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Old 12-10-2014, 06:28 PM   #1
Pasquali56
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Default Beware of producers...

Being that it's coming up on the New Year, I thought I would offer some New Year's tips about producers based on my own experience. Everything I'm listing here actually happened to me. I should add that most of these tips apply to indie producers, although some could also apply to ones with studio relationships.

Beware of producers who suddenly become less interested in a project when you tell them to deal with your attorney on the agreement.

Along the same lines, beware of producers who continue to ask you how much you want even after you tell them to deal with your attorney.

Beware of producers who drop names of big stars, saying that they are working with them on other films and could easily get your screenplay to them. But there are no projects/films like that mentioned on imdb.

Beware of producers who have websites where they list several screenplays they have in development -- yet nothing actually in production.

Beware of producers who only have imdb credits of short films and films where they had a very minor role (as an actor).

Beware of producers who tell you that they are close to securing funding for a very large amount of money (usually foreign) that will allow them to have a slate with several movies.

Along the same lines, beware of producers who have no or few credits to date, but say they are going to have a slate of five films the next year.

Beware of producers who tell you not to get representation (agent, manager or lawyer). Instead, they tell you that they'll get you an entertainment attorney when the time comes to put everything in writing.

Beware of producers who offer a free or dollar option and have no imdb credits.

Beware of producers who want you to do a major rewrite that will change the genre of the screenplay you wrote -- just to make it similar to a current movie trend.

Anyone else have any warnings they can add?
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:59 PM   #2
Centurio
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

Beware of producers whose offices consist of a couch, a desk, blank walls and an awesome array of cameras set up.
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Old 12-10-2014, 11:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

Basically,

Beware of producers with no money!

The majority of bewares listed by Pasquali are just red flags that the producer has no money.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

I'd like to contribute to this thread. Bear with me, as I'm still new here and once I hit "reply" the thread I was looking at disappeared, so this may be a bit disjointed....

I don't know if the dishonest scumbags you dealt with should even be called "indie" producers. Maybe they should just be called dishonest scumbags.

I also dealt with "producers" (sometimes "producers/directors") who said they were close to getting funding for a full slate of projects, even listing those projects on their websites with start dates, etc. Some of the projects even got listed on imdb, lingered there in limbo for years, then evaporated when no one was looking.

Re: dollar options. I have no problem with those if the filmmaker is truly passionate about getting the material made. Just read the fine print, communicate clearly, beware chronic excuses. If they haven't actually lied to you, and no one else on earth is interested in that particular script, you haven't got much to lose.

So I'd disagree with the idea of bewaring producers with "no money." Even Martin Scorcese had problems securing funding for the Wolf of Wall Street, from what I've heard. If someone like THAT has problems getting money to make a movie, well, let's cut the lower level producers some slack. Just like beginning writers with no cash, they have to start somewhere. This is why dollar options don't represent a red flag for me.

Now, if they want to option your stuff but clearly haven't even read it closely, that's definitely a red flag. I had a guy who wanted all my stuff because he said his "readers" gave my stuff high marks. He loved talking about my "concepts" but it was clear to me he hadn't actually read my scripts cover to cover.

Also, producers who say they'll send you money next month, or next week, or any day now. And then oops! Someone in their family got sick, or they've got a kid with a hole in their heart (this was one of the excuses I heard), or they had emergency medical problems, and one guy actually used the "I got your address wrong" excuse TWO TIMES in a row!

One guy told me he was having daily phone conferences with the famous director of a famous horror film, regarding a sequel script to that famous horror film. I wrote the script in a ten day frenzy. A few days later my "producer" friend/advocate forwarded me a letter from that famous director gushing about how fantastic my script was, how he wanted us to take it directly to Paramount, etc. I was thrilled. Only problem was, the letter was a forgery. I eventually found that out by joining imdb pro and grabbing that famous director's email address (which my friend would never let me have; a red flag). I asked this famous director if he had, in fact, read my script, and if he had written the previously mentioned letter. He replied very quickly: he'd never heard of me before, and suggested I was being deliberately misled by my "producer" friend, who he'd likewise never heard of. I cut ties with said producer the next day, after a year of writing script after script for him for free. This was an individual I had allowed to take "co-author" credit on all my work up to that point, despite the fact he never wrote anything. I let him put his name on my stuff based on his elaborate lies and promises of great things on the horizon.

I'm sure plenty of people on this forum have their own horror stories. Why do they lie? Because as my example above proves, these aren't little lies, these are huge lies. Hugely disturbing lies from people who actually have imdb pages, with a few credits.

Maybe dishonesty has always been a problem in Hollywood? Nah.
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

I don't know if these producers (dishonest) are always necessarily lying. Perhaps they really believed that they could do something that they couldn't do. I once met a man who went into 50k of credit card debt before having a total nervous breakdown. He told me he really believed he was a big shot producer.

It's why I again will say beware producers with no money. If you're in the guild, there are minimum amounts that you MUST be paid for both options and sales and if the producer can't produce, WALK away until you get a REAL DEAL. The producer having a problem getting money is NOT the writer's problem. You want to make sure you get paid for your work, and you don't want your script tied up in a deal where the producer can't pay you (and what if someone with money where to come later?)

The guild is against dollar options, and no agent or lawyer will rep you on dollar options. So you have your answer there.
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

Beware of producers with red glowing eyes.

Beware of producers who won't let you see them near a mirror.

Beware of producers who keep their dead mothers' skeletons in the corner and ask them if they think your script is "four quadrant."

But seriously, I think a lot of the thoughts in this thread can be narrowed down to one thing:

BEWARE OF WRITING FOR FREE

If you find yourself writing for free for anyone beyond yourself, ask yourself and the people around you that you trust whether or not it's worth the time you're putting into it.

If you find yourself putting another person's name on your script, ask yourself if he/she earns their place there. Having that name on there, whether it be "story by" or along side yours as "written by" is a huge place of power. Don't give that power away to just anybody.

Most importantly, think "if this relationship falls apart, what will happen with the script." Do you have to just scrap it because it's based on someone else's concept or they're on there as a co-writer? That really doesn't do you much good getting future work.

If you're writing for free, why aren't you writing your own concepts that you're passionate about? Scripts that are the best representations of your skills and in the wheelhouse of what you want to be writing long term.

99% of the stuff you write is never going to make it on the screen, so it should be working for you in other ways.
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

I believe there's a saying that goes something like "You can't con an honest man."

And in the film business, I think a lot of writers are so desperate to break-in that they let their "this sounds too good to be true" line of reasoning be silenced by "this could be my big break."

In the instances stated in this thread, I think the writer's desperation is at least half at fault.



EDIT TO ADD: Some of this happened to me as well when I was unrepped and struggling to gain any traction with anyone in Hollywood.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:01 PM   #8
NYNEX
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamboogul View Post
I believe there's a saying that goes something like "You can't con an honest man."

And in the film business, I think a lot of writers are so desperate to break-in that they let their "this sounds too good to be true" line of reasoning be silenced by "this could be my big break."

In the instances stated in this thread, I think the writer's desperation is at least half at fault.



EDIT TO ADD: Some of this happened to me as well when I was unrepped and struggling to gain any traction with anyone in Hollywood.
Very good points. If you aren't desperate to break in, you can reject deals that aren't good or that don't make sense.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

I guess it's just a matter of learning the hard way. In my case, I didn't think people with imdb credits that seemed solid, would lie so blatantly. To the point of forging letters. As one director told me, "Never assume they can't be that crazy. They are that crazy."
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:15 PM   #10
PaddleOre
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Default Re: Beware of producers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamboogul View Post
I believe there's a saying that goes something like "You can't con an honest man."

And in the film business, I think a lot of writers are so desperate to break-in that they let their "this sounds too good to be true" line of reasoning be silenced by "this could be my big break."

In the instances stated in this thread, I think the writer's desperation is at least half at fault.



EDIT TO ADD: Some of this happened to me as well when I was unrepped and struggling to gain any traction with anyone in Hollywood.
I would also add that it's not always a matter of a producer suddenly offering a new writer a questionable deal. Sometimes there's a long grooming process involved, a friendly relationship forms over months (even years) of correspondence, before "the favor" is asked.
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