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Old 05-16-2011, 08:15 AM   #1
davidraphael
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Default To Contract or not to contract? Or "we're friends so don't need one" advice needed!

I hope someone can help me with my perhaps unusual situation. I'll try to be brief.

1. I wrote a few pitches/treatments for a European production company who then sold them onto one of their producers who left to start his own company.

2. My contract states that if the projects are to be developed in the English language I am to be offered the screenplay project. If developed in any other language another writer will be hired and I will get a 'story by' credit.

3. The producer wants us to work together on some of these projects. He wants to co-write with me and, to develop a slate fast, wants to get other (English speaking) writers in to write the other projects.

I don't have any kind of contract with the producer (or rather his company), which he assures me I am very much a part of and that we're 'friends/creative partners' (we've known each other for several years and worked together when contracted to another company). Still, no contracts now (apart from the stipulation that I get first refusal on UK scripts).


My concern:
While I understand that I can't possibly write all the projects myself, why should I agree to let any of those contracts/opportunities go to other writers without any kind of compensation for my agreeing to release my '1st refusal' rights?

Can anyone offer any kind of other perspective on this? Help is very gratefully received.

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:45 AM   #2
emily blake
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Default Re: To Contract or not to contract?

If he refuses to make some kind of contract then he is shady. If you're friends and you want to stay friends, go with a contract.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:37 AM   #3
zz9
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Default Re: To Contract or not to contract?

At the very least send him an email "confirming the basic points of your verbal contract" and ask him if he agrees. A verbal contract is just as valid as a written one, if you can show it happened.
If the worst came to the worst and he denied there was any agreement at all an email would be evidence. I'd email his reply to your lawyer for the record as soon as you got it. Keep a copy of every email, and try to use email instead of phone calls. Document everything.
If he won't reply to email agreeing then run or insist on a contract.

Of course I am not a lawyer and law varies from country to country so in a case like this I would definitely see a lawyer.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:31 AM   #4
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: To Contract or not to contract?

Sounds to me like a bad situation.

I know plenty of people who thought they didn't need contracts because they were "friends."

They're no longer friends.

The contract helps you remain friends by carefully codifying your expectations of, and responsibilities to, each other.

Get it in writing.
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
davidraphael
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Default Re: To Contract or not to contract? Or "we're friends so don't need one"

Thank you for these very helpful thoughts and suggestions
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #6
BurOak
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Default Re: To Contract or not to contract?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronaldinho View Post
Sounds to me like a bad situation.

I know plenty of people who thought they didn't need contracts because they were "friends."

They're no longer friends.

The contract helps you remain friends by carefully codifying your expectations of, and responsibilities to, each other.

Get it in writing.
Agreed 110%.
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