UNWINDING PRODUCER DEALS
I have a script, which my agent had us attach a producer to. My agent and the producer are very good friends, and in our initial talks he had some good ideas. Well, after 3+ months of back and forth rewriting (the producer changed his mind on several points 3-4 times over) we finally had what he considered a final draft. The thing is my co-writer and I thought it was much better 3+ months before.
So, after it went out wide, no one picked it up, but we got meetings, we had several people (producers, execs., etc.) tell us what they loved about the story. Of course, it was the stuff we now only hinted at, as the producer attached had us cut lots of it out.
Anyway, I’m rambling. We now have our draft that went out, and our draft before the producer came on board. We’d like to revert back to our original draft and part ways with the producer, as his ideas, thoughts, and plans are all not at all onboard with ours.
So, what is the proper way of parting ways with the producer, who was attached via our agent, but NOTHING was ever signed, and no money ever exchanged hands. So how do we do it?
Chris from Los Angeles
The big question is, revert back to the original script for what purpose? It went out wide and was passed on by everyone. Who will you shop it to? Most specs end up as calling cards for their writers. This one was a calling card for you. Focus on the people you met as a result, nurture those relationships and get the next script in front of your new fans as soon as possible.
The next big question is, why now? How is the fact that this producer may or may not be attached for certain purposes stopping you from doing whatever you have in mind? If you find a buyer for the old draft, have your agent work it out with the producer and the buyer at that time. Chances are, one way or another, they’ll be able to work it out. Unless there is a compelling reason to create a problem now, I wouldn’t do it.
I could tell you about your legal rights, but you are building a writing career, not a legal career. You don’t want to get bogged down in legal disputes. Be happy for the opportunities the script brought and move forward.
The real lesson is, don’t turn in drafts that you think are lousy. If a producer gives you notes you don’t believe in, try to solve his concerns with solutions you do believe in, whether your solutions meet his notes or not. It’s always better to turn in a draft you believe in and get rejected than turn in one you don’t believe in and get rejected.