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Bunker
11-01-2010, 01:29 PM
I have a high school buddy who's trying to become a producer. Despite being an unconnected noob in Hollywood, he's got tons of hustle and managed to get a project bought and fast-tracked at one of the studios. I was very impressed and VEEEERY jealous.

For his second project, he's secured the rights to a true story and has offered it to me to write.

The story is good, but by no means an easy sell (his first sale wasn't an easy one either). I trust this guy to really push it though. Once his other project goes into pre-production (which it will), he'll have a lot more juice. I, meanwhile, am an unproduced nobody.

Still, there are no guarantees. And when the life-rights expires, my script is legally useless... and a huge waste of time.

The wise advice is always, "Your time is valuable. NEVER work for free." But what's the advice when working with a friend who might be on the verge of getting some legitimate pull in this town?

Knaight
11-01-2010, 02:03 PM
If you're not writing anything else important right now and this is a story that speaks to you, it may be worth considering. It's an opportunity, and if nothing else, a learning experience.

He's your friend, which means he's likely to ask you for more than someone else would, and you're more likely to give it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, you just have to realize it's a possibility.

Even if there's no pay, make sure there's a bombproof contract with terms you both are happy with. Involve a lawyer. Agree on the amount of rewrites you'll do before there's a paycheck involved. You'll be much happier for it.

NikeeGoddess
11-01-2010, 02:14 PM
do you have any of your own scripts that are market-ready or close to it that you can push? if he has some pull then maybe you help him, he help you....

also - you might want to work on a full(10-12 pg) treatment before you write the script and see if he can market with that while you start working on the script. it is tough doing stuff for free but it's part of being in the arts.

Bunker
11-01-2010, 06:58 PM
I'm glad to see that everyone is confirming where I was leaning - take the risk and work for free.

madyellowduck
11-01-2010, 11:52 PM
To reduce the risk for yourself, why don't you tell your friend that you'll do a detailed treatment. He can then shop that around and if he gets some traction (a useful attachment, a director interested, a production company willing to put some time in development), then proceed to the script.

Ulysses
11-02-2010, 02:18 AM
I have a high school buddy who's trying to become a producer. Despite being an unconnected noob in Hollywood, he's got tons of hustle and managed to get a project bought and fast-tracked at one of the studios. I was very impressed and VEEEERY jealous.

For his second project, he's secured the rights to a true story and has offered it to me to write.

The story is good, but by no means an easy sell (his first sale wasn't an easy one either). I trust this guy to really push it though. Once his other project goes into pre-production (which it will), he'll have a lot more juice. I, meanwhile, am an unproduced nobody.

Still, there are no guarantees. And when the life-rights expires, my script is legally useless... and a huge waste of time.

The wise advice is always, "Your time is valuable. NEVER work for free." But what's the advice when working with a friend who might be on the verge of getting some legitimate pull in this town?

I'm no longer sure if "don't work for free" is so good an advice.

Sure, honest people will try to pay you at least something.

Slimeballs will never pay.

So, what's your buddy like? Slimeball or honest guy? How much free writing does he expect?

How did he secure the rights? Did he get them for free? I don't think so.

I think nobody can give you real advice. Just ask questions, and maybe it kicks up an answer in you.

Also: do you like the story? Can you put something together in about twenty hours? Register it, and then see what your buddy thinks.

Bunker
11-02-2010, 11:15 AM
Pitching the treatment won't work on this one. It's such a character piece (ie. small) that the best strategy to get it off the ground is to attach talent, and for that we'd need a script.

And also, Ulysses, he did get the rights for free. I tell ya, he's a charmer.

Ronaldinho
11-02-2010, 05:21 PM
To reduce the risk for yourself, why don't you tell your friend that you'll do a detailed treatment. He can then shop that around and if he gets some traction (a useful attachment, a director interested, a production company willing to put some time in development), then proceed to the script.

I'm not sure this will work when you have a screenwriter without a track record. Many people might only be interested if they have input over who's brought in to write the script. If the project is predicated on a script that's already been written, then the writer can still be replaced but his work has to be bought.

madyellowduck
11-02-2010, 10:21 PM
And also, Ulysses, he did get the rights for free. I tell ya, he's a charmer.

This is a RED FLAG. Has legal problems written all over it.

TurboBard
11-04-2010, 09:30 PM
How long does he own the rights? Weeks? Months? Years? That is important... the longer the better.

Midnite
11-06-2010, 04:35 AM
[quote=Bunker;694055]
The wise advice is always, "Your time is valuable. NEVER work for free." quote]

Yes, your time is valuable, so don't work for free. Read another book about structure. Read a bunch of other scripts. Take a seminar. Do a fourth draft of a script you've already written because with just a little tightening up it'll be a block buster....But by all means, don't ever waste time over something that someone with hustle, ambition and charm asks you "Dude, this story is so cool, that even if it never sells it'll be a great experience to try to do justice to, wanna give it a shot?"...I mean, c'mon, he sounds like a real loser to me.

Midnite

p.s....Check out John August's opinion in the "Articles" forum...

LIMAMA
11-06-2010, 08:42 AM
I would do it ONLY if it was a project that I was totally in love with and would do regardless of being paid or not. A passion project.

Gillyflower Cooms
11-06-2010, 10:11 AM
This is a RED FLAG. Has legal problems written all over it.


Not true...it doesn't matter if he paid for the rights...all that matters is that he has legally got the rights...If the subject signed a ten year agreement for no money then the guy has the rights for ten years. Money isn't the issue...just the contract.

Bunker
11-08-2010, 12:11 AM
He's got the rights for 4 years. His project that he's set up at a studio is also a life-rights story. Same contract, 4 years. And that contract cleared the studio legal team and will begin casting in January.

So, as far as legality goes, I'm not concerned.

I'm just wondering if I should write a script for free.

I wouldn't call the story a passion project for me, but it's a script I'd enjoy writing. The story has great characters and some visuals that I can really have fun with.