Jun 302005


This is a followup to my previous question about obtaining short story screen rights…

I recently contacted a publisher to get motion picture rights for a 40-year-old short story. The publisher wrote back requesting a financial and creative proposal for the rights.

What exactly needs to be addressed in this proposal? Or should it be two separate proposals? Or does this look like a job for a legal professional?

I’m very excited (and completely nervous) about this, especially since it’s a story I’ve thought about adapting for the screen for the past 9 years.

Alan from Norfolk VA

Thanks for following up with your progress since last time and congratulations on getting someone’s attention. There is no standard proposal and you should not need a legal professional to prepare it. There is also no right answer to what you should include in your proposal. I imagine the agent wants to know how much money you are proposing or, if you want some rights without money, why you should have them and how the agent’s client will eventually get paid.

In the past when I have sought rights to material, I have sold myself rather than offering a lot of money (mostly because I didn’t have the money and I had some interesting industry credentials). I have, over the years, secured some quality material that way. However, when I was required to deal strictly with an agent, I was not as effective because agents usually focus on the money. Nevertheless, if you have some special credentials that make you the right person to exploit the property, share that with the agent. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:12 pm
Jan 202007

After a lengthy holiday break, the Thinking Writer is back. I’ll start with something light.

Aiken from Canada writes:

A silly little question but how would you write out in words a year like “1905″. It’s the “0″ of course that’s bugging me.

I would not write it out in words. The number is more concise and clearer to the reader. However, if you have to write it out for some reason, I would spell “0″ as “O”.

 Posted by at 2:12 am
Mar 112005

Before you get too attached to an idea for your next spec, remember you will be investing months of work into it and repeat the following:

1. Studios are not more likely to buy my script because I think it has great sequel and franchise potential. They are more likely to buy it because it is a solid concept that is well written.
2. If I am not a novelist, I will not write my story as a novel first in order to sell it to Hollywood. It is no easier to sell a first novel than a first script.
3. Studios will not buy my script because it has a good message. They will by it because it is a solid concept that is well written.
4. The fact that I can say my idea in a single sentence does not mean it is a good idea.
5. Evil corporations are lousy bad guys.
6. The fact that it really happened does not mean it is a good idea for a movie.
7. The fact that it is “just like” a highly successful movie is not necessarily a good thing.
8. I will not come up with an idea that is just what the market is looking for. By the time I’m done writing it, the market will not be looking for it.
9. I will not write something because the top A-lead likes to play that kind of a role. The top A-lead is unlikely to see my script or select it out of the barrelfuls shoved at him/her on a daily bases.
10. I will not write a script because it is an easy no-brainer that is guaranteed to sell. There is no such thing.

The only reason to select a particular story idea for your next spec – “I really really love it.”

 Posted by at 9:57 pm
Jan 042008


Someone was kind enough to share with this blog the Fox Searchlight URL where it also has nominated scripts posted, but your comment was sucked away by my sometimes arbitrary spam filters. I saw it disappearing too late to rescue it. If anyone has the link, please share it. You can send it to me on the questions page if it does not post when you submit it.

UPDATE: Per Christina (see her comment), here is the URL for Fox Searchlight Scripts: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/awards/ Thanks. They have another great collection, including “JUNO”, “Waitress”, “The Darjeeling Limited” and some others.

 Posted by at 12:25 am