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Old 01-22-2019, 02:55 PM   #1
sallain
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Default Creative Rights

For those of you who have optioned/sold a screenplay, I wondered if there were any creative rights you requested in your contract. I'm WGA, so I'm pretty much guaranteed some rights, but the WGA also says that you can refer to the PBS Agreement to include overscale creative rights. Since those don't cost anything, I'm hoping to include some in my newest contract. However, I'm not sure exactly what to ask for. Any advice?

Here's what I'm referring to:

https://www.wga.org/contracts/know-y...ts-for-writers

"There is no legal impediment to writers and their representatives negotiating overscale deals in the creative rights areas. These provisions would not generally cost the employer more money, would provide the writer with a more satisfying working relationship, and would likely yield a better theatrical motion picture or television program. This information should increase awareness of writers' rights under the Guild agreement, and also expand opportunities for writers to negotiate enhanced creative rights in their individual contracts.

The PBS Agreement
There is a separate agreement between the Guild and certain public television stations and producers, the WGA Public TV Freelance Agreement, also known as the PBS Agreement, which sets out the minimum terms of agreements between Guild writers and public television producers. Similar to the MBA in many respects, the PBS agreement establishes substantial and enhanced creative rights for writers of public television programs. Many of the PBS creative rights provisions may serve as goals for enhanced creative rights you can negotiate in your individual contract with non-PBS producers. Writers may negotiate, for example, to incorporate all of the PBS creative rights in a non-PBS contract, or to elect from among them."
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Are you negotiating this contract yourself? That’s tricky because it can lead to an adversarial relationship with the producer, and above all, you want to keep that relationship friendly.

Hopefully, you have an entertainment attorney. I would share the PBS boilerplate contract with your attorney and let him/her know what you would like included in your MBA contract. The attorney should be able to fold those enhancements into your contract language without making it look like a big deal. Good luck!

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Old 01-23-2019, 08:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Admittedly it happened half a century ago and was probably semi-fictionalized, but in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), most of the movie is spent showing author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney (& his underlings) deeply at odds concerning artistic vision, casting, the use of animation & singing etc. in Mary Poppins (1964).

Travers (in the movie) had pre-negotiated script approval, which she firmly withholds until ultimately (and reluctantly) agreeing to sign over the adaptation rights, formally greenlighting production.

Can contemporary authors ever enjoy such power over today's Hollywood producers? What would have to be added to a contract above and beyond the MBA in order to even approach it?
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Quote:
Originally Posted by astemp View Post
Admittedly it happened half a century ago and was probably semi-fictionalized, but in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), most of the movie is spent showing author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney (& his underlings) deeply at odds concerning artistic vision, casting, the use of animation & singing etc. in Mary Poppins (1964).

Travers (in the movie) had pre-negotiated script approval, which she firmly withholds until ultimately (and reluctantly) agreeing to sign over the adaptation rights, formally greenlighting production.

Can contemporary authors ever enjoy such power over today's Hollywood producers? What would have to be added to a contract above and beyond the MBA in order to even approach it?
Write a book. Sell 50 million copies. You can negotiate creative rights. Otherwise? They'll just walk away no matter how much they love your script. Understand that this part of screenwriting. Your script will be rewritten. It will be rewritten more than a dozen times, and the last ones probably not by you. You can't negotiate your way around this because producers won't buy a script that they don't have total control over. It's their money, they get to make the film they want. The first couple times this happens to you it hurts. But... you get to understand it as you get jobs rewriting other writer's scripts.
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Old 01-24-2019, 09:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Sorry, I was obviously not very clear in my first post. I'm not talking about Creative Control, I'm talking about Creative Rights. Things like being at the cast table read or having a set visit, or being invited to the premiere. Those are just a few off the top of my head (and I believe those things are guaranteed in a WGA contract) but I just wondered if there are other things writers wish they had requested at contract stage, that do not necessarily cost the producer anything but might make our job as the writer a little more collaborative/fun.

And yes, I have an attorney.
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Quote:
Originally Posted by sallain View Post
Sorry, I was obviously not very clear in my first post. I'm not talking about Creative Control, I'm talking about Creative Rights. Things like being at the cast table read or having a set visit, or being invited to the premiere. Those are just a few off the top of my head (and I believe those things are guaranteed in a WGA contract) but I just wondered if there are other things writers wish they had requested at contract stage, that do not necessarily cost the producer anything but might make our job as the writer a little more collaborative/fun.

And yes, I have an attorney.
when we were negotiating for one of my scripts with a moderate sized prodco my attorney and producer worked in language that stated should they get financing then both the "Talent" and "Director" would be mutually agreed upon between the producers and me (the writer).

i think your attorney can put whatever you want in your contract, it's whether they (the purchasing party) think it's too much. all you can do is ask. your team should be able to guide you, but you're the one that has to make the decision.
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Old 01-24-2019, 04:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Creative Rights

Quote:
Originally Posted by sallain View Post
Sorry, I was obviously not very clear in my first post. I'm not talking about Creative Control, I'm talking about Creative Rights. Things like being at the cast table read or having a set visit, or being invited to the premiere. Those are just a few off the top of my head (and I believe those things are guaranteed in a WGA contract) but I just wondered if there are other things writers wish they had requested at contract stage, that do not necessarily cost the producer anything but might make our job as the writer a little more collaborative/fun.

And yes, I have an attorney.
Yes, you can ask for those things, but they're not hills to die on. Your relationship with the director is more important for these things anyway. You build a meaningful relationship there and you will be at cast readings and welcome on sets, whether it's in your contract or not. It's worked out that way for me. So... Ask. If they say no, you can still get them on the back side. Me? All I want in contracts is how much they're paying me....
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