June 2

5 QUESTIONS

Question GIFThe Thinking Writer often receives questions the answers to which are too brief for an entire column. Here are some of the recent ones.

QUESTION #1: Sabin from San Francisco asks:

I was curious how rewrites work with a script’s WGA registration. If you register a script, then rewrite, say 60 percent, should the script be re-registered, or does the registration still cover it? I know this is an inane question, but I was curious.

WGA registration is nothing other than evidence of the date of creation of a work. If the rewrite is really very different from the original (for example, you have included new elements), then you might want to re-register it so you have evidence of the date of creation of the new version. However (and unfortunately), most emerging writers change very little between drafts. In that case, you probably do not need to re-register.

QUESTION # 2: Steve from NYC asks:

got a question about the following statement from a previous answer:

“If they want to present your script to studios, you can give them permission to do that without an option. Let them tell you who they wish to take it to and, if you want them to submit it, give them permission to submit it. Then, once they present it, you are free to negotiate your own deal as they are free to negotiate theirs. This is a common practice in the industry; it happens every day.”

is this done without a contract? coudn’t you cut the producer out? should there be a contract saying they are the producer attached to the script and they will getting x-amount % finders fee for helping you sell the script?

Yes, it is done without a contract. Producers count on their relationship with the studio to protect them. You cannot cut the producer out because you are not in control of their deal. They introduce the script to the studio and negotiate their own deal directly with the studio. There should be no finder’s fee. Producers are paid to produce, not find.

QUESTION #3: Jeff from “Outside LA” (which means, pretty much anywhere) asks:

I have an idea for a movie in which the central plot revolves around a small handful of actors/actresses playing themselves. I have specific people in mind, but the idea works with any number of actors. I really don’t want to do the “Tad Hamilton” thing. As it is a spec script, am I shooting myself in the foot by using real actors’ names? Or will people be able to see past it and “get it?”

Yes, you will be shooting yourself in the foot. However, you are the writer. If you feel strongly about it, you should still pursue it. Just make sure the script is absolutely brilliant. If it is, it will serve many purposes for you.

QUESTION #4: Juan from Orlando asks:

My lawyer is sending a screenplay of mine to a company this week. I’ve called the company and they told me that they are excepting (sic) solicited material. So just have my lawyer send it? I am going to send my logline with the script, is there anything I should do before I give my lawyer the go ahead? For example, calling the company and telling them who I am? And that I’m sending the script? Or should I just send it in blind? Thanks for your time -Juan- I’ll let you know what happens.

Thanks, Juan. I am sorry I could not answer your question immediately. The answer is, there is no right answer. Here are some suggestions. If your attorney has industry relationships, let him or her call for you. If he does not, you can call – but be professional. You need to sound intelligent and amiable – not desperate and inexperienced.

QUESTION #5: Patrick from Portland Oregon:

Most people suggest an unsolicited screenwriter refrain from querying big Hollywood producers and concentrate on independent producers instead. But what if your screenplay is a period piece with elaborate action scenes that demand a high budget?

Query anyone you want, but make sure your query is professional, imaginative and well written. At worst, it gets tossed in the trash. On the other hand, you never know who’s attention you might attract.

Enough. Now go write….



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Posted June 2, 2006 by TW in category "Legal", "The Business", "The Craft

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