Manager/Producers want to write with you

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  • Manager/Producers want to write with you

    Would love some thoughts on the email I received below. Background is they found me on the WGA website, requested two of my listed scripts, brought me in for a meeting, then requested a third script...now this email:

    Hi ***,

    Wanted to check in with you to see how you're going. While we really enjoyed ***, we don't think it's right for us at the moment. **** and I are looking for an idea for you to write with us.

    Looking forward to hearing from you and hope all is well.

    Best regards,
    ****
    -------

    I guess I'm confused by "looking for an idea for you to write with us?" What is that supposed to mean? This is a managment company, with a few high profile projects as producers. The two people in the email are creative execs. I've been around the block and not really looking to spend a year writing something for free, but I also don't want to pass on an opportunity.

    Thoughts??
    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 11-17-2019, 07:28 AM. Reason: Cleared out font formatting from copy and paste

  • #2
    Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

    So you're in the guild and they are using the guild site to source free writing? That would seemingly be a sh1t move. Are they a signatory?

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    • #3
      Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

      It could mean they're looking for some IP for you to adapt for free, or maybe they're looking for ideas from you. Or both.

      Doesn't seem they want to take you on as a client. They want you to write something so they can attach as producers. You should clear that up with them, if you decide to proceed.

      Of course, tread carefully. You could very well be up to you eyeballs for a year on something that likely won't sell, at least out of the gate. You should get a clear idea of how they're going to approach taking it out before you get into bed with them.

      PM the company, if you want. I might have some intel.

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      • #4
        Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

        I had a general with these guys, though nothing came of it. That's an interesting problem to have. Not sure what I'd do- potential opportunity vs. being dragged along for nada.

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        • #5
          Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

          The possibilities of who this company is are limited. My advice is given with that in mind. So the town is littered with CEs with no pull trying to push sh1t forward. If I were in your shoes I'd see what the story is. If I was totally passionate about it and it were something super high concept and cheap (curious what you write - horror? Thriller?) I'd maybe give it consideration. The scenario doesn't feel great to me, especially given who the company might be - but if I were in your position I might be in any port in a storm mode.

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          • #6
            Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

            I missed the part about the creative execs. So yeah, like Satriales said. They're throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.

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            • #7
              Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

              Have you considered asking them to recommend you to one of their managers?
              "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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              • #8
                Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                Unless I'm missing something, where did they state they want you to write for free? If they were open to optioning or buying one of your scripts, I would assume that they said "with" and really meant "for."

                I would operate under the assumption that they want to hire you to develop one of their ideas. I know this is probably unlikely because most of these management/producing companies don't have much, if any, in the way of a development budget, but I'd make them state explicitly that they want you to write for free, and then politely decline.

                HTH,
                Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.

                -Steve Trautmann
                3rd & Fairfax: The WGAW Podcast

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                • #9
                  Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                  Thanks all. Yes, I am mostly confused with the write "with" us instead of "for" us. Yeah, I'm not totally focused on getting a manager (I've had two and it doesn't mean much), I actually am more excited about writing and collaborating. They seemed surprised that I didn't have a manager in the meeting. I guess I just need to assume they want to pay me...hahaha.

                  In my meeting they mentioned that their biggest project started as a logline by a manager, and then a writer took it and went with it...and later was a little show called Ozark. Ok, now you know who it is....

                  One thing I've learned in this town, is that mostly everyone is more interested in selling their own ideas, not yours.

                  Thank you for replying. Any more thoughts?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                    The two years I spent with the management company you are referring to was a big waste of time. I signed with one of their top managers based on a script they were nuts about. A month later a similar (vaguely similar) went wide and was sold and so they promptly lost interest in my initial project.

                    Then came the write "with us" line. They will give you a logline and let you write a screenplay from the ground up, with their notes. (They do give great notes, but not quickly -- you can wait weeks or even months for a turn around). No money involved, all spec. They say they "know" what will sell: in my experience 4 out of 5 of their vague loglines are not all that good. They become your "development" partners. They might want to produce what you've written themselves; they might want to send it out. But you won't make a dime until they do. This is the basis of their spec farming model. They are pioneers of the entire concept.

                    Yes, a couple of their "ideas" have paid off for writers -- but for the majority of writers their spec farm concept hasn't paid off at all. You end up doing their bidding, doing it their way, and doing the donkey work for weeks, months, years. The one good thing I can say about them is that they don't lay claim to what you've written when you decide their form of indentured servitude is not for you, no matter how much time they've spent delivering notes.

                    So, they're nice folks but spec farming is a lottery club. You pay with your time and talent for a ticket -- good luck to you, but don't hold your breath. But as they say, somebody's got to win.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                      They don't pay for options, it's a non-starter for them. they will offer $1, and expect you to write/rewrite for free.

                      I don't think they're mincing words, imo, they want to find material to develop and have a writer write it on spec with the hopes of packaging and selling it.

                      Things to keep in mind: (it they put it in writing)
                      They most likely will expect to retain all rights on any writing you do. They intend to produce, and might potentially have language in the contract (if they give you one) that locks you out of equal copyright ownership. Maybe not. You may not be able to do anything with it without them (which is okay as long as you understand and agree to it), but they could potentially have language in the contract that allows them to replace you with another writer. Insist on a contract that details all these aspects.

                      Clarify it's not a work-for-hire, unless that's what you want.

                      Do you have an entertainment lawyer?

                      They are not a WGA signatory, as a WGA member aren't you restricted to only work with signatories? I'm not in the WGA, so I don't know the rules.

                      Action:
                      So, I would send them an email telling them that you'd be interested in working with them (if you are) on a project and ask them to let you know when they have material for you to consider.
                      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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                      • #12
                        Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                        Figured that is who it was. I'd personally avoid this situation unless they came to me with a high concept cheap/contained idea that I loved more than anything else I had an idea for.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Manager/Producers want to write with you

                          Yes, you are not supposed to work with non-signatory companies. I think developing with managers is fine, but this seems to be a creative exec thing so, probably not good as far as WGA. Although, they are aware of it. And they rep many WGA writers.

                          Thanks for the very specific advice. I might as well email back and see! This is not the first time I've dealt with this, but this company is new for me.

                          Thanks so much!!

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