THE WRITER’S STEP DEAL
Can you tell me exactly what a good development deal for a script should entail?
Miranda From Australia
The most common script development deal in Hollywood is called the writer’s step deal. In this kind of deal, you (the writer) are promised a certain sum per step. The steps are usually (1) treatment, (2) first draft, (3) revision draft, and (4) polish. Ordinarily, the producer has the option of stopping at any step. The producer owns the material it has paid for and can continue with the project hiring other writers. The WGA has a short form agreement which sets out the terms of this kind of deal. If the writer is a guild member or the producer is a Writers Guild signatory, the writer is paid at least guild minimums. You can download the WGA 2004 schedule of minimums here.
A good deal is to have as many guaranteed steps as possible for as much above guild minimum as possible.