Author Topic: Writer's Agreements  (Read 1165 times)

LC

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Writer's Agreements
« on: July 31, 2013, 07:22:46 PM »
Hey guys, (my first post on the new forum  :)

This is a question for those of you 'in the know' - especially Michael and Pia, but also anyone else who's familiar with this feel free to chime in with your experiences. I have a producer wanting to film my Short and she sent me a long agreement to sign and send back. I don't have a problem with any of it except this:

OWNERSHIP OF THE WORK:  Writer hereby assigns to Producer the sole
and exclusive ownership throughout the world and in perpetuity of
all rights, title and interest of every kind and nature (including
without limitation copyright and the right to create derivative
works based on the Work) in the Work, and waives his or her moral
rights in and to the Work.   

This is not standard as far as 'Shorts' go is it? I just think it sounds a bit much.

Thanks in advance to anyone with advice and similar experiences.

Writer Arena

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2013, 07:43:44 PM »
It's pretty standard if they are buying the short, they want to own it.  I wouldn't give it to them free to use, however, if they are making you sign something like this.  If you are letting them use the script but they aren't buying it then generally the exclusive rights will be for a fixed duration while the film is made and does the festivals.  If they are buying it, I would be careful about putting in a clause about getting first chance at writing the feature - if one should come about because of the short. 

Normally new producers just pick up a contract off the internet and send that to you.   If you think it should be different then suggest the changes you want to make.  If they're using the short for free or for a small fee then they will probably give you some leeway. 

LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2013, 08:00:31 PM »
Thank you very much, Michael. And yes, I forgot to mention there is no money changing hands which is why I thought this a little over the top, but to give her the benefit of the doubt perhaps she has used this contract when optioning a 'Feature'. I'll suggest the changes like you said.

Thanks for getting back to me so fast.  :)

Alex

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 12:34:23 PM »
Hey Libby,

Great to see you up and posting.

Have to say is this producer paying you for the short or is the intention to use it for Comps and Film Festivals ?

If there is no money involved I would only give him a non-exclusive agreement with a 12 months expiry. Sure it is always exciting to get something signed away, though even with an agreement, he may never produce it and if you give an exclusive, chances are you won't get it produced by him or anyone else in the near future. Don't rush in.

I would also include a clause that you retain the idea, concept and rights to a "Feature", "TV Sitcom", "Prequel", "Sequel" etc etc etc and also stating that the only rights transfer as part of this agreement is for the Producer to create a "Short Film" based on your screenplay. His intentions may be for an Exclusive so he can create a Feature and kick you out of it as he would retain the rights. Be cautious.

Be very specific in the conditions and if he doesn't agree to them, then take it that he may have been there to take advantage of your inexperience with this matter.

I also find all the generic agreements on the web are unsatisfactory and you really need to create your own conditions for incorporation into this and future contracts.

I am not a lawyer though have dealt with many of them and have an in-depth legal knowledge base.

Hope this helps. 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 12:42:12 PM by Alex »
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LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2013, 06:43:04 PM »
Hey Libby, ... Be very specific in the conditions and if he doesn't agree to them, then take it that he may have been there to take advantage of your inexperience with this matter.  ... I also find all the generic agreements on the web are unsatisfactory and you really need to create your own conditions for incorporation into this and future contracts.
Hope this helps.

Good helpful info Alex.

It's easy to get excited when you get offers, but I felt uncomfortable with a couple of the agreement clauses straight off.  You and Michael have confirmed what I was feeling and also back up the little bit of research I did, so thank you.

I emailed the Producer my concerns and let her know what I would be happy with along the lines you have both said. Not heard back yet, but I'll post an update when I do. I still want to give her the benefit of the doubt cause she may not have realised what she sent me was geared more for actual purchase of a screenplay, and even then you gotta be careful.

Anyway I'll cross my fingers it all goes ahead and thanks again for your input.  :)

Mo

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2013, 08:06:09 PM »
Don't feel bad if it doesn't work out though. For every one of the requests I've gotten, I've (unintentionally) said one wrong sentence and I assume I insulted them so I never hear from them again. So at least you know you're better than me at this.

LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 01:33:56 AM »
Don't feel bad if it doesn't work out though. For every one of the requests I've gotten, I've (unintentionally) said one wrong sentence and I assume I insulted them so I never hear from them again. So at least you know you're better than me at this.

Mo, I probably will feel bad, (if it falls through) but then I won't. We writers have to stick to our guns (even with 'Shorts'), otherwise we're just giving it all away. It instinctively didn't feel right, and that's before I looked into it more and also got all the great advice from you guys. And Mo, if they're that easily insulted...  :P

denamckinnon

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2013, 02:27:18 AM »
One thing I would like to add to this ...is BE CAREFUL ABOUT COLLABORATING on anything! Unless you trust the person with your life, don't do it. Even with a collaborative agreement(which is free to download on WGA's website) it can be a nightmare. Some agents don't want to deal with 'cowriters' also! So just be WARNED. Protect your work and yourself.

LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2013, 06:39:30 PM »
Just wanted to let everyone know that this had a good outcome. I wrote back to the Producer letting her know what I'd be happy with and she altered the Agreement accordingly, so I'm quite thrilled to say it's going ahead. Also, want to say thanks again to you guys who gave me advice...and how fast you put that advice up.

And Dena, thanks for your input too. I learned the hard way about Collaborating some time ago. Good advice. :)

Alex

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2013, 07:23:30 PM »
Hey Libby,

Your success is my pleasure.

Alex
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It takes 15 years to be an "Overnight Success"

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LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2013, 12:43:23 AM »
Thanks for the good wishes Alex.  :) I hope the end result is a good one.

Nybabz

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2013, 01:45:24 AM »
Is this thing on?

Daniel Botha

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2013, 08:55:34 AM »
Is this thing on?

We hear you loud and clear :P

Nybabz

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2013, 01:27:21 AM »
Hey Libby,

Great to see you up and posting.

Have to say is this producer paying you for the short or is the intention to use it for Comps and Film Festivals ?

If there is no money involved I would only give him a non-exclusive agreement with a 12 months expiry. Sure it is always exciting to get something signed away, though even with an agreement, he may never produce it and if you give an exclusive, chances are you won't get it produced by him or anyone else in the near future. Don't rush in.

I would also include a clause that you retain the idea, concept and rights to a "Feature", "TV Sitcom", "Prequel", "Sequel" etc etc etc and also stating that the only rights transfer as part of this agreement is for the Producer to create a "Short Film" based on your screenplay. His intentions may be for an Exclusive so he can create a Feature and kick you out of it as he would retain the rights. Be cautious.

Be very specific in the conditions and if he doesn't agree to them, then take it that he may have been there to take advantage of your inexperience with this matter.

I also find all the generic agreements on the web are unsatisfactory and you really need to create your own conditions for incorporation into this and future contracts.

I am not a lawyer though have dealt with many of them and have an in-depth legal knowledge base.

Hope this helps. 

YUP!

LC

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Re: Writer's Agreements
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 10:10:51 AM »
YUP!
Thanks for the added (Pro) endorsement to the advice already given Babz.  I appreciate it.  :)