Advice needed--What to do when Hollywood studio wants my script?
My boss' son is a genius--I've known this since he was a lil' sprout. Two execs from a major studio have just made him an offer on an unfinished script, and want an option on several others he has done. They've already offered him a percentage of the profits on the first script, assuming the pic gets greenlit and made.
The kid is across the country from LA, and while his parents are professionals, they haven't a clue about hiring literary and entertainment attorneys.
As a long-time DLer, I remember reading some good insider-y advice from industry pros over the years. I'm calling on you now, if you're still hanging around. What's the best way to go about protecting the kid's interests (and psyche)?
This young man's a special project of mine; for years I pleaded with his parents to recognize the boy's special gifts, while they did everything but declare him mentally challenged. Now that his talents are being acknowledged, I want to be sure he's protected (legally and financially, at least. The swimming with moral sharks part he must do on his own).
So...where shall I point him? TIA, ever so much.
There are like a dozen books about selling your screenplay on Amazon, start there.
BTW those studios are offering the kid "net profit points" on the script, which is basically a big fat zero. The studios' accounting fixes it so that there is never a net profit. Oldest Hollywood trick in the book.
FYI - NO studio execs have offered him anything on anything.
R1, if all of what you said is true, tell the writer to ask the creative exec(s) at the studio to recommend him to an agent and lawyer. Or have him go to imdbpro, look up the writers of movies similar to his and grab the info for their reps. If he has an offer on the table, (assuming it's a decent paying one), cold-calling the agents/lawyers would be okay especially if the work (studio 4) has already been done by the writer.
Are you sure you're not just meddling? If he's written scripts and gotten interest from studios, I assume he knows he needs an agent and lawyer.
[quote]BTW those studios are offering the kid "net profit points" on the script, which is basically a big fat zero.
Why am I not at all surprised? His mom is over the moon, and when she mentioned the part about them offering him 5%, I just thought, "No. For an untried writer, for a picture that may or may not get made? What's 5% of [possibly] nothin'?" But I was hoping that was just my natural cynicism.
Thanks, R1. The kid's just finished a film program at his college.
A first time writer won't get much for his script but never accept back end, you would ask for a percent of first dollar (not profit).
But he would not get that. An agent is a must.
Nah, R3, I'm no meddler. He has parents for that.
I just like being informed IF called on to offer support or advice.
R2, would you mind explaining your comment, please? I may have misspoken when I wrote "execs." They likely were flunkies (?).
So..playing devil's advocate how did he get an unfinished script to a studio exec, let alone a few studio execs. Studios get thousands of submissions a day from legitimate agents and managers. They will reject a script sent in with no representation because if they make a movie similar to it that person can sue, saying they stole their idea.
Secondly scripts, especially first scritps are usually bought outright. It would be a very very rare occasion that an untested screenwriter would get an offer for profit share on an unfinished script. Studios will option a script to keep the movie out of other studio's hands and have things to send to big stars to get their names attached to projects to get them rolling.
So what your saying seems pretty fishy and waaay out of the normal hollywood machine. That being said. If it's true, call William Morris in Beverly Hills ask for Mike Esola and if you get the brush off tell the assistant you have a screen writer with a offer on an unfinished script from STUDIO NAME (and exec's name if you have it) as well as potential options on several more scripts and you need representation. If it is legit Mike can verfiy with the studio. Good Luck.
Be careful around those people or you could end up OWING THEM MONEY even though they bought the script.
R7, a former classmate of his, a business major, wound up with a job at the studio. Since he got there, he's talked nonstop about this "genius" writer friend of his. Somehow, it got up the chain and someone put feelers out to my boss' son. They teleconferenced on Monday night and again last evening.
I mean, given the absolute hack writing that Hollywood is turning into dreck films, is it any wonder some studio flacks are looking for actual talent they can exploit?
Personally, I'd prefer to see him in television. That's where almost all of the good writing is happening these days. And I'll be needing a good replacement for Breaking Bad.
R7 I was also thinking that... strange that he would get an offer without having an agent, unless he was interning for the creative exec who made him the offer.
So if his friend is at the studio and somehow got the script and meetings set up, I would think the "friend" would tell him to get an agent right away or even make a few calls for him. Since no one knows you who or this guy are, what studio is it?
20th Century Fox, R11.
What is the name of the script, OP ? "This Never Happened" ????
This. Never. Happened.
Why? R7 gives the OP a full and complete answer even telling him whom to call and what to say. OP, in R9, doesn't even acknowledge it, leaping instead to other, non-substantive issues, just to continue his little online, fictitious drama.
If anything online seems unlikely, it never happened.
R13, Friends in reputable film schools, like USC, were always scoped by directors and producers looking to show off their new hot young find. Sometimes an academic at the school had a few minor Hollywood connections as well, and was trying to push the most talented for mutual pap/legit press attention. Local legit low budget film competitions try to do the same thing.
Not to go off topic but does anyone know if the winners of the 48-hour film competitions get anywhere?
DL, There are always going to be those that question the legitimacy of threads. Considering how many of us read and gather relevant info for ourselves, why not treat the OP's as honest. That way no one really gets burned.
I for one would like to know the answer to OP's question, for others who have asked. No, I would never write my own script; just have met many dreamers in my life.
R7 has given you the answer, R16. Enough said.
R17, Thank you. Again, not a screenwriter but run into plenty of "future wunderkinds" on a regular basis.
If you have a legitmate offer from 20th Century Fox then have then Call Mike Esola at Willam Morris in Beverly Hills. Even if he is not taking on clients he can get you to an agent at WM who can service him better. Agents cost nothing they take a percentage and WM will have lawyers who can look over contracts and protect the client.
p.s. since I set this up I want 2% on dollar one of the first 5 produced scripts please..oh and casting approval :).
Ha, R19--thanks! I will pass on that name (and your business proposition) to the Mother of He Whose Videoconference with Fox Never Happened.
It always amazes me, the people who can't help themselves from crowing "THIS NEVER HAPPENED!" I'm 51 and personally have seen dozens more exciting, truly improbable things happen than all the banal stuff like I posted (and most DLers post).
Seriously, this is a big deal for my boss and her family, but don't act like this shit doesn't happen every single day, to some enterprising kid or another.
OP here. R7, I do indeed appreciate your good, detailed information, and have passed it on to my boss, as well as R19's info (which echoed yours).
If anything good happens, I'll post updated information as soon as I hear.
Have them give him an up front option, say 25 thousand cash, against a renegotiated script in production contract.
Oooh, R22, I'm a smart cookie, but your post flew right over my greying head.
Are you saying it's better business to negotiate a flat fee for his finished script, rather than take his chances with a back-end deal, where he may not get a penny if the film doesn't get made (or sinks like a stone)?
Or did I totally get that wrong?
OP, Nor R22, but even I know about "creative financing," and extremely popular films that don't make a profit ie no return to investors or those with back end deals. There have been lawsuits from major stars claiming over this very issue, and they have major connections and clout.
He doesn't need us, he needs an agent!
And FYI I've heard that those "percentage of the profits" contracts are called "Monkey Points", because the studio accountants will never admit that a film has turned a profit.
Help him get as much as possible at signing because his scripts will never get made - therefore, no back end payout. The studios buy up as many spec scripts as they can to KEEP them from being made.
A number of very talented screenwriters I know all found this out the hard way.
OP/r23, it is illegal for the studio not to pay your young boyfriend for the script. He should at least be getting a two-step deal, where he is paid for delivering the script and then again in about 6 weeks after revisions. I don't think a first-time writer is going to have anything to do with the back end (major red flag) at Fox.
Insiders, do I have this right?
I find this scenario grossly speculative since the first place you thought to stop for advice was this place. An attorney, an agent, hell, even a google search would have made more sense!
Why are there all these proctors on DL. Who cares if its true or not. It opens an interesting discussion. You are not adding anything with baseless skepticism. This is supposed to be a fun forum not an historical record.
Why is that R26? Why would they buy scripts just to ensure they never get made? It makes no sense.
R30, Not R26 but know for a fact he/she's correct. Hollywood is not run on common sense or on artistic merit. Desirable scripts are sometimes bought so that rivals can't make them into movies.
Perhaps a star that a studio wants to court might be interested in a script, that said studio knows is too expensive to produce, or that won't be profitable in China, or it doesn't have a desirable supporting role.
Sometimes after a script is bought for an actor that has a relationship, friendships and levels of fame change too.
Introduce him to Bryan Singer.
I probably shouldn't have laughed as hard at R32's comment as I did.
Well, is he (almost) famous yet?
OP, read R7 and R19. Tell the kid's parents to do exactly what he recommended or they will rob him blind.
The most creative department at any studio is Accounting.
Is he hung?
I find this the most fascinating thing out of the OP's post:
[quote]while they did everything but declare him mentally challenged.
Why? Bored with schoolwork, Asperger's tendencies? It must not have been easy to have such overinvolved "supportive" parents.
Percentage points. So there are points and there are points. No one these days takes just points in a movie because the typical profit making numbers are budget x 3 or 4 (over simplifying but for brevity sake).
Now if I had points in the first Paranormal Activity? Then yes excellent deal. It cost 10K to make and raked in hundreds of millions. You would have to be the Dumbledore of accounting to prove that did not make a profit but those movies are few and far between.
What you want and what are either precentage points past X or points on dollar one.
Points on x in a nutshell mean if the movie GROSSES (not nets but grosses) X numbers of dollars I get 1 million. If it hits a second target I get another millon or 2 millon or what ever the bonus scale is set to. This can help reduce an actor's fee when going after big names to attach to a project.
Points on dollar one mean just that. Starting at the first dollar this movie takes in I get x percent. This is usually reserved for really big names who command 10-20 million a pic. Wave a potential 300 million dollar block buster in thier face and they are looking at a fat paycheck in the end.
R7 and R19 are the same person. So am I.
r38, when did screenwriters get points?
Aside from a few possible names, writers are just there to get screwed while doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
I never said screenwriters get points - I was simply explaining what they were.