Quirky Voices Presents

MADIVA 407 - Marguerite Kenner and the Business of Voice Acting - get savvy DOOO!

May 17, 2021 Sarah Golding / Marguerite Kenner Season 4 Episode 407
Quirky Voices Presents
MADIVA 407 - Marguerite Kenner and the Business of Voice Acting - get savvy DOOO!
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So I am HUGELY excited to present this HUGELY informative chat on all things business that voice actors should at least have on their radar, if not start to do 'something' about! There are several progression levels to a voice actors career, and in this chat, THE FABULOUS Marguerite Kenner shares some truly important things you need to start to research and plan for... things like what to look for on contracts, where to go for advice, some apps to use etc - to keep you truly business savvy.


(Also if anyone has links to BIOWARE and can get Marguerite that VA gig? Lemme know!)



Links to Marguerites works
Marguerites Twitter
Escape Artists
Link to the contract sample

Other links of audio joy
Wil Williams and Hughouse Policies
Quick Books

Sarah's links of audio joyyy
Sarahs Twitter
Sarah's Quirky Website
ADWIT Podcast
Fiction Podcast News Weekly
Sarah's KO-FI account of funding alllll her projects for TRYING to pay her actors n crew

Support the show

Ping Sarah on @QUIRKYVOICES or send a message to quirkyvoices@gmail.com

Feel free to review and of the shows herein, and if you want to support Quirky Voices works, become a Patreon! You get early works and earlybird eps and discounts for any courses.....



Sarah Golding INTRO

WELCOME TO MADIVA - THE VOICE ACTING CHATTY PODCAST - AND TODAY Its business. It’s business time. Oh no, no no no not in the ‘Flight of the concords’ kind of way - this is not that kind of podcast. No. Here, today, live in your beautifully shaped lovely audio loving ears, we have Marguerite Kenner of Escape artists and more talkin’ specifically to you voice actors on HOW TO GET BUSINESS SAVVY WITH…THE BUSINESS OF PODCASTING. 

Sarah Golding: Hello, people of the world I have for you. One of the people to know, if you need to know things... : ), the wonderful Marguerite Kenner of  so many different, fantastic projects, including escape artists, which include  Cast of wonders and Podcastle and Pseudopod- Oh, so many beautiful things, as well as. Practicing lawyer?! And you do so much. What, what is there that you, you, you don't do? I think it's like  Alasdair. You both are astoundingly talented folks. So welcome. Marguerite! 

Marguerite Kenner: Thank you so much. I think what I don't do might someday become a shorter list. That's very accurate, these days! 

Sarah Golding: Brilliant ...and today's focus, really  is sort of the business side of voice acting. And if I was to say that to you, what do you think you would say to, to give us an enlightenment? What does the business side of acting actually mean to you? 

Marguerite Kenner: Well, , I think it's much like any artists needs to know enough to know when they're being taken advantage of ...one of [00:01:00] my big passions is basically business skills and awareness for creative people. I do a lot of presentations on it at conventions, um, not just on the literature side of things, but now in the podcasting side of things as well. 

Sarah Golding: hUZZAHS! Yesss...  

Marguerite Kenner: So...It's,, it's literally, please, please teach yourself enough to know when somebody is trying to pull a fast one on you and ...know that there are- you don't have to do it all yourself. There are so many people out there who can help you, and there are resources available, but you just need to know a little bit to make sure you're not going to be taking  advantage of.... 

Sarah Golding: Okay, amazing. So how would you go about that then? Or do you, what are sort of red flags, uh, or steps before that moment happens? You think that you should be aware of?

Marguerite Kenner: Well, I think the first thing to keep in mind is that. Like any career, you know, you go through stages, you, you start at a point where you're maybe auditioning or you're doing things with friends, and that has a very different, you know, set of risks.... [00:02:00] associated with it, but then as you maybe progress or you learn it or you advance, you start doing bigger projects and then you need to know a few additional things.

And then if you start going professional about it, you know, this is going to be a primary source of income. Then you have some other concerns that you should probably think about. And then at that point you're tipping into the, I am both a creative person, but. Being a creative person is also what now a small business.

And there are things that you need to think about like... taxes and insurance and other sorts of things that it can be helpful for you to have on your horizon. Again, most of this is just about protecting yourself. It's it's avoiding bad situations. Uh, I mean the best contract in the world. Anticipates everything that could possibly go wrong because that's all a contract is.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: And the contract is, this is what we're going to do. And if these things go wrong, then we're going to do [00:03:00] this. That's it at its most simplest form. Um, and you can't cover every single... thing that's going to go wrong. So we, you know, you spend your time where you're going to get your impact. You think about the big things that could go catastrophically  wrong and you try to cover those....

Sarah Golding: Yes.  Acts of God! I've seen a lot on  contracts lately and things like that. Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: I have done an awful lot, a lot of writing about pandemics in those sorts of contracts lately. Imagine that!?!

Sarah Golding: Yes, it's er...The mind boggles doesn't it?! (LAUGHS UNEASILY)  and if someone is... Getting to that stage where they have been prevalent enough to think, okay, I need to set up something for myself. What sort of steps would you recommend they do, uh, and which sort of forking pathways and that - I mean Forking...can they try?  

Marguerite Kenner: Well, well, let's talk about kind of like the different stages of your career. Like I said, there's kind of like three... there's ,there's when you're starting off and you're just doing things for fun. You probably don't need... anything. [00:04:00] I mean, you need equipment, you need a microphone, you need to know how to use it. And you need to have like-minded friends who want to have you come along for their podcast. Um, The podcast itself at that stage should probably have an agreement that it gives to the people who perform, just so that if they suddenly become the next big hot thing, and Netflix comes knocking with millions of dollars, you've got, you know, you're ready to take advantage of that.

But the performer itself, probably not a whole lot ...when you're at what I would call. ..Second stage. So you're auditioning, let's say more regularly, or you're looking for calls to respond to, or you're being approached to submit auditions. Um, then you're probably gonna need... a friend who can translate a contract for you.

Sarah Golding:  Right.

Marguerite Kenner: That could be a lawyer who works for cookies. Hi!! That could be another   person who deals with contracts professionally, like, like an agent, [00:05:00] either in the literary sense or in the talent sense. Just somebody who can translate things for you. And I can talk. Uh, like my number one tip for, for that level of contract review is you need to look out for the word assign.

Sarah Golding: Okay. 

Marguerite Kenner: And we'll talk a little bit more about why when we come onto kind of, I'm sure we'll get into the nitty-gritty of contracts...  

Sarah Golding: For sure. 

Marguerite Kenner: But, you know, there are top three tricks that you need for that point. But then we move on to what I call stage three, which is... okay. ...You're Semiprofessional in the sense that you are doing this for income, that is one of your primary motivators, whether or not that is all of your income, or you're juggling it with a day job. Um, but you're starting to look at this, not just necessarily as a fun hobby, but as a source of substinence , then there are two things you need... you need.... To talk to someone who understands enough about the legal aspects of your industry, that they can help you answer some [00:06:00] questions. And those questions are things like, do I need to be a company? Do I need to have insurance? 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: Does what I already have in place go far enough ...and you know, Am I comfortable with the types of one pager contracts I've been signing so far, or are there more things that I personally need? Um, I'll give you an example. If I am starting to put together demo reels and clips, you know, promoting myself, then my contracts need to give me the right to use my material for promo reels, which is something you're not worried about, When you're just signing a little, two pager with some friends at the beginning, but when you're putting together professional show reels, and let's say you do something for Marvel, but Marvel says, no, you can't use that. That's a very different position. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Yeah. Brilliant advice. 

Marguerite Kenner: The other thing you need at what I would call stage three. Is, you need a tax professional...

Sarah Golding: Ok. 

Marguerite Kenner: That can either be an accountant. Usually it's an accountant who can also help you with [00:07:00] tax because they're going to be able to help you do what's called tax avoidance. 


And  that's the good thing. That's where you're legally allowed to put structures in place or make decisions that minimize how much tax you pay. That's different from tax evasion. That's when you don't pay what it is, you can't avoid...(Sarah Laughs) Avoidance - , perfectly legal. This that's how Basos makes all his money it's tax in perfectly legal ways. Whether or not they should be legal. That's a whole nother discussion, but if Amazon can do it, so can you. 

Sarah Golding: He's done. All right, hasnt he?! Yeah... , 

Marguerite Kenner: But you need a professional, but if Amazon. Can do it and you can do it, but you need someone who's going to walk you through it because you're, you're now at the point where you're probably making enough money. That, how you receive that money as personal income versus corporate dividends might make a really big difference in how much tax you can legally avoid.

So if you're getting to that stage, not only do you need to find a friend who can help you with contracts, you need to find a [00:08:00] friend who can help you with accounts ....or... there are lots of online platforms that can do it for you or recommend it for you. Like zero is a good one where you can do all your accounting online. I mean, QuickBooks online, all of that kind of stuff, they can point you in. 'Hm. Have you thought about this'? And of course, if you're getting really up there, you probably have an agent and an agent is the person who can help navigate all of this for you. But the first thing you have to do is agree that document that governs how you work with the agent, and then you still need that friend because you got to put that in place first and then you can literally ...people can and do and have been abused by putting their career in their agent's hands.

Sarah Golding: Right. Um, yeah, it's really interesting. Isn't it? How much would it cost for you generally a ballpark for, for getting someone to help with tax, for example?

Marguerite Kenner: That's a good question because I personally [00:09:00] and Alasdair  have never reached that stage. We are in the, we do stuff for fun and we don't do it in a kind of income sort of way. So we've never had to get into the nitty gritty of the financial aspects. Of of audio work. For legal work, nobody in their right mind is ever going to be able to afford paying a lawyer more than once for, for any sort of review. It's just because we're too expensive. And a lot of the industries that we work... You know, that do voice work. We're talking about independent audio drama. There just isn't the money around for it. Those sorts of organizations. And I have worked with them to do exactly this. They, they get one or two agreements that they know they're going to use. They get them vetted and they that's what they use. And it gets them 95% of the way they need to be. It's literally ...find a lawyer you can pay cookies. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: But like I said, you're, you're probably just not going to need that. Most of the time. 

[00:10:00] Sarah Golding: Yeah. I mean, I I'm at a stage where, um, I have Quirky Voices  is, is a sole trader and a bank account and is doing okay. You know, I still have, have to teach alongside, it's not.... like full-time full-time. I have the comfort of a regular teaching, which I think is, is great for any actor. Right? But, uh, yeah, and I, I getting work through my agent too, so I'm still at the stage where I think I can keep it under wraps and... I don't think I quite need advice yet. Their amount of zeros at the end isn't ...isn't enough. 


Marguerite Kenner: you also have the agent that you could ask, because if you have an agent that person works for you. I mean, they take a percentage of your income, but they also do a lot of work in terms of... Career development. And by that, I don't mean getting, just getting you in front of places to audition, but I mean, in helping you get comfortable with ...what will I agree to? What won't, I agree to, what do I want out of my career and out of the work I [00:11:00] do? 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Yeah. And alongside that, uh, I, I'm member of equity so that covers, uh, insurance, uh, areas as well. So that's kind of my current bubbling pot of fun. And I think that's taken a good few years to get to here, but it's, uh, building and getting exciting. So I hope, I hope that  continues..., 

Marguerite Kenner: Yeah, , that's a great aspiration for most people is, you know, to take something that they enjoy and love and get it to a point where it is....mmm...Side hustle, plus? You know, something that that would allow ...if you're in a position to allow it, that would be alongside of reduced day job. And of course, I think we should probably point out here that we're talking about. You know, the UK where things like the NHS exists...

HURRAH FOR THE NHS...quite frankly...Yes

Things that so many of our American counterparts are, or others would struggle with. Like the fact that if you're not full-time employee, you [00:12:00] probably don't have access to healthcare. Um, Yeah, it has to be dealt with, which is just a nice way of saying we all need universal basic income as soon as possible ...

Sarah Golding: Yessss... World needs to be, be kinder in health everywhere quite frankly. Um, especially now, but yeah, I mean, that's really exciting to, to fathom that potential way forward. And where would someone go to get any other advice or help, are there sort of business tools and apps? You've mentioned a few programs and things, but is there, is there anything else that VA should look towards utilizing to get themselves organized? 

Marguerite Kenner: The first thing I'd recommend is check your network because you know, other voice actors and they have similar concerns and issues. So if you have a community of peers, then go there for recommendations, they may be able to recommend the lawyer who works for cookies or the accountant you can buy dinner to help you with your taxes the year you get a big advance or something like that. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: Definitely start with a [00:13:00] network. Uh, the next thing after that, Um, you are a small business.

So that's called an S M E in the UK, a small or medium enterprise. And there is a lot of support out there. Usually at the council level for SMEs, they can, they can make recommendations for professionals. I mean, especially during COVID, there have been some business support grants available for organizations getting started or trying to weather the effects of COVID. After that conventions are a great place to meet like-minded people and resources. And to toot my own horn here, I do give business presentations, ...like at Pod UK... 

Sarah Golding: I heard it, it was astoundingly good. I should have taped it then and there. Right? 

Marguerite Kenner: Well, I'm hoping, you know, pod UK will return. I'm sure. Hoping to do something maybe a little more in depth because one of the things I get very frustrated about. Especially in podcasting, but in voice [00:14:00] acting in general is that as an industry starts to become more mainstream in terms of public focus...

Sarah Golding:  yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: Marketing money starts pouring into the industry which attracts predatory  venture capital...  


Which means that you have to be even more careful about a deal that sounds too good to be true, because it always is. There's a lot of predation that occurs of well working in a buy, everything for your show for $5,000. Doesn't that sound great? And then they sell it to Netflix for 10 million and you're like, WAIT A MINUTE! 

Sarah Golding: Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: And that's why just knowing the basics of what do I  own? What don't I own, what can I do with it? What am I allowed to say yes and no to? Can be really helpful. And are... the industry doesn't make this mainstream. If you go to university for a media production degree. You will probably not take any [00:15:00] business classes or any law classes or any tax classes. And they're absolutely essential if you're going to start a production company on your own and knowing what you need to look for and where you need to get help....

Yeah. I 

Sarah Golding: mean, it is a very vast sea of which I've, you know, just dipping a toe on the edge of the sand. Quite frankly. I've no idea about all that, that side of things. So yeah, I mean, there are any courses or places folks can go to ..to get  savvy other than  individuals, 

Marguerite Kenner: All the ones I know are literally focused on university education. Um, like I've done a couple of lectures, um, speculative fiction courses, like in English departments where I talked about business skills, because I thought it was important. Yeah. But it's an area of education I think is lacking. So again, I think the first place most people are going to start... is with a network or at a convention, and honestly [00:16:00] seeking it out and asking for it because unless there's demand, it's very difficult for people like me to find places to speak about it.

Because if we go to a convention, people want to see live shows. 

Sarah Golding: Sure. 

Marguerite Kenner: And they want to talk about production or they want to talk about, you know, the craft of this creative industry that we're in. Business and legal skills aren't sexy. I mean, some of us are nerds, but they're not sexy. Um, and therefore they don't tend, they tend to fight for it airtime, right.

Alongside other skills. 

Sarah Golding: So we needed to show your ankles. This is what we're saying.

 (THEY LAUGH) But yeah, no, I, I think that key, isn't it. And especially now, as I say, having, I've only been a voice actor for what, six years now. So I'm still, you know, very green  in many things. And this is something I did definitely want to, to get more savvy about and... Due to the nature of me wanting to share, which is why this episode of the podcast is happening, 

Well sounds  great. 

Marguerite Kenner: Should we do an example, maybe? Let's [00:17:00] get in to  one of my top tricks. 

Sarah Golding: Let's do that. 

Marguerite Kenner: One of the most important things, I think any creative person, but especially a VO VA needs to know... is the difference between licensing, and work for hire. So, in a license agreement, you own something. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah.

Marguerite Kenner: Whatever that something is, whether it's a story, whether it's your recording of a story, whether it's your video ...and someone else wants to use .it.A a license agreement, is that the conditions for their use. It's when they can use it. How often. In what formats, for how much money. For how long. But what's fundamental there is that you still own the thing. You are renting it to them on a set of terms. That's a lot of licenses. It's, it's a rental. And then you contrast that to what's called a work for hire .Work for hire is you company... are going to hire me- [00:18:00] professional to do a thing. And what I do, you will own. The classic example of that is a franchise book. For example, let's say I'm James Swallow, and I'm writing a Star Trek novel. I don't own star Trek. I don't own the characters that I'm going to write about in this novel, but I'm going to produce this novel for Marvel or Paramount, or whoever it is.... I ,get confused these days, um, and they're going to own it. So the fee that I make. Covers not the rental of the thing I wrote, but their ownership of the thing I did

Sarah Golding: Okay. 

Marguerite Kenner: 95% of voice work is work for hire. What that means is that someone will come to you with a script that you didn't write. That you will perform to their instructions and then you will [00:19:00] send them the files. And they, the person who paid you owns everything about it.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: They can do anything they want with it. They can mash it up. They can never use it. They can sell it throughout the world. They could sell it to Netflix. Fine. The difference usually is in pay. Yeah, because when you do a work for hire, that's it, you will get one payment. Yeah. If you record a commercial for widgets and that company pays you for the commercial and then sells a million widgets, you're never going to get another penny from that company.

There is no profit sharing in work for hire. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: And it's important to understand the distinction. Remember how I said earlier that my number one tip in a contract is to look for the word assign, assign means to sell. So if someone tells you, look, I [00:20:00] just want to borrow that thing, but the document says, you assign it. Guess what? You just sold it. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. 

Marguerite Kenner: You don't want to sell things in a license agreement, you rent things in a license agreement. Yeah. And it's why professional voice acting rates are high or could be higher, but are higher than we would see in licenses. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah.

Marguerite Kenner:  It's because. You are selling the thing that they are asking you to make you can't use it anymore.

Sarah Golding: Okay. So that is the, I mean, I know Alasdair was saying about whenever he sees the words 'in perpetuity' that it raises alarm bells to just. ...double-check what.

Marguerite Kenner:  He's very well-trained as well. He knows he's not allowed to sign anything unless I've looked at it. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. And I mean, what other things would be sort of alarm bells for you? Is there anything else other than assign to look for? 

Marguerite Kenner:   

Perpetuity is a good one- that means forever. And the law hates things that last [00:21:00] forever. So always be suspicious of that. If an agreement looks ridiculously short, it's probably not going to do what it is you need it to do. If, if you're handed a legal agreement, That's supposed to cover a project and it's less than two sides of A4 for Americans... that's two sides, normal letter paper. It's probably too short. You were talking about resources earlier. I'll give you good example. EA has all of its contracts online. Anyone can go and look at them anytime they want. This includes our narration contracts. So if you wanted to look at an example, You could find it there, and Sarah, I'll give you the link for the show notes 

Sarah Golding: Ah, superb. Yes, please. Thank you. 

Marguerite Kenner: Um, it's probably longer than it could be, but that's because I'm a lawyer, (THEY LAUGH) But... It will cover all of the points that you kind of, that you want to see in a voice contract, which is... what is [00:22:00] the basis? Is this a license or is it a work for hire?

What are the timeframes involved and how many? Back and forth might occur. Like, are we allowed to give you feedback? When does the agreement time out? For example, if someone says, I want to use this thing of yours, but then never gets around to it. After a certain period of time, they should lose that right.


You know, you don't get to be in a house forever. If you only rent it for 12 months -after 12 months, you got to go. Same with an, uh, with a license agreement. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. 

Marguerite Kenner: Um, a good. Work for hire contract should also have what's called a kill fee, which is if they change their minds, they pay you money, whether it's the whole fee or some percentage of the fee, and you go your separate ways. 

Sarah Golding: I haven't heard of that before. I don't think I've seen any of that on any contract I've had , I must've seen quite a few this last year, especially...so that's interesting. 

Marguerite Kenner: They should  have them. [00:23:00] They should have kill fees. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. And, uh, yeah, I mean, as far as, uh, kind of wording is concerned as well, some folks feel kind of slightly overwhelmed, uh, you know, when they get something with legal jargon for want of a better phrase within it. So I guess the best thing is to just, as you've said, already find a, uh, a legal legalees person who can translate and help you. Um, cause yeah, I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? I think the fact that there's things that... people, perhaps haven't come across so much. It Sort of it, feels perhaps a little daunting when you're, you know, pages and pages of things, and you're not quite sure what, what to check through and do. Mm 

Marguerite Kenner: That'sthe next kind of education piece I think I want to do is. I've done kind of the, what I would call IP, you need to know as a creative, you know, what are copyrights? How are they licensed? That kind of thing. Yeah. I think I need to do a contract 101, which of these are the different, big sections of a contract [00:24:00] and what you're looking for and what some of these ridiculous words mean.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: But the big one is assign, always be suspicious of the word assigned. It means sell. And if you don't intend to sell. Don't sign something that says you're assigning. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. I mean, if you're up for it, I would love you to come on to an audio drama hub, virtual pub, if you ever wanted to. And we could get some contracts and have a look and showcase some good and bad that's essentially that'd be grand - super! . And with regards to some other. Other things, folks who have this developing business potential should do. I mean, you mentioned insurance earlier. What, what is that insurance for? Why do people need it? 

Marguerite Kenner: So insurance is who's gonna pay the bill. If something goes wrong. In a business context. It's it's usually we had a contract. We fallen out, and the contract doesn't say who's responsible for this particular scenario. That's where you [00:25:00] want an insurer to step in. Um, insurance can also cover situations that. ...neither side want to deal with, um, so you can take out insurance policies for everything under the sun. Most people have, what's just called, um, self-employment insurance or umbrella insurance, and it sounds intimidating and expensive, but it's really not. Start by calling up whoever you have your car policy or your homeowners policy with and tell them, look, I'm venturing into a small business. I want to know what your small business... policies are? And they'll come back with things that like have millions of pounds or dollars worth of coverage. That's right. You don't want to not have that kind of coverage, uh, because it's for when something goes wrong. For example, if someone sues you. You want an insurance policy, that's going to pay the cost of that defense. You don't want to self-fund [00:26:00] litigation. No one does. That's what insurance is for. That's probably the biggest one, at least in the creative industry is if you get sued or if you have to Sue, because someone has done something they're not supposed to and you need to stop them. 

Sarah Golding: Right. Yeah. I mean, it is common sense, isn't it? And I'm sure you've dipped into insurance in some way, shape or form by now, if you're an adult trying to adult in this crazy world, but yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: Well, that's the other thing to keep in mind is... almost every financial instrument you deal with. Comes with some level of insurance, your credit card, your bank account, your homeowners policy. All of them may have ad-ons for umbrella coverage or litigation coverage. See what those are first. I mean, Much, like we talked about agents are there for you, your insurance agent is there for you. Pick up the phone and make them explain things to you. Especially if you imply you want to buy something, [00:27:00] they're going to bend over backwards to make sure it's clear to you-- check with your bank, and say, look, I'm setting up a small business account. I want to talk about your insurance products. They'll send you glossy flyers and spend time on the phone with you. 

Sarah Golding: That's  I did actually, and it took years of my, my weeks. 

Marguerite Kenner: Uh, it can be a really intimidating process, especially if you're a brand new corporate entity, because you have to do diligence and explain, you'll have to show them your business plan and all sorts of other stuff, but if you're at that stage, You know that stage two plus ...stage three, then not doing that is a risk. You know, that something is going to go wrong. You don't want to be in a position... where you've worked very hard to develop your reputation and your portfolio, and the big name that you've always wanted to work for finally comes knocking. We'll use my example, Bioware , comes knocking and wants you to voice their [00:28:00] next Dragon  age protagonists. 

Sarah Golding: Ahhhh wouldn't that  be cool?!! 

Marguerite Kenner: It is literally my voiceover dream to play even one line.... in a BioWare game.  


That is  like ...ultimate life goals. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. I feel that. I don't know what mine is. I have to think. Keep going.

Marguerite Kenner:  You throw in , a scene where I'm opposite Jennifer Hale. I will just die and go to heaven. And you know, my ascended ghost forms. Hell, record the line... anyway. Yeah. But, but you don't want to be in a scenario where BioWare comes knocking and says, 'Hey, here's our standard contract sign it', which you do because you can't negotiate with a big company like that. And then something goes wrong and then BioWare goes, eh, actually, we're going to Sue you. That's like being sued by Disney. Or Marvel, you know, you don't want to be under the squashed thumb of a major corporate, you need insurance in place. It's going to protect you from that scenario. How likely that is, that's up to you in your career.

And that's the other thing. Keep in [00:29:00] mind, even if you become stage three, even if you've set up your professional banking, you've set up a corporate entity. You've got an accountant, but you don't get anything for a year. Well, okay. Maybe you didn't need insurance then, but the minute the big project shows up.

You need to start thinking about insurance, ideally it's in place beforehand, but you know, it, it's not a, I'm not a stage three unless  I have all of these things. You're constantly evolving 


 It's okay to improve slowly over time. Yeah. I think my, my personal take is what's not okay. Is for people not to realize these are things they need to think about and that they might need help with when they get to that point.

Sarah Golding: I mean, say  if someone is at that point and, you know, branding is key, they need to set up something. Um, what avenues are there other than sort of sole ...  Trader and this sort of LLC, [00:30:00] as well has  sort of been banded about a few times, what, what kind of... potential avenues are there... . 

So a lot 

Marguerite Kenner: of this is going to depend on where you're based in the world. And I'll talk about the UK and the U S because those are the two, I know the best. In the, in the U S you're probably what's called an S-corp, which is. A corporate entity, but the tax position is that you, as the individual pay the taxes and the corporation pays taxes, it's not necessarily the greatest, but it's kind of the default starting place. In the UK, you're probably, um, an LLC, which is a limited liability company that ...let's take a step back here. The reason you incorporate is there are two reasons. One tax avoidance. And two...   Liability. Okay. You, a corporation is a step. It is an air break between you, and the people you do business with. You [00:31:00] want the people who you do business with to interact with the company. And... that's where the financial resolution happens. Not you. To go back to our BioWare example. You want BioWare to Sue your LLC. You don't want BioWare to Sue you as a person. 

Sarah Golding: Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: Those are very different things. And like we talked about with insurance insuring the company is going to be cheaper than it is to ensure you.

Sarah Golding: MMM Grand. . And, and what else is there for sort of those self-employed areas to do? What are the must do's? As in, what should you do? So first steps of, of setting yourself up that way? 

Marguerite Kenner: Um, people always ask me, should I hire a lawyer to set up my company? And the answer is no, don't do that. That's too expensive. There are. ...agencies which exist that can very, cost-effectively create a company for you. If that's what you want. You can also [00:32:00] entirely do it yourself. There are online tools that can walk you through it, but that kind of says you have that comfort level, and you may not. 

Sarah Golding: Mmmm...ok.  

And that's 

Marguerite Kenner: fine, but you can probably set up a corporation for under a hundred bucks...

Sarah Golding: Yep. 

Marguerite Kenner: ...in the U S... and probably under, I haven't done it in a while, under a hundred pounds in the UK. It's not an expensive thing, but once you have it, It needs care and feeding. You'll have to do a couple of annual steps depending on the type of company you have, but they don't have to be very burdensome things. They may be things like, yes, I am exempt from the amount of income required to file accounts. . Yeah. You know, they can be box ticks, but there will be some annual admin associated with it. . 

And what 

Sarah Golding: do you recommend folks do for record keeping and just keeping themselves organized? Are there any good things that you utilize? 

Oh boyyyyy! 

Is s it it's a big quagmire of so much stuff? 

Marguerite Kenner: It can be! [00:33:00] I  like, I think. If you're at that stage where you don't have an accountant and you're kind of doing it all on your own. I think the number one hack I've learned... is get a separate credit card. 

Mmm hmm. 

Even  if that's in your personal name, have a separate credit card that only ever gets the legal expense, you know, the business expenses, because then you have those statements come tax time and it can save you some effort. 

Sarah Golding: Right.

Marguerite Kenner: There are two schools of thoughts. I think when it comes to record keeping, there are people who like to on a monthly basis, jot themselves a note and go, okay, I spent this, this came in, this is outstanding. And there are people who pretend who, who prefer to take a day or two every year and go through the whole year, do it all at once. That's usually around tax filing. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Sounds familiar. 

Marguerite Kenner: There's no, there's no wrong way to do it. What's important is to think about what system is going to work for you and use it, [00:34:00] even if it's, um, I send myself emails all the time. Yeah. I'm a big fan of the spreadsheet. So I am a maintenance person.

Alasdair  is a scream at the computer two days a year person. So, you know, we kind of balance that out by him having... a specific credit card that we only put business expenses on. You know, that that's kind of our strategy. There's no wrong way. The wrong way is not thinking about it. Not doing anything.

Sarah Golding: Okay. Amazing. And I guess just thinking back on, on contracts again, I mean, I, I think just to sum up any issues that might happen, like what if something did happen with a contract and, uh, you know, potentially. You might have an issue or umbrage with the way that you're being treated or someone else on the show is being treated and you want to pull out, where would folks get advice on that kind of event? What should you do? 

Marguerite Kenner: Yeah.  . Well, the first thing I'm [00:35:00] going to do is I'm going to recommend somebody to you, uh, and to the audience. And that is Wil  Williams, who works on Valance pod. Wil . Is very, very focused on making sure that the people in their organization are comfortable and supported, and have these sorts of avenues available to raise concerns. So, um, follow them on Twitter or see some of the writing they've done about how to create a really open, responsive environment for a creative project. When we get into what's called contentions, uh, contentious situations, or we know when we've got a conflict, the first thing I will always ask someone I'm working with in a contentious situation is, do you ever want to do business with this person again?

Sarah Golding: Right. 

Marguerite Kenner: Think of it, like buying a car. You're probably only ever going to talk to the person who sells you a car. ..Once. [00:36:00] You're not trying to build a longterm supported relationship. You're trying to avoid how much you pay for the object that they are the gatekeeper of. 

Sarah Golding: Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: So if, if you're in a situation where... you did a one-off project. You're never going to work for these people again, probably because you had a miserable experience, then it gives you different avenues to explore with the conflict. Then if it's an ongoing ...than it's an issue with an ongoing relationship and you want to still be working together in the future?

So ask yourself that. Are you willing to burn this bridge? Basically. Because if you're willing to burn a bridge, you can play hard ball. You can dig in your heels, and you know, the ultimate, the ultimate threat in a contentious situation is... I don't agree, Sue me. 

Sarah Golding: Okay. 

Marguerite Kenner: And see what happens, you know, very American. I appreciate, uh, that's the other thing I got to say here? 

Frightning - yeah.  

My beloved [00:37:00] people from the British Isles. 

Sarah Golding: Healleauuuu! .

 I know, 

Marguerite Kenner: and people who find conflict difficult... find an advocate. That's literally what lawyer means. Advocate find someone who will speak on your behalf and who can take the anxiety and the tension... or the socially induced reticence that you feel in these situations ...and filter it for you.

Don't do this alone. You can definitely find someone. I mean much like if, if you have difficulty with a doctor and you may bring someone with you to speak to the medical professional, do that in a, in a dispute situation, find someone who. We'll speak for you and allow you to give yourself the distance from something that you might need to. Don't stick your head in the sand and hope it will go away. Nine times out of 10 that makes it worse. 

Sarah Golding: Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: But think, think first about what's important to you in this situation. Is it that... your [00:38:00] name is removed from association with these people? Is it that ...you don't have to pay them, or do something for them? Is it that they must pay you or do something for you? Think about what you want out of a conflict... before you start figuring out how you're going to get there. Because a lot of times I just see people go, well, the contract says X. It's like, well, but the contract doesn't say Y and I want Z and the contract doesn't say anything about Z. So you got to know kind of what it is you want before you can make good plan to get it.

Sarah Golding: Brilliant. Thank you. And are there any other places or resources folks can go to get groovy  advice or read up a little bit more, get a bit more savvy on these kinds of issues? 

Marguerite Kenner: Oh, let me think. Um, I don't want to recommend legal resources because I mean, that can be dry reading. Even for me, let's be honest.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Much prefer fiction, much  prefer [00:39:00] fiction. 

Marguerite Kenner: . Oh yeah. Well, I think most of us do, let's be honest. Um, 

Sarah Golding: I honestly, I find money scary... and I'm not a money person or finance or conflict person, although I do like playing a villain, but...

Marguerite Kenner: ... which is very, very common in the creative industry. Again. It's not an industry where financial awareness or risk awareness or business skills are taught. So yeah, lots of people are in this situation. I think step one is to just make yourself aware of the fact that. You've got to find a way to deal with some of this, because it will start to stymie your ability to progress professionally. If as your career picks up, you're terrified to read or return a contract because then you'll start, stop getting offered them.

Sarah Golding: Yeah, no fair point. 

Marguerite Kenner: And the second step is find people who will help you. We exist. I mean, there are lots of lawyers out there. But not all of them speak [00:40:00] and understand the language of creative industries. Those are important resources to cultivate and they're good friendships to have. 

Sarah Golding: Yes. Especially in podcasting, which is burgeoning  isn't it ... and blooming and all those kinds of words into some fun places.

Marguerite Kenner: And more importantly, I think it's right, right now, especially the Indi. Podcast's scene is starting to have that marketing...

Sarah Golding:  yeah...

Marguerite Kenner: ... guru money turn its direction, which means it's starting to become predatory 

Sarah Golding: Whistle and I'll  come to you.  Yes  it's...yeah... 

Marguerite Kenner: Well, or, or it's if this fool doesn't know any better. So if I,a  venture capitalist, offer them an amount of money, which is nothing to me, but looks  significant to them.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: And exploit them by taking everything that they own in this project and then turn around and flip it to Netflix. The creative didn't get anything out of that at all. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Marguerite Kenner: So people had need to be aware that. [00:41:00] Something that sounds too good to be true. Usually is. 

Sarah Golding: Yes. 

Marguerite Kenner: And they should find someone who can help them.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. I just always think of' lollipops...all  free today'. Cause i think  there's, there's so much to be said for that. And it is about making yourself a bit more savvy, as you're leveling up, as you're getting these,... more and more kind of... contracted works. And there are still quite a few shows that don't yet, and I, as I've spoken with Alasdair,   , it's key to maybe just ask for some kind of written agreement of, of what is being done and for, for whom and by when, um, at least... so you've got something in writing, because as Marguerite  has just said, you know, if that project does go on to be more successful, at least you're entrenched somehow in the cogs, perhaps.

Marguerite Kenner: I mean, that's a good first step. If you're approached by someone who admits, they don't know what they're doing and you don't know what you're doing, but you want to do a thing. Yeah. Write something together. 

Sarah Golding: Yep. 

Marguerite Kenner: Put bullet points in an email together, which says you're going to do X by [00:42:00] Y. I'm going to do Z by a, if money comes into it, this is how we're going to deal with it. We're both going to own what we bring or we're going to decide that we own it together. You know, just cover the basics and it doesn't have to be in any sort of legal language. A memo of understanding an email like that, but just tries to capture some of the broad strokes can save you so much time down the road.

Sarah Golding: Fantastic. So they yago  folks if you... You have been thinking about it, get proactive about it now and just jump in. And, uh, I'm sure that, uh, that Marguerite will be truly happy to receive any more, uh, more than cookies I feel... Marguerite,  for helping in, uh, in, in, in your endeavors. So, so yeah,  have a browse of the website and look at  all the things we've mentioned today, and have a look around and see, see what other people are doing. Ask folks, you can happily ask me. [00:43:00] Privately, let you know what I'm up to. Um, but yeah. Thank you so much, Marguerite, . I think there's so much fantastic advice in there and it is essentially about communication. Isn't it? And if you don't know something, find it out from someone who does. 

Marguerite Kenner: Don't be afraid to ask. I mean, you're not alone in maybe not knowing what it is you don't know. And there are plenty of people out there who could either point you in the right direction or ,just tell you. Yeah, I don't know that either. Let's go find out together. 

Sarah Golding: Superb. Holding hands, skipping off into a beautiful sunset. You know, I, I love that. Thank you. And, uh, yeah, I'm, hopefully this has been, been helpful, at least you getting to think about what you need to do next. If you're stage one, two or three ...and if you are at  three. Good luck to you. ER...Gis a  job! 


Marguerite Kenner: Let us know when BioWare comes calling, would you?

Sarah Golding:  You know, I would, I think we should all make that our life's mission to help Marguerite  get that. I think if you're ever in a position to do that, listening to this podcast, You know, make it [00:44:00] so, uh, (They Laugh!) Super!   Well, thank you, and have a wonderful rest of whatever's happening in this, this glorious month. I know you're busy editing, and writing, and lawyering, and all sorts of things. 

Marguerite Kenner: Not a lot of sleep going on these days.

Sarah Golding: I'm with you on that.... sleep sleeps for people who... who aren't creative. Uh, and, uh, yeah, I, I hope, er  the next year has got some beautiful things in store for you and yours. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise today. You superstar. 

Marguerite Kenner: Thank you very much for having us both on. I appreciate it. 

Sarah Golding: It's been lovely to talk to you. I've learnt  loads ! Thank you! Super! . Okay. Thank you. Bye-bye!! 

Marguerite Kenner: Fantastic. Have a good one. ..

Sarah Golding: Woohoooo! 

Marguerite Kenner: Talk  to you later. BByyyyyyyye....



Needing someone to translate contracts
Differences between licensing and work for hire
'Assign' and what it means and why to look out for it in a contract
Different business setups, SME n LLC etc
Message to the 'beloved people of the British isles'