Screenwriting Agreement

Please note that WGAW may provide business advice and suggestions, but it cannot provide legal advice during negotiations. Please contact your own lawyer to inquire about the negotiations on this agreement and the legal effect of these documents. An option agreement in its most basic form is a contract by which the author grants someone, for a period of time and for payment, the right to make a film about the author`s screenplay. The three main issues that generally arise when negotiating such an agreement are the length of the option period, the amount of the option payment and the purchase price when the project is born. How each of these problems is resolved depends on the bargaining leverage of the parties involved (i.e. whether the author is a beginner or has already succeeded in the sector and whether the producer is an experienced player or only a young production company trying to get traction). Most screenwriters will face different types of legal agreements in their careers, but here are my first six. Of course, I know that reading this article is not the same as law school or hiring an entertainment lawyer, but if you work in showbiz, you will probably meet most of them. Do you really want this to be a surprise? When the time comes, I would like readers to take active action to protect their interests. The contract is intended to facilitate the negotiation process between an author or his representative and a company that employs that author. Businesses, writers and their representatives can use these forms to commemorate employment contracts before a «long form» agreement is presented. As a result, many more recent screenwriters begin their careers without any legal arrangement of any kind.

Sometimes the writers involved are friends with the people they work with, and they think no deal is necessary. Or they think they need agreements if they ever sell their work, but not today. To be fair, I`ve seen that some professional screenwriters make this mistake, and it always blows my head. It`s a myth that you always need an agent, a manager and an entertainment lawyer to negotiate a scenario – but with this statement comes a necessary context to be applied. If you fall into that particular context, you will see that you can certainly negotiate your own deal without being represented – and that you have to do it often. First, you need at least one entertainment lawyer – preferably with an agent – to negotiate a contract with a large studio or a large production company, with a few exceptions. The conditions at stake at their end are serious business, especially since they are signatory companies of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) that must comply with the latest agreements. The option agreement also provides for an «option payment,» i.e. the amount that must be paid to the author in return for giving the producer the privilege of using the author`s screenplay for development purposes. Here too, this could go, depending on the bargaining power of the different parties, a very small amount (for example. B, a few hundred dollars or even a dollar) to a larger payment (tens of thousands of dollars).

If the other party wishes to extend the option period for an additional period, additional payments would be provided for the author. In most cases, this additional payment is negotiated to be more substantial even when the first payment is low.

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