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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Ownership of script premise?   Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    Ownership of script premise?    (currently 304 views)
BarryJohn
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 3:28am Report to Moderator
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A production company approached me, wishing to option (free) one of my short scripts. BUT, they want me to remove a clause in my agreement; I retain all rights to the story and premise, that I may use for any further scripts and or sell.

If I remove this clause? Will they own the rights to the script... In that they can sell it and or co-produce it to a profitable feature movie?

I SMELL A RAT!  - I fell I should walk away?  Any advise please?

The script in question is, They just peasants, which is a 23 pager... and has potential for a T.V / CABLE movie.    


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 5:51am Report to Moderator
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Yes, you'd essentially be losing rights to the script, which given this is a free option wouldn't be something I'd do.

With free options of shorts I usually include something that explicitly allows them to make ONE short film from the short script, nothing else... and that I can re-sell, re-write etc.

Occasionally they'll ask for some sort of exclusivity so they don't end up with multiple versions of the same film hitting festivals/online at the same time, which I'll happily consider.


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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eldave1
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 12:38pm Report to Moderator
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This is a no-brainer NO.  What possible reason would you have to do this?

Think of it this way. Someone asks to borrow your car for free. As part of this favor you are doing for them, they would like you to waive your ownerships right to the car. Would you ever, ever do that?

Just FYI - here is the agreement for free use that I developed.


Quoted Text
PREAMBLE

There is an agreement below. What is means in plain language is that you get to make a film from my script for free. However, I retain ownership of the script unless at some time in the future you decide to pay me for the script and I decide to accept your offer. It is crafted in a way to allow students and new filmmakers a chance to film something at no cost for the written material.  Here are the terms:

AGREEMENT
I, David Lambertson,  grant  (name of student or producer) permission to use my screenplay (title of script)  for purposes of creating a film version of the story.  No payment is required for this permission.

This permission is not intended to transfer rights to the script or otherwise create an “option” to own the script. It is simply intended is permission to film the story. This means:
•     The script remains the property of David Lambertson.
•     David Lambertson at his sole discretion may allow others to use the script.
•     David Lambertson may sell the script at any point in the future.
•     At any time, David Lambertson may submit this script to contests at his discretion and any and all proceeds from contest awards are 100% his.

Nothing in the above is intended to impede or restrict the filmmaker’s (insert name) ownership of their completed film or infringe on their rights to that product. In other words, if they (insert name) complete a film based on the free permission granted to use the script,  any subsequent use,  sale or option of the script by David Lambertson to any party does not infringe on (insert filmmaker’s name)  use of the script for their film.

Unless otherwise indicated below, (insert name of filmmaker) is entitled to all proceeds and awards from festivals that the completed project is submitted to other than any and all awards that directly relate to writing. Those belong the David Lambertson.

David Lambertson will receive sole and full writing credit for the script and will be recognized in the credits as the sole writer on the filmed version as well as in any future marketing efforts, submittals to film festivals, IMDB profiles and all other public displays of the script or the film.
No changes or modifications to the script will in any way create a co-writer credit. David Lambertson is the sole writer.

The filmmaker (insert name here) agrees to complete the film within (indicate time frame) of receiving this permission and will provide David Lambertson access to the completed project through either a hard copy (DVD) version or a link to a web-site hosting the film.  

The filmmaker (insert name) may at any time within (insert timeframe) tender an offer to David Lambertson to option or purchase the rights to this script. Whether to accept such an offer will be at the sole discretion of David Lambertson. Should the film not be completed within (insert timeframe) the permission to use the script is revoked.


I would NEVER NEVER EVER EVER give away my rights to my work for someone who did not pay for it.  


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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BarryJohn
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 1:42pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks guys. you concurring to my thought of... walk away.  


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Yuvraj
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 1:47pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from BarryJohn
Thanks guys. you concurring to my thought of... walk away.  


Yep. Walk away.

Hope someone else with appropriate and suitable clauses approaches you for your script.  


Most recent script: DEAD AHEAD
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FrankM
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 7:43pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from eldave1
This is a no-brainer NO.  What possible reason would you have to do this?

Think of it this way. Someone asks to borrow your car for free. As part of this favor you are doing for them, they would like you to waive your ownerships right to the car. Would you ever, ever do that?

Just FYI - here is the agreement for free use that I developed.



I would NEVER NEVER EVER EVER give away my rights to my work for someone who did not pay for it.  


That looks like an excellent agreement for a free option, though I'd be leary of using language that transfers the rights for my script to some David Lambertson character


Feature-length scripts:
Who Wants to Be a Princess? (Family)
Glass House (Horror anthology)

TV pilot:
"Kord" (Fantasy)

Additional scripts are listed here.
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eldave1
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 8:03pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from FrankM


That looks like an excellent agreement for a free option, though I'd be leary of using language that transfers the rights for my script to some David Lambertson character


Yes.  Exclude him


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Grandma Bear
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 8:26pm Report to Moderator
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My rules are simple and there's a reason for that.

Do you want exclusivity? If so, you have to purchase the script.

Don't need exclusivity? The script is free to use, but I will have sole writing credit no matter how many changes you make.

I make sure there is an email chain I can refer to if anyone gets cranky later on. Where in our email conversation does it say this or that? This usually shuts them up right away when they realize that THEY should've made sure they want exclusivity or such. Keep it simple.


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Robert Timsah
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 11:43pm Report to Moderator
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Interesting. I guess I would have them elaborate on their concerns first to understand where they're coming from. Then decide. But of course, feel fully free to run away


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ReneC
Posted: September 14th, 2020, 12:12am Report to Moderator
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Wait a minute...it's an option, isn't it? They aren't asking for the script for free, are they?

If they are optioning the script, they don't want you to go and write something similar to it and get it out to someone else before they have a chance to develop the one they're optioning from you. They want the exclusive rights to that story, that's why they're optioning it.

If you're worried about the franchise potential, then when it comes to the actual sale, you can try to get a clause that gives you first crack at writing any subsequent projects based on that material, but the reality is once you sell something it's no longer yours, not any part of it.


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BarryJohn
Posted: September 14th, 2020, 2:42am Report to Moderator
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Thanks all for your input.

RENEC  
[QUOTE] If they are optioning the script, they don't want you to go and write something similar to it and get it out to someone else before they have a chance to develop the one they're optioning from you.

My agreement states, they have a six month window in which to produce it. (In which time I'll not "self compete")

I'm thinking of informing them: The option is off the table, and the script (full rights) is for sale at $1,000.

  


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ReneC
Posted: September 14th, 2020, 10:42am Report to Moderator
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If they're optioning the short, they don't have the money. They're begging for time to raise the money. It's up to you if you want to give them that time in the hopes of making the eventual sale.

I'd have a tough time letting someone option a short of mine. It's not a big price tag. If they can't afford to buy it outright, how are they going to afford to produce it? But a 20+ page short is a substantial amount of money. I could sympathize with first time producers who want to make their first big project.

But I wouldn't option it for free. Options are usually around 10% of the purchase price, if they're serious about it I'd ask for the $100 option fee.


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eldave1
Posted: September 14th, 2020, 1:05pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ReneC
If they're optioning the short, they don't have the money. They're begging for time to raise the money. It's up to you if you want to give them that time in the hopes of making the eventual sale.

I'd have a tough time letting someone option a short of mine. It's not a big price tag. If they can't afford to buy it outright, how are they going to afford to produce it? But a 20+ page short is a substantial amount of money. I could sympathize with first time producers who want to make their first big project.

But I wouldn't option it for free. Options are usually around 10% of the purchase price, if they're serious about it I'd ask for the $100 option fee.


I did the $100 option for two months and of course,  they could raise the money. The dude was a student and a vet. I felt so bad for him I returned his $100.

You're right. If they can't afford to pay the meager price for an option, they are never going to get the money needed to produce.  I'd say 80% of the time I grant free use - they don't get the money to film.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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BarryJohn
Posted: September 15th, 2020, 4:10am Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
But I wouldn't option it for free. Options are usually around 10% of the purchase price, if they're serious about it I'd ask for the $100 option fee.

Renec. Excuse my ignorance, 10% of purchase price ~ what how is purchase price determined?

I have a data base on "short film producers / film makers" that I intend making contact with, re- option all my 11 shorts. Thing is, times are hard and I worked hard on those scripts that I just don't see reason to just give them away - what amount $ could I ask / expect for them?  

All welcome to comment, advice - please.  


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ReneC
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Quoted from BarryJohn

Renec. Excuse my ignorance, 10% of purchase price ~ what how is purchase price determined?



I was using your quote of $1000 for the short to base that on.


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