Help with negotiations / option



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  • Help with negotiations / option

    I would like some advice from people with relevant experience in the subject please!

    Currently I am negotiating with an established film/TV producer in LA about him optioning the rights to my feature film in order for him to make a TV series remake. We spoke few times and he looks like a nice guy, but since I have zero experience with negotiations I would like some input. I guess what I am looking for is the "standard" procedures /fees that are used in this kind of situations.

    1. What is a "normal"/decent optioning fee to acquire the rights of the story AND the film itself? Should I accept a fixed amount or a percent of the project's budget? I think that initially he wanted just the rights, but I believe now insists of getting the film as well. It is a low budget documentary that did well nationally (in Europe) but poorly (aka no distribution) internationally. I did the mistake of mentioning the budget which was very very low, and now he just offers me this number. He actually wants to pay out not the whole option amount but a percent of it, before the sale is fixed. Which I guess is normal

    Perhaps I should ask for a fixed amount for the film and a percentage for the rights to the story (intellectual property) buyout?

    2. All of his credits on imdb are "producer", but he insists on co-directing this project. I think that initially he wanted to be the sole director, but as I am more knowledgeable with the subject and because he thinks he can sell the idea easier with me as a director, he wants me to be a co-director. I am not very comfortable with the idea, as I directed the feature film and would like to be the sole director of the TV series, but I am afraid to brake the deal if I refuse. Any suggestions? Why would he insist on directing?

    3. I inquired about representation, but he didn't seem very keen on hooking me up with an agent or manager. He said that he'd hook me up with his lawyer, only after the deal between us is settled and that he would get a 5% commission.I am in this not just for the money, for which I have no image of its amount as he is trying to create a sales pitch. So I don't know what the budget might be.

    But what would be a good strategy for me as a career move? I think he is afraid that I might get greedy, as he said that thing about the previous person he optioned his film from to make a remake who got an agent and then went on and somehow screwed the whole deal by finding another producer.
    So should I ask for an agent's or manager's contact? Should I find someone on my own? Should I just not think about it?

    4. He wants me to get him in touch with the characters of the story, before any deal is settled, and regardless if I can be present or not. It genuinely seems he wants me to be there, but I am a bit afraid that he might try to circumvent me if I am not there. Am I giving out too much too soon?

    Thank you for your input.
    New User
    Last edited by nostromo; 05-31-2021, 01:52 PM.

  • #2
    Do you have a lawyer? I could give you the name of my lawyer, he's got 30 years experience in the studio system among other experience. He takes the standard 5% or he will work hourly. Up to you. He'll make sure you're protected. He won't negotiate a deal for you, (but will craft a comments and contract markups that you can forward) due to the California statutes regarding the defined line between Agents and Entertainment Lawyers. He'll make sure you get what you should and will steer you clear of traps or ambiguous language that could hurt you later. You, as the client make the final decision. We did several passes on an option for TSS last September. If you don't know the answers to your questions you should be talking to an entertainment lawyer and not writers. Listen to advice, sure, but you should have a lawyer. Just my 2 cents.

    It's just me, but I wouldn't want my producer's lawyer to be negotiating my option-- it's a clear conflict. Unless the producer is not the one offering you the option. Up to you. Let me know if you're interested.
    "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
    Hollywood producer


    • #3
      finalact4 Thank you. If it's ok please do give me his name and contacts. I will contact him when we are about to close the deal, so that he can take the 5%. Besides that, I wonder if it makes sense to try and find an agent on my own, saying that I am about to close a deal, or ask this producer for references.


      • #4
        Nostroma. You don't have to wait, he'll walk you through everything you need to know if you sign for him. He'll explain everything to you. Use him right away, it doesn't make sense for you to wait, because he can assist so you don't make a mistake and agree to something too quickly. He makes 5% on the total deal so it's not based on how much or how little work. He can help you. I sent you a PM.

        It doesn't seem like you need an agent yet. You'll need a referral if you want an agent. They literally will not respond to a query. Start tying to network.

        Just so you know how agents work. They want to sign someone who has a lot of opportunities to make them money. They don't typically do "one-offs." It's just the reality. You're not doing an Agent a favor unless he's making a substantial income from you. If they don't see that they can make bank, they won't give you the time of day. That's why the referral is so important.

        Good luck, and contact him now-- he'll guide you.
        "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
        Hollywood producer