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Old 07-12-2016, 11:54 PM   #1
maep
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Default Can't Find Representation on a Deal

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Last edited by maep : 07-16-2016 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 07-13-2016, 01:00 AM   #2
mgwriter
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

Is it a 'no-money' option?

On real (money) options, lawyers get paid by taking 5% of the money they negotiate for you. Also, if real money is on the table, there should be no problem getting an agent involved. Again, they get paid 10% from the option money and purchase price they negotiate for you. If there's no money being offered for them to get their percentage, you have a problem and they don't want you wasting their time.

Producers, lawyers, agents and managers do not work for free, why should the writer?

If you're not comfortable requiring reasonable payment for yourself, then at least require enough to pay your potential lawyer and agent a reasonable amount for their work in negotiating the deal for you. It's the price of doing business with you. If the producer can't or won't come up with decent payment, ask yourself if this is the right producer for your project.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:02 AM   #3
LIMAMA
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

I have never heard of an entertainment lawyer who wants to be paid upfront before negotiating a deal.

It's either a lawyer or an agent---a manager cannot technically negotiate a deal.
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:24 AM   #4
docgonzo
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

Okay, so I've been through something similar recently...

My lawyer negotiated terms on a no-money option with business affairs at a major studio with no money up front. He worked on the potential for making his 5% if we sold the project to buyers. Didn't happen, but that's the business. I got my lawyer through a former manager, so you'll probably need to get a manager first. Your manager will be able to hook you up with an attorney and possibly an agent.

Now this is where your situation is a little confusing. You have a producer who optioned a pilot, then got a studio, network and showrunner attached to the project? Did you go out and pitch the show to all those entities? I'm just confused as to how you're separated from them. Usually you'd go in to pitch the execs and potential showrunners with the producer, so I'm not really getting how this is all set up.

Anyway, I would ask the producer who optioned your pilot for a referral to reps/an attorney.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:15 AM   #5
markerstone
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

Hi Mae,

I can help. Please shoot me an e-mail at mark.lawyer@markerstonepictures.com.

Best,
Mark
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:39 AM   #6
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

FWIW, there's something very fishy about what the producer is telling you.

I can't imagine a scenario where a network, studio or showrunner would attach themselves to a project without meeting the person who wrote the pilot.

The producer shouldn't be having you sign an option. He doesn't pay you and never will. The studio should be negotiating with you AND the producer. It's two separate deals.

Does this producer have legit credits? Feel free to PM me his name.

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Old 07-13-2016, 03:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

The members of this forum are so kind, always trying to help others out. I particularly appreciate that, being someone who is not a professional writer and most likely never will be. My comments come more from a legal perspective and I suppose can be harsh and not mesh well with ordinarily taking things at face value.
When an attorney is presented with a potential client who has a great deal-if only someone would listen-but the details do not seem to add up, they may quote a significant fee only to ensure that the person no longer wastes their time, and word gets around quickly. Of course I'm not saying that is the case here.
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Old 07-13-2016, 04:57 PM   #8
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

Again, I think the reason you're running into trouble, is that the whole thing sounds hinky.

For example, you say there's a network "attached." I've been doing this for too long, and that literally makes no sense to me. Networks don't attach to pilots. Networks hear pitches or read specs, and then they buy them or not. They also don't option them.

It's also very odd that they've attached a showrunner before anyone owns it. What kind of reputable showrunner would attach to an unsold spec pilot? Why aren't they asking to talk to you? It really doesn't make sense.

Either the producer is selling you a bill of goods for some reason, or there's just a communication error.

You shouldn't be optioning this to the producer. At this point, you should ask him to talk to someone real who's involved with this. For example, if there's a showrunner, talk to him or her. Ask for a reference to their agent or manager. If I called my agent and said "there's a writer with a hot spec that a network wants to buy that needs an agent," I can promise you it would get read in a second.

I can see why no lawyer wants to take this on. As you point out, they'll get a percentage of a small option fee. No one's going to do it for that. And all the other elements of this are unusual enough that it is putting up red flags.

Again, the producer needs to put you in contact with all of these people who want your pilot. If he won't, something's going on.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

I agree with Jeff.

This sounds hinky, like this producer is trying to get you to sign away your rights to your material.

Any studio is going to want to have met with you before they get involved and they are the ones who buy or option material. Networks don't become attached to projects.

A legit producer would have you sit down with a showrunner and talk about the show and see if you can be compatible.

As to the lawyers, it's because you're asking them to negotiate a low money option with a producer that they aren't interested. If you called and told them you had an offer from a studio to buy or option your pilot, and you could name the business affairs person at that studio who sent you the offer, then they would take your call and most likely do the deal either pro bono, or for a later five percent.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Can't Find Representation on a Deal

My lawyer just takes 5% of anything that happens, and we've had a bunch of situations where not much happened.

Aside from all of this sounding a bit strange - and no lawyer being interested (maybe an indicator) - most states have some sort of an organization of Lawyers For The Arts that will work with you. I think if you just google your state and Lawyers For The Arts you'll find some info.

But usually if there is real money involved, people want a piece of that.
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