 2014 at 8:15:44 PM

A lot of these people today just go to Kickstarter, which has actually angered a lot of the general public, as Kickstarter is really meant for the average joe trying to raise funds for certain projects, but now that the likes of Zack Braff and Spike Lee have taken to it, many feel it defeats the whole purpose of the site, and that to have big-named celebrities and personalities on there asking for money when they're at a point in their careers they should be giving money will only hurt those average joes who actually do need the money, because it's believed people will more likely donate to people they're familiar with (too wit, Zack Braff or Spike Lee) rather than nobodies.

But...

Film

  • Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman used the money they had made off the Alvin And The Chipmunks franchise to finance The Chipmunk Adventure (because possible distributors wouldn't meet their proposed budget) - which they later admitted was a big mistake, citing that producers funding their own movies is the Hollywood equivilent of a lawyer representing himself, quoting Abraham Lincoln, "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client."

Jul 31st 2014 at 10:06:52 PM

Money Dear Boy isn't a trope, nor does the page seem overwhelmingly large or incompatible with funding for something else. Why not just mention funding if appropriate?

Nov 7th 2017 at 4:14:18 PM

I'm bringing this back from the dead because I think this could be a good Trivia page if its focus is slightly shifted to be about creators who do projects for either monetary or contractual reasons so they can later get the financial and artistic freedom to do more aesthetically rewarding projects.

Also, is the creator of this proposed page still interested in it or is Up For Grabs?

Nov 8th 2017 at 5:40:45 AM

^ This proposal is Up For Grabs (according to the rules on that page) because the OP has been inactive here for more than two months.

The OP backpack is still on TV Tropes: they just edited a page on November 4th.

You could send them a PM and ask if they're still interested in it.

Nov 8th 2017 at 6:21:12 AM

Nov 8th 2017 at 10:42:46 AM

The Wachowskis made Bound to prove they had the chops to handle The Matrix.

Nov 8th 2017 at 3:32:14 PM

Title changed with revisions to follow.

Nov 9th 2017 at 12:09:46 AM

One For Them One For You makes me think of some sort of sharing aesop. Funding Dear Boy seems more to the point.

Nov 9th 2017 at 2:33:17 AM

Compare Paying Their Dues for when an artist needs to take smaller gigs before they hit the big time.

  • Famously inverted by David Bowie. After getting a raw deal on his contract, he spent the next several years producing experimental and highly acclaimed, but not-very-commercial material. When his contract expired, he produced some more mainstream (but again, highly acclaimed) work for the money.

Nov 9th 2017 at 10:45:31 PM

Ok, hold on: doesn't the current title violate No New Stock Phrases ("the use of "them" to refer to an "other"")

Nov 10th 2017 at 12:18:45 PM

Favors Quid Pro Quo or Quid-Pro-Quo Exchange?

Okay, I jumped the gun a bit. The title implies there's a quid pro quo thing going on between two people, but that's not what this trivia article is about.

That first sentence is very confusing since it relies too heavily on the assumption that we all know these three tropes and how they relate to whatever this is. Going off those articles' laconic pages: This is when a good actor or director is contractually forced to do a particular project, but instead of putting the funding to that contractually "agreed on" project, they put the money somewhere else in order to fulfill their artistic vision...?

Nov 14th 2017 at 2:32:32 PM

For the record, the current title is based on a show biz maxim about creators who alternate between doing commercial projects for monetary reasons (i.e., "them") and doing personal projects for artistic reasons (i.e., "you"). Martin Scorsese discusses this rule in his documentary, A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies.

Nov 10th 2017 at 12:23:11 PM

That's still a stockphrase, but now I think it's also suffering from Fan Myopia...

EDIT: It sound identical to "You scratch my back; I scratch yours," by the way.

Nov 10th 2017 at 2:17:33 PM

Changed to "One for the Money; One for the Art"

Nov 14th 2017 at 6:33:29 AM

So many references and nothing about this in description:

See also Only In It For The Money, in which the work made for making money isn't just for personal projects as this trope.

Nov 20th 2017 at 6:25:25 PM

The page quote from Doing It For The Art could be moved here.

Jan 24th 2018 at 10:58:13 PM

I accidentally launched the trope and I don'tknow how to un-launch it.

What do I do know?

Jan 24th 2018 at 11:01:05 PM

^ Ask here. Plus, you should participate first before launching a draft.

Jan 25th 2018 at 6:01:22 AM

Trope's been unlaunched. Please be careful next time.

Feb 18th 2018 at 4:25:53 PM

I'm planning on launching this once I find the exact quote by Martin Scorsese about doing one for them and doing one for you. Until then, feel free to add more examples.

Feb 18th 2018 at 5:07:45 PM

And sometimes, the project done only for the money is the one that takes flight while the project done for the art can't seem to get off the ground.

Feb 20th 2018 at 4:08:32 PM

^ Yes, it's a proposed Trivia page.

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