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Old 06-04-2018, 09:59 PM   #1
TTA1326
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Join Date: Jun 2018
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Default What to do with an idea

Sorry, but I have no idea where to go to ask these questions. I am not a writer, at least not like the folks on here. I am a 21+ year software developer who writes code. I am "that guy" who just has an "idea" for a novel or a film. I don't know what to do with the idea. I also know that the people I want to talk to avoid folks like me HARD lol.

This idea came from a dream more than 10 years ago and it simply won't go away. It is Sci-Fi. It relates to real world issue being hotly debated right now. I seem to have had this idea years before it became a popular talking point. It does not involve code. I am a huge reader and movie fan and I have never read or seen anything like this. Yes, I know that means the idea is original or nuts. I began writing notes over two years ago. I made notes on top of notes. I studied the 3 Act Structure Outline and began plugging pieces in. I can follow instructions. After about 8 or 9 months or writing, I happened on a page describing the Fichtean Curve.

I went over my 3 Act Structure Outline and it looks like the Fichtean Curve to me, but again, I'm not a writer. At this point I have sent out 8 or 9 pitches, one to a well-known local novelist, many to online writers, and some to attorneys. I'm not giving away even a single piece of my plot points to them and maybe that’s the issue. I'm asking a couple of simple questions and getting nowhere. So far, only Scott Myers has been nice enough to tell me he's covered up in work and travel obligations, and give me a few pointers. I was professional enough to not bother him after that, and that was last Sept.

How do I protect the idea that I have written in the form of plot notes and a basic structure? How do I protect the concept art and the written description of said art? I am a web developer and designer, and I have knocked out basic concept art myself. I want to protect my IP, and take my concept art to my brother who is an artist (as in BA). I want to then take my concept art and written information to a potential writer\producer\director. Whoever...

Now, I'm completely OK with being told that I'm nuts and the idea will NEVER make it. I've learned a lot during this process, so it's not a total loss. Block buster or just bust if fine. Not ever knowing is not fine. How do I proceed? The only thing I know to do is register everything I have with the WGA. Then get my concept art redone and register it. Last, start sending it out.

Any advice appreciated…

Alex
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:02 PM   #2
JoeBanks
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Default Re: What to do with an idea

ideas are not copyrightable. the idea must be reduced to some tangible form to qualify as a protectable work. doesn't have to be a full screenplay but at least some expression of the idea, e.g., a treatment
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:54 PM   #3
Juno Styles
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Default Re: What to do with an idea

Sorry slick, you can't copyright a basic idea. Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act specifically states: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied in such work.

Copyrights cover “original works of authorship” that the author fixes in a tangible form (written on paper, typed on computer, scribbled by crayon on a napkin, etc.). In other words, it protects the specifics of your screenplay after it’s written. No one can steal, reprint or profit from your work without your consent. Even with all that....you still can't safeguard your "basic idea".
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Old 06-05-2018, 11:06 AM   #4
harbak
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Default Re: What to do with an idea

The previous posts are 100% correct, but you want solutions, so I'll throw this out. Put everything you have together (treatment, outline, notes, art work etc...) and copyright that manual if you will. Call it what you want but at least copyright that "manual" if you will.

Now going forward you can present your idea to a more experienced writer, in a fashion you did here and say you are open to discussing the idea etc....with them in the hopes of developing it together. i.e Story by you, written by them, co-credits whatever, shared revenue etc.

Should they agree to a conversation/pitch meeting have an NDA done ahead of time. The NDA can reference said material in the copyrighted IP. If they like what you got you two are in business and move on to signing a Writer's Agreement of who owns what and compensation, if any etc...

If you only show them the copyrighted material AND have an NDA you have done all you will ever be able to do to protect yourself.

In the end the IDEA isn't as important as the execution and delivery of a screenplay with great characters etc....

There are very few cases of "stolen" material out there that are true. More myth than fact. To be creative you MUST be willing to collaborate at some point with other creatives.

In the early 2000's I had a pirate script optioned and a meeting set with some producers for when they got back from Canne. In the mean time POTC got announced and my script deal was shelved. I thought it was time for pirates to make a come back and I was right, but did they steal my IDEA? No. Concurrent IDEA generation happens all the time. Wrote a Paul Revers script only to find out Johnny Depp had one in development. And my last of the trifecta I optioned a movie about the Crusades months before Kingdom of Heaven was announced. Just my luck.

Keep an open mind, protect yourself where you can and move this thing forward.
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