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Old 12-30-2005, 01:39 PM   #1
Morris
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Default Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Howdy All,

Was hoping someone could offer me some advice.

1)I placed well in a screenplay comp
2)Get a call from the head of Fana films (Ohio based maker of B movies?) They guy shows up in IMDB. Once produced a movie with Peter Weller in the early nineties...
3) I send him 2 scripts.
4)He calls the next day telling me he loves the horror script and he wants to make it -- and after learning I've directed a couple shorts no one ever heard of -- he asked me to direct.
5) He sends over a deal memo: $5000.00 up front -- everything else -- including the purchase price of the script is deferred until if and when the movie wraps.
6) He's calling me constantly (he didn't know who I was a week ago) and wants to know if I'm in or not. I told him I need to speak with my attorney (which I guess was code for I need to pose this question on the Done Deal message board).

I have no idea what to do here. As he wants to roll "yesterday" (his words) and I'll need to basically quit my job in order to take off four weeks to make this thing.

Also -- I don't have an agent or a manager.

Does this ring familiar with anyone?

Many Thanks,

Morris

Last edited by Morris : 12-30-2005 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 12-30-2005, 11:29 PM   #2
ptandjc
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morris
Howdy All,

Was hoping someone could offer me some advice.

4)He calls the next day telling me he loves the horror script and he wants to make it -- and after learning I've directed a couple shorts no one ever heard of -- he asked me to direct.
Is there a directing salary offered?
Quote:
5) He sends over a deal memo: $5000.00 up front -- everything else -- including the purchase price of the script is deferred until if and when the movie wraps.
I'm not an expert on this by any means - my two cents....
Are you willing to sell your script for 5K and risk getting nothing else? Seems a little odd. Sometimes people will defer the payment for the script until production BEGINS. And then it's usually for a percentage of the production budget.
..."if and when the movie wraps." - If this is someone you are willing to work with, I'd insist on an option agreement. Make it for 5K and a period of a year or two - that way you can get your script back if it doesn't get made.
What's the deferred payment? Does it even state that?
Quote:
6) He's calling me constantly (he didn't know who I was a week ago) and wants to know if I'm in or not. I told him I need to speak with my attorney (which I guess was code for I need to pose this question on the Done Deal message board).

I have no idea what to do here. As he wants to roll "yesterday" (his words) and I'll need to basically quit my job in order to take off four weeks to make this thing.
If you can quit your job and not worry about it for a month - it could be a learning experience, but I'd definitely insist on more information.
Is it a MEMO or an actual CONTRACT?


Just something to think about. If he's really that interested and it is legit, he'll wait for you to look over things. He could be in a hurry to steamroll you. But, hey, you might get a couple credits out of it. I don't now....J
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Old 12-31-2005, 03:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

There's nothing on Filmtracker for Fana Films. Imbd has a credit from 1941!

http://www.imdb.com/company/co0023766/

Probably different people?

$5000 isn't half bad for an option. Has he sent over a purchase/acquisition agreement? Unless there is a rights transfer, in writing, you still retain the copyright. So you *may* not be selling your script at all. The purchase agreement is the document that is usually attached to an option but only activated when the conditions of the option are met and the option is exercised. If he has sent you one of those, without an option stipulating conditions, then you may well be selling your script for $5000.

A producer doesn't have to pay you in order to legally acquire your copyright, but a copyright license must be in writing.

Should you be doing the producers job and asking for an option? If you are 100% that the producer has no claim to the copyright (put the deal memo past an ent. attorney), maybe it's best to keep quiet. If you own the underlying copyright, then you have the upper hand, and can prevent the movie being shown if it doesn't turn out, and name your price for the script if it does.

However, odds are the deal memo is actually a ploy to acquire your script out-right for $5000 with promises to pay production bonuses etc that the producer need not fulfill to retain the rights to your screenplay.

What is the $5000 specifically for?

A deal memo is a contract (sans verbiage). Question is, is it a purchase agreement.
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Last edited by BROUGHCUT : 12-31-2005 at 03:33 AM.
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Old 12-31-2005, 06:52 AM   #4
Morris
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Thanks guys,

I told him I needed a couple days -- that I wasn't sure if I could could commit to directing for the amount mentioned in the memo -- and he fired back with a rather abrupt pass.

Weird.

I think if he had any real interest in the property, he would have still wanted the script -- but who the heck knows. Ah well...

Happy New Year my fellow script monkeys!

--Morris
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Old 12-31-2005, 08:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

If you feel the guy is legit, you should meet with him. I know this is easier said than done. If you can fly out to Ohio for the weekend and meet with the guy and talk over the production end of the project it'll be worth your while to see if you can work with him.

With the advent of HD, everyone and his uncle wants to make a movie (usually direct to DVD) for a "quick" turn around on their investment.

They want to make a movie for 100-300k in an attempt to get double that back from a DVD distribution deal. Unfortunately, in most cases that I've seen, the ramrod (the so-called producer) is someone who is a movie fan with "some" contacts. Either the "producer" of a friend has a script idea. They collect money from friends (or dentists, looking for a write off)

Then, YOUR script comes along. It did well in a contest... so it is more than likely better written than most.

As said before, if you can afford to quit your job and "direct" this project, it may be a great oppertunity for you... if that is what you want to do. If this was my situation. If I met with the guy and he was legit (had the money in place, knows what he's doing) and I could work with him. I would consider it, but I would make myself a producer as well (less chance of being removed from the project over something silly - get that in writing with a your contract lawyer).

In some cases like this, the producer is going to pay you from the "contingency" in the budget. This is 5-10% of the budget that is set aside to cover unexpected expenses. If this ISN'T in the budget, be wary.

The key thing is... don't rush into production! The producer who says "I wanted to start shooting yesterday" isn't being realistic. He may be excited about your script; wants your script to raise the funds; has to start production by a certain time period... or some other motives.

To make a GOOD low budget movie, you need prep time. Most of this prep time you may be working for free (still off of the 5K paid up front). Doing a low-budget production, you want to show the investors that you are not taking their money up front. YOU believe enough in this project that you are going to not take a salary until the film is complete. Investors really like that.

Sorry, it's early and I've been rambling. Feel free to PM if you have more questions. But, check the guy out! Meet with him if you can, or at least do a long phone call... but I'd really push for a face-to-face if this is something you really want and can afford to do.

Best of luck-

Doug
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Old 12-31-2005, 08:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Did he sign the deal memo? If he did, sign it and post it back and sue for breach of contract.

I kid. Weird indeed. Probably for the best.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

I wouldn't worry about it. I had a similar situation. They wanted to change my script around, make it almost all action, lose some of the story, but when I asked for more than a memo i.e. contract and check upfront, they *decided* they couldn't get that all done *before* they started shooting and were trying to push me into the shooting immediately and the paperwork later.

It was easier for me to play bad cop, good cop as I told them my agent wouldn't allow me to do *one* thing until I had the signed contract (stating percentages with floors and ceilings) which was my idea and the check in my hand.

Even if I didn't have any agent, I would have insisted on everything in writing before I allowed them to touch my script.

If they had done it my way, at least I would have had the upfront money (as an option) and a floor price if the film was indeed produced.

If not, the screenplay would have come back to me. You did right unless you were willing to sell your script and your directing work for five grand because that's almost definitely all you were getting.

While I didn't fly out for a meeting, we did have a long talk on the phone trying to iron out all the *wrinkles.* He agreed to almost everything and shortly after he sent an email to me and my agent, that he just didn't have time for all the *paperwork* and had to start immediately, so he was going to have to look elsewhere or work on some other projects he had.

I have no regrets.
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Old 01-01-2006, 10:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

"Ohio-based" should have been your first clue.
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Old 01-04-2006, 11:17 AM   #9
Morris
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Well things have taken another turn. The producer called me this morning. I had done a free re-write for him last week, the first 30 pages of a sci-fi script they’re developing -- I’d never re-written someone else’s material and I thought it would be a fun exercise. Well they like what I did with it want me to give a try at re-writing the rest (the compensation discussed was a pittance, but I just got engaged and would be happy if I could just pay off the ring).

2) They also decided they’re interested in purchasing the horror script after all -- even though I won’t be directing it. They’re working up another deal memo for both this and the re-write...

My question gentle readers is how can I best use this to further my career? I don’t have an agent or a manager. Should I call an agent and tell them I have a deal on the table? I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if it was a prod company with some real cred -- but this is an Ohio based company -- who while they do in fact make movies, they’re mostly straight to DVD -- foreign distributors, etc. The B market as they say.

Any thoughts?

Many Thanks,
Morris
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Old 01-04-2006, 12:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Need Advice!! Fana Films??

Congratulations getting engaged.

I'm like a parrot on this point but it's not said enough. First, ring up WGAE to check the company is not on the strike/unfair list, to make sure you don't end your career by doing business with them (the company's signatory status is irrelevant, the WGA's sh!t-list is all-encompassing) .

You are only likely to entice an agent or manager is there is upfront payment which you should, of course, hold out for.
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