View Full Version : Business help please

12-21-2009, 10:21 PM
Happy Holidays Everyone,

I've been working on several revisions of my script with a management/production company who appear to be legit. The company represents several well known writers, directors and producers and I didn't find any negative info on them over the internet.

I've been dealing with this company for the past 6 months over the internet and phone. I've done a total of 4 or 5 revisions to the script (about 8 -10 hours of work without any compensation or offer to option the script).

The head of the company's query department (let's call him Fred) called me in Sept. 2009 and I spent about 2 hours on the phone with him going over the script. I asked Fred if they ultimately like the script, what would be the next step? He said that when his supervisor feels the script is ready, they'll put it into development (which should be the latest version I gave them 2 weeks ago).

Most of the delay with moving forward has been with Fred and his peers reading over the script and suggesting changes. About 90% of their suggestions have been right on point. Once I explained the importance of some of the scenes they wanted me to delete, I was actually able to keep them.

I have read a lot about this subject, as well as spoken with some of my friends who are in the business. Some articles and friends have stated that it's common for companies to get the writer to do a ton of revisions then steal the script, or, simply nothing ever happens at all.

Some articles/friends have stated that as a new writer without a manager or agent, if I start asking companies if they are going to option the script or offer compensation, they may disappear.

Others still, have stated that if the company really wants the script and are legit, they'll compensate me for revisions as part of a development deal.

I'm hoping this company is working with me to help make the script the best it can be. I took a screenwirting course, but what I learned from this company's suggestions appear to be just as valuable as some of the info I learned in the course. I've also had people offering to do coverages of my script for hundreds of dollars, but I was lucky enough to have friends in the business who had invaluable advice and feedback.

This companiy's release form is one of the fairest I've seen (if you can call any release form fair). I had an entertainment lawyer take a look. She informed me that I'd be signing it at my own risk but that the form at least allowed me to settle a dispute through the American Arbitration Association for market value compensation of any protectable material (good luck with that she said).

I also have 5 other companies who have the script, but I'm waiting to hear back from them.

I've been at this for over 3 years and understand how difficult it is to get a foot inside the door. The good news is that every version of my script is registered with the WGA and copyrighted with the LOC. The bad news is, if they want to steal the script, I'll be in court for years fighting it with no guarantee of winning.

Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a million.


12-22-2009, 01:04 AM
My friend was in this exact same position for over a year with a huge company, no contract. After a year of tweaking the phone just stopped ringing. When he finally got through, they said, sorry, we're moving on. Thanks anyway.

It's good that they are collaborating with you. No company just wastes time. You're doing something right. As far as counting on the deal, the old adage is true, there's no deal until the money is in your bank account. (Checks have bounced)

As far as them stealing your idea, if they are a reputable company it is nothing to worry about. You have a paper trail. If they are a shady outfit, then it's a different story.

Use these words that would have saved me a lot of time and money, but are now my best friends-- As per our conversation,____________.

After those long story conference calls or when all the steam is blown at you, follow that convo up with a written email. You'll not only cover your ass, but make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Good luck!

12-22-2009, 01:17 AM
Thanks so much for the info and reassurance. This business is crazy, but I love writing so much, I'm compelled to keep going.



12-22-2009, 06:02 AM
I don't think they'll steal it. But it sounds like you're fairly new to screenwriting. Maybe it just isn't full bodied enough. And anyway, very few scripts that are developed go into production.

But as you say, you're learning a lot about writing, I'd spread yourself a bit thinner though, and work on another script as well. You have to have a few irons in the fire.

And don't invest too much of yourself in a team that doesn't even want an option, but at the same time, stay on good terms with them, they might come through for the next script. Or the one after that.

12-22-2009, 10:32 AM
They aren't likely to steal your work, but you aren't likely to see any money from it unless they do.

Also, consider that they probably have several other projects going with writers in the same position you're in and whichever one (if any) draws lightning will cause them to forget all about the others.

Or Fred gets fired.

Learn what you can. Meet who you can. Try to forge relationships that will serve you again on your next project.

12-22-2009, 11:48 AM
Thanks Everybody.

Very sound advice across the board. I've already started on the next script and have two more concepts on the back burner.

Happy and safe holidays to everyone.