Genres for collaborative spec scripts



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  • #16
    Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

    In all seriousness I'd say write something somebody wants to buy and a deal will be done.


    • #17
      Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

      Originally posted by Jake Schuster
      PlanB, could you post a link to the WGA statement on collaborations, please?
      sure, I pasted the overview and the link goes to the MBA agreement. It talks about it on pages 364-365

      2. "Story by"

      (See Section III. A.4)

      Story credit may not be shared by more than two writers.

      A story may be written in story form or may be contained within other literary material, such as a treatment or a screenplay, for purposes of receiving a "Story by" credit.

      4. "Screenplay by"
      (See Section III. A.6)
      Screen credit for screenplay will not be shared by more than two writers, except that in unusual cases, and solely as the result of arbitration, the names of three writers or the names of writers constituting two writing teams may be used. The limitation on the number of writers applies to all feature length photoplays except episodic pictures and revues.


      • #18
        Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

        Thank you, Mr. B!


        • #19
          Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

          Firstly, it sounds as if you have found strength in working as a team. I applaud that.

          I don't know the full legal gobbly gook about this, but you could incorporate as a writing team, and write individual works as well.

          I have found the best legal advice coming from a Mr. Wendal in WW Forums at Post a new thread (this can take up to three days since there is not a moderator) and wait for your free and excellent advice.



          • #20
            Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

            PlanB, I think you're opening yourself up for a world of pain. Acutally, I'm being over dramatic but I never heard of a three person team. That might turn off a potential agent just because there is one extra entity to manage. I have a few partners I'm working with on a bunch of projects. Each one has their strenghts but I can't imagine opening up to a third one. Maybe you all should write individual scripts and use each other as a writer's group to bounce ideas off of. Its cool that you're all grooving away on cinema and want to get into the racket but threesomes might be rough...

            As for genres, write what you are passionate/know about but with an eye towards commerical sucess. College and high school age comdies are very attractive. Action films work great over seas but there really aren't a lot of action stars today to carry a new franchise. Romantic comedies with clever hooks are attractive as well. Forget thrillers and go with Horror. Here's what you should think about:

            40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN
            THE BREAK UP

            OR HORROR like

            THE RING
            FINAL DESTINATION (yes, sucky but clever enough hook to get three movies out of the franchise)


            • #21
              Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

              There is a huge difference between a paid writer and an unpaid writer. Mostly the amount of people making a movie that the paid writer is supporting.


              • #22
                Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                When the Guild talks about "one writer" they mean one writer OR a team working together as partners and agreeing to share the credit and the writing fee equally. As far as the Guild is concerned, a team counts the same as one writer.

                I called the WGA and asked if there can be a 3-person team. The answer is yes, if they each contribute 1/3.


                • #23
                  Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                  The Oscars have had a number of team writers win the biggie. If you go and look at the writing credits (next to the photo) you will find numerous examples of team writing on big and small productions.



                  • #24
                    Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                    thanks so much for all your help. I really appreciate it.


                    • #25
                      Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                      Originally posted by alex whitmer
                      The Oscars have had a number of team writers win the biggie. If you go and look at the writing credits (next to the photo) you will find numerous examples of team writing on big and small productions.

                      Not sure if this FYI is warranted but remember, "&" represents a team, while "and" represents a separate writer/team doing a distinct rewrite of the material.


                      • #26
                        Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                        Maybe you could just write under an assumed name that combines all three of your names, like Jean-Marie Johns.

                        I've done a bit of collaboration as a trio (two women, one man) and with a partner, and here are some things to think about. You might want to have people write out their answers to some of these questions, force them to really get down on paper what they want and create a record of it.

                        What happens if two people are available to work on a story at the same time but the third person is not? Do you go ahead and work or put it off until you're all available? How do you handle bringing the third person up to speed if you go ahead and work, and what if the third person disagrees with the decisions made while the two people were working?

                        How do you arbitrate disputes? Is it a vote system? What if the third person feels ganged up on? Are there two of you who have more similar styles when it comes to stories? Will the third person feel left out? Or are you going to bow to one person's "strength?"

                        Why are you choosing to work with these people? (You listed the strengths of each of the writers. Would the other two writers lists the same strengths and weaknesses?) What does each person hope to bring to the group and get from the others?

                        What are your goals? Is one person focused more on directing, ultimately? What about living in Los Angeles? What about balance between writing and other activities, such as relationships?

                        Should everyone be expected to contribute the same amount of time to a project? Is someone going to be "lead" on a project and do the bulk of the writing while others brainstorm and provide feedback, and that will change depending on the script, or will you all write together? How will the words actually get on paper? Who will be responsible for the business end (registering the script, writing a logline, contacting people in the business, etc.)?

                        What about a schedule for project completion? Do you work at the same rate? Does one of you write better if a deadline is set, or do deadlines make you uncomfortable?


                        • #27
                          Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts


                          thanks so much for your in depth reply.

                          1. I had thought about us writing under an assumed name, but I'm not sure how that would impact the potential for us to recieve representation if our scripts are well recieved.

                          2. We have a carefully detailed collboration contract that clearly defines what happens if a member is unable/unwilling to work on a project.

                          3. We have worked out a system where each of us leads the team on a project in turn. The team leader has final say on the project and does the majority of writing. The others help develop character, tweak character voices/dialogue, help plot etc...

                          4. We all seem to agree on what our strengths and weaknesses are, but I'm sure situations will crop up. We'll have to work things out when they do. The fact is, we're all pretty easy going, and honestly, I don't think we'd try this if we felt they others were high strung or bossy.

                          5. None of us are focused on anything outside of writing (some prose too, but no directing).

                          6. As for LA. One of the girls is willing if not planning on making the move in a few years. Myself and the other partner are staying put. That's really a whole other thread, but briefly, we're all married and want kids, and our spouses are the more stable financial bread-winners.

                          I tried to respond to the bulk of your comments. It sounds like you've been where I am. Any other advice you are willing to offer is greatly appreciated.

                          What genres did your group concentrate on? Are they different than you would normally write.

                          Thanks again,



                          • #28
                            Re: Genres for collaborative spec scripts

                            It's taken me a little while to reply because I needed to decide what to say. I want to be helpful, but I also think it's wise to not say anything that you wouldn't want everyone to know, including the people you're talking about.

                            I most definitely have worked on things, because of partnerships, that I otherwise would not have come up with on my own. However, I like a pretty wide variety of films, so that might not be such a reach for me as it is for some. I'd say that graphic horror and pure art films are my weakest areas. For me, it's more about the characters and the story than the genre, and I don't mind writing out of my comfort zone. If I have to learn more about a genre to do it justice, that's just part of the process. I've had it in mind to write something in every genre, and I may end up doing that in the long term, although I'm trying to take the advice that has repeatedly been offered here and narrow my writing so that I can be more appealing as a writer/product, at least for now.

                            With the two-person collaboration, I've worked on a dark suspense and a period piece (I'm currently working on dialogue on that). My partner is an indie producer/director, and both ideas were his. He wrote the original suspense script, I joined in 2004 and helped with some fairly heavy rewrites, and the cast-and-crew screening is at the end of this month. I like working with him because I know he has follow-through, and I feel respected and valued, even if we disagree. And I respect him. I think he has some good observations. He is a lot more in tune to visuals and tone than I am, but he'll also give me freedom to write character and concept. One of our biggest challenges was figuring out how to send revisions back and forth because we used different writing programs. I would gladly partner with a writer on a large-production script to sell if I could work with someone who treated me like this guy. I think a partner would probably be most useful for me on a romantic comedy, for the male perspective (I'm concentrating on more com than rom in my own spec scripts). Perhaps scripts with an aspect of mystery, as well, so that your partner can see through what you think is clever.

                            With the trio, things haven't gone as well. I thought things were fantastic at first. It was so exciting to bounce ideas off of other people, to build on concepts and share that energy. We worked on a short film, a musical. I never would have attempted a musical on my own. We shared ideas, but I primarily did the writing, including most of the lyrics, and one of my partners wrote the music. The other partner directed. We've recorded the music and filmed about two thirds of it, maybe a little less. It's a fairly complex short.

                            Also as the trio, we created a sitcom that we planned to put on the air regionally, on public access (using the public access equipment to film, which we can use for free as long as we air something). We figured that three people who don't live in L.A. and who have no industry contacts are unlikely to really ever get the chance to make a television show. The other two have family in the area, but even for myself (no family in this area), it's really hard to swallow the idea of leaving a beautiful area and a career where I'm respected so that I can rent a room I can barely afford and fight for recognition in an angst-ridden city filled with hopefuls where I know no one and chance may or may not favor me.

                            So, we figured if the TV show wasn't very good, then we would have had a fun and interesting experience. If it's good, then maybe we'd attract an audience and some attention, maybe even some funding. We figured we'd run a 12-episode season, opposite the regular season so perhaps people might be drawn to us while they were avoiding reruns. We had brainstorming sessions to develop characters and story ideas. I took notes and wrote the pilot, sent it to my partners for their feedback. We put together a volunteer cast and crew. We shot some of it and ran into some production problems (including a conflict with the location where we initially planned to have the main set) and "creative differences," but I didn't think it was anything that couldn't be worked out. One thing I worked on, and wished I'd had more help with, was character and story arcs. That was a situation where I became involved in a coalition, trying to convince the third person that it was a good idea to put in this time and effort. I started writing a second episode, with the blessing of my partners, and the others were going to take the lead on writing other episodes -- only we weren't all working from the same character backgrounds and arcs because we didn't have them written down. We had some great ideas, but I think one of the biggest things that lead to problems was that we didn't sit down together more and work. Things got in the way -- hobbies, organizations, time with friends, family stuff, and (of course) our day jobs. It was harder to make progress trying to communicate by e-mail and phone. I think it became easier and easier to put off the work, the more the work was put off.

                            And it's tragic. I really think we had some good stuff. We'd done some brainstorming in public, and we had strangers at tables around us laughing. What an incredible feeling! The cast laughed through the first table reading, and people were so enthusiastic about helping make it happen. It pains me now to think about it.

                            It's been about six months since anything has happened. I wish I could pinpoint why we aren't making progress. I'm kind of ashamed because my name is attached to this production that hasn't kept its word and become a reality. I've tried to organize a production schedule and asked my partners if they're just tired of it and don't want to do it so I can at least inform people who were willing to help, but they say they want to continue and are just busy. I run into cast and crew, and they've asked about it. I don't know what to say. My partners and I still do things as friends; it wasn't too long ago that we were out to dinner and my partners were talking about doing other things together, like maybe getting into making documentaries with grants. But we had Saturday set as a production day for the short film weeks ago; only, as the time grew closer, they hadn't gotten back to me about what they wanted to work on so that I could help arrange for actors, etc. It wasn't until a friend of mine wanted to make Saturday plans mid-week that I finally got confirmation that we probably weren't going to do anything. So now I'm learning how to knit a hat tomorrow instead of make a movie.

                            At one point, we'd talked about forming a production company. I researched the business aspect of it, and we talked about our dreams and goals and how to share the projects so that no one felt left out. Each person was going to take the lead on writing her or his project. I'm not so much for directing (I do have one screenplay of my own I'm working on that I think I'd want to direct -- I suppose everyone does), but I was actually thinking that I might like to be a producer. I thought something was really happening. We even took photographs for a Web site designer but never went anywhere with it.

                            The situation has frustrated and discouraged me, and I'm afraid I've let it bleed over into my individual spec script writing. I know I shouldn't, but I have. I've gone over and over in my mind what might have gone wrong; I tried so hard to make everyone feel heard and included and respected. I still keep hoping that something will happen to get things moving again on the trio stuff, that this is just one of those film production hiccups. Spec writing carries such a slow sense of progress, and I miss that feeling of moving forward and accomplishment. It's especially difficult to think that I've invested so much time, energy and enthusiasm into something that isn't entirely mine and may never lead to anything. And I have a sense that there's nothing I can do about it. I don't want it to affect the friendship I've developed with my partners, and I'm afraid it has.

                            If your writing trio is better than mine, I hope my post doesn't have too negative of an impact. I haven't really discussed this with anyone thus far; I've explained some things to some non-film friends this week as I tried to work out what to post. They are sympathetic, but I don't think they really understand. I suppose I'm unloading a bit, and I apologize if it isn't helpful. But I would urge you to be really careful about your writing alliances. The subtext I'm getting from your post is that maybe one of your team isn't quite a fit for the group, is maybe there out of pity or friendship, and you're worried that this person will ultimately be left behind. Perhaps I'm not guessing correctly. If I am, I encourage you to be careful about building too many hopes on an unstable foundation. Also, maybe your pity would be preventing this person from finding her true writing voice, or you're offering a temporary pillow when what she really needs is to find a good partner to bed down with, who matches her strengths/weaknesses/interests.

                            I hope your story ends better than mine. Well, I'm not sure what act I'm in, but I hope this is of some use.