Anything Goes : Contracts, Negotiations and all things YUCK. by Jennifer Alyse

Jennifer Alyse

Contracts, Negotiations and all things YUCK.

Hey, guys, I'm needing some advice. I have created a tv show and have registered it with WGA-- so I think my idea is safe. Right? I have a producer who is interested in creating the pilot and helping me move this forward. Here's the thing that makes me nervous-- what do I pay him? What kind of percentage does he deserve? Also, he says that he had a similar idea years ago and this has always been on his bucket list to do. So, I love that he feels strongly about the concept, but how do I protect myself? Any input will be so appreciated. Thanks!

Mike Chinea

Get an entertainment lawyer first. Copyright your work, WGA registration is not enough if you have to go to court.

Jennifer Alyse

Thanks, Mike! I'm getting on that copyright, now.

Chantal Lashon

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the request. I love your work. I'm in the process of creating my own show as well. It's an entertainment style interview show with artists. Good luck with your project and I would love to stay in touch. I'm in Burbank.

Jennifer Alyse

Chantal, it's nice to be connected! We should definitely keep in touch-- my knowledge is in hosting, so this is a new path for me. Just trying to stumble in the right direction!

Chantal Lashon

Most definitely, I have a few friends that are connected and shopping their shows so I have connections in Hollywood that are doing the same so you can get some insight. I'm actually in the process of editing my first show. Yikes! LOL

Mike Chinea

Wishing you much success with your projects. Do you have the show bible ready? My friends and family writing and producing for TV say that is one major reason pitches fail.

Tim Alan- Pres./CEO Third Day Entertainment, Inc.

Hello Jennifer, Gr8! hope this project moves fwd for you :) per your question. Though many producers will help you w/o cost... I would "shy away" from those. Any producer with demonstrated abilities and connections is worth paying for his assistance vs learning via the school of hard knocks and seeing a potential quality project fall apart. 10%-15% rep fee is customary... of course do your research on the producer "before" moving fwd. ALWAY'S have an NDA in place ( non-disclosure agreement ) BEFORE Talking & sharing your ideas,concept,business plan etc... No producer can gurantee a project will get picked up or succeed, but in this business & current economy an experienced producer well connected & respected can at least see your project gets in front of the right people to get fair opportunites. There is a myriad of issues involved in connecting, pitching, and moving fwd with new media projects. Far beyond what can be addressed in a blog or quik comment ;) but I hope this info offers some light to your concerns. Regards Tim Alan/TDE Wishing you much success!!

Tim Alan- Pres./CEO Third Day Entertainment, Inc.

here's another thought which might help :) when considering a producer for your project... What has he/she produced prior, what was it's success record, are the projects series still airing? etc.... how many projects has the producer developed & gotten "on air" and are still airing either nat'l U.S. or Worldwide? did they go mobile, streaming, social other? ;)

Mike Chinea

Good points Tim but I have to disagree on shying away from producers who'll help without cost up front. I am very leery of people who call themselves producers and charge up-front fees; those generally are consultants at best. I hate to see people with stars in their eyes be taken for a ride. A real producer will shepherd the project on a profit participation agreement. By all means hire a line producer/production manager, good ones are worth their weight in gold. And talk with a lawyer. Some entertainment attorneys will give you a half hour consultation at no cost. So talk with one.

Michael Lockett

Hi Jennifer you may want to consider these simple points. For all intents and purposes producers either come up with the money or lend their gravitas so that others will help fund the project. Title credit and of course whatever percentage of profits is what they get out of the deal. There is no sure bets for anyone involved. Everyone has risk and reward in the creation of something that has many hands touching it. My suggestion is to get references for the producers and see some of their work if you can. Even better talk with people that you find independently that worked with them on projects. If their asking you to come up with the funds then in essence you're the producer as well so you might as well get the credit.

Jennifer Alyse

Hi Michael and John! Thank you for your guidance. I have registered the project with the US Copyright Office and am moving forward with finding an entertainment lawyer. I love your suggestions and I'm going to act on them, today. Thank you so much!

Mike Chinea

Here's an attorney a friend has used and was happy with him. He is not my attorney but his rates are more reasonable. http://lemoineentertainmentlaw.com/

Jennifer Alyse

Mike, you're wonderful-- thank you.

Shawn Schepps

Jennifer - This is the situation. You owe him nothing. Nada. If you sell this idea to an outlet, network, cable, whatever, a lawyer, and an agent, you'll get one if you make a sale, help you decide these things, and the WGA as well. If you make a sale, you'll need to join the union. Just because he says he had an idea that is similar means nothing. You've already registered your idea. The fact that he is asking for anything at this point worries me. There isn't a deal until there is a deal. Are you going to write it alone? That means you will have created by credit. Why is he attached? Can he get you into places you can't get to yourself? Tim Allen above knows his stuff. But I tell you, and you can go to my page and look at my imdb credits, because I have been doing this for a long time, any real producer never asks for anything up front because the agents, and lawyers take care of that stuff once there is a sale. Again, until there is a sale, everyone works for free and you as the creator aren't in a position to offer anyone anything yet. Is this guy a showrunner? Has he produced features or television? What do you think his credit would be on your pilot? Is he a consulting producer? Is he going to take you to Disney Studios, or Universal, or Showtime for meetings? How high up on the food chain is he? Is he even on the food chain? You are your own advocate. I'm not big on non-disclosure agreements, because you can register your idea, and copyright. But with this guy, since he said he had an idea like this not too long ago, it wouldn't be a bad idea. Remember, you can't promise him anything except to be a partner of some kind (to be determined by higher forces later like agents, lawyers and studios if there is a sale) and work with him. Just be careful. If you want my email is scriptbytch@gmail.com - I'm happy to talk to you. I don't like seeing people who are starting out have bad experiences. So yeah, listen to Tim for sure, to me, for sure and make sure this guy can move your idea forward, not just be an attachment. If he is so passionate about your idea then he needs to bring something to it. My best, Shawn Schepps

Shawn Schepps

Oops, spelled Tim's name wrong - my bad - above "Tim Alan" made some excellent points in your thread.

Rob Parnell

I agree with Mike. It's the producer's job to find the money - from which they take money guaranteed in the deal memo. I get sick of people who call themselves 'producers' wanting money first. Doesn't work that way!

Mike Chinea

Shawn, thank you for sharing. You been there done that and probably have the scars to prove it. You are the real deal and is good to know that we have people with your pedigree here. Way cool! Hope you'll extend your wisdom to others.

Shawn Schepps

I have to also agree with Rob and Mike - and thanks Mike, kind words.

Jennifer Alyse

Thank you, all, for your wisdom and generosity. I am so honored that each of you has taken the time to help me out. This is foreign territory for me on this side of the line and I'm trying to be as careful and savvy, as I can. I'm looking into every, single suggestion you have given-- I'm incredibly grateful. Shawn, I'm going to try to get in touch when I get back from a trip in a couple days.

Eric Blakeney

Jennifer, if you have a show idea, the real question is do you plan to write it? You should not be paying a producer to help you get your project off the ground. You will just be hustled. If the producer wants to work with you and possibly co-write it with you, you should be very clear on your partnership and get an entertainment attorney to write up an agreement. These murky waters create major problems. Be clear.

Shawn Schepps

Yeah - what Eric said.

Jennifer Alyse

Thanks, Eric. My project is a reality show and the treatment/Bible is done. I have the cast and a couple trailers in place, but no pilot. At this point, I'm reaching out to a couple people that may be able to help steer it in the right direction. It's got the emotional pull of Extreme Home Makeover and I need someone to LOVE it and run with it. I think it has great potential-- not just because I created it, but because I know what makes my heart sing, as a viewer. I have looked into attorneys and collaboration agreements and have told the potential partner that I need everything stipulated, up front. The truth is, I'm not sold on the partner and, for that reason, I'm looking elsewhere. I'm listening to my gut instead of my heart... I'm dying to move forward and get rolling with the filming of the pilot. One of the things that has me tied up, right now, is in knowing the right protocol to ask someone to look at it. From a business perspective, I want to be very respectful of someone's time... from a creative perspective, I want to do this idea justice and let the horse out of the pen. Do I just ask someone even if I don't know them well? Do I need to have an introduction or referral? The fact is I'm hopeful & wide-eyed and I assume that everyone is going to be as transparent and obliging as I am. So, I'm trying to navigate as responsibly as possible. Any input you have, in this regard, is appreciated... from all of you.

Kristopher Wile

Generally, if you have to pay someone to help get your work made, then they're not a real producer. In reality, producers take projects directly to the networks and pitch them that way. Rarely, if ever, do projects get made by writers directly.

Shawn Schepps

I think Eric will know more about this - but you'll need to shoot some of it first before pitching it because that is the reality protocol when one is starting out. They call it a "sizzle reel."

Eric Blakeney

Actually, Shawn is steering you in the right direction. From what I've heard about reality television, the sizzle reel is huge. Take the extra time to work in whatever clips you have and call in all the favors from every editor you know and make it great. That and your ability to pitch the show is what will get you a deal.

Jennifer Alyse

Got it. I have two sizzle reels and an editor on location (the boyfriend- lol). Now I just need a Producer to look at it and stear me, firmly, in the right direction.

Mike Chinea

Congratulations!!! Hope all goes well for you.

Jennifer Alyse

Thank you, Mike! I've had them done for a few months, now, but I think there is still work to do.

J.r. Scarbrough

Jennifer, do you have legal representation or an agent who can be there during the discussions? I would suggest having an entertainment lawyer/agent in on the process to counsel you during it all. They specialize in everything you just asked and would know best how to approach numbers and security. Ideas are really easy to lose to a new twist on the idea. It actually happens. It is rude and crude but this industry is shark infested so be careful.

Jennifer Alyse

Hi J.R.-- thanks for the feedback. Thanks to this post and everyone's feedback, I'm realizing that I need both of those things. I have an agent for Hosting, but I'm going to need to seek out representation for my project. I've been given some great referrals for lawyers and I'm actively looking to have a Collaboration Agreement written up. You nailed what my biggest concern is-- having my idea taken and twisted.

Tim Alan- Pres./CEO Third Day Entertainment, Inc.

Hello Jennifer, I've been on the road filming & just stopping in to ck on ur progress. We'll to be honest Lot's of Great comments from pro's- then again My "initial post" comment based on my experience has drawn out some comments I've ignored considering their content,conduct & experience level ;) J.R., Shawn & several others have good imput for you! however... I've had to roll up my pant legs for many comments & suggestions - to keep from wading thru deep muddy waters ;) My heart goes out to you as you manuever thru the myriad of issues ahead, & of course "avoid" the shark infested waters in this business of television :) Proceed cautiously, execute the "highest level" of Due Diligence in reagrds to anyone comming into your fold ;) Wishing you Radical Success! ;) time to roll my pant leg's down and move on from this environment of pride,issues, & attitudes ;) Tim/TDE ( which of course my comments today will surely stir up the waters )

Mark Ratering

You cannot copywrite an idea

Jennifer Alyse

What? What? What?!?!?!? Mark, you just threw me.

Kristopher Wile

Mark is correct. You can't copywrite an idea. What you can copywrite is the expression of an idea. As in, write up your idea as a treatment for the show, show bible, etc. Then copyright that.

Jennifer Alyse

Okay, thanks, Kristopher and Mark. The treatment/Bible is complete and all documentation has been registered and copyrighted. You had me scared there for a minute!

Mark Ratering

Jen you cannot copywrite lets say a story of a boy falling down a well. You can copywrite a 100 page story that has names and intellectual development

Jonathan S. Abrams, Soc

Don't pay this guy anything unless he brings in the money. Then, hire an entertainment attorney to draw up the paperwork and incorporate, if you haven't already or just have this guy pay you to option the show.

Jennifer Alyse

Mark, I copyrighted 19 pages of a written treatment. Jonathan, thank you... I'm looking into it!

Mark Ratering

you on now

H. Wolfe III

I believe you're safe, Jennifer!

Matt Pacini
  1. Copyright it with the US Copyright office, not just registering it with the WGA. 2. The line of "oh, I have something like that I've been working on" (or some variation of that) is a standard 'kinda' BS line that people spew to protect themselves, so they can basically ignore you having the idea first. You agreeing to go ahead, while acknowledging his statement of that sort, basically = you giving up your rights and agreeing he had the idea first. 3. Don't enter into any sort of deal, agreement, production, etc., with this guy without talking to an entertainment attorney first. The further down this path you go WITHOUT doing that, the bigger potential problems you could have later. As to what to pay him, the questions should be what is he going to pay YOU? The producer secures funds for the project. If you are ALSO planning on being a producer on this project, then that's a different story, but writers do NOT pay producers - you have that backwards. If you want more specific advice, contact me.
Jennifer Alyse

Thanks, Matt, for everything you've said. I have decided not to move forward with this producer, for the reasons you've stated, as well as a couple others. The idea is fully registered and copyrighted. Thanks, again!

Nelson Santiago Beltran Aka Zoom.

IF you are forced to work with him, make sure he signs a Non Disclosure Agreement. AND You get to say whether or not you want to work with him?? IF you don't want to work with him, work with someone else who's MORE COMPETENT!

Jennifer Alyse

I hear you ANC I agree, Zoom.

Tony Klinger

You have a bunch of great advice here. All I might want to add as a producer / writer myself is that unless you feel really good about working with this person DON'T! It's tough enough when the team is right but if you go in not trusting your team mates then there is a real and fundamental problem that no amount of paper work is really going to protect you from. All the signals you're giving off prompt me to think that you need a different producing partner. I hasten to add that I am not proposing myself. I wish you luck whichever way you choose to go.

Mark Ratering

HEY TONY WHEN i WAS WORKING ON STAR WARS WITH THESE GUYS LUCUS SAID JUMP OFF THAT CLIFF AND ZOOM CAUGHT ME, NEVER FORGET IT. SO I TRUST THESE GUYS....YES WITH MY LIFE

Tony Klinger

Mark tell me about it. I have also taken major risks based on the people I trust, but Jennifer seems to be expressing a whole bunch of trust issues with the people she is working with and that's what I was referring to.

Mark Ratering

It's funny we are in a business that requires the most trust of any and we do it with people that we should least give it to. God must be laughing

Tony Klinger

I was once running a movie down in South Africa and the director wanted to put the camera operator in the front seat of a very delicate replica world war 1 biplane along with the stunt pilot. It was clearly unsafe for a pile of reasons but the director insisted he could get a better shot with an operator than just a mount. I challenged him to do the shot himself if he was so sure it was safe. He refused and the camera op insisted on doing the shot, and guess what; it crashed. We were lucky because no one was injured but now I simply would have over ruled the director. Trust is a two way street.

Ken Pond

Like many people said up front. Entertainment Lawyer first... then. go from there.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

Mark Ratering, who is your god?

Mark Ratering

Jesus Christ God so loved the world he gave his only son. Jesus...he's my friend...took me by the hand..walked across this land Jesus he's my friend

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

i guess i did ask for that one :={ i was still upset what you told me even thru you said you was kidding. i hope if your truly a christian that when you make a joke ask yourself how would Jesus phrase it.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

one more thing i found Producers finance the movie. They don't neccisarily get a percentage. They get ALL the profit left over after everyone else is paid. Say a movie has a budget of 10 million. The producers paid that 10 million. Now, if the movie goes on and makes 100 million. Then the producers have just made themselves 90 million! However, if the movie only does 8 million, then they've lost 2 million dollars of their own money. :-)

Jennifer Alyse

Brownie and Billy Wiseman, not sure what gave you the idea that I was looking for hugs and high-fives... I just want advice, plain and simple. I want someone to love the project-- I've got loving me covered. Thanks for the links, I found them to be very helpful.

Mark Ratering

Not quite so simple Billy. Almost never does the producer act alone so he must share. A producer has to pay staff and rent sometimes for 5 years before film gets made. Has to pay for rights to the story etc. Its a tough road.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

i gave me the idea you needed a actor of some sort thought it was worth the shot in asking, was always told that it didnt hurt to ask, guess i thought my dog was the actor not me im lucky i can walk and talk. so i was not asking for my self as i would rather see my buddy a star i could care less about me and when others do good i like seeing that as well, your welcome for the links and glad it was helpful, happy thanks giving

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

might not be mark but i was just passing info i found im not in the movie part my dog is the best i can do is send links to stuff i found written by others that is not part of the show biz where the people say hey do it our way, but my links gives you advise true advise of the way things ought to be, i taught my dog not to hurt people or lie and the same holds true to me the links was advise. take it how you want it whose right or wrong

Mark Ratering

thanks

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

thanks to who and for what?

Jon B. Patton

Register with WGA as said above. GET an entertainment lawyer. ANOTHER simple way for writers to protect their work? MAIL A COPY TO YOURSELF OF YOUR LAST VERSION OF A SCRIPT. DO NOT OPEN IT. If there ever is a problem it is post marked. I've seen that work in court. Everyone, please do not forget - the WGA is there for a reason AND I can speak from personal experience - they DO and WILL step in. KEEP every correspondence (always, everything in writing - if you're unsure of someone have a conversation with them and then put that conversation in writing for your file and e-mail it back to them time/date stamp). KEEP KEEP KEEP every draft and/or outline of your project. Take notes. WGA can sift through and determine. But, really the best way also is to have an entertainment lawyer. Just get one. The US copyright office when in development? Sure I guess? But I have SEEN WGA step in many, many times including one time I was involved with and they make it right IF you do your legwork and have everything for them. I humbly disagree with the gentleman who said "shy away" from producers who help w/out cost. Without them, some of the most successful projects we know and love would have never gotten off the ground. However, I see where he's going a bit. Just protect yourself I didn't read all comments so hope I'm not duplicating here. Good luck!

Rachael Saltzman

Up front? Nothing. Percentage as per contract (usually around 30% of operating budget, but it varies). Poor man's copyright is a useless myth and has never held up in court (that's the mailing a copy to yourself nonsense - it doesn't work). Your registration, however, does.

Jennifer Alyse

Thank you, Jon and Rachael. I have gotten a new producer, who I trust. I've done all the legwork that you've suggested and I think I'm in a good place. I appreciate you for taking the time to help me. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark Ratering

Rachael does know of what she speaks.

Rachael Saltzman

You are most welcome, Jennifer!

Joe Palermo

Yes, entertainment attorney. When you have the pilot completed, please let me know.

Michael Maren

Nothing is safe. You can't copyright an idea. You can only copyright a script, precise words. The best defense is to have a powerful agent and attorney. Otherwise your good ideas can be taken by anyone who comes across them.

Larry Richards

Hi Jennifer. I'm new to Stage 32 so I've been poking around and I saw your discussion. Lots of information here to be sure. Have you found all you're looking for or do you still have questions?

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

Otherwise your good ideas can be taken by anyone who comes across them? this could not be anything further from the truth and the people that steals these words even thru they didn't write the words they stole they still have the balls to sue you and claim there theft is trademark secret :+} i know this to be the case because i got sued for proving such a case :+}

Rachael Saltzman

Brownie - I assume that semi literate rant has something to do with not being able to copyright ideas? Sorry, you can't. Only your execution of them. Also - we are judged by our presentation online, as this is the current communication medium. Investors and producers are not the same thing, although they can be.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

Sorry, you can't. :+} that was my point but i was sued by someone that thought you were wrong :+} just in case you don't believe i was sued check my Loglines & Screenplays i was sued :+}

Rachael Saltzman

Hahaha - well, anyone can sue anyone for anything. Winning, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely. I hope it was an expensive and fruitless journey for them.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

:+} if you look at the order 397 it was a fruitless journey and im almost sure she spent over one thousand on me,at the time i didn't think it was funny , i had no attorney and the judge told me i had to file the motion on my own. shell calls me names so in the end it was a fruitless journey that was not appealed.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

almost forgot while i kicked her butt, a few defendants are still involved in this case, one defendant in this case is at his house in a hospital bed tied to a oxygen and the plaintiff thinks its very funny that she is suing the disabled until she met me. she has asked the court that the defendants in this case not report her for tax evasion the judge agreed and ordered the defendants not to tell :+} before you ask im no longer a defendant. i hope she frys and the crooked judge that must be on the take for accepting such an offer.

Bobby Reed

Remember two of the GOLDEN RULES of show business: (1) everything is negotiable; and (2) there are no new ideas in the world, just old stories told in a new way. And check someone's cred all over town, to see the way they do business. That should give you a clue. Presume, too, that the other party is checking on your cred all over town.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

this is how i do business, you love us without the games, we volunteer at acts thrift store Pasadena ca, the thrift store was just awarded as the number one thrift store in Pasadena ca we dont look Homeless But in fact me and brownie is homeless because of the lady that sued me i lost everything i own, she called the places i parked and caused problems and trying to run my RV Broke down and i didn't have the money to fix it i lost it all But My dog who i still got.

Stephen Foster

COPYRIGHT is forever WGA is only 4 years.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

Actually Life of Copyright and “Forever” Are Not the Same The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) of 1998 extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The Act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.[1] Copyright protection for works published prior to January 1, 1978, was increased by 20 years to a total of 95 years from their publication date. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act and http://members.nashvillesongwriters.com/photos/File797.pdf

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

or act like Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic and change the music :+} sorry Stephen Foster :+}

Mark Ratering

stephen i believe wga has extended time now maybe 10 years?

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

Original theatrical motion pictures stories and screenplays (not based on any pre-existing material) may be reacquired during a 2 year period; the period for the writer to buy back his/her script begins 5 years following the completion of the sale or the original writer's services (whichever is later). (See Article 16.A.8. of the MBA) That 5-year period is extended if the purchasing/employing company sells the materials to another Company (so the buying Company also gets a 5 year period to produce the film). http://www.wga.org/subpage_writersresources.aspx?id=192

Larry Richards

Um, so it Jennifer still involved in this conversation?

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

she is if she wants to be she took the time to make this page :+} she might be busy with her works just give her time if she has something to say , shes very out spoken if she has something to say you will get her two cents :+}

Larry Richards

Perhaps. Just asking because it seems as if a couple of others seem to have hijacked the conversation. No big deal. I hope Jennifer has gotten the information she was looking for.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

it was thanksgiving I hope Jennifer has gotten the information she was looking for to and hope she posts soon

Shawn Schepps

Brownie - who is ignoring the use of grammar while writing on a literary site, the dog or the man?

Jennifer Alyse

I'm here, just letting you do your thing, Billy. I'm good.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

thanks jenn, shawn unlike you i grew up in children s homes that didnt teach you the proper use of grammar and im not here trying to impress anyone how smart i am as my dog is the smart one not me. but thanks for noticing your smarter then me.

J.r. Scarbrough

:P Billy. Proper grammar is not a sign of intelligence. My education has been in Computer Science and English Composition and trust me, writing well does not give a person an automatic intellectual advantage over those that do not write well. It is all just a matter of building good habits in order to impress an authority figure. Here is a tidbit of factual information. As long as your writing is understood, you have written well. Shawn, this is not a literary site. This is a social networking site for the creative arts industry. A little reading on Brownie and Billy might be in your best interest. I took the time and now understand. An insult pointed at Billy’s intelligence is highly uncalled for. I think all of Jen’s questions have been answered. Basically, an entertainment lawyer and probably a manager would be in order. Jen, a manager would be strides in the right direction. Rather than simply being an agent, they can handle different aspects of your professional life. One person can represent your writing, your hosting and whatever else you choose to. You sound a bit like me and have a foot into lots of areas. Some managers are also lawyers. Good luck.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

thank you J.r. Scarbrough

J.r. Scarbrough

You’re very welcome Billy.

Shawn Schepps

Brownie and Billy - I didn't graduate high school and therefore, no college. I had a writing teacher later in my life who explained, and I really got it, that we need to respect our language. Especially if we are going to use to it write and communicate. This is our language, it's what we've got to walk through our world with. Me, I'd like to do it proud.

J.r. Scarbrough

Shawn, that is a admirable quality in this day age of cell phones and internet chat. Brevity seems to be watering down the language quite a bit. Formal education isn’t as important as the desire to be educated. One can team themselves more effectively than a brick and mortar institution, so given the inclination and desire to do so. I dropped out of high school and proceeded toward a self-designed education. I got my diploma before my fellow students and went on to college. I tried this and that and finally discovered a love for language. I just feel that ability with language is not a proper measure of intellect. It is more like you stated just then, it is an interest and a matter of respect. I agree wholeheartedly. I tend to be an anglophile based upon the British's ability with our language. American English has never been as eloquent or thoughtful. It seems that the language here has been hit hard by texting and technology but it was never British to begin with. I share your passion but not all do and certainly, not all can.

Amrik Pabla

If you need a crew member I'm down.

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

i was struck by a hit and run driver I'M having to relearn :+{ my friends who bought me books taught me how to build websites and fix computers, i built three of them when i had a house and they where alive. he was a Vietnam vet "air Navy", i think I'M doing very good for someone who was thrown 70ft and left dead at the scene.

J.r. Scarbrough

Yes Billy, I read about your accident and that was my intent in the above comments. You do very good. I comprehend what you are saying. Shawn didn’t have the information I have and I do not believe he was intending to be negative toward you. I didn’t want to step out of line and say why you might have some grammar issues. I am glad that you mentioned it. I am going to apologize to Jen for going off subject here. I just felt it was important. Like I said, I don’t Shawn was being malicious, he just couldn’t have known and being a disciple of language as I am, it sometimes is annoying to see how many people who can respect language but don’t. Sorry Jen. :) That’s enough of that.

Jennifer Alyse

No need for apologies, guys. I'm just glad that my community is connecting! Billy, I'm sorry to hear about your accident-- terrible. :(

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

didnt know you knew and thanks jen but stuff happens like my lil movie star, im still waiting on the movie to come out i wanna see it :+} hope you had a happy thanksgiving

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

everyone here speechless :+}

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

let me catch myself. i was not talking about jen or J R :+}

Paul Lang

Your project is as safe as it can be with the WGA registration, make sure you note it on the front page of your screenplay. As far as the Producer goes, its up to you. Flat rate or percentage. Any producer of note will be giving you what they want, then the negotiations begin. In addition a good Producer should have connections. One more thing: Get a lawyer to look at any contracts, there is a cost but peace of mind is priceless.

Jim Halsband

FYI, WGA registration "has no teeth", my pitch treatment got snagged a few years back and produced by USA network, they changed it enough to avoid any litigation but the change also removed the backbone of the show, and it failed after 3 episodes, but my attorney told me upfront that WGA has no teeth. Email communications do carry lots of evidential weight, especially if there is a fine print notation at the bottom re: NDA verbiage!. I suggest that you find an agent, one who handles directors, they have better success packaging sizzle reels with producers and network programming developers.

Kathy Foust

Hi Jennifer, glad to meet you. I know what you mean about being nervous about everything but you have to protect your work and your project. I use to be in Real Estate and I use to make a joke about if your hair needs fixing you go to a licensed professional, if you want to buy or sell a car you go to a licensed professional, to sell real estate you go to a licensed professional. In your case you really need to get it copyrighted first before anyone reads it. Also, don't be afraid to ask for proof of his credentials, if he has a company or incorporation, check the state that he lives in to see if he is registered with the Secretary of State as Incorporation, LLC or Company. Now in California also they can go to their township office and file for a "Fictitious Name" which is a way of filing for a company, thus the reason for fictitious name. Also, don't rely on the Indb site to check on his creditionals because that site is mostly maintained by each person who has a page on it. Call Dunn and Bradstreet and see if he has a number and if he has ever had a company registered and if he is registered now. The final thing to check out is to ask for him to make an appointment with you and your attorney. So the attorney can draft a document with all of the stipulations that you are asking above. There is no set fee in stone for a producer. Sometimes it is the producer that brings the money to the table, so if anyone asks you for money to pass your script down the yellow brick road, turn right at the next stop sign. There are those who will tell you just about anything you want to hear to just get their hands on your script. So I would be more concerned on protecting your interest instead of wondering about his fees. Attorney's get paid to do that worrying, remember the cycle, when you have a legal problem, you go to the professional. Sounds like you have a great onsite on the business, but the roles and fees are confusing and change for each production, the union's have the mandatory rates and the only thing a writer is suppose to worry about is creating that great script for television or screen. I would have a meeting with the attorney first and lay all of the cards on the table and let him know all of your concerns. Sure it might cost you a couple of hundred dollars. But trust me, from my own experience my legal attorney is probably the only person who has my best interests at heart. So just pass all of this confusion and running around in circles to your attorney and just keep working on your script. Fine tuning never hurt anything. And if the producer asks you for money to get things rolling, just defer it to your attorney and while he is there, just call your attorney's office and set up an appointment. There are several documents that need to be signed and he needs to explain what the money is for and who it is for. You also might ask him for a production analysis and have him bring it to the meeting. Good Luck and much success. I hope I didn't offend you.

Leon Reaper

''how do i protect myself?'' KARATE CHOP!! lol jk :P

Bill Mackie

Protecting a TV concept is very hard to do and easy to steal. Since it sounds like you've already given him details the more incentive you provide this producer the better shot you have of him being loyal to your cause.

Bill Mackie

And one follow up... WGA isn't enough. If it is more than just a general idea and has some strong specifics you should copyright it with as many of those details as you have.

Jennifer Alyse

Hi guys! Thank you so much for all of your information. Kathy, no offense at all, silly-- I'm grateful that you took the time to help. Just an FYI for all of you, I did NOT go with the original Producer-- there were too many alarms going off in my head and the advice I received form everyone, here, helped me follow my gut. I spoke to about 4 Producers, met with one in person and we're moving forward. Everything is registered and copyrighted and the deal memos have been signed. The show is being pitched on the 10th and, well, we'll see! Again, THANK YOU, for all of your support!! I'm very grateful.

Leon Reaper

soooooo....you didn't karate chop him? lol

Paul Lang

Good luck Jennifer, you seem to have things handled well. Go get em!

Jennifer Alyse

Haha-- well, Leon, I didn't exactly karate chop him, but I kicked the first Producer to the curb. That counts, right? Thanks, Paul!

Leon Reaper

yep, that'll do ;)

Brownie & Billy Wiseman

i was upset over the weekend, brownie got lost :+{ she came back and i now made sure she will never get lost again.

Blake Adams Bailey

You're safe, but Know you can't trade mark an idea. Like "Meteor hits earth", that's why we had two of those great movies at the same time. However, you can never sell anything that you don't let others read, so long as you are original. Just go with it.

Zack Birlew

Copyrighting your script is the best way to protect it. WGA registration is great but is maybe 60-70% as far as protection goes, hence why many do both. It just covers all your bases. As far as what the producer gets paid it can vary greatly depending on what the producer is doing on the production. Is he paying for the film? Is he offering conncetions and/or services? Is he co-writing the script? The biggest factor is what the budget is and whether or not he wants a percentage of the gross. In one example he could take an upfront salary of 2% of the budget and then take 10-20% of the film gross. Then again, he may want a 10-20% upfront fee and nothing on the gross. It's really a negotiation that you'll have to sit down and personally discuss with him, bearing in mind what would be best for the film, of course. Just be sure that if you come up with contracts that you don't sign anything away, if it's your story then it's your story and your project to sell via whatever means possible.

Jack Raymond

Check out http://filmspecific.com com for all things yuck. The producer shouldn't expect to be paid no sooner than you have completed funding for the project, and usually not until production begins. At that time, it is the bank who makes up the disbursement schedule to pay the producer. The only items paid before the shooting starts are name talent, writer, director, and possibly locations to secure that. But even those items are not paid until funding is secured. You need a lawyer to handle all this, and then the bank makes the payouts. It is not your concern really after the lawyer, and distributor make a funding agreement and schedule.

Mark Ratering

Bad info won't stand up in court, WGA is your best bet $25

Mike Chinea

Copyright registration is the only thing all courts will recognize. WGA is iffy since some states do not recognize it but a copyright is your best defense. Mailing it to yourself, the poor man's copyright may not stand up in court. Don't take my word for it, ask your attorney.

D Marcus

What states do not recognize the WGA registration?

Mike Chinea

D Marcus I am not of legal mind but this article explains it way better than I ever could: .http://www.writersstore.com/wgaw-registration-vs-copyright-registration/

Jack Raymond

Jennifer, I speak from the film perspective. But I expect TV is similar. You don't pay a producer. He pays you. But he will probably want to be included in the budget for his services and possibly a cut of profits. Your reasonable salary should be there too. If you need to pay for anything, it is development costs for things like a budget and a business plan. You need a UPM to do the budget. That can cost around $1500 to $3000 for a feature. I don't know about TV. A pilot might be more like a short film. You don't need a lawyer yet. States do not determine if the WGA is acceptable. The WGA has lawyers to prosecute or defend your property for five years if you need them to. That's what the registration does. It proves you own the material and copyright. I think copyright cases are federal, not state. Regardless, the first thing you need is a budget, and for that you need a UPM. A UPM can also find you a producer and help answer your questions reliably. In doing a budget you may be able to take advantage of state tax credits. You can get 20% and more in certain states if you spend your budget there. Even though you may think all this is unnecessary for a pilot, you still need it for the full series you are proposing, right? What if the pilot does well? Potential investors and producers for the series will want to see a full budget. Their first question will be, what will this series cost? This is dependent on talent, locations, production value all of which vary by each project. You need to vet this producer to see what he's done and how successful he was. You should talk to people who worked with him. You are hiring him. Look through IMDb to see he's listed there. If not, he's a novice. If he is then look at his work. Find a UPM who worked with him. Take a look at FilmSpecific.com. There are some free resources there.

Deanna Rashell

I would pay your producer, hard to find a good one that will work for free. I produce and I can tell you, there is a lot involved and if you want a smooth running production you need a level headed fast thinking producer who is willing to commit their heart and soul into your project. Usually it's a day rate but you can offer a share of profits too, let them decide which way they want to go, a producer will work for several days prior to the actual shoot day. The more pre production you do the better your shoot days will go! :)

Jack Raymond

If you are the one paying a producer then you are the producer.

Deanna Rashell

A producer does a lot of duties that you may not want to do. Sometimes there are creatives that hire the people to make their project come to fruition, in that case, you would hire a producer to make it all happen, scheduling, coordinating with crew, locations, permits, etc.

Rob Parnell

Producers make their cut from the production budget. Any 'producer' who wants money upfront of the project is called a 'hustler' and should be avoided!

D Marcus

Mr. Chinea, I could not find where in that article does it says that WGA registration in not recognized in some states. Yet you are telling us that some states do not recognize the WGA. If fact that article states, “in the event of a lawsuit or a credit arbitration, the WGA will have an employee appear and testify concerning the date of the registration.” WGA registration is different than copyright; which that article says, but registration seems to be recognized in all states. Could you explain what states do not recognize WGA registration?

Mark Ratering

I have been with Stage 32 a long time and this is something that always comes up Richard we need your hekp on this subject. I have have so much that counters everything else!!!!

Shawn Schepps

Amen to what Rob Parnell said.

Mike Chinea

Good Line Producers are worth their weight in gold and they are not going to work for free. You hire a line producer (production manager) to break down the script, write a budget and hire crews. For that you negotiate a payment strategy. A recognizable name with verifiable references will look good on your business plan and that may help in getting funding. But if someone wants payment up for financing or for taking your project to their contacts, run don't walk. Do your due diligence. I have yet to meet any legitimate line producers who offer any financing if you pay them up front.

Deanna Rashell

I agree Mike!!!

Joe Palermo

Hello Jeniffer, Is this going to be a union or non-union production? For contracts, I would strongly advise getting an entertainment attorney to out between you and anyone your bring on the production.

Kathy Foust

Jennifer, first you have sit down and assign the role tree. What is it exactly is your position and your position. It all comes down to what is he duties going to be. So Joseph was absolutely correct. You need to meet with your entertainment attorney, trust me he knows exactly what the going start up rate would or should be. What is your start up capital and how much to have really to startup. So you until you really sit down really determine how much $$ you have to spend.

Other topics in Anything Goes:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In