Director wants to "collaborate" on a script - how to handle?

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    JeffLowell
    Member

  • JeffLowell
    replied
    I get all the reasons not to do it that others have raised, but sometimes you take a flyer on an idea that speaks to you, and having more scripts is never a bad thing.

    Leave a comment:

  • grumpywriter
    Member

  • grumpywriter
    replied
    Thanks for the input, everyone. To be clear: he has agreed to share the writing credit + everything else, including money from the script sale (if there is one) with me 50/50. Regarding the idea, it is his idea entirely but it's one that I really like and is perfect for me to write. That's why he went to me as he knows a lot of other screenwriters, including ones with way more experience. You make a good point, Jeff, that he is really acting as a producer here. Anyway... very much appreciate the input. Going to need to stew over this some more but I am taking every response into consideration...

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  • Jazzed
    replied
    Originally posted by grumpywriter View Post
    Hello -

    Seeking advice/life experience stories from anyone who has been in this situation.

    A director who is attached to another project of mine that is currently into studios wants to "collaborate" on another script that is his idea. Essentially he wants me to write it for him. He has some very good industry contacts to send it to once it's done, including a high-up Amazon exec who specifically requested a script along the lines of his idea, but of course the odds are always against any script actually getting made or sold.

    So - I'm just wondering how best to handle this and what to ask for. Obviously -- I plan to involve my lawyer and write up a contract. But should I ask for money up front for writing it? He's agreed to share 50/50 on writing credit and everything else.

    Thoughts?

    I don't want to put him off by being greedy or for asking too much. On the hand, my time is valuable and I don't work for free anymore

    Mark
    Hi Grumpy. I’m green as the grass, but I was in a similar situation. The difference was, the producer had the idea, and approached me to write it with no credit, strictly as a writer-for-hire contracted out deal.

    That was thousands of moons ago, and I believed he was just preying on those who queried him- he read their stuff-saw a glimpse of talent in-and decided to exploit.

    But it takes two to tango.

    My 2 cents is always follow Jeff Lowell’s advice.

    Curious: why not let your agent put deal points together?

    Oh. In my case, I told the guy gimme some broad notes, and I would write a rough First Draft for $2,500. Up front. It was my first anything. Lol The guy shared a small office in Burbank w/ a B horror guy. What did I know? Same as now; nothing. The guy was fresh off producing a Mamet film starring William H Macy n Julia Stiles. 😂 Didn’t mean Jack to me. 😂 Birds of Paradise was working title of that guy’s project. His dad was Burt Lancaster’s producing partner. No idea that networking was of import. 😂 Genre: Noir. I had to look it up to see what that was. Told him-no problem. He loved it!

    Leave a comment:


  • Bono
    replied
    Unless this idea is a 10 out of 10 in your eyes -- I would not do it myself. Even then I might not do it. Give it an honest score just on the idea itself. Is it something you couldn't have come up with? Would it kill you NOT to write it?

    I don't know how he got attached to the first project but I'd want to diversify my portfolio so to speak. You already have a project with him -- let's see how that turns out first because you get into a second one with him and his name/clout may be helping you or getting in your way. It seems that very few people's attachment to things means anything to the people with power.

    This is the thing that stood out to me -- a high-up Amazon exec who specifically requested a script along the lines of his idea.

    We've all heard this line 100 times as writers. That's the exciting part. But let's think this through. 1 exec @ Amazon wants an idea like that. Meaning he's pitched that to EVERYONE he knows, so he'll have 10 writers/directors come back to him with takes on that idea plus the other things he's sent in general.

    It just feels like you're chasing an opportunity that doesn't sound so great to me if you take passion out of it.

    Let me put it this way. You write your own spec. And you can get it to any director. Get full solo writing credit. And have that Amazon exec and anyone else read it. In fact, I'll assume you wrote the first project on spec and that's how you met the director in the first place...


    Leave a comment:

  • JeffLowell
    Member

  • JeffLowell
    replied
    You should not ask for money. It's a little bit of a shifty move on his part - putting his name on a script that you write just because he comes up with the idea is definitely not SOP. At most, he should ask for shared story. And even then, he's not going to pay you.

    He's really acting as a producer here. What he should do is let you have sole credit - his payment for the idea would be attaching himself as a producer/director.

    Leave a comment:

  • grumpywriter
    Member

  • Director wants to "collaborate" on a script - how to handle?

    Hello -

    Seeking advice/life experience stories from anyone who has been in this situation.

    A director who is attached to another project of mine that is currently into studios wants to "collaborate" on another script that is his idea. Essentially he wants me to write it for him. He has some very good industry contacts to send it to once it's done, including a high-up Amazon exec who specifically requested a script along the lines of his idea, but of course the odds are always against any script actually getting made or sold.

    So - I'm just wondering how best to handle this and what to ask for. Obviously -- I plan to involve my lawyer and write up a contract. But should I ask for money up front for writing it? He's agreed to share 50/50 on writing credit and everything else.

    Thoughts?

    I don't want to put him off by being greedy or for asking too much. On the hand, my time is valuable and I don't work for free anymore

    Mark
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