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dojo
04-12-2013, 01:48 PM
Thanks in advance all who can shed some light and educate me. I've searched the archives, but haven't found quite the same situation.

My writing partner and I have been approached by a third party to write a spec drama pilot based on what amounts to a logline. The third party is not a writer and is not in the business.

We like the premise and are excited about the challenge of writing for a new format (i.e. television.) We would be developing the story from square one, creating the characters, establishing tone and thematic elements, etc.

To put it into way oversimplified context for comparison, we've been presented with "a passenger jet crashes on a deserted island" and have been tasked with writing "Lost."

So, are we looking at "Story by X" and "Teleplay by Y & Z" or does that sell my writing partner and I short? Or is it just plain wrong?

What's the appropriate way to define our roles in a collaboration agreement?

SoCalScribe
04-12-2013, 01:58 PM
Thanks in advance all who can shed some light and educate me. I've searched the archives, but haven't found quite the same situation.

My writing partner and I have been approached by a third party to write a spec drama pilot based on what amounts to a logline. The third party is not a writer and is not in the business.

We like the premise and are excited about the challenge of writing for a new format (i.e. television.) We would be developing the story from square one, creating the characters, establishing tone and thematic elements, etc.

To put it into way oversimplified context for comparison, we've been presented with "a passenger jet crashes on a deserted island" and have been tasked with writing "Lost."

So, are we looking at "Story by X" and "Teleplay by Y & Z" or does that sell my writing partner and I short? Or is it just plain wrong?

What's the appropriate way to define our roles in a collaboration agreement?

You sort of answered your own question. You said, "We would be developing the story from square one." I'd say that entitles you to story credit. ;)

If the material you've just been presented with is only a concept or a setup, you and your partner should definitely get story credit for creating the actual narrative story that the pilot follows. I think a more appropriate credit in this situation (assuming it's non-guild and you can negotiate it yourself) would be "Story by X and Y & Z" and "Teleplay by Y & Z." Then your third party gets partial credit for originating the story, and you and your partner are properly recognized as contributors to the story and the writers of the actual teleplay.

Out of curiosity, why is a third party who's not in the business hiring someone to write a pilot? Are they trying to break into the business as well?

dojo
04-12-2013, 02:12 PM
Haha, good point, SoCal.

I was actually going to put "Story by X and Y & Z" and "Teleplay by Y & Z" in the post as an alternative, but didn't want to drive readers away with a lack of white space.

Obviously, none of us are pros. My partner and I are unproduced. Z is just an average Joe who had a setup (thanks, that's a better word) for a pilot we actually think has some potential and could make for good drama with the right execution. I think he's trying to break into the "storytelling" business, but the medium is flexible.

I'm just looking at it as an experience, but trying to prepare for success. :)