Screenwriting : Beware of Producers asking for money to produce your script by Joe Thayer

Joe Thayer

Beware of Producers asking for money to produce your script

Beware of Producers on here or anywhere else asking for money from you (The screenwriter) to produce your script. Based on my limited understanding of how the business work, this is not how it should happen. If a producer truly loves your work, they will raise the funds or have the means to produce it. Am I wrong? I welcome any alternative views or examples where this might work. For me this is a red flag!

Sonita K.w.i

This just happened to me dude..

Sonita K.w.i

That's a major red flag!!! it's a scam for sure

Craig D Griffiths

If you pay someone they are supplying you a service, you are their customer. This is ass backwards. You write a script. You sell a script. Your customer, the producer may want certain things as part of the sale. Such as rewrites.

Just last week Craig Mazin said “writing should cost you money”.

There are so many scams targeting writers. If someone wants money. They are instantly ignorable in my book.

Dan MaxXx

i see lots of producers offering "exposure" than money. Exposure for writers is the new hustle.

lots of producers with track records but they cant scratch together two nickels.

There was one producer soliciting writers to adapt a book for free, for exposure, and this producer has a track record. The shady part was he was asking multiple writers to adapt without telling the writers- most of them were contest winners, unproduced, always out of state.

Sonita K.w.i

Nick is right , whether you are a screenwriter or entrepreneurs /start-ups never believe that you should pay investors to pitch. You should never pay consortiums or groups of angels or venture capitalists to pitch. It is totally contrary to the spirit on how the entrepreneurial ecosystem should work.

Joe Thayer

Sonita K.w.i I agree :)

Mark Hemmings

Thank you for the heads up.

Joe Thayer

Mark Hemmings that was my purpose for posting - just a heads up. Best of Luck!

Doug Nelson

I never, ever ask for money from writers (or anyone else for that matter) up front. That's just not the way I do business - but I'm old school. All I've ever need was a word & a handshake. I guess business doesn't work that way any longer. Sad.

James Welday

Appreciate the advice, Joe Thayer!

Clark Ransom

This happened to me about 4 weeks ago. Not via Stage 32, but thru a job posting on a fairly reputable site. Went through the whole process: sent writing samples, got a call from the creative, and she asked me to write a short scene from one of three prompts; did that, then the actual Producer calls me. I did my research, he's the real deal. He tells me of several story ideas he has, is looking for a writer to collab with, etc.

We exchange a couple more phone calls, discuss the concepts, and he sends me two files filled with over 20 versions or rewrites by OTHER writers on the concept. My radar warning goes off, I ask about the other writers and he then rants about how they failed, they get nothing, and he just needs the story fixed. I mention the word "agreement" and he goes on to tell me how everyone wants to work with him, I'll make a $100k, get my name out there... blah, blah, blah. I told him no thanks. He blew up and told me I was making a huge mistake and so on.

Don't fall prey to these jerks. They will use your desire to get credit and get noticed so they don't drop a dime and you'll never get a thing.

Mr. & Mrs. Doe

Yep, too late for me. I fell into that trap twice! Thanks mate. Cheers!

Kiril Maksimoski

You might be surprised but it's legit pay, you get movie and claim title in it (executive producer, line producer, actor, etc) There's whole wide world of people without talent or any special abilities for film, but with money on their hands.

Dan Guardino

.Tim. This is not the same thing you raised on Stage 32 about a month ago. Stage 32 was offering a service for screenwriters. The $300 fee they charge was for feedback on your screenplay. Here he is talking about a producer who wants a screenwriter to pay to produce your script. In this case the producer would just trying to take advantage of a screenwriter.

Joe Thayer

I think Dan got it right. While the $300 fee might be steep, its for a service, clearly advertised and delivered on. It's for the individual to decide if it is worth it. The pay a Producer to produce your script thing was misleading and a waste of my time. If it was advertised "Pay me $2000 to produce your film" I would have ignored it an not wasted my time. It's the misleading nature that gets me.

Roberta Munroe

Interesting thread. Why are you expecting someone to work on your film for free? Or is it you expect the producer to raise capital and be paid from this along with everyone else?

I’ve primarily produced short form content (films, pilots) that is self financed by writer/director (a few times we’ve raised funds crowdfunding), and I’ve never worked for free. Plenty of times at a much lower rate than usual, but never for free and always, for hire. You wrote it, you own it. It could be that I work with creator from script to festival or pitch or sale - but you always own it.

Joe Thayer

@Roberta, Thanks for joining the conversation. I always appreciate an alternate perspective. This is not about me producing a feature film I wrote. If that were the case, I'd be a producer and yes, I would be looking for funding and hiring people like yourself (Director, DP, and perhaps other producers, Etc..) and eventually paying myself too. If I wasn't the writer and just the producer (Which is what this person was representing himself as), I would also be hiring a writer, not asking a writer to pay me. What I was pointing out in my post is the equivalent of someone asking you to direct a film, but asking you to pay $2000 to direct it.

So I agree with you, if I was producing my own film, especially a short, I would be hiring others and raising funds myself and I would not expect to be paid. In fact I am doing exactly that on my short film.

Doug Nelson

I've noticed that many here in the S32 forums ask for an awful lot for free (& they want it now). And they seem to offer nothing of value in return. Can we ever get to the adult side of the pool, or is it hopeless?

Roberta Munroe

You’re welcome, Joe. It’s a great platform and I’m happy to be on it.

Though, I believe the conversation is far more complicated than, “if someone asks to be paid upfront to produce your script, they’re a charlatan.”

There’s so many scenarios where the opposite is true. Think of all the actors who pay people to produce and direct something for their reel, or you are writing/directing a proof of concept, etc.

I charge good money to make your dream come true. I can’t guarantee success, but I can guarantee it will be the best possible end result with the resources we have at our disposal.

And I feel honorable and transparent about that.

I would like to add to your post that, if a producer asks for a fee, ensure you check their previous work, it’s completion, and market success, AND talk to previous creators as to their experience working with that person.

In everyone should get paid solidarity,


Dan Guardino

Roberta. I believe the person who posted this is talking about something different. Obviously if a screenwriter has a spec screenplay and they wanted to hire a producer to make it into a movie they would have to pay the producer. Most if not all screenwriters here are trying to sell their spec screenplays and or are using them as calling cards. They aren't hiring hire producers.

Joe Thayer

@dan agreed and correct on my meaning

Joe Thayer

@Roberta no one here said “if someone asks to be paid upfront to produce your script, they’re a charlatan.”. I am of the nothing is that simple mindset. However like I tried to explain in one of my comments this was not an upfront proposal from a producer to produce my script for me. Nor did I seek out his services. He pretended to love my script and want to/be able to produce it and then turned around and asked me for money to do so. If he could produce a feature script with a 2million+ budget, he wouldn't need my two grand to do. So my only purpose in posting was for people to be aware.

Roberta Munroe

Hey Joe - of course! I absolutely understand the difference, and sorry I didn’t acknowledge that earlier. There are a lot of people out there, some good, some not so much, who either don’t understand the process or are only seeking to make a quick buck. It sucks, and it’s also demoralizing for us writers. You think you’ve found yourself an outstanding producer only to realize they’re only on board for a fee.

Hermann Kayode

Nice, appreciate the advice ! thanks

Joe Thayer

There are a million what ifs and what abouts. I described a very specific situation. A misleading solicitation. That's different than hiring someone to produce a commercial, trailer or POC, etc... I never said producers shouldn't make money or be paid for their work. Everyone should get paid for their work, that includes writers.

Dan Guardino

Joe. Yes there are different what ifs. Some will ask a screenwriter to give them their screenplay claiming they will receive a screenwriter's credit. That is BS because if they don't have the money to option the script they will never get the movie made. Unfortunately a lot of screenwriters will fall for it. I never heard of a producer asking a screenwriter for money to produce their movie but I am sure it happens because there is no shortage of crooks in this business. The best thing a screenwriter can do in that situation is turn around and run the other way. I am glad you bought this up because I hate seeing fellow screenwriter getting ripped off.

Gilberto Villahermosa

I'm with you Joe. I'm a writer, not a fund raiser. If my story is good enough it will be Optioned or Sold. If not, it won't be. There are too many cons out there preying on writers desperate to be successful.

Dan Guardino

The only thing I spent money on was on a software program, two how to books and some stamps.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Dan - I spend money on book, on computer programs (Final Draft), on a long-term script consultant, and on good movies that I want to learn from. Takes money to make money!

Dan Guardino

Gilberto. There is nothing wrong with spending money on script consultants and stuff but I am not someone who is willing to do that sort of thing.

Doug Nelson

Dan - if you bought some stamps, you must have bought some brass brads too (how else were you sending out scripts in those days).

Rashika R

Joe Thayer, I agree, simply because I experienced it when I was new to the industry. I was excited, he "loved" the script. I wanted to see my dream come true. I paid him. And I never heard from him again. When you know better you do better. I will pay for coverage/feedback and education. You're right, when they're all in they cover financing/secure funding for your project.

Charles W Gordon III

A producer asks for money, my reply would be, "Where you want it sent? San Quentin or Riker's?"

Barry John Terblanche

I'd reply; I've mailed your cheque - check your inbox :-)

Jon Shallit

Scams galore. Everywhere. Assume the worst unless proved otherwise.

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