Rewrites / Shopping agreement: Will producer always be attached?

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  • Rewrites / Shopping agreement: Will producer always be attached?

    Producer offers shopping agreement.

    I'm happy, it means I keep the IP until somebody buys -- better leverage.

    Producer asks for rewrites before sending agreement. I have no problem making changes if I like them.

    If the agreement expires -- with no sale -- will they will still be attached as producer if I keep the rewrites I like?


  • #2
    There's a legal and a practical answer. Legally, you're probably safe. Practically, it can be tough to dislodge a producer.

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    • #3
      If you did the rewrite before the shopping agreement was signed, you could stipulate that you fully own/control all versions/drafts of "The Material" prior to the date of signing.

      If you do the rewrite after the signed date, you could have a clause written in, that states outright, that you retain any/all revisions and notes made/offered (by anybody) during the shopping agreement term upon its expiration. That's if you feel they may "expect" that you can't use their notes.

      It's a good question and good to consider protecting yourself should that be your goal.

      "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
      Hollywood producer

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      • #4

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        • #5
          In general are shopping agreements the norm with producers? Is that the same as the option agreements just a different name? I try to avoid signing anything like that unless there is no other choice.

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          • #6
            Shopping agreements are not the same as options.

            Producers do both. Shopping agreements are more advantageous to the writer because you negotiate your final terms with the third party (option/purchase agreement) buying the project. An option locks a writer into a deal before the project goes out to talent and financing and cannot be renegotiated unless the option expires and is not extended.

            Shopping agreements typically have shorter term period and allow the producer to secure talent, financing and a buyer. Some or all.

            There are options that use a short form and some that do the long form. Long form options/purchase contracts cover everything in the purchase agreement. The floor/ceiling, credit and budget bonuses, rewrite fees/steps, all the monies the writer will be entitled once the film is made including, spinoffs, sequels, prequels, TV series, adaptations... a complete contract.
            "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
            Hollywood producer

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            • #7
              I recently signed an "attachment agreement" -- which read like an option or shopping agreement to me just no money. I don't know, I feel like they are all related and just depends what they call it. But I fully admit I don't know much about this as I keep failing at this job.

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              • #8
                Except they aren't the same. Nor are they interchangeable. They serve different functions.

                Shopping agreements give the writer more control over who the producer can send the material, in addition to keeping your fees open. So, if they attach Chris Hemsworth to your screenplay you, as the writer, are in a better position to negotiate a deal based on the budget that includes CH's fee or other talent they attach. Options can lock-in the writer with a floor and ceiling (which caps the max you will ever make regardless of what happens to the budget after you sign the option, including if they attach talent, or get a hotshot director. Options give the producer free reign to send it to anyone they want.

                Attachments aren't the same either. They are related in the fact they are tools/contracts/ways to sell your script.

                IMO, writers are best served if they understand what they are signing.
                "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
                Hollywood producer

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                • #9
                  I was talking about producers only. What I signed was the smaller producer just wanted to make sure he didn't get kicked off as producer right away by the bigger A list producer. That was the "attachment agreement" I signed to protect him as he did do a year worth of work and he was the one taking it out anyway, so I did not see the harm.

                  So I've signed options (never got paid) where it was the same deal. And I've signed a few contracts where basically it was the same end game. For a period of time (6, 12, 18 months) and usually for no money to the writers, this one company or producer can shop my material and try to sell it.

                  That's all I'm saying. I'm not an expert. I was just asking questions. I think we need a pro writer that has had more deals to chime in.

                  EDIT TO ADD -- I found this -- http://www.entertainmentmedialawsign...on-agreements/

                  I guess since I never got paid for my option it was a shopping agreement... hence why I don't see the difference. It tied up my work, that's all I know.

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                  • #10
                    Shopping agreements and options are not the same thing.

                    Shopping agreements are a formalized handshake - "I'm going to shop this script around for a fixed term we have agreed upon and if there's a buyer for your script, your reps will get to negotiate your fee." It's usually about a page long and lawyers are much keener on these than free or low options as there's only a page to negotiate so can be done much quicker than a full option.

                    An option (free or paid, any amount) is a fully pre-negotiated deal with all the writer terms set out in advance. It takes much longer because of the legal back and forth and there's actual negotiation of all the deal points, not just length of term (which is the only part negotiated in a shopping agreement).

                    As for the drafts, if you are not being paid for them then you should own them after the terms ends but this needs to be stated clearly in the agreement. You can, technically, go back to the original draft (as you can also with an option), but no potential buyer wants other drafts of the script they want to acquire out there, controlled by a previous producer, they want a clean chain of title. What if the studio picking it up off the original draft then gives the same notes as were implemented in an old draft, controlled by the previous producer? Then previous producer comes out of nowhere claiming ownership. No one should so any free work without figuring out who owns and controls it in advance.

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                    • #11
                      My lawyer recently did a paid shopping agreement for me, which he had never seen but was the best option for all parties for a number of reasons. Much either than a months long option/purchase agreement.

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                      • #12
                        FWIW, I had a script that sold with a producer attached. It didn't get made. I did not like the producer. Years later, another studio wanted to buy the script. Everyone assumed that the original producer would stay involved. I said "stop, I don't like him, do I have to attach him?" My lawyer went through the contracts; he didn't have to be attached. I told the new studio I didn't want him attached. They said that they weren't comfortable making a deal that cut him out, even though he had no legal right to demand to be included. He stayed in the project. He eventually got me fired.

                        Long story short: once they're in, it can be hard to get them out, no matter what the contracts say.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                          FWIW, I had a script that sold with a producer attached. It didn't get made. I did not like the producer. Years later, another studio wanted to buy the script. Everyone assumed that the original producer would stay involved. I said "stop, I don't like him, do I have to attach him?" My lawyer went through the contracts; he didn't have to be attached. I told the new studio I didn't want him attached. They said that they weren't comfortable making a deal that cut him out, even though he had no legal right to demand to be included. He stayed in the project. He eventually got me fired.

                          Long story short: once they're in, it can be hard to get them out, no matter what the contracts say.
                          Now this is real life example of how the business actually works. So much talk around here about what should be, but what is -- that's what is important.

                          The truth is, it's a small town, so they (even "your" lawyer) doesn't have much incentive to piss off anyone who they may have to work with on 100 other projects down the line. The studio certainly doesn't want to piss off any real producer because they want the other projects he/she may bring... The conflict of interest is huge. It's all a great way for the writers and other creative people to get screwed! Fun right???

                          At the end of the day, it doesn't affect the studio's bottom line. But it of course affected Jeff's as he was fired.

                          Did that project get made the 2nd time around btw? Ugh.

                          Did you attach that producer the first time around or your reps?

                          Is said producer still in the business?

                          I know you are not going to answer those questions, why would you?

                          I"m just curious if you don't like them and we all would not like them or he like ran over your dog.
                          Last edited by Bono; 06-01-2021, 02:02 PM.

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                          • #14
                            It got made. It was "John Tucker Must Die."

                            I attached him the first time around, before I realized what a vile piece of crap he was.

                            He hasn't made a movie in years. Either he's retired or, hopefully, dead.

                            But yes - he used to run a studio, and gave a bunch of executives jobs. Some of those people were involved in the decision to keep him attached to my movie that he had no legal right to stay attached to.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                              It got made. It was "John Tucker Must Die."

                              I attached him the first time around, before I realized what a vile piece of crap he was.

                              He hasn't made a movie in years. Either he's retired or, hopefully, dead.

                              But yes - he used to run a studio, and gave a bunch of executives jobs. Some of those people were involved in the decision to keep him attached to my movie that he had no legal right to stay attached to.
                              I hope his name was John Tucker.

                              That's amazing and heartbreaking and too real.

                              Well the last spec I went out with a 3 letter agency and the managers I signed with gave 50% of the "terrorities" to a manager and former 3 letter agent at that agency (so read friends) and he was the guy we didn't sign with.

                              We had 2 offers of managers to rep us and we went with someone else. The reason was because the assistant was doing all the work and this manager (former agent) never got on the phone with us to even chat with us after we said we are going to sign with other guys if you don't want to chat with us... so we did. His reward, he was attached as producer and got to show it to buyers -- who I'm sure saw his name and passed without reading it because at the time he was a nobody but former agent turned manager. Not who you want taking your comedy spec into Sony, you know?

                              And that was because they were yelling they should be producers on the project because they gave us 1 note and we did all the work.

                              Also after it went out that 3 letter agency told everyone we refused to do rewrites so that killed a sale we heard in meetings. We never said that. But it was too late. Damage done.

                              So yes, this business stinks.

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