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goldmund
02-12-2014, 01:37 AM
Hi,

is it a common practice to allow the producer to refuse accepting the first draft and terminate the agreement?

I understand they need to protect against people who would turn in shitty drafts just to get their contract money, but on the other hand, how are you protected as a writer?

You work for 2-3 months and for all you know in the meantime there might be some crunch in their inner corporate doings and they can resign from the project altogether, leaving you with the small money for the treatment, maybe an advance, and a useless draft (because it's based on the producer's owned story.)

Are there some sample assignment contracts you could point me to?

Thank you!

sppeterson
02-12-2014, 02:14 AM
No.

That sounds pretty crappy. You do the work, you get paid.

goldmund
02-12-2014, 04:44 AM
Thank you :-) can I attack you with more questions, please?

What is the usual division of the agreed price between front- and back end? Like, in percents?

And: what other forms of remuneration are worth fighting for? DVD sales? Internet rentals? Or are these just collected as royalties separately from the contract? How about box office bonus?

I could really use a sample of an assignment contract, sorry for pestering you :-/

ChickenScratch
02-12-2014, 07:22 AM
This book has many sample contracts for every phase of a deal.

It also explains the pros and cons in the chapters. Very helpful.

Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry by Mark Litwak

sppeterson
02-12-2014, 04:29 PM
The WGA has stuff in its minimum basic agreement pdf that you could use as a template, but I assume you're working with an indie company and they might not be able to work at that level.

A fairly typical small company deal is 1/3rd total payment for first draft, 1/3rd for revisions, and the last 1/3rd once it goes into production.

Though I'm usually wary of that now if I'm concerned about the company's track record at moving stuff into production.

The total payment itself should be in the 2-3% of budget range.

If we're talking a small amount up front and the majority deferred until it goes into production or gets sold, then there's a whole bunch of situational stuff.

I am doing one of those now, but the producer/director and main cast are all friends and experienced in the business so I'm confident they'll at least get it made.

If it was more speculative I'd base my decision on how much you want to work with this crew.

If you have an attorney, they can get you an awful lot of stuff. But you need to pay them typically and that might not be viable for something too speculative.

If you're just running the contract on your own, try to get 5% producers' net profit participation. That's pretty standard for writers.

goldmund
02-13-2014, 01:20 AM
Great! Thank you!

I'm working with a great lawyer to negotiate with me and check the contract, but she's not an entertainment one (although she's my wife's sister, which has other benefits!)

I really like the project and the director I'm working with (it's his "story by"), but the contract itself is so-so.

What you wrote is of great help to me. We do have 3%, divided into outline, first draft, revisions and first day of shooting. Is the producer's net profit from the box office or from all other proceeds, too? The contract states I give them the right for novelization, sequels, dvds, audiobooks, internet and all other fields for free. Wouldn't it be too much if I wanted a part in that? They're paying me close to the WGA low budget minimum.