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Old 11-04-2019, 11:15 AM   #1
Deni
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Default WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I posted.

I have such a headache on my hands

Entered a collaboration agreement with two mates. We made a verbal agreement on how we would work together with equal input, work as a team, transparency, no edits or revisions unless all three agreed and/or compromise. With this in place, I reluctantly signed onto the project as the head screenwriter. Everything worked perfectly, I completed the first draft and then all hell broke loose.

One of the Collaborators, I'll call him C1 decided to make unilateral decisions and take control over everything behind our backs and without our knowledge. He decided for himself to change the tone, the characterizations, etc. etc. And went on to write draft 2-6, again without our knowledge.

We gave him the benefit of the doubt and requested to read the script and it was horrible. He's a director, not a screenwriter. I critiqued his work and he became defensive and then non-responsive.

He sent a secret email to our third collaborator to get her to side with him on his version of the script and have me kicked off the project. He tried to manipulate her by alleging that he's been taking Hollywood Screenwriting Courses and because he's been getting 100% on all his tests, he's not a Professionally Licensed Script Doctor/Editor/proofreader...yeah, I know!

The Agreement is pretty airtight and basic. Basically we are all co-authors and co-owners and no one can be forced to leave the agreement. If there's a dispute we can choose to leave by written consent. Also, no one can sell the Work unless all three collaborators agree and sign off on the sale. Anyhow, he hired a litigator to try and settled the dispute and he has a list of empty demands.

The other collaborator and I work well together and we like the script, so I don't get why he feels he's entitled to the project and not us. And how idiotic is it to piss off the people you need in order to make this project work. Regardless everything is at an impasse.

So let this be a cautionary tale to those who enter into Collaborative Agreement, make sure you have an exit or breach clauses in place if one person goes off the rales...if there are three or more people.

Any advice...? I have the right to give my list of demands as well, right? I can't afford an attorney but neither can he, this is a scare tactic. He also had the litigator request that we resolve this sensibly to avoid mounting court fees and distress.

Last edited by Deni : 11-04-2019 at 11:31 AM. Reason: revise post
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:34 AM   #2
lostfootage
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Hi Deni -- From you post, you sound British? What is the jurisdiction for this matter, US or UK? That will make a difference with regard to advice.

I once was in a writing partnership with a headstrong sort who wanted to control everything. It was horrible, like being in a bad relationship without the benefit of free rent. By contrast, I have a good friend who is in a writing partnership that clicks. They love writing together, they're on the same page, they've written three projects together, etc. They're in an enduring bromance that works for them and their scripts are strong. So I've see both dysfunction and functional partnerships.

But if you're fighting now, and not in a honeymoon phase, then it's just going to get worse. Let's say you somehow work it out where you do end up being able to write with the person and you have a viable script on your hands. Do you think when you go to sell it these problems are going to get better? Nope. They're going to get worse. And the people you're selling to will be put off by the "power struggle" vibe you three have when pitching your work, etc.

My advice is going to sound outlandish -- sign over all of your work to him, wash your hands, walk away and write something new.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:56 PM   #3
Deni
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostfootage View Post

My advice is going to sound outlandish -- sign over all of your work to him, wash your hands, walk away and write something new.

Hi lost footage. This has US jurisdiction and I'm American.

I have an Australian husband and his parents live in England.

Your advice is sound and reasonable but it's something I cannot do. The other collaborator and I are just going to sit it on it. This script will not move forward or see the light of day and I'm good with that. I have other scripts I'm working on so it's no loss and the other collaborator is working on other projects as well. This person is a bully and is used to people doing exactly what you suggest.

Right now there is nothing either of us can do.

If anything one thing I have learned is that I will never enter a collaboration agreement again.

Thanks for your reply.

Last edited by Deni : 11-04-2019 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Revised
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:36 PM   #4
Merrick
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

I don't know what your contract states, but if I were you and he's being a bully then let him spin his wheels and don't engage. If he can point to specific breaches of contract on your part then you correct them.

I would abandon the project however in terms of, just let it sit there a long time with no movement. It may pick up steam in the future. But now is not the time.

I have been through this kind of situation a handful of times as I run a company that deals with IP, and some people are just nuts, others don't understand law.

My impression is that he is frustrated. If you want to try to fix things, don't talk about legality or quality of work. Just hear out his frustrations. And explain that you only wanted to work on this project together if it was collaborative. And if it cannot be collaborative, you can wait until the time he is ready to work as a team again.
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Old 11-04-2019, 04:10 PM   #5
lostfootage
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Hi Deni! Your "do nothing" solution sounds like a good one for your situation.

Who knows, maybe he'll continue working on it (even though he's not supposed to) and sell it (even though he's not supposed to), and then he has to buy you out, or something. That would be a nice result.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:26 PM   #6
Deni
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
I don't know what your contract states, but if I were you and he's being a bully then let him spin his wheels and don't engage. If he can point to specific breaches of contract on your part then you correct them.
Agree. This is what I've been doing.

As far as the agreement, it's the same one that's listed on the WGA West page here:

https://www.wga.org/uploadedFiles/co...laboration.pdf

Quote:
I would abandon the project however in terms of, just let it sit there a long time with no movement. It may pick up steam in the future. But now is not the time.
Agree.

Quote:
I have been through this kind of situation a handful of times as I run a company that deals with IP, and some people are just nuts, others don't understand law.
Nuts is the word. The arrogance and entitlement is what gets me.

Quote:
My impression is that he is frustrated. If you want to try to fix things, don't talk about legality or quality of work. Just hear out his frustrations. And explain that you only wanted to work on this project together if it was collaborative. And if it cannot be collaborative, you can wait until the time he is ready to work as a team again.
Thank you so much!!!

Cheers!

Last edited by Deni : 11-04-2019 at 11:13 PM. Reason: revise post
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:28 PM   #7
Deni
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostfootage View Post
Hi Deni! Your "do nothing" solution sounds like a good one for your situation.

Who knows, maybe he'll continue working on it (even though he's not supposed to) and sell it (even though he's not supposed to), and then he has to buy you out, or something. That would be a nice result.
Thanks!

My instinct tells me that he's all about the law since he's the one that suggested that we sign contracts and NDA's and made everything legal to begin with.
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Old 11-05-2019, 12:04 AM   #8
Merrick
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

I know it sucks, but this is what contracts are for. People change their minds, etc. It sets in writing what was the goal when you agreed to enter a project.

Unfortunately, contracts do not talk about how a person must behave. And they can bully you into trying to exit. But if you did nothing wrong, you don't have to. And if they cannot prove anything is done wrong, it will never make it to court.
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Old 11-05-2019, 01:10 AM   #9
Deni
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
I know it sucks, but this is what contracts are for. People change their minds, etc. It sets in writing what was the goal when you agreed to enter a project.

Unfortunately, contracts do not talk about how a person must behave. And they can bully you into trying to exit. But if you did nothing wrong, you don't have to. And if they cannot prove anything is done wrong, it will never make it to court.
Cheers! Thank you so much.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:49 AM   #10
vstm10
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Default Re: WCA Agreement gone wrong....

Has the script been registered with the copyright office? If not, you need to do it with all the 3 names.

Then walk away. Aggravation will make you fat (Cortisol and all).

See, nothing will ever happen to that script if it's really as bad as you say (Nothing will ever happen even if it's good either, for that matter, haha).

But it if does... good for you. They will HAVE to go through the chain of title and you.

Problem solved.

Good luck dear.
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