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Old 07-16-2009, 06:54 PM   #1
Gumsandals
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Default To sign or not to sign?

I have a producer who wants me to sign a 6-month extension that I agreed to in an option to finalize financing on a film based on my script. Should I sign the extension if I'm not really happy with the terms? I don't have an agent. Should I try to find an agent before going any further? Or would this be like throwing a monkey wrench into the whole thing? I keep thinking that I could bring in an agent later to cover my interests as a first time screenwriter, but maybe I can't. I'm only looking for the fair market value based on the WGA minimum. Please advise. I will appreciate any input you can give me.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

Anyone you know that can refer you to an entertainment attorney?

You should be able to secure one on an hourly rate, if they won't work on retainer and later comission.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

you can ask this guy. he's a "writers" atty - http://www.marklitwak.com/

i think it's hard for anyone to really give you an answer without knowing the details. my best suggestion would be to ask for a 3 month extension. that puts more pressure on him to get things done. but also ask what you can do to help move things along faster. if he suggests you get an agent then ask him to recommend one. also know that you'll have to pay that agent 10% and the manager (if that producer is acting as a manager) 15% of your sale.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

Sounds like a good opportunity to find an agent.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

Sometimes trying to find an agent for this kind of deal is difficult, if they don't think there is any money upfront for them, they sometimes don't want to get involved. Years ago I had a director who wanted to give me a paid option, I called Hollywood, had three agents turn me down, said they were too busy to get involved.

So I found one out of state who has been a great friend and help over the years.

But have you shopped the script around? If no one else is interested in script, what is six more months of your life?

You kinda have to ask yourself . . do I want to hold out for the money, and maybe walk away with nothing, or do you want to see your script produced?

Just questions to ask yourself, but only you can make the final decision.

Good luck

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Old 07-17-2009, 12:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

This isn't how I would do things, but it happens at the office I work at. It's an indie company in Canada with a handful of produced features, nothing major. In the years I have worked there, on two different occasions, the producers got interested in a script. They optioned it. One was a no pay, the other low. During the option period, they tried to secure funding through telefilm, and telefilm passed. The issue was the that telefilm took six months to completely pass. So the option expired. The producers didn't just wait for telefilm, as they were talking with them, they tried to secure money through private investors.
The producers kept in contact with the writers on both occasions, but being this was their first option they were overly excited. Kind of annoyed my boss with all the calls. In their eyes, they saw nothing happen with their script for six months. Which is understandable. So when it came to extend the option, one writer asked for an agent. He asked the producer to secure him an agent to negotiate the option. The second writer said she would consult with an entertainment lawyer but asked the producer to pay the fees.
These weren't the only properties the company was looking to make. They liked the script, saw potential and were willingly to continue to keep on trucking at least another go round at trying to secure fiance.
So after the writers stated their demands, the producers just let the option lapse and moved on.
I've heard from on of the writers about three months ago. She told me it's been even tougher to get reads on the script we were interested in, mainly because, after hearing a logline and whatnot, other people ask she's applied to telefilm before. (Canadians love them some telefilm). She tells them the script was optioned and that our company did take it to telefilm, and they off course lose interest.
I'm not saying that if she would have stuck it out with our company it would have been made and she would be rolling in the money now. But if no other interest has been gathered, what's another six months? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Though, if the company is a little more big leagues, then perhaps someone like an agent can use that to leverage you a better deal.
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

Thanks for all the quick responses and advice. I agree another 6-months isn't that big of a deal, especially when I have nothing else going with that script. My question is what happens if the producers are successful in raising the money and finding a distributor? Am I locked into the option agreement or can I renegotiate to secure a fair WGA minimum based on the final estimated cost of making the movie, etc? I think I should be shopping for an LA based agent or lawyer. But then you have a guy like Bill Martell who is famous (I believe) for getting his screenplays bought and made into pics without an agent. Since I don't live in LA and probably don't have cajones as big as Bill's (or talent), maybe I should start looking for someone who does and will act as my mouthpiece. In any event, I think I should act on this ASAP.
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: To sign or not to sign?

If there's a optional six month extension (at the buyer's discretion) written into the original contract, you don't really have a choice. I'm surprised you're being asked to sign anything - it's their call.
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