View Full Version : Signed Option Deal

02-09-2005, 02:05 PM
Just signed an option/purchase deal for my second script, a thriller. $10k for six months, actor engagement bonus of $25k, studio set-up bonus of $25k, purchase price is 2% of the budget with a range of $300k-650k if the film is set up with a major or mini-major studio, $125k-250k if it's set up as an independent film. Guaranteed first rewrite at WGA scale plus 10%.

I provide these details for two reasons: first, because there have a been a few questions recently on what to expect from/ask for in an option deal. But more importantly, I hope many of you take encouragement from this deal.

As I've mentioned on this board a few times, I started screenwriting about two years ago. I don't live in L.A. I didn't attend film school. I've never even taken a writing class. I didn't know anyone in the industry. I got my agent the old-fashioned way, by sending out query letters. A big-time, Oscar-winning producer optioned my first script, a rom/com, for $20k for a year. After that option deal, I wrote my second script, and got a manager too. My manager and agent got me the option deal described above on my second script.

For me, this all started because I had a good idea for a movie. So I read two books on how to write a screenplay and read some sample scripts.

This does not mean I'm a "pro" by any means (yet). But I hope I'm on the right track. There can be a lot of discouraging "advice" offered on these boards, so I think it's good to hear the positive stories as well.

02-09-2005, 03:43 PM
Most of the discouraging advice is well intentioned.

Congrats! Keep us posted on the progress.

02-09-2005, 04:09 PM
As far as I'm concerned, if you make money, you're a pro.



William Haskins
02-09-2005, 04:18 PM
congratulations, jack.

02-09-2005, 04:43 PM
Definitely congrats!

02-09-2005, 08:30 PM

Congrats. As a fellow Chicagoan, I take a particular interest and joy in watching your progress. And I like the whole 20k option thing, gives me something realistic to shoot for...

Love your story too. Though it's probably not typical (I think the WGA has a number like the "ninth script" as the average for when their members first got paid or secured membership, something like that) it certainly illustrates the reality that anything's possible when it comes to new writers making their first inroads into this business.

Like the mix of genres, too. Rom Com and Thriller. A lot of folks would probably advise against that kind of strategy, too, I suspect. Following a romantic comedy option with a thriller spec. Go figure--but I love it.

What's next? Some kind of muppet movie? :D

Hey--one more thing. Another thread was talking about marketable specs in terms of concept and budget. How would you describe your optioned scripts? Do they fit that "high concept, low to medium budget" profile that the prevailing wisdom regards as the most marketable spec for a new writer?

02-10-2005, 09:42 AM

In terms of what's next for me, after the rom/com and then the thriller, my third script is a comic book action/vigilante script. My manager and agent currently have it out with comic book companies, seeing if we can set it up with them before going to the studios.

I'm currently writing my fourth script. It's a high concept, broad-based comedy with romantic elements. I'm on about page 75 and am very, very excited about the way this one is turning out. I was hesitant at first to go for the big-laugh humor, but have been surprised to find it coming easier than I thought it would.

As for the two scripts that were optioned, I would say the rom/com is high concept. It could absolutely be made on a lower budget--it's set in L.A. The highest cost would be the talent's salaries.

The thriller also could be made on a low-medium budget. It's a psychological suspense thriller set all in Chicago. Again, the biggest cost would be talent and/or director salaries. Is it high concept? I would say as high concept as most thrillers, with the exception of say a Seven or Silence of the Lambs. To me, thrillers seem to be more about the twists than necessarily having to be as high concept as action or comedies.

02-10-2005, 11:39 AM
Congrats, Jack, and thanks for posting. It's always nice to hear an encouraging success story!

02-10-2005, 04:13 PM
Congrats, congrats, CONGRATS!

02-10-2005, 04:23 PM
there are Chicagoans on this board? I'm in L.A. now, but I'm from Chicago. Anyway, congrats!

So have you already, or are you considering quitting your day job? Just wondering because I always have this fantasy of selling a script and then quitting the next day...


02-10-2005, 08:15 PM
I want to quit and write full time. I really do. The "problem", if I'm being candid, is that I make a lot of money as a lawyer. Screenwriting, not so much. But if I sold a script (as opposed to optioned), I'd do it.

02-10-2005, 08:54 PM
Jack -

Do you know Scott Turow? Lawyer, writer and Chicagoan.

02-10-2005, 09:28 PM
I'm in Chicago too! Chicagoans unite! :D


02-11-2005, 10:03 AM
Landis: Turow's at a different firm than me.

02-11-2005, 01:49 PM

As in, the turnaround theatre?


02-11-2005, 02:11 PM
<----- Chicago

02-11-2005, 03:06 PM
no - not the turnaround theater - just perpetual screenwriting turnaround...

02-11-2005, 11:25 PM
Jack, your story definitely sounds like mine —MINUS the great story, agent, manager, money and somebody looking at it. Seriously though, you’ve accomplished a lot and it’s so refreshing to hear.


“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." – Theodore Roosevelt