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Old 03-25-2005, 06:55 PM   #11
landis26
 
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I suggest instead of a free option for a year, give them a "SHOPPING AGREEMENT." Those of you that don't know what that is - it's giving them (the producer) the right to take the script around, but they don't control it. This gives you the ability to submit it to other prodco companies, and you just have to make sure the producers don't overlap.

That doesn't mean you will not be asked to change a few things in your script. I've made changes for one producer, and had another producer suggest I add a scene that essentially had me put back what the other producer told me to change or lose completely.

That's Hollywood, everyone has an opinion.
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Old 03-25-2005, 08:18 PM   #12
noh1
 
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I worked for free, on my first script. I ended up doing MUCH work, for free. I did eventually sell the script to the producer, but by that point, if you factor in all the work I did, I was writing for less than minimum wage.

Try not to do it, no matter how desperate you are. It can end up an ugly and LONG road. If you HAVE to, set up a deal with ONE rewrite, and a limited shop time.
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Old 03-25-2005, 08:19 PM   #13
whateveryeah
 
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Quote:
I suggest instead of a free option for a year, give them a "SHOPPING AGREEMENT." Those of you that don't know what that is - it's giving them (the producer) the right to take the script around, but they don't control it.
This is the kind of arrangement I was speaking of, except without any written paper work. The producer asks for modest modifications (one rewrite) then wants to take the script to a few specific places (he tells you where). As there's nothing contractual and the screenwriter is still free to shop the script elsewhere, my question is why established, credentialed (those with many credits on IMDB) producers do this? They can't be that hard up for cash, and to me it seems risky for them to shop a product they ultimately might not hold rights to if a deal comes to the table. The second part of my question regarded how common this type of arrangement is. I do realize unscrupulous no-name prodcos prey on new writers, but I've heard of some big names doing this. Are standard 10% options* going the way of the wind--particularly for unproduced writers? Or is that only my perception?

* Edited to add: When I say 10% of course, I'm talking "option" money, as in a percentage of the 3-5% purchase price (or MBA minimum, whichever applies) of the script. What I'm having producers tell me is that if they have known contacts and can get me an answer in a short limited period of time (we're talking less than two months), they'd rather go straight for a sale than set up an option.
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Old 03-25-2005, 09:30 PM   #14
landis26
 
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Old 03-25-2005, 10:40 PM   #15
landis26
 
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Quote:
it seems risky for them to shop a product they ultimately might not hold rights to if a deal comes to the table
Most "Shopping Agreements" would have a clause in it stating that the producer would be protected if the company he brought it into decided to do it at a later time.

Example -

Lets JoeBlow Producer has a "shopping agreement" with a writer for a script called "Dead Rider." JoeBlow producer brings the script to Silver Pictures, Joel Silver decides to pass. Then a year or two down the road another producer, Number Two Films brings the "Dead Rider" script into Silver Pictures, of course after extensive rewrites, and Joel Silver decides to do it... Then JoeBlow Producer gets wind of the deal and lets everyone know he brought the project in a year earlier. He would automatically be attached.

I've seen it happen on a big film that just lately came out, with a producer I know.
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Old 03-26-2005, 08:51 AM   #16
whateveryeah
 
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Landis, I understand what you're saying about a written shopping agreement, and I actually signed one of those in the past. What I'm speaking of now though, is when there is nothing in writing at all. The situation is similar to when a top agency might "hip pocket" a new writer. The writer is not officially signed as a client, but the agent decides to put out feelers and see what he can do. As I've had a few producers want to go this route with me lately, and talked to two other screenwriters with the same experience, I was wondering whether these verbal shopping agreements (again, nothing on paper) were the indication of a coming trend. If anyone else on the board has successfully--or unsuccessfully-- worked with a producer in this way, I'd really love to hear about it. Thanks!
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Old 03-26-2005, 08:52 AM   #17
landis26
 
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Whateveryeah - It's been going on for years, as far as I know. People don't like signing things - being committed in writing. I did a rewrite once for a producer. We negotiated the terms, it was a step deal. He gave me the first installment. I started the work. The contract never got drawn up for some reason, but I was getting my money so... I handed in the script, he paid me off. All's good. Let me back track - I went to his home to deliver the finished script and get my final payment. He told me that his partner in the project was suppose to give me the check this time. I said fine, but I'm taking the script with me. No money, no scriptee... Major uncomfortable moment. I stood firm and he came up with a check. It was a good thing.

My point is - if I trusted him and left the script, and then had to chase him and his partner for the money, without a contract I'd have no legal ground to stand on.

Also, he told me he had a few writers do extensive work on the script. He spent a lot of money, but was unhappy with the outcome. He gave me several drafts, same story, but all different takes. The red flag - the producer's name was the only one listed as writer on all the drafts.

Sorry for the rambling...
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Old 03-28-2005, 11:13 AM   #18
SbScript
 
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>You missed out the 'Oh Please!' SB

Yeah, you guessed it. test.
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Old 03-28-2005, 11:14 AM   #19
SbScript
 
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>Lets take a look at this SB. Your friend was working with a KNOWN producer with a TRACK record possibly, allthough you do not say,

Okay, I'm trying to figure out how one quotes material and posts responses to it properly. Anyway, I did say he had a track record.

>with the blessing of his agent or manager to whom this producer was known? He took a risk and it paid off.

During the year of their handshake agreement while the producer was shopping the script, the producer also helped my friend sign with a big three agency, so yes the agent gave the relationship her blessing...

>The problem is these rare occurances are held up by the charlatans with nothing in the way of track record as an enticement to other writers to take the same risk. They prey on unrepresented inexperienced writers. Are you trying to tell me this doesn't happen, every day? And many, many times more frequently than your lucky friend's experience.

Sure it happens. But often, when these relationships fail, it isn't the producer's fault. My company has had to cut ties with two newbie writers recently because thhey couldn't deliver on the promise of their specs with solid rewrites. Is it our fault that thay couldn't execute the notes? Should we have been paying them to conduct that experiment? I don't think so.

>Note the word OPTION. Perhaps no money changed hands initially but your 'friend' was obviously protected by contract. Another aspect noticibly missing in the examples I am referring to.

It was a handshake agreement for the first year, until the producer managed to set it up with a company. It wasn't an easy script to sell (it's a drama) and he worked his ass off, for no money, for a year.

>There is a huge difference between a writer re-writing his own material to produce the best possible script at the request of his agent or manager and doing free work for 'a producer' on some iffy project at the producers request and with no contract or payment.

I think you've misunderstood. It was a spec. My friend's project. I would never, ever, suggest that a writer should work for free on something they didn't own!

>The producer you refer to was IMO a wannabbee because he had no money to put into a project and relied soley on the goodwill of the writer working for nothing! The only thing that seperates him from the rest of the wannabbees is that he is one of the tiny minority who actually make good, probably due to his previous track record working for a bigger company.

Whatever. A lack of development funds doesn't mean that a producer is out to take advantage of new writers.

>Allowing for writers hyberbole of course my assertion is false that any producer who asks you to write for no money is either a wannabee or a shark . There will always be exceptions. But as a general rule it is more true than not.

Your lottery winning friend is an exception and will no doubt be held up as a dangling carrot by some of the unscrupulous low life who frequent the fringes of this industry.

That could be.

>There will always be writers who are willing to do almost anything to break in and there will always be 'producers' willing to take advantage of this. What I am saying is go in with your eyes open. Think about the fact that maybe the time would be better spent fashioning a great spec of your own, because I guarantee you that will open many more doors than yet another would -be producer clinging on by his fingernails.

Again, I think you might have misinterpreted the circumstances of which I was speaking.

My point is simple. If you have a spec that attracts the interest of an independent producer and they think it needs work, if you agree with their notes you should do the rewrites and not expect to be paid for it. Obviously, you have to make a judgment call as to wether or not you feel comfortable working with that producer.
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Old 03-28-2005, 11:36 AM   #20
SbScript
 
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>>>Lets take a look at this SB. Your friend was working with a KNOWN producer with a TRACK record possibly, allthough you do not say, with the blessing of his agent or manager to whom this producer was known?>He took a risk and it paid off. The problem is these rare occurances are held up by the charlatans with nothing in the way of track record as an enticement to other writers to take the same risk. They prey on unrepresented inexperienced writers.>Are you trying to tell me this doesn't happen, every day? And many, many times more frequently than your lucky friend's experience.>Note the word OPTION. Perhaps no money changed hands initially but your 'friend' was obviously protected by contract. Another aspect noticibly missing in the examples I am referring to.There is a huge difference between a writer re-writing his own material to produce the best possible script at the request of his agent or manager and doing free work for 'a producer' on some iffy project at the producers request and with no contract or payment.>The producer you refer to was IMO a wannabbee because he had no money to put into a project and relied soley on the goodwill of the writer working for nothing! The only thing that seperates him from the rest of the wannabbees is that he is one of the tiny minority who actually make good, probably due to his previous track record working for a bigger company.>Allowing for writers hyberbole of course my assertion is false that any producer who asks you to write for no money is either a wannabee or a shark . There will always be exceptions. But as a general rule it is more true than not.>Your lottery winning friend is an exception and will no doubt be held up as a dangling carrot by some of the unscrupulous low life who frequent the fringes of this industry.>There will always be writers who are willing to do almost anything to break in and there will always be 'producers' willing to take advantage of this. What I am saying is go in with your eyes open. Think about the fact that maybe the time would be better spent fashioning a great spec of your own, because I guarantee you that will open many more doors than yet another would -be producer clinging on by his fingernails.
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