View Full Version : Producer wants option - what should I do?
expat in LA
03-23-2001, 05:17 PM
I've just had a meeting with a producer who wants to option my script for 12 months - no money down - just a percentage of the budget when packaged. She will also work with me to make some changes we both agree would help.
As this is the first real offer I've had for the script, I'm not sure what I should do.
A cashless option doesn't pay the bills that's for sure, but then on the other hand, a script gathering dustn't either.
As I have to make a decision soon, I would really appreciate it if anyone had any comments or experience regarding options.
03-23-2001, 05:37 PM
Ex - first thing you need to do is come to the complete understanding if this producer is legit. Does she have credits? Does she have the resources and connection to get your movie made? Is she a one-person operation working out of her garage? This is not the kind of person you want to lock your script up for 12 months to.
I advise you not to do it. You're doing her more of a favor by giving a free-option then she is doing for you. You didn't become a screenwriter to be in the charity business.
Real producers offer money when optioning a script. The fact that she isn't offering money speak loads.
You say your script is going to collect dust if you don't take this offer. But if it caught the attention of this "producer," don't you think it's good enough to catch the attention of a real producer?
How are you going to feel when 12 months go by and this lady can't get your movie off the ground? An entire year of time that could have been spent showing it to other people.
03-23-2001, 11:46 PM
Ex - you're not responding to any of our advice. Should I assume you're going to go through with this?
03-24-2001, 12:03 AM
It sounds to me like she's expecting to BUY the screenplay from you, for what most producers would option it.
(you will get a percentage of the budget) -- that is sale price
I smell something fishy, and I didn't just come from Red Lobster.
expat in LA
03-24-2001, 12:22 AM
Crash, I am taking all your advice on board. I only spoke to her today and am still contemplating my next move - that's why I need you guys to give me input, which I appreciate.
Let me pose another question. Do you think having an optioned script will help get a foot in the door for future scripts with agents and bigger producers, and for that reason alone would it be an advantage to go with this option.
03-24-2001, 12:25 AM
No, because there's no money involved. What is the agent going to make 10% off? Your good looks?
03-24-2001, 12:58 AM
I signed two free options like you mentioned a few years ago and you know where they got me - Nowhere!
The first free option was with Longbow productions and it was for a year. Within the first month, they took the script to USA Pictures and it was rejected. Guess what they did with my script after that? Nothing! For the next eleven months it was under a contract so no one could look at. It sat on a shelf collecting dust. It was most unfortunate because at the time two other companies were interested in it but my agent advised me that they were the most likely to make it into a movie. Three years later and I'm still trying to sell it.
The second free option, I signed even though I swore I would never do a free option again after the first one, was done because I wasn't on any radar screens and I hoped that this would help. It didn't, but thankfully for me I talked the producer into a three month option rather then a year because the producer went to get financing three days after I signed and his backer decided the script wasn't there cup of tea. He never attempted again to do anything with it so it would have sat for a year on a shelf.
Producers who do free options have several scripts in their suitcase so when one is turned down they are like "Okay, how about this one or this one or this one..." It is like pick a card.
If you sign, do a six month or less option. If your script caught someone in the business's eyes chances are that someone else will like it so you don't want it contractually tied up for a year and nothing is being done. Also if they can't get something done in six months then they aren't wholeheartedly into it anyway in my opinion( I'm talking getting the ball rolling on some level).
Will signing an option get you more in the door? Not really. Some agents are like "so what." One agent told me that they hand out options like car wash pamphlets in this town. I've gotten two small boutique agents over the last four years through query letters and they seemed to care more about the synopsis of the script then a mention of an option. So for me it hasn't changed anything to much. I'm still playing in the bush league waiting for that sale to put me over a hurdle. I for one will never ever do a free option, but I wish you good luck. It is a hard choice for people like us who want to get somewhere in this business, but are constantly getting nowhere.
03-24-2001, 01:07 AM
Get some payment from the option at least. It doesn't have to be a huge amount; just a figure that you're comfortable with. You come to an agreement with her, in writing about a price. Please don't bind yourself to anyone for no money upfront at all.
It's like regular work. I wouldn't take a job where the boss pays me only if he decides to.
Crash is right. If another producer becomes interested and you've optioned it to her for free, she's gonna hang onto it for as long as humanly possible. For free. You'll feel cheated if the next guy was willing to pay for it.
You slaved over the script. Get something for it and get it in writing.
03-24-2001, 01:15 PM
One other thing to keep in mind along with all of the above:
A free option is just that in many other ways, meaning... if a person or even yourself gives a writer say $10,000 to option a script then how driven are you going to be to get something done with that project? Pretty driven I think. That's $10K and you want to earn that money back!
But if you get something for free, then how much is it worth to you? Not much. "Damn I never got that script going. Oh well, no big loss." If the producer has something real at stake they will be much more driven to do something with the project. A year is a long time out here. A lot can go on. If they really believe in it then they should be able to put their money where their mouth is.
The only compromise I'd suggest would be a few dollar option (to make it legal) for three months possibly. But for an entire year, get a little something more.
06-29-2001, 01:31 PM
WONDERFUL advice for us newbies hicks! :hat Thanks.
06-29-2001, 10:15 PM
Two words: perceived value!
07-05-2001, 02:18 PM
If she really wants the option, she should at least come up with somethingk, like $500 or $,10000, for a year. Otherwise, talk her down to a few months. If you love your script and want to keep pitching it, then it's not worth NOTHING. You might still be able to find someone who has the same taste as you...why have it under contract to someone who's giving you zip? On the other hand, if this person is powerful and a worthwhile contact, maybe it will help you...but if she were that worthwhile, she might be able to part with $500 or $1,000.
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