View Full Version : Is it worth writing a story you don't have the rights 2?

04-21-2005, 07:59 AM
Just curious how this sort of thing works.
Say you have an idea for a screenplay that involves a real news story about someone. And it would be impossible to just write the story without it being specifically about this person.
Do you have to buy the rights from the person in order to move forward or do you just go ahead and write it and hope that whatever studio chooses to do the project will be fine with buying out the rights?


04-21-2005, 08:10 AM
You could write it as an exercise (for your-
self), but there could be legal problems with
your shopping a script for which you have
not obtained the rights. There is also
the chance that someone else has obtained
the rights to the story, and you're wasting
your time.

You do not have to buy the rights. You
can option them. True life rights options
(to shop around a pitch or script) would
normally run around $1500 for an agreed
amount of time.

When the project is set-up at a studio,
they negotiate a price with the true life

I would not commence work on a project
unless you have obtained the rights.

04-21-2005, 09:26 AM

So let's say I contact the person that I wish to write about. With the help of an entertainment attorney, we sign a contract for $1500.00 where I option the rights for say, oh I dunno...18 months. Then, it takes me 6 months to write the script and I have 12 months to shop it around.

If I can't get interest in it I either exercise a pre-determined extension built into the contract or I just lose my $1500 bucks and 6 months work?

Would this be accurate?

I guess the bottom line is I better really love this idea and think I can make it work before going down this road.

By the way, thanks for the reply.


04-21-2005, 10:24 AM
That's pretty much right.

But there are a zillion ideas out there. You
might be better off working on one with no
strings attached.


04-21-2005, 11:10 AM
Point taken.


04-21-2005, 06:53 PM

Best case scenario: it was practice. Practice that you can't sell and can't really show around.

Plus - and I think this is an important part - it doesn't exercise your creative muscles the way coming up with a great original idea nd creating great original characters and scenes and dialogue and everything else would. Be creative.

- Bill