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Old 03-02-2015, 11:09 AM   #1
Gumsandals
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Default Producer from Hell

Way back in 2007, I signed a 1-year option for a dollar to a "producer" for one of my screenplays. Nothing happened (didn't get my dollar either). Problem was-- and still is-- he wouldn't remove my script from his slate. Emails show I told him to please do so. I then let it go as I got into rewriting it as a stage play. Over the years the play has won an award and two NYC readings. I renewed my IMDB Pro account and discovered "the producer who won't go away" was still listing my script as part of his slate through a new production company. I emailed him and again asked him to remove it unless, of course, he wanted to pay me an option fee. He told me that it was the "norm" in Hollywood to do options without an upfront fee. I find that hard to believe. Please advise oh great Done Deal Forum.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

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Originally Posted by Gumsandals View Post
Way back in 2007, I signed a 1-year option for a dollar to a "producer" for one of my screenplays. Nothing happened (didn't get my dollar either). Problem was-- and still is-- he wouldn't remove my script from his slate. Emails show I told him to please do so. I then let it go as I got into rewriting it as a stage play. Over the years the play has won an award and two NYC readings. I renewed my IMDB Pro account and discovered "the producer who won't go away" was still listing my script as part of his slate through a new production company. I emailed him and again asked him to remove it unless, of course, he wanted to pay me an option fee. He told me that it was the "norm" in Hollywood to do options without an upfront fee. I find that hard to believe. Please advise oh great Done Deal Forum.
Hasn't the option in 2007 long since expired? It's been 8 years. I haven't seen an option go for more than one extension at the original length so that would be 2 years putting the expiration at 2009.

If you have the rights you can edit IMDB yourself and take that off explaining you have the rights and don't want it up there.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

If the place he's listing it is on IMDB, you can contact them and let them know the situation and tell them you want the project removed. They have the final say on what is listed on their site.
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Old 03-02-2015, 02:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

The IMDB thing is really a side issue. The main issue here is the option agreement which has clearly expired. Wasn't there a clear expiration clause in the agreement? Why does he even believe he still has rights to develop the script?
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Old 03-02-2015, 06:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

There was a clear expiration date but it seems to mean nothing to him-- or my entreaties asking him to remove my script from his IMDB site. As of this date and time, he's still listing the script on IMDB. As for IMDB, I went through their channels on his IMDB site stating why I want them removed. They contacted him and then he got in touch with me to try to come to terms. We couldn't and, again, despite my written email requests to delete the script from his 2015 slate, it's still there.

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?

Thanks all for the feedback.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

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Originally Posted by Gumsandals View Post
There was a clear expiration date but it seems to mean nothing to him-- or my entreaties asking him to remove my script from his IMDB site. As of this date and time, he's still listing the script on IMDB. As for IMDB, I went through their channels on his IMDB site stating why I want them removed. They contacted him and then he got in touch with me to try to come to terms. We couldn't and, again, despite my written email requests to delete the script from his 2015 slate, it's still there.

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?

Thanks all for the feedback.
Do you have an attorney who looked over the deal terms for you when you first signed the option agreement (please say yes, if not NEVER sign any contract in this biz without consulting an entertainment attorney again).

If the answer is yes, as I hope, sic the attorney on this mother******.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

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Originally Posted by Gumsandals View Post
There was a clear expiration date but it seems to mean nothing to him-- or my entreaties asking him to remove my script from his IMDB site. As of this date and time, he's still listing the script on IMDB. As for IMDB, I went through their channels on his IMDB site stating why I want them removed. They contacted him and then he got in touch with me to try to come to terms. We couldn't and, again, despite my written email requests to delete the script from his 2015 slate, it's still there.

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?

Thanks all for the feedback.
I believe it's become far more common than it used to be. But... that doesn't mean you should do it Set a minimum price and decide that you are worth that price. Don't settle for less.
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Old 03-03-2015, 08:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

Are you trying to distinguish a $1 option you signed years ago from a "no-money" option? Because let's face it, it's essentially the same thing, and you were willing to enter into such a deal back in 2007. Were you really counting on that $1.

If the option agreement expired he has no rights to the script. Simple as that. If he wants a free option and you want to give him one again (or for $1, whatever) he still needs a legal agreement.

Really about all you can do is consider legal action, maybe the threat of that alone will get him to remove it.
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Old 03-03-2015, 09:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

I had the same problem. I contacted IMDb, to no avail. Eventually I just logged in and deleted that project from my page and removed my credit, so it still exists on IMDb but my name isn't anywhere on it.

Get that damn dollar though.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:10 PM   #10
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Default Re: Producer from Hell

If you have a legal document that says when the option was to expire and it has, then you own all the rights anyway. If it's more of an informal option, which happens, then you still own all the rights anyway. Depending on how big the producer is, it being on his slate doesn't really effect your ability to do it as a stage play. Again, you own the rights and if you find success with it, he'd have to be crazy enough to make a fuss over it knowing full well he has no legal standpoint to fall back on.

The point is, unless you signed a contract that says he gets an option for over 8 years for $1, you own all of it, and even in that case, if he didn't give you the $1, he nulled the contract.

I've worked with producers informally on my scripts, no option fee paid upfront, but kind of the understanding was that if I wanted to peace out I had that right (unless they wanted to pay to option it).

Regardless, if you're worried about it, get or consult your entertainment attorney.
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