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Racoon
11-27-2012, 09:37 PM
Anyone here sell a script and try to retain what you could to the rights to the sequal if made? If so how did you handle it?

Thanks,

Racoon

jcgary
11-27-2012, 11:36 PM
Your lawyer will take care of this.

Knaight
11-28-2012, 03:47 AM
You asked a question the other day about backend points, so it sounds like you may be going through the contract stage. It also sounds like you don't have a lawyer, because he/she should be taking care of this and answering all of your questions.

My advice is to stop what you're doing immediately and get a lawyer. Watching the negotiations of my first deal, and then reading through the various drafts of the contract, I realized that there are so many little variables that would have never occurred to me. Depending on how things play out, these insignificant-seeming phrases and word choices can have a huge impact.

For the record, it's standard to get some sort of sequel rights. Generally, you should have the first opportunity to write it. If you don't write it, they should still pay you a (relatively small) fee due to the fact that you're the reason a sequel even has a reason to exist.

Racoon
11-28-2012, 05:43 AM
Your perceptive K. I am going through a contract right now, and I do have a agent who was until recently wga. The financers of the script are setting the perimiters as they are plunking down the cash. Its a good deal money wise and bonus wise but I am wanting sequal rights and my agent understands this but just wondering if anyone else feels the same way about them as I do or If I am being a little to over optimistic.

Racoon

Geoff Alexander
11-28-2012, 09:49 AM
Your perceptive K. I am going through a contract right now, and I do have a agent who was until recently wga. The financers of the script are setting the perimiters as they are plunking down the cash. Its a good deal money wise and bonus wise but I am wanting sequal rights and my agent understands this but just wondering if anyone else feels the same way about them as I do or If I am being a little to over optimistic.

Racoon

You really should have a lawyer. An agent alone is not sufficient to get you the best possible deal. And, yes, as Knaight said, some sequel rights are considered standard, but again, get a lawyer.

Racoon
11-28-2012, 11:22 AM
Acutally producer sent new agreement today and they will give me first rights to write the sequal even if I only get partial screen credit.

So I am happy with the deal. But thanks guys for the advice.

racoon

SoCalScribe
11-28-2012, 05:34 PM
Acutally producer sent new agreement today and they will give me first rights to write the sequal even if I only get partial screen credit.

So I am happy with the deal. But thanks guys for the advice.

racoon

You should still have a lawyer vet it before you sign. Even if you're happy with the overall terms of the deal, you need someone with legal experience to review the contract and make sure that the language actually says what you think it's saying. Just because the producer tells you that you have a first right to write the sequel doesn't mean (a) that he's telling the (whole) truth, or (b) that the first right is defined how you assume it's defined.


Is it a first right to actually write, or a first right of negotiation?

Are the terms of that potential sequel writing opportunity defined in the agreement or subject to good faith negotiation?

Are you exclusively committed to this sequel and if so does it impact your ability to take other work (e.g. can they prevent you from taking other jobs while they debate whether or not they want to even make a sequel)?


Those are just three of the hundreds of different questions that can arise from the dozens of different ways "first rights" on a sequel can work.

Don't get me wrong; it's great that you're happy with the deal. But just because you're happy with the deal doesn't mean you shouldn't have it vetted by people who negotiate these deals for a living. That's how people get trapped in bad deals and get screwed over; because they signed something they didn't fully understand.

All we're suggesting is that you get someone to check it out before you sign. Just like how you take a used car to your mechanic to get it checked out before you actually buy it, hiring a lawyer to review a contract before signing is just a way of kicking the tires and making sure everything checks out before you really commit to something. The last thing you want is that car that seemed like such a good deal to die on you during the drive home because you didn't think to have an expert check the things under the hood that you didn't even know you should check.

Ronaldinho
11-28-2012, 07:01 PM
Acutally producer sent new agreement today and they will give me first rights to write the sequal even if I only get partial screen credit.

So I am happy with the deal. But thanks guys for the advice.

racoon

GET A LAWYER!!!!

I mean it. Saying you have an agent who was "until recently" WGA doesn't mean you need a lawyer less.

What SoCalScribe said, +1000. You are not a lawyer. There may be lots of stuff to like in the deal. There may be language which totally screws you over but looks innocent, but any decent HOllywood lawyer would spot in 30 seconds.

tucsonray
11-29-2012, 11:30 AM
There may be language which totally screws you over but looks innocent.

This happens more than you would think. Not talking about Hollywood agreements, but just generally about any proposed contract. There is an art to making the nocuous look innocuous.

You really should have a lawyer. An agent alone is not sufficient to get you the best possible deal.

You should still have a lawyer vet it before you sign. Even if you're happy with the overall terms of the deal, you need someone with legal experience to review the contract and make sure that the language actually says what you think it's saying. .

GET A LAWYER!!!!

I mean it. Saying you have an agent who was "until recently" WGA doesn't mean you need a lawyer less.

What SoCalScribe said, +1000. You are not a lawyer. There may be lots of stuff to like in the deal. There may be language which totally screws you over but looks innocent, but any decent HOllywood lawyer would spot in 30 seconds.

My advice is to stop what you're doing immediately and get a lawyer


The ABA should start subsidizing Done Deal!

I mean, these guys all can't be wrong, can they??? Nothing against agents, lord knows we love them all, but in this situation agents generally have different knowledge bases and different interests. Not doing what they say above is the equivalent of having a real estate agent draw up a contract but not having a lawyer look it over or guide you through the purchase process. Will things likely go ok? Yes. Can they blow up on you big time in a way you don't want them to, due to a simple clause or phrase that a pro would catch? Absolutely?

Racoon
11-29-2012, 06:51 PM
My agent was a wga agent for over 20 years and handled deals with aaron spelling productions among others, so they have been through the mill, so I am not loosing sleep over it.

Racoon

Knaight
11-29-2012, 07:00 PM
I think maybe you're taking the "get a lawyer" advice the wrong way. No one's saying that your agent doesn't know what he/she's doing. I'm sure your agent is awesome.

The point is, lawyers and agents have separate, specialized skills. It's just like assuming that an actor could rewrite all of their dialogue competently, or that a screenwriter could deliver their own words convincingly. Even though actors and writers work in the same field, their skills are different and take years of experience to acquire.

The best agent in the world is going to miss things that a good lawyer would catch. That's just the way it works.

Anyway, you seem to have your mind set. I definitely wish you well with this deal and hope it works out well for you. Best of luck.

Manchester
11-29-2012, 07:36 PM
The chorus swells, and the deaf man smiles.

SoCalScribe
11-29-2012, 07:52 PM
My agent was a wga agent for over 20 years and handled deals with aaron spelling productions among others, so they have been through the mill, so I am not loosing sleep over it.

Racoon

Having an agent isn't the same thing as having a lawyer, no matter how many years of experience they have (unless your agent also happens to be an entertainment attorney). I'm sure your agent is wonderful and knows how to read a contract... but it's not the equivalent of having an actual lawyer look at it and decipher the actual language of what's being said.

Is there a particular reason you're so reticent to have a lawyer look at it? You seem especially opposed to the idea and I'm honestly not sure why.

That said, if you're not losing any sleep over it, I certainly won't either. I wish you the best of luck and truly hope that everything works out the way you hope it will.

JeffLowell
11-29-2012, 07:58 PM
Why did your agent give up their WGA signatory status? (Assuming that's what you meant.) Did he retire, and he's back for this deal? Move into producing?

Racoon
11-30-2012, 06:05 PM
Jeff.

They told me recently the wga required agents to have an office in California and they live in a nearby state and couldn't afford to have two offices as they handle very few clients. So she recently dropped out.

The deal is with a notable director and stuff and I got what I wanted out of the deal so thats what is important . . . to see my movie up on the screen and to make some money.

Raccon

Craig Mazin
11-30-2012, 08:29 PM
My agent was a wga agent for over 20 years and handled deals with aaron spelling productions among others, so they have been through the mill, so I am not loosing sleep over it.

Racoon

You're not losing sleep over it right now.

No one ever loses sleep over a bad contract when they sign it.

You're being dumb. Sorry. It's a fact. My agent is the head of the literary department at CAA. He would NEVER say that he's qualified to paper a deal. Because he's not. That's what lawyers do.

MacGuffin
12-01-2012, 06:50 AM
I once had someone start negotiating with me about buying a script, through e-mails. I said, let me run this past my lawyer (even though I didn't have one). Never heard from them again.

Moral of story - Get A Lawyer!

tucsonray
12-01-2012, 09:25 AM
I once had someone start negotiating with me about buying a script, through e-mails. I said, let me run this past my lawyer (even though I didn't have one). Never heard from them again.

Moral of story - Get A Lawyer!

This happens more than you might think. There's an old saying in the legal biz people respect what your lawyer's gonna inspect

Manchester
12-01-2012, 10:21 AM
I know lawyers who are writers who use entertainment industry lawyers for their deals. According to the local bar association, I may even be a lawyer, and yet I have an industry lawyer.

Sure, within any industry, non-lawyers can very well know the meaning of this and that industry jargon that's written in a contract. But the challenge entails knowing the meaning of this and that legal jargon - legal jargon masquerading as plain words in English. For example, look up the words "including" and "comprising" in a dictionary and they seem like synonyms. Look them up in a legal dictionary and... not so much.

Or as a then-lawyer/now-ex-lawyer once said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

That said, I have known non-lawyers who know certain areas of the law as well as lawyers who practice that sort of law. So I can certainly imagine an industry veteran who is not a lawyer knowing the law that needs to be known in order to do the deal well. But if there's real money involved, I'll follow the path of the many lawyer-writers who don't want to have fools for clients - i.e., they hire industry lawyers to work their deals.

tucsonray
12-01-2012, 10:52 AM
I know lawyers who are writers who use entertainment industry lawyers for their deals. According to the local bar association, I may even be a lawyer, and yet I have an industry lawyer.

Sure, within any industry, non-lawyers can very well know the meaning of this and that industry jargon that's written in a contract. But the challenge entails knowing the meaning of this and that legal jargon - legal jargon masquerading as plain words in English. For example, look up the words "including" and "comprising" in a dictionary and they seem like synonyms. Look them up in a legal dictionary and... not so much.

Or as a then-lawyer/now-ex-lawyer once said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

That said, I have known non-lawyers who know certain areas of the law as well as lawyers who practice that sort of law. So I can certainly imagine an industry veteran who is not a lawyer knowing the law that needs to be known in order to do the deal well. But if there's real money involved, I'll follow the path of the many lawyer-writers who don't want to have fools for clients - i.e., they hire industry lawyers to work their deals.

All good point, especially regarding non-lawyers knowing the law as well as lawyers in some areas. One thing I would point out though is that as we both know the law is constantly changing - in all fields - sometimes in macro and always in micro ways - and not keeping up with those changes can be a big big problem for those who think they know what the law is - only to find out all they know is what the law was.