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goldmund
01-25-2014, 02:05 PM
Hi, my question is perhaps naive, but I'm not much of a businessman.

In many examples of purchase agreements I've seen (and in my option agreement, too) you get all the dough or the last portion of it 30 days prior to -, or on the first day of the principal photography.

But isn't it true that most of the projects don't get off the ground? Does the screenwriter receive sad nothing in such cases, or isn't paid in full?

EdFury
01-25-2014, 03:49 PM
Hi, my question is perhaps naive, but I'm not much of a businessman.

In many examples of purchase agreements I've seen (and in my option agreement, too) you get all the dough or the last portion of it 30 days prior to -, or on the first day of the principal photography.

But isn't it true that most of the projects don't get off the ground? Does the screenwriter receive sad nothing in such cases, or isn't paid in full?

If your deal is that you get paid on the first day of principle photography and they don't get there, you don't get paid.

The whole idea of an option is that whoever options your script is RENTING it for a specified time period to see if they can take it to production, in your agreement is a sales price that kicks in if they exercise the option and buy it... Now, if they can't get it going, then they don't exercise the option and they don't buy it and you get... just what they paid you for the option... and if the option was free... you get zero. It all depends on your deal... whatever they paid you before they didn't get it going you get to keep.... after that, unless they make it, you get nada.

goldmund
01-25-2014, 05:40 PM
Thank you, man. So writing for a prodco with an agreement to get the money on the first day of shooting is basically working on spec.

EdFury
01-25-2014, 06:03 PM
Thank you, man. So writing for a prodco with an agreement to get the money on the first day of shooting is basically working on spec.

Well... yes. Unless they actually make it. Now.... if they don't make it, do you get to keep ownership of the script? If not, you'd be writing for free on script you'd have zero ownership of for zero money if they can't get it made. Nothing to show for your time and effort. That's the kind of deal I'd walk away from, if it was me.

goldmund
01-26-2014, 06:25 AM
Wow, that sucks. Is this kind of a deal popular? It's really disadvantageous to writers who might write their ass off for someone lazy or just not enthusiastic enough to fight for the project.

EdFury
01-26-2014, 11:41 AM
Wow, that sucks. Is this kind of a deal popular? It's really disadvantageous to writers who might write their ass off for someone lazy or just not enthusiastic enough to fight for the project.

If it's a deal where you don't own the rights to the script when the option lapses, it's popular with producers who want to take complete advantage of writers. Look at it this way. They have invested ZERO in the project and at the end they even own the script. If it doesn't work, what do they care? It didn't cost them anything. They can just move on to the next sucker writer and try something else without investing a dime.

goldmund
01-26-2014, 12:25 PM
Yeah, I get it. Cheers.

It seems especially dangerous when you write on their idea and they get a "story by" credit... then, you can never own the script, right?

EdFury
01-26-2014, 12:51 PM
Yeah, I get it. Cheers.

It seems especially dangerous when you write on their idea and they get a "story by" credit... then, you can never own the script, right?

What you do, is put in your contract if they don't exercise the option by the end of the option time, the ownership of the script reverts to you. And you explain that this is how you get paid for your time and effort if they fail to set it up.

wcmartell
01-31-2014, 09:15 PM
What Bob said.

The problem, here, is that you are writing someone else's story for no money... with the promise of pay. Now, if this is a producer who has made successful films in the past, this may be worth a chance. If the film doesn't get made, they may feel like they owe you and throw you a bone later. But if this is some nobody, why would you take this chance? Why do all of this work and get nothing?

So you need a *stick*. A penalty for them. Hey, it's their story... but if they don't pay you by a certain date, they *LOSE THAT STORY FOREVER* and it becomes yours. If they say no, that means *they* don't even believe they will find the money.

Don't be confrontational, just say "Hey, if I do all of this work and the film never gets made, I want the rights to the work I have done."

You remember that scene in THE PLAYER where the film executives all discuss how much easier their job would be if they could just get rid of screenwriters? That wasn't a joke.

Bill

DavidK
02-02-2014, 10:18 PM
You remember that scene in THE PLAYER where the film executives all discuss how much easier their job would be if they could just get rid of screenwriters? That wasn't a joke.
Bill

"I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we could just get rid of these actors and directors, maybe we've got something here." Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins)