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Old 01-09-2012, 03:45 PM   #11
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Yes, there is that chance.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:41 PM   #12
ScriptGal
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Okay I have to weigh back in.

If they OP was completely happy with his situation, he wouldn't have posted in the first place. The script is getting more heat, congrats on the honorable mention, yet the company he has been working with isn't (yet) stepping up to the plate.

Are you all really suggesting that if a bigger/better producer or company requests the script, the writer should say no? I honestly don't get that. If he had a rep, you better believe that rep would be sending the script out using the contest buzz, whether it was available or as a writing sample.

At minimum (if he indeed is getting new requests to see the script) he should talk to the company and tell them this. How can they expect him, a struggling new writer, to cut off potential offers without a bird in the hand? With no paperwork, no contract, no verbal agreement, no money, the script is available. After this new contest win, the script is in a different category - it's more valuable than when they first got involved with it. Maybe this new win, and new interest, will be the catalyst to get them to make a deal with the OP.

To expand on the earlier dating/relationship metaphor, does a girl (or guy) have to go home with the first person who asks them to dance? Just because they asked first?

Amanda
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:11 PM   #13
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScriptGal View Post
If they OP was completely happy with his situation, he wouldn't have posted in the first place. The script is getting more heat, congrats on the honorable mention, yet the company he has been working with isn't (yet) stepping up to the plate.
Should they ask for a free option? The number of producers with discretionary funds is tiny. These are connected people who are helping him get his spec into shape. Here's what he said about them:

"They've given an awful lot of time and thought to the work and we've had weekly conference calls since the beginning."

"Also, I have to stress, they've been absolutely brilliant and nothing but supportive during this process. Really great guys to work with."

I wouldn't call that not stepping up to the plate. It sounds to me like a really good situation that the OP recognizes and appreciates.

Quote:
Are you all really suggesting that if a bigger/better producer or company requests the script, the writer should say no? I honestly don't get that. If he had a rep, you better believe that rep would be sending the script out using the contest buzz, whether it was available or as a writing sample.
Would an agent send out an earlier draft as a sample to get other assignments? Maybe. (Although they might not want it floating around if a better draft is about to go out to try to sell.) What an agent would not do, I guarantee, is what you said earlier - send out the draft that a writer is currently working on with the producer to try to get a different producer on board.

Quote:
At minimum (if he indeed is getting new requests to see the script) he should talk to the company and tell them this. How can they expect him, a struggling new writer, to cut off potential offers without a bird in the hand? With no paperwork, no contract, no verbal agreement, no money, the script is available. After this new contest win, the script is in a different category - it's more valuable than when they first got involved with it. Maybe this new win, and new interest, will be the catalyst to get them to make a deal with the OP.
You seem to keep valuing what the producer is adding at zero. They made an offer to him, and he accepted it: here's the spec you haven't sold. We will invest our time in making it better. After that, we will invest our contacts to try to get you represented and try to get it sold.

They've made a commitment to each other. If either side is unhappy, they can certainly get out - there is no contract. But he shouldn't keep marketing it if he values his relationship with this producer.

Quote:
To expand on the earlier dating/relationship metaphor, does a girl (or guy) have to go home with the first person who asks them to dance? Just because they asked first?
Again, he did agree. They asked if he wanted to develop it together; he said yes; I don't think he should be dating other people while he's still going out with this one.

Ask yourself this question: if you were in his situation, would you be comfortable saying to the producers "thanks for those great notes. This is really going well. By the way, I just sent this latest draft with your ideas in it to someone else, and if they're interested, I'm cutting you out of the process with no recognition of your work. So what time next week?"
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

The OP says this is a legit prod/co. At that point there is an implied deal here (the deal being): this prod/co will lend their good name and use their relationships to set this project up and get the writer repped. The writer agrees to do free work and be (mostly) exclusive to the prod/co. It's a pretty common arrangement. And, again, this is how people are breaking in these days. I don't think there is any paperwork to be had. Is there ever?

IMO, the writer needs to be respectful of the opportunity. There are scenarios in which you bail, I guess. If Bruckheimer says "we're willing to buy this", you gotta make that move. But you don't really wanna be soliciting other suitors while a legitimate one is working with you. That's whorish.

Quote:
At minimum (if he indeed is getting new requests to see the script) he should talk to the company and tell them this. How can they expect him, a struggling new writer, to cut off potential offers without a bird in the hand?
Again, it's a fine line. In a short period of time, the entire town will be seeing the script. The prod/co will make its moves, hook him up with a rep, and the rep will blast it out.

Some patience is needed. But I agree that if something super sexy comes along, you pull out out and stick it in over there. But only if it's super sexy.

ETA: cross posted with Jeff
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:32 PM   #15
Rhodi
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

If I might cut the baby in half here, I think the answer lies midway between Jeff and Amanda's responses. My general instinct is that, if it is possible, a writer should be paid asap for work they do, even if it is a fairly nominal figure (a thou or two, say) pending further payment, as it is the firmest sign of a commitment to actually producing the work.

If, however, the prod/co does not have discretionary (or investor) funds available it is worthwhile having some understanding of the process going forward - what are we doing with the material once it is polished? Who will we be approaching? When are we doing it? And, finally, when am I likely to be paid?

Any reputable and professional prod/co should be able to provide firm answers to these questions.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:46 PM   #16
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

You're both working on spec, hoping to sell the thing. "When will I get paid?" is a silly question to ask. Somewhere between six months and never.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:47 PM   #17
BattleDolphinZero
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhodi View Post
If I might cut the baby in half here, I think the answer lies midway between Jeff and Amanda's responses. My general instinct is that, if it is possible, a writer should be paid asap for work they do, even if it is a fairly nominal figure (a thou or two, say) pending further payment, as it is the firmest sign of a commitment to actually producing the work.

If, however, the prod/co does not have discretionary (or investor) funds available it is worthwhile having some understanding of the process going forward - what are we doing with the material once it is polished? Who will we be approaching? When are we doing it? And, finally, when am I likely to be paid?

Any reputable and professional prod/co should be able to provide firm answers to these questions.
The prod/co has already told OP what the plan is.

And most prod/cos don't pay.

Look, at some point this "development" can drag out. And it's okay to nudge. And the risk in all this is that the prod/co may feel like 'the script didn't get there' and do nothing with it. If that happens, then these other suitors will still be around and the writer can/should go to them.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:04 PM   #18
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Absolutely. There might come a point when the OP feels the script isn't getting better; it's just getting different. When he hits that point, it's fair to ask what the plan is. If they don't want to take it out, and he doesn't want to make any more changes, it's time to shake hands and walk away.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:14 PM   #19
Rhodi
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BattleDolphinZero View Post
The prod/co has already told OP what the plan is.
I did see the general plan, but my point was that the OP should ask for specifics so he is confident that there is a plan in place that he is comfortable with - i.e. Month 1 we'll do this, Month 2 we'll do this, we've got these contacts at Agency X and Y who we think would be well suited to this type of material.

Something might come up in these discussions like Month 1 we'll do this then I'll be working on a couple of other things for 3-6 months, then we'll get to your stuff (I'm being flippant, but often the devil is in the detail).

Other than that, I might add there is nothing stopping the OP from continuing to write and market his other material, and having this ongoing project in his CV could be a big help in that area.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:25 PM   #20
Geoff Alexander
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Default Re: Working with a production company on spec?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScriptGal View Post
Okay I have to weigh back in.

If they OP was completely happy with his situation, he wouldn't have posted in the first place. The script is getting more heat, congrats on the honorable mention, yet the company he has been working with isn't (yet) stepping up to the plate.

Are you all really suggesting that if a bigger/better producer or company requests the script, the writer should say no? I honestly don't get that. If he had a rep, you better believe that rep would be sending the script out using the contest buzz, whether it was available or as a writing sample.

At minimum (if he indeed is getting new requests to see the script) he should talk to the company and tell them this. How can they expect him, a struggling new writer, to cut off potential offers without a bird in the hand? With no paperwork, no contract, no verbal agreement, no money, the script is available. After this new contest win, the script is in a different category - it's more valuable than when they first got involved with it. Maybe this new win, and new interest, will be the catalyst to get them to make a deal with the OP.

To expand on the earlier dating/relationship metaphor, does a girl (or guy) have to go home with the first person who asks them to dance? Just because they asked first?

Amanda
IMO, you are way off on this. He has entered into a development process with a legitimate company. The understanding in this business is that this process is exclusive until one party informs the other that they would like to move on.

To continue with the metaphor, you are on a couch making out. The person gets a text from someone and tells you they would like to leave and go make out with them for a while, and then maybe come back and make out with you some more, depending on what happens. How do you respond?
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