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Hamakimon
01-17-2007, 12:18 PM
The other day I answered an ad in a magazine where someone was looking for help writing a screenplay. Basically the guy has an idea for a movie and wants it transformed into a script. The guy doesn't speak a whole lot of english (I am in Japan) and wants me to basically turn his idea into a screenplay.
My dilemma, do I charge him for writing the script? Do I wait and try to split the money if the script sells? Is charging him for writing the script normal under these circumstances? If so, how much should I charge? Thanks for the help!

ylekot43
01-17-2007, 12:23 PM
Well, chances are the script will never sell. Your price should be based on both your experience and success. You should also inform the purchaser that chances are very high his hard-earned cash won't see a return on the investment.

Have you written a screenplay before? I can't even begin to describe how much effort goes into a good script.

WritersBlock2010
01-17-2007, 01:41 PM
As ylekot43 said, I would be VERY up front about your experience, or lack there of with writing screenplays because you can open up Pandora's box if you misrepresent yourself to this person in a formal business relationship (it can be considered fraud in legal terms).

Hamakimon,

I would ask yourself these questions before you commit either way:

1) Have you ever written anything for someone other than yourself before?

This is very important because unless you have the experience of writing something for another person you might lack the objectivity you need to effectively deliver the product you have been commissioned to write.

This is not a slam against you personally, but depending on your experience (or lack of) this is one of those subconscious things you may not realize until it is too late and tempers are flaring and everything is ready to fall apart at the seams due to "creative differences".

2) What have others said about the scripts you've written for yourself?

I think this is equally important as the first question and it is one you must be very honest with yourself about if you hope to succeed both as a writer and with this assignment if you choose it.

If people say you are good screenwriter and are demonstrating the basics (beyond mechanics) concepts like act structure, beats, characterization, internal and external conflict, etc. then you will stand a better chance delivering something closer to what this person wants, if not exactly what they want (which I assume is a sale/option/industry read).

If, however, people still think you should study more then I would take this to heart and turn down this offer because it means you are not ready and this will only serve to make not only one person (yourself) unhappy with the final result, but now two (you and this other person who hires you) if you decide to ignore your critics and forge ahead with what you do know in a futile attempt to deliver a product the caliber that is expected of you.

frankts1
01-17-2007, 01:54 PM
The other day I answered an ad in a magazine where someone was looking for help writing a screenplay. Basically the guy has an idea for a movie and wants it transformed into a script. The guy doesn't speak a whole lot of english (I am in Japan) and wants me to basically turn his idea into a screenplay.
My dilemma, do I charge him for writing the script? Do I wait and try to split the money if the script sells? Is charging him for writing the script normal under these circumstances? If so, how much should I charge? Thanks for the help!

So, my first question to you is: Have you ever seen Sunset Boulevard? If not, I suggest you watch it, as it is a great study on exactly what you can get out of such a partnership. They can be quite lucrative if you find the right mark.

Of course, William Holden was a fool. If he'd played his cards right, he would'a had a nice setup...

EJ Pennypacker
01-17-2007, 02:02 PM
Ham,

The business side of things should really be taken care of by this person, not you. That said, guidelines need to be established and contracts signed.

To be honest, it sounds like you should be working on your own projects if things are this murky thus far - and not someone elses ideas.

EJ

EJ Pennypacker
01-17-2007, 02:40 PM
If the guy can't speak English very well, he won't really know how good the finished script really is.

Owch. :) a good point indeed. lol.

EJ