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View Full Version : A producer wants my script -- need advice re: how to proceed


Nostromo28
05-19-2005, 12:14 AM
A producer who is a friend of a friend left a message for me today that they'd like to "take my script out". I got the script into their hands many moons ago through our mutual friend.

Tomorrow, I'm going to return the phone call to get as much info as I can. Aside from the obvious question (how much $$ is involved, etc), what are some of the things I should ask/look for?

I don't even have an agent yet, and believe me, this has really taken me by surprise. When I dropped the script off, I forgot about it and moved on -- figured it would likely result in yet another rejection.

If anyone who's ever been in this situation has any advice, I'd love to hear it.

I'm definitely what you'd call "green" in this regard.

Thanks

-Nostromo

Oh, and get this -- I HATE that script! It was my second one (I'm now up to #8). What I know now as a writer is leaps and bounds ahead of what I knew when I began writing #2. Honestly, for the life of me, I don't see how anyone could "love" that script. At one point I even thought about burning it.

Yes this business is truly subjective.

jimjimgrande
05-19-2005, 08:31 AM
Take your script out means that he's going to send it out as a spec, so you will get no $$$ unless it sells or is optioned.

You might want to ask for a simple shopping agreement to be drawn up, depending upon how well you know this person and how much (or how little) you trust them.

Other than that there's not much for you to do, so ask for a list of the places he wants to send it, sit back, and hope for the best.

If this producer has any juice, he'll get an agent to help him take it out, so that might help get you repped right there.

good luck.

odriftwood
05-19-2005, 01:58 PM
MAke sure you get a list of everyone they send it to and their reactions for future reference. Someone might become a fan of your work but not like this particular script. And down the road you don't want to send the same project out to the same producer...

LauriD
05-19-2005, 06:42 PM
This could be a great opportunity -- or a blown opportunity.

1. It sounds like the producer is planning to shop your script. S/he said "take it out" NOT "option it" so it's likely that s/he's not contemplating paying you anything up front. But ask.

2. You need a shopping agreement. This limits where the producer can take the script and for how long (6 months, for example). You would be VERY VERY wise to consult an entertainment attorney on this, but you could probably find someone to email you a form if you ask around the boards.

(A secondary advantage of an entertainment attorney is a potential intro to an agent; see #5.)

As noted above, you need to insist on knowing where it was submitted, when, and with what result. You may be able to get copies of the coverage.

3. Do you really want something circulating with your name on it that you feel isn't good work? Do you want to get known as "that crappy writer" to people who don't love it as much as your producer friend does? At least insist on taking another pass on it (and maybe doing a major rewrite) before it goes out.

4. Check out this person's reputation. Having a "problem" attached to your work doesn't help the sale of the script or your own rep. And of course check out their credits, which you will need to refer to in #5.

5. Jump on this chance to get an agent/manager. Do some research to identify likely candidates (hungry new people at name agencies, e.g.), call their assistants to explain the situation ("so-and-so is interested in my work and wants to take it out; I'd like to get an agent involved before I go any further. Could I talk with [agent name] about it?"). However, going via your attorney (#2) will be less likely to get you the brushoff.

Anyway, I've been in your shoes and I know how exciting it seems. Take a deep breath, think strategically, and don't quit your day job. ;)

Good luck!

L.

Nostromo28
05-20-2005, 09:03 AM
Hey thanks for the very helpful advice. Wrote down a list of things to discuss prior to returning the phone call, so most of my questions have been answered.

Was bluntly honest and told them I thought the script needed a re-write. We went back and forth over a list of things which we both felt could be changed. So as it stands now, I'm doing a rewrite.

Once we both feel the project is ready, then it will go out.

Thanks again for helping me out. There were many things which I didn't know to look for, but now do.

Regards,

-Nostromo

PoisonIvy
05-22-2005, 04:10 PM
Here's the thing:

The fact that a prodco wants to "take the script out" means that they a) don't have money b) kind of like the script but not really and want to throw it out there to see if someone else bites. In either case there's no money for you.

Check out their credits. If they are a startup, chances are that the will send your script to anyone and everyone who would read it, thus burning it. Once a company passes on the script you usually can't re-submit it.

Worst case scenario is that they will send it to studos. If the prodco is not strong enough, the studios will also pass. At this point the coverage is out there, the script may be tracked, it's totally burned.

So be careful. Do your research. Get a lawyer, a manager, anyone who would look out for you in this situation.

Good luck.

English Dave
05-22-2005, 04:40 PM
Seconding poisin ivy. Who are these people? Before you commit yourself to free re-writes, take a step back to consider - if they were going to take a very early script of yours out that you consider substandard , who is doing whom the favour? Do they know what they're doing? How able are you to commit time to it?

Eva Abrom.
05-22-2005, 10:23 PM
Nostromo28,
I'm pretty sure I know who this person is and, if I'm right, I have some insight for you. Check your private messages and get back to me, if you want, OK?

rockridesva
05-22-2005, 11:39 PM
Why don't you just tell us who it is, or what company, and we can tell you wabout them, etc. Why does no one ever just do this on here? We are writers helping writers, right?

Nostromo28
05-24-2005, 10:34 AM
Hmmm,

Great advice so far. I'll clear a few things up.

The rewrite: this was solely my suggestion. I'm happy that someone wants to take my script out. However, I ran a list of suggested changes by the producer, and she was very happy with my suggestions. The script was written four years ago and was my second script. Since then, I have greatly improved my writing through simple trial and error and getting immensely helpful feedback from other writers. I feel that with a re-write, I could apply everything I have learned in the past four years to make this project a much better one.

The money: as it stands were are negotiating just how much, if any, will be paid up front. Also, for how long this shopping agreement will last. A couple people have suggested I look into getting a lawyer (I am).

But here is something I am unsure of. Other have suggested using this opportunity to get an agent involved. Forgive me here if I am sounding very naive, but I am hesitant to even attempt to get an agent involved.

Why? Because there will more than likely be very little (if any) money up front. Perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot here, but I'm wondering why any Big Hollywood Agent would waste their time with a Green Newcomer such as myself when there will be very little in it for the agent.

Please...feel free to slap me into reality if the aforementioned statement was just plain stupid.

Regards,

Nostromo

LauriD
05-24-2005, 12:09 PM
Re using this to get an agent:

1. It's great that they're actually talking about paying you something for the shopping agreement - shows they're serious and not broke.

HOWEVER, by paying you, they may be turning this from a shopping agreement into an option. These are two different (but related) animals, and the relative rights, etc. of the parties will be affected. TALK TO A LAWYER!

2. The amount of money up front is not the only thing an agent/manager cares about. While it might be nice for a rep to get 10% of a $10K option, e.g., the real money comes when the project (i.e., your script) is sold to a studio.

(That's why the producer is shopping your script: the producer does not have the money to make the movie; the producer wants a studio (or other financing source) to buy the script and put up the other money for the movie, for which the producer would earn a producing fee.)

So you're trying to get a rep interested in repping you on the SALE. Whatever help and advice you get from the rep while you're working out the details of the option/shopping agreement is a "freebie" -- or more precisely an investment by the rep in your future income-making potential.

To look at it another way, the fact that a reputable producer wants to take your script out suggests that it might actually get sold (unlike 99+% of the newbie stuff that comes over the rep's transom) and thus might be worth some of the rep's time and effort.

However, if this is just a wannabe producer (as opposed to someone with real credits), the boost you'll get with a rep is likely to be minimal, although you may at least be able to schmooze yourself into a read.

Good luck!

L.

Nostromo28
05-24-2005, 12:32 PM
Wow,

LauriD -- excellent advice. Ya know, I've been back and forth on the agent issue. Part of me thought it would be a waste of time to pursue a rep. But the other part of me was thinking exactly what you said -- that even though an agent may not get much $$$ up front, the agent may look at this as an investment in my future earnings capablities (and perhaps a future sale on this script).

And the fact that this producer does have real credits, may certainly help. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to land an agent from this, perhaps not. But at least it's worth a shot. The worst any potential rep can do is say no.

The voice of reason is starting to prevail.

Thanks a million.

-Nostromo

LauriD
05-24-2005, 12:39 PM
Go for it! If this person has credits you're in a VERY good position and you don't want to waste it by being shy. Even if the producer gets hit by an asteroid NEXT week, you could still get a rep THIS week.

I got my first rep when I was able to say (truthfully) that a producer wanted to read my script but wanted it to come through an agent.

It's all about referrals - about being vetted by someone who can vouch for the fact that you are: 1) talented, 2) not insane.

L.

English Dave
05-24-2005, 04:57 PM
Going with LauriD on this. If it's a 'real' producer, you've nothing to lose by trying to get an agent involved. Money up front isn't the be all and end all for all agents, especially those trying to build a solid rep.