Working On A Project With Deferred Pay

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  • Working On A Project With Deferred Pay

    I recently got contacted by an aspiring screenwriter who's working on an autobiographical spec. He wants me to put the script in the right format, but I won't get paid if the script doesn't sell. I don't think I should do it. Hell, he offered a low four-figure fee initially. I got screwed once when it came to dealing with an independent company (they didn't have the money to pay me because an investor pulled out) and, at this time, I'm in no mood to be screwed again. Thoughts?
    "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

    "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

  • #2
    Just formatting/typing is piece work that a writer should pay for up front (and not even close to low four figures). If they can't shell out a couple hundred bucks for something in professional format, that's on them

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    • #3
      Yeah, not sure on the play, here. I mean, formatting is the easiest hurdle in screenwriting to overcome. If you can't even do that, what's his "writing" look like. I could be wrong, but it sounds like a nightmare scenario in the making.

      Is the material anything you feel would make a good film?
      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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      • #4
        The odds of the or a script selling pretty much guarantee you no pay. Don't do it for free. As others noted, you should get paid a little something to do all this especially if it's not some quick import into, say Final Draft, then exported out and sent back to them in a matter of a few minutes or so. Even that they should give you a little something for your time.
        Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 12-06-2020, 06:56 PM.
        Will
        Done Deal Pro
        www.donedealpro.com

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        • #5
          I agree with the others. You'll never get paid on the deal they're proposing. Listen to your gut on this one. Frankly, this person sounds like someone who doesn't know a lot about the industry but still wants to try their hand at playing producer.

          I guess if you wanted to spin the wheel, you could counter and ask for a couple hundred bucks to be paid up front (or however much money you value your time at for this kind of tedious work). If it's just reformatting and cleaning up their script, it's maybe not a bad way to make a little beer money over a weekend. I'd just make sure to get some kind of collab agreement on paper first outlining your exact obligation to them.

          But to touch further on Finalact points, they could very well hand you a jumble of 800,0000 nonsense words saved as a Word2000 file while screaming "Turn this into a movie now please!"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
            Yeah, not sure on the play, here. I mean, formatting is the easiest hurdle in screenwriting to overcome. If you can't even do that, what's his "writing" look like. I could be wrong, but it sounds like a nightmare scenario in the making.

            Is the material anything you feel would make a good film?
            I haven't even seen the draft myself because he hired someone else to do it. I was supposed to write it, based on a treatment he wrote, but he wasn't even done with the treatment itself while we were talking. That gave me some real doubts that the guy was on the up and up. So I was surprised that he contacted me again. Thanks to everyone for their insight.
            Last edited by Madbandit; 12-07-2020, 11:55 AM.
            "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

            "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

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            • #7
              I am surprised you would even entertaining this unless you really need the money. At this point it's practically intern-level work, and I would think your time is more valuable than that, being an aspiring writer yourself.

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              • #8
                There may be times to consider working for deferrred pay. This does not seem one. I've done it a couple of times. Once for a producer who had already actually produced a film for me. Another for a guy who had connections - so I got the cheap thrill of the head of a famous management/prodoc telling me on the phone he wanted to rep the script (and it later won a decent award but did not sell). Both times - no money in my pocket but a little fleeting bs I could peddle to others asking what was I working on. Those days are over.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by muckraker View Post
                  I am surprised you would even entertaining this unless you really need the money. At this point it's practically intern-level work, and I would think your time is more valuable than that, being an aspiring writer yourself.
                  Well, there was money involved, until I found out the guy didn't have the treatment/outline ready while we were talking. I just forgot about him, looked for work and found work (the spec I'm ghostwriting is due late January and I'm getting a low-five figure fee for it). You're right that my time is more valuable.
                  "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

                  "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

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