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Old 02-29-2012, 01:54 PM   #31
BattleDolphinZero
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

If it's not obvious, the difference is a script. The difference is also directly working with a single entity as opposed to having several layers between several entities. Including a writer.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:01 PM   #32
Rhodi
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by SBScript View Post
Rhodi, no one has ever asked about providing consulting services and how to handle that.

Folks have always discussed writing for free. You see the difference?
I do now.

My apologies, I guess I got a little steamed on behalf of the OP, because I have a general concern about the direction the industry is heading, and the growing reluctance of writers to demand some form of payment (or even a credit) for their creative input on projects for fear of getting the boot.

I suspect this fear is the very reason the OP has worked gratis for two years, without pushing the issue.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:17 PM   #33
Mac H.
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

One thing that other's have only touched on - but bothers me a little.

You had an arrangement in writing to give SME advice for one of the producers (or underlings or whatever) - they owned everything you did.

Fine.

Now you are going to the studio and want a better deal than the one you already agreed to in writing? How is that fair?

I know - you worked for no pay. But you got exactly what was promised - a good experience and no money.

So what is the issue?

You describe the company that hired you as 'highly unscrupulous'. Why? They offered you zero money and you agreed to provide advice for them anyway.

For example - I'm working on a war film. I often email and ring SMEs like yourself for advice. They offer it for free. If, after a few years, one of them was to suddenly start siccing a lawyer on me and describing me as 'unscrupulous' because I asked for (and was given) SME advice for no payment ... I'd be pretty annoyed. It was what they agreed to when they gave me the advice. Heck - in your case you've even given that agreement in writing.

So what is the issue? The simple fact is that most SMEs are quite happy to give advice for absolutely no expectation of payment.

---
Imagine that things were reversed - you ran a coffee shop and contracted a local sign-writing company to do a logo for your front window.

Things were going well - and then one day you get a call from a lawyer repping some guy you never had any dealings with. He claims that he gave advice over the color scheme and now demands you pay him.

You call up the sign writing company who is equally confused - they have a written agreement with the color scheme guy who acknowledged that every piece of advice he gave was owned by the sign writing company.

It turns out the colour scheme guy has consulted a lawyer and decided that he's going to throw that written agreement out the window - something about the contract not being in the correct font or 'due consideration' or some such thing.

You don't really know the details - but at sure hell know that it is an internal issue between the sign writing company and the colour scheme guy .. and you resent the trashiness of being dragged into it. It isn't going to put either of them in a good light.

---


Of course - this is just my opinion (given when I'm cranky and haven't had my morning coffee yet) ... and based on a short summary - so the opinion may be 200% off base.

Do with it what you will.

Good luck with your projects,

Mac
(PS: Have you considered what happens if you actually use any of the advice given on this board? After all - Jeff Lowell may decided in a few years to get a lawyer and send you a letter. Since you asked a professional for advice and he provided it (for free) - he may take a 'quantum meritus' point of view and then insist on payment after the fact. Would that be reasonable?

If you give advice to any of us on this board - are we risking being sued because you later decide that, since you've seen your suggestion in play up on the big screen, you can now demand money ? What about if your advice and assistance when above and beyond what is normally

Even if you promise (in writing) that you are doing this for no money .. it doesn't protect us. You can still decide later that you are owed money (or credit or whatever) .. and we know that you aren't fussy about honoring written agreements.

I know - I haven't had my coffee yet)

Last edited by Mac H. : 02-29-2012 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:40 PM   #34
bortus
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

We have an NDA, not a contract to give advice for free.

The issue here is that the initial agreement was unclear, and that all parties later conceded that the initial agreement did not cover the services we were rendering, and yet the agreement has not been updated. There is also the studio's point of view to consider; two unpaid and uncredited major contributors are a potential liability.

Another difference to your painting metaphor is that the project is still very much in development, not dry on the walls. We could walk and there would be an impact. This is not after the fact.

The term "unscrupulous" is used for many reasons. Industry pros have agreed with the assessment. These producers have a track record of behaving this way.

All of that said, I do think the best way forward is via good business relationships up the food chain, rather than litigation at the bottom. We have opportunities in that regard so that's how we'll likely proceed.

If anyone comes across a similar situation, or has relevant advice that hasn't yet been covered, would love to hear it. Thanks all for the input!
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:58 PM   #35
Mac H.
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

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Originally Posted by bortus View Post
We have an NDA, not a contract to give advice for free.
Ah - that changes things. I was going by what you said earlier.

Earlier you said that the the agreement specified that 'we would not own our ideas'. If that had been true then what you had agreed to was far beyond an NDA - it would have been agreeing that what you generate is not owned by you, and had been provided solely for their use.

Mac
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Old 02-29-2012, 07:00 PM   #36
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac H. View Post
.. and we know that you aren't fussy about honoring written agreements.

I know - I haven't had my coffee yet)
There's cranky, which most times can't be controlled, and then there's rude, which is a choice.
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:30 PM   #37
Mac H.
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

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Originally Posted by LMPurves View Post
There's cranky, which most times can't be controlled, and then there's rude, which is a choice.
Yeah - but all of that is changed now.

I must have misread, but from what was written earlier it was strongly implied that there was a written agreement that any advice they gave as SME for the project wouldn't be owned by them.

Now, it turns out that the written agreement saying that didn't exist - and that it was a simple NDA instead.

That obviously changes things.

But if that earlier interpretation was correct - then that is a MASSIVE issue.

We are all here giving advice and helping on each other's projects.

So if someone did really want to change the agreement and decide that they wanted money and/or credit for their assistance on a project then it is a MASSIVE issue.

But, yes - I was wrong.

Mac
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:40 AM   #38
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

I know less than sh1t about the OP's situation, but I think Mac has some good intentions. I'd consider his purview.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:39 AM   #39
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

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Originally Posted by ATB View Post
I know less than sh1t about the OP's situation, but I think Mac has some good intentions. I'd consider his purview.
Agreed. Even if the facts are not what he originally assumed, that was good insight from Mac.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:33 AM   #40
bortus
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Default Re: Consulting on a Major Studio Project

I appreciate the insight but it's a bit more complex than that.

The original agreement is unclear; the consulting situation has evolved a great deal from the framework for which it was drafted; there has been a verbal acknowledgment of its obsolescence; lawyers, managers, and agents have all agreed that the situation cannot be encapsulated by that agreement.

Your point of view is essentially the courtroom point of view of the external producers, and you express it well. But it's obviously not my point of view, and I'd be taking a very weak stand on the value of my time and effort if I simply gave up on the grounds that there's another point of view to consider.

That said, thanks for the input, I know you're just providing an alternate point of view.
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