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5townsguy
03-20-2011, 03:58 PM
My partner and I wrote a pilot which someone read and brought to a production house. We were told that the production house wants to shop it, but the person who brought it there wants a finders agreement before that happens.
Does anyone know if there is a form letter for these things or if not, where can I get help with writing one out?
Thanx

Mac H.
03-20-2011, 05:19 PM
Let me get this straight.

This person claims that the production house wants to shop it.

But the production house has agreed not to shop it until you work out a deal where someone else gets paid?

Does that seem right? If the production house wants to shop it - they will. They need to make an agreement with you .. not with anyone else.

It is simply unethical for someone to pass on your work and then say "they want to work with it .. but I've told them not to until you agree to a contract to pay me."

People pass scripts to others all the time. This person isn't an agent or a manager. If they are in California then it seems like they are trying to act as an unlicensed literary agent. If so - any contract they make with you is unenforceable anyway.

Obviously I don't have all the fact ... but it sounds like this is a low-life bottom feeder.

Good luck,

Mac

catcon
03-20-2011, 06:58 PM
In my extremely limited understanding of things, but where something like this happened to me, I told the "middle-man" to make sure he made some sort of a deal to get exec. prod. from the production company. That he wasn't my unauthorized agent/manager etc. and wasn't going to make money from me. Is this about right?

I never heard from him again, incidentally.

Juno Styles
03-20-2011, 08:35 PM
There are tons of templates online. If there's real money on the line you may want to get a lawyer to draft one though.

michaelb
03-20-2011, 08:59 PM
Let me get this straight.

This person claims that the production house wants to shop it.

But the production house has agreed not to shop it until you work out a deal where someone else gets paid?

Does that seem right? If the production house wants to shop it - they will. They need to make an agreement with you .. not with anyone else.

It is simply unethical for someone to pass on your work and then say "they want to work with it .. but I've told them not to until you agree to a contract to pay me."

People pass scripts to others all the time. This person isn't an agent or a manager. If they are in California then it seems like they are trying to act as an unlicensed literary agent. If so - any contract they make with you is unenforceable anyway.

Obviously I don't have all the fact ... but it sounds like this is a low-life bottom feeder.

Good luck,

Mac

Finders fee's and agreements are a regular part of the business. It happens when people bring financing to the table all the time. And they are not representing the project or an unlicensed literary agent, they in theory, are working on a producorial level by bringing group A and group B together to make a project happen. Many times people also look to gain a credit on the film as well.

I'm not saying in any way that I approve or disapprove of this, just pointing out that it is not something that is irregular.

Ronaldinho
03-21-2011, 12:53 AM
Finders fees aren't that uncommon - but nobody expects a finders fee for passing a script to a friend.

eg, one project I had set up was brought to the company that optioned it by a producer at a different company. He brought it to them with the idea of him being attached as a producer. That was his "finders fee" and it was a relationship between the two of them.

But HE got the script originally from another producer, who worked at a bigger company, who passed it on because it wasn't something that was appropriate for his company, but he loved it, and he had a friend who he thought might be the right guy for it. That sort of thing happens all the time and what he got no direct compensation for it as part of the deal.

Ultimately, unless you have some sort of shopping agreement with the guy who took it to the company, he's not ENTITLED to anything, certainly not anything from you. If he's asking for a cut from you for showing it to them, tell him to take a hike. If he's asking for a cut or a role in the project from them (an associate producer credit, or something like that) that's between the two of them - but the prodco should have the legal werewithal to handle the wrangling on their own.

But unless there are circumstances you aren't telling us about, I fail to see why you would be the one hunting for a "finders fee agreement" - why this guy would feel entitled to anything from you. He might be entitled to gratitude, favors in the future, a meal (we got the producer at the big company an engraved ipod in thanks - but it was a gift!).

Juno Styles
03-21-2011, 01:23 AM
i've come across people like this. a guy that has access to some "important person" and is trying to just get a piece of the action anyway possible by "attaching himself as a producer" even though they've never produced and/or basically saying if we sign a finder's agreement then I will pass it along. these type of people typically have no real type of talent and are just looking for any kind of way to get paid hoping your project could be their next lottery ticket.

Mac H.
03-21-2011, 04:54 AM
Finders fee's and agreements are a regular part of the business. It happens when people bring financing to the table all the time.Exactly. For bring financing.

But, as far as I can tell, the original question wasn't about this situation at all.

It wasn't about someone who brings funding - it was about someone who is trying to find a buyer for the literary work.

I know - I'm just grumpy because of lack of caffeine. But they do seem to be very different things.

Mac

Done Deal Pro
03-21-2011, 10:17 AM
Considering it's a bit after the fact, this might not help much, but here is a "boilerplate" example of a Shopping Agreement from our EXAMPLES section:

http://www.donedealpro.com/members/details.aspx?object_id=477&content_type=1&section_id=13

As noted in there, the company that the script is taken to is the one that pays the writer and also the finder. The writer doesn't pay out of pocket.

You could always try to work out something similar to what a lot of actors do for certain low paying roles -- the old "scale plus 10%." In this case, you would get paid X amount for the script plus say 5% to this person for bringing it to the company.

The person shopping this around for you should have had you sign something like this BEFORE they started showing it to anyone, of course. It's a bit late now. I'd have an attorney carefully look over any paperwork you sign with any of these parties, especially this person "shopping" it for you.

Also, what Juno said.

5townsguy
03-21-2011, 07:27 PM
Thanx for all the replies. Maybe i didn't make mysself clear. This person brought the script to a production house. They want to meet with me as the writer.
This person wants something for bringing the script to them...if they produce it. The shopping agreement has nothing to do the the person. That would have to be worked out between me and the production house.
What I was asking was what kind of finders fee agreement could I draw up with this person. It would be based on the sale of the script to the production house.
Any suggestions?

Juno Styles
03-21-2011, 08:01 PM
dood there's all types of stuff online -- some even free available for copy and paste. this first result under screenplay finders fee (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/46887819/Screenplay-Financing-Finder-Agreement) pulls up an example of what you're looking for. if something like that doesn't fit your needs then you need a lawyer to draw one up. ultimately you and him will have to come to an agreement and make sure the contract reflects that.

Ronaldinho
03-21-2011, 09:11 PM
Thanx for all the replies. Maybe i didn't make mysself clear. This person brought the script to a production house. They want to meet with me as the writer.
This person wants something for bringing the script to them...if they produce it.

Is this person acting as your agent or manager?

Tell us about this person? Is he just someone who passed it to someone he knows? Please give us more information about who this person is so we can understand the context of what he's asking for,

Honestly, since he didn't work out these details in advance, it sounds a lot like he did you a favor and now wants something for it. I don't see why you would have to owe him anything, or why he would be able to slow down the process of you meeting with the prodco.

If I read a script from a friend and knew a producer it would be good for, I would pass it to the producer. I would not expect anything more than a dinner or a nice bottle of wine - and, of course, reciprocation, if he feels that something of mine is a good fit for someone he knows.

This person seems like they're overstepping boundaries, and I'm asking questions about them so I can get a sense of whether or not there's something that I'm overlooking about this deal which makes his request not absurd.

You don't get to pass people scripts, and then once somebody might do something with it, say, "Oh, by the way, you owe me something for it." This is absolutely, positively, not okay.

Dock
03-21-2011, 11:13 PM
If I read a script from a friend and knew a producer it would be good for, I would pass it to the producer. I would not expect anything more than a dinner or a nice bottle of wine - and, of course, reciprocation, if he feels that something of mine is a good fit for someone he knows.

you're comparing someone like yourself with a bit of class and humbleness to some guy who's obviously trying to see a significant payday for a hookup though :)

i recently just passed a script along to someone who is connected to many studios. they don't want a dime. they are just interested in the work and since they already work in the business they're doing it on the humble. i've also encountered people who are moreso motivated by money and wanted to do a finder's agreement -- this person wasn't in the business so it was understandable. he just knew a guy who was loaded and was looking to produce a movie.

bottom line -- if there's real money on the table then get a lawyer to do the agreement. otherwise draft one up yourself based on simple and plain verbage. i'm not sure what other suggestions you're looking for in regards to getting a finder's agreement drafted. it's either one or the other (unless you're looking for suggestions on how you should handle the situation....and in that case you need to be more specific and reveal more details to the situation you're in)

5townsguy
03-22-2011, 04:51 PM
This guy is an aquaintance of my writing partner on the project. He showed the script to a boutique production house...without my knowledge. My partner may have okayed him to do it, but I didn't press the matter with him. Yet!
My partner and I met him for coffee. He told us that this particular Prodco liked the script (a pilot for TV) and wanted to shop it. He then told us that he wanted a finders fee or agreement of some kind BEFORE he set up a meet with the dudes at the Prodco.
I've roughed out one, sent it to my partner who will send it on to him. This is totally separate from any shop agreement that would have to be drawn up with the Prodco.
I'm not really pleased with the guy's m.o., but if it is for real and we get the meet and then the SA...
That's about it, so far. Anymore thoughts?

catcon
03-22-2011, 05:57 PM
After reading threads like this, I usually review The HW Minefield (http://www.whiteowlfilms.com/minefield.html) to wrap my head around how this business works.

Ronaldinho
03-22-2011, 06:13 PM
This guy is an aquaintance of my writing partner on the project. He showed the script to a boutique production house...without my knowledge. My partner may have okayed him to do it, but I didn't press the matter with him. Yet!
My partner and I met him for coffee. He told us that this particular Prodco liked the script (a pilot for TV) and wanted to shop it. He then told us that he wanted a finders fee or agreement of some kind BEFORE he set up a meet with the dudes at the Prodco.
I've roughed out one, sent it to my partner who will send it on to him. This is totally separate from any shop agreement that would have to be drawn up with the Prodco.
I'm not really pleased with the guy's m.o., but if it is for real and we get the meet and then the SA...
That's about it, so far. Anymore thoughts?

Yeah.

F him.

Unless your partner made an agreement with him beforehand. Talk to your writing partner first. I mean, even still your writing partner doesn't have the ability to make that sort of deal without your consent, but really - why aren't you talking to your writing partner about this?

You don't need him to set up the meeting with the prodco. Call them yourself. Say, "Hi. We wrote such-and-such, and we think we should get together and see if we're a good fit."

Again, what is he asking for?

Before running around looking for paperwork, you NEGOTIATE. You talk to the guy, find out what he's asking for. I would send him an email saying, "What do you think would be appropriate?" long before going to any sort of paperwork.

I mean, I'm still probably going to say F him - with the difference being if your writer promised him something or not - but I want to know what his angle in.

Again, and you didn't answr this - WHAT IS HIS LEVEL OF INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE? WHO IS HE, IN THE BUSINESS?

IT's really hard to give you good advice when you don't seem to be willing to give us much information.

It sounds like you're a total newbie when it comes to the business side of things. All I can say is: don't sign anything, don't agree to anything, get a lawyer.

Free legal advice on the internet from non lawyers is worth exactly what you pay for it, so it's hard for me to give you specifics. I'm not a lawyer.

But this smells really really rotten, and I don't understand why he needs you. You know the name of the prodco - you can call them.

I don't trust this guy any further than I can throw him.

Why are you sending him paperwork when you can't tell us what he's asking for in any sort of specifics?

This is madness. You're going to get f'd.

And the reason you're going to get f'd is because you're not communicating with your writing partner and you're impatient. You're in a rush and you're not taking the time to listen to the advice you're getting before acting.

Ronaldinho
03-22-2011, 06:24 PM
I also wonder why the hell you were the one roughing up paperwork for his approval rather than vice versa.

He wants a deal. You don't. Why did you start doing the legwork?

Ug. The more I think about this the more I hate it.

ihavebiglips
03-22-2011, 06:44 PM
I also wonder why the hell you were the one roughing up paperwork for his approval rather than vice versa.

He wants a deal. You don't. Why did you start doing the legwork?

Ug. The more I think about this the more I hate it.

Agreed. **** this dude.

MrEarbrass
03-22-2011, 06:51 PM
After reading threads like this, I usually review The HW Minefield (http://www.whiteowlfilms.com/minefield.html) to wrap my head around how this business works.

I think that is the most unwittingly hilarious website I have ever read; it also explains so much about your posts. Thank you for the link.

5townsguy
03-23-2011, 04:28 PM
I'm taking some of the advise. First meet with my writing partner, then get the finder's guy to explicitly state what he wants either by email or... At least that way I can show it to a lawyer and/or this board. Thanx for the wake up call!

DavidK
03-23-2011, 05:17 PM
This guy is an aquaintance of my writing partner on the project. He showed the script to a boutique production house...without my knowledge. My partner may have okayed him to do it, but I didn't press the matter with him. Yet!
My partner and I met him for coffee. He told us that this particular Prodco liked the script (a pilot for TV) and wanted to shop it. He then told us that he wanted a finders fee or agreement of some kind BEFORE he set up a meet with the dudes at the Prodco.
I've roughed out one, sent it to my partner who will send it on to him. This is totally separate from any shop agreement that would have to be drawn up with the Prodco.
I'm not really pleased with the guy's m.o., but if it is for real and we get the meet and then the SA...
That's about it, so far. Anymore thoughts?

I just read this. He sounds like the sort of guy you don't want to do business with. What he's doing is more like blackmail than business. My gut reaction is to tell him to forget it - thanks, but no thanks. Someone earlier suggested treating him to a meal or a good bottle of wine - a reasonable person would be happy with that.

How sure are you about his claims? Remember, boutique prodcos look at lots of stuff they like and try to shop but rarely does it result in anything. If you really want to follow it through ask him to draft an agreement for a finder's fee and when you agree on an amount tell him it becomes payable when the production goes ahead and you receive your first check. Offer him 5 percent of your fee for one episode or the pilot. Make sure that agreement specifies that the finder's fee is the absolute end of his involvement. I mean, what has he really done for you so far, apart from hold you to ransom? Personally I think he's being a complete jerk about this. Sheesh...

5townsguy
04-30-2011, 12:29 PM
It's been awhile since my last post. But your replies were spot on. Now, I've had the meet with the Prod. Company. Basically, they want me to give them an idea on the points below so they can pass it on to their attorney and counter. What they offer basically is to pass the script on to three entities (all major studios) and set up a pitch meet. At least that's how I remember him phrasing it. They would not be involved in producing or financing the script in any way. It seems they would act as any agent or manager would. Number (4) is what I find totally weird, especially if that's all thy're doing for the project. Any comments would be helpful.

1. Length of Shopping Agreement.
2. Owners and Addresses of the material.
3. Any special terms you would like for us to present.
4. % of Ownership of the Project

HomerS3
05-03-2011, 10:22 AM
I'll be honest. This all seems very sketchy. What kind of producer sets up a project without wanting to be attached to produce?

And, no, they don't get any "ownership" of your script for simply submitting to studios. Unless this is a termed option agreement.

But they don't want to produce...

Be careful.

Juno Styles
05-03-2011, 11:56 AM
Number (4) is what I find totally weird, especially if that's all thy're doing for the project. Any comments would be helpful.

1. Length of Shopping Agreement.
2. Owners and Addresses of the material.
3. Any special terms you would like for us to present.
4. % of Ownership of the Project

You should just try and ask for clarification rather than assuming or wondering. I had a producer ask me some broad question like that over email once, asked him to elaborate and he did. Boom.

5townsguy
05-03-2011, 03:05 PM
I've just fired off an email asking the producer to elaborate on the % of ownership. I'm begining to think he's being purposefully sketchy so that I make the first step in this. Thanks to all.

Juno Styles
05-03-2011, 04:05 PM
yea, it's always chess, never checkers.

LIMAMA
05-04-2011, 01:39 PM
Yeah, something smells fishy.

5townsguy
05-04-2011, 08:01 PM
Thanx to all who gave me advice. I made it known to the Prod. Company that I would not give away any % of ownership and they bailed. Just as well. Next!

Juno Styles
05-05-2011, 10:46 AM
Thanx to all who gave me advice. I made it known to the Prod. Company that I would not give away any % of ownership and they bailed. Just as well. Next!

Well damn, that was quick. Sounds like my situation a few months ago. Keep grinding. Good luck.