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Old 03-03-2015, 12:34 PM   #11
PoisonIvy
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Why are you so hung up on IMDb? Who cares? Their approach to credits is so random… I have no idea how they came about half of my credits there - trades I guess. I generally ignore it except for the one time they tried to credit me as a gaffer… I mean, seriously?

I honestly wouldn't lose sleep over this. Your option had an expiration date, right? If so, it is over and done with regardless of what IMDb says. The worst thing that can happen - if is someone looks up your play, sees producer's name and calls him about it. But then he'll have to chase you. Nothing will ever happen without you agreeing to it, IMDb or no IMDb.
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Old 03-03-2015, 02:25 PM   #12
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

If he's a guild-signatory producer, contact the guild. He probably isn't.

In that case, a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer is probably your next-best option, followed by a lawsuit, however, to win a lawsuit, you'd have to be able to claim damages - was you ability to sell this somehow compromised by his claims?
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Old 03-03-2015, 05:00 PM   #13
manfredlopez
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

BEWARE OF CHAIN OF TITLE

Like other have said, if it's important to you to have it removed from his slate, then I believe the only way is to involve an attorney. But I think there might be a larger issue at play.

My inclination would be to contact an attorney ASAP. If you ever get any traction with that screenplay, he (I'm assuming it's a he) could make a case for implied contract extension or some other legaloid bullshit and try to attach himself to it. It doesn't mean he would win in a court of law, but he could cause enough problems to scare a larger client away --or worse-- put the Errors and Omission Insurance approval at risk from any resulting film. Remember, the insurance company will calculate the likelihood of someone trying to sue the movie production entity regardless of merit. And this whole situation just mucks up your chain of title.

I suspect a proper cease-and-desist order through registered mail from an established entertainment lawyer should be enough to do the trick. If nothing else you'll have this document with proof of delivery to help clear chain of title. This last part I'm guessing, since I have never been in this situation. But that's why I recommend you consult an attorney.

Unfortunately some producers by their very nature are programmed to push things and situations to their limit to make the imposible happen. Sometimes even if it means pushing writers around to get their way. A free option for 8 years is the very definition of pushing a writer around.
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Old 03-03-2015, 07:04 PM   #14
PoisonIvy
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Chain of title is important - most financiers and all studios will clear it before proceeding to production. However, asking a writer to hire a lawyer for something that may or may not matter based on some random IMDb credit is too drastic.

Scripts are optioned, re-optioned, developed, put into turnaround etc. Very few of them have no baggage by the time green light rolls around. But at this stage none of this matters. The option expired. If you want to submit your script, go ahead and do so. If someone likes your play and wants to turn it into a film, none of this will stand of the way of them acquiring rights.

You'll have to disclose to them that at one point your script was under option, they'll do legal comparison of drafts (if a draft was ever done under that producer's supervision) and figure out the best way to proceed. You don't clear chain of title, they do, so don't waste time and money on doing so. Each company has their own way of doing it anyway, so you'll never guess and will probably piss off that producer. Just leave it alone and don't worry about it!! Not now.

But knowing all this, you should be careful with your contracts going forward. Clean paper trail is your best defense, not some IMDb blooper.
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:57 AM   #15
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Several years ago, a producer paid me $1 for an option. We informally/verbally extended the option after the first year, because the producer said he was in serious negotiations with investors. Nothing happened with that. The second year option expired and then I had another offer from another producer -- but he wanted me to get a letter from the first producer saying he had no more hold on the script even though the option had expired. The first producer refused to give me the letter, saying he was entitled to some "consideration" for all the time he put in on the project. I hired an attorney to review my case. She concluded that the option period did expire and the first producer had no claim on the project. I told the second producer about this, but he still backed out. So, based on my experience, you are legally okay -- but this producer could still make waves if he wants. And as others here have pointed out, producers don't want a project that could lead to a lawsuit, even if the writer is clearly in the right. It sucks, but so do many producers.
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Old 03-04-2015, 05:35 PM   #16
manfredlopez
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquali56 View Post
... I told the second producer about this, but he still backed out. So, based on my experience, you are legally okay -- but this producer could still make waves if he wants. And as others here have pointed out, producers don't want a project that could lead to a lawsuit, even if the writer is clearly in the right. It sucks, but so do many producers.
This is exactly why it might be worth it for the OP to consult an attorney now. It may not be about the legality of it, but rather teaching the producer a very important lesson: I mean business, don't mess with my intelectual property. Unfortunately much of this business is based on perception. I have personally experience some pretty bizarre legal episodes, all of them from a very dubious standing from a legal perspective. If any of this has potential to scare a buyer away, then it might be worth it to take action. But that's just my opinion.

But if the OP thinks that the screenplay realistically won't go anywhere, then PoisonIvy is right. This whole thing might be too much trouble to be worth it and potentially all our suggestions are one big overreaction
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:44 PM   #17
PoisonIvy
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

If you can afford to pay $200 to $700 an hour to scare someone or prove a point without any kind of deal on the horizon (you're probably looking at a 12 hour minimum here and that is the most conservative estimate) then by all means… You have to ask yourself if it is worth it. Sure, there will be producers who would pass but based on your paperwork you should be fine. How much of creative input did the producer have? Can you go back to the original script? If so, your COT should clear regardless.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:00 AM   #18
Gumsandals
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Thanks to all DD Dudes on this forum. Your advice is much appreciated. Based on what I read and because I don't have a budget that includes attorney fees, I'm going to let it ride for the moment since I at least have an electronic paper trail between the Producer from Hell and me. Hopefully I will never have to dig them up to prove my case.
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Old 03-07-2015, 08:15 AM   #19
carcar
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

This is why I hate dollar options. Guy goes nowhere with a script after 2 years and thinks he's entitled to something for his time, yet doesn't think your time creating something is worth more than a dollar. Send him a couple bucks and tell him he doubled his money.
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Old 03-07-2015, 11:26 PM   #20
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumsandals View Post
Getting back to the original question, is the "norm" in Hollywood taking out an option nowadays without paying the screenwriter a fee for a limited amount of time for a producer to find funding/distribution?
Does it really matter what everyone else is doing in the industry?

What matters is what you expect as a writer. If you expect to be paid a fee to option your work, that's all that matters. If you want to option your spec for $1 or $10k it's your business. It's your IP.

Good luck and hopefully it will get resolved.
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