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In my limited knowledge, I’ve always heard it was like 3-5% of the budget. I could be wrong. I used to think it was ten. These days I’m just like “yeah sure” have at it. I hardly ask for a sale, but if it was a longer short script I might.
I’m sure others with more knowledge will chime in.
I appreciate that. Little update, I've been told the budget and asked for 10% of that to start. I didn't ask this guy to buy it by the way. He quite bluntly asked in the original email how much I'd sell it for. So I've just been rolling with it. Normally I agree to someone filming mine for a credit and a copy of the film upon completion.
I think. you should consider what the script means to you. Is it one of your better ones? One you're fond of and consider turning into a feature one day? I recently sold something I couldn't really care less about. Took me two days to write it and I have no plans on doing anything with it, so $250 seemed reasonable to me. My very first script I sold was in the same price range. It was only 5 pages, but I could kick myself for selling it. Why? Because I gave up all rights to the story and the characters and it was really good. Got contacted by a Hollywood type thanks to it even, but I couldn't do anything with it. Short answer to your question. It depends.
Honestly, this is a script I quite liked. I don't think it's my best work but I really think it could work quite well on screen. I'd love to see it made. You've all given me quite a bit to think about now. Thanks a million.
All good advice here! Just to give another 'scale', I've never sold a short script for less than $450, and never more than $800, all within the 12-18 page count. I have given several for free, though. Some to people I've worked with before and have a rapport with, and some to just beginners that I know don't have a budget, but show a lot of promise and the story is basic. (Or they asked all the right questions.)
Just a little more to chew on... I'll never sell all-out rights. After one of my stupid mistakes, (similar to Pia's and Anthony's), I learned to have it put in the contract that all rights will revert back to me if the project has not moved forward within a year. (I think I signed one that was within three years, but that's because it was early covid.)
Do the film makers want to option it at all? I've done that a couple of times. They give you $100 up front and have 6 months to a year to make it. If they do you receive another payment for the remainder. If they don't, the rights return to you. I think $500 is a nice roundabout number for a short script unless it's a major union production, in which case it should be more.
Don't sell it outright. This guy clearly isn't a high roller, so there's a good chance you could sell him the rights, only for it to never be produced. And you'd be out of the rights forever.
Offer to let him option it instead. 5% of the budget gets him the rights for six months. If it's produced within those six months, you get another 5% (or whatever you negotiate). If it doesn't get made after 6 months, the rights revert back to you. If he still wants it after six months, he can renew his option for another 5%.
Smartest move you can make at this point, IMO.
EDIT: Sorry, should have read the entire thread first. I didn't notice the topic of optioning had already been brought up.