Screenwriting : Good Lawyer? by Heidi Schussman

Heidi Schussman

Good Lawyer?

So I've written an adaptation full feature film and am about to start pitching it. Now before you think I'm conceited, this screenplay turned out very good and it's a high concept family film (Christmas). I have no doubt in my mind it will be an outstanding film if crafted in animation or CGI properly. The question is what do I do if it ends up in a tug-a-war and I need an attorney? Can anyone recommend one specializing in screenwriters?

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Heidi,

Congrats on completing your feature. Some questions. When you say, 'adaptation', is this based on pre existing IP and if so, have you secured the rights? I'm not sure I understand the comment about a tug of war? With whom and about what?

You need an entertainment lawyer. I can't recommend, but there may be a few on site.

Kind Regards,


Christopher Phillips

Animation is a tough market to sell specs in. Pretty much impossible. Most animation stories are done in house. They don't even look at spec scripts. The rest is done with small independent studios...

Dan MaxXx

Kevin Yorn

But Make sure you have a legit offer - say $250,000 minimum.

Danny Manus

What do you mean an adaptation full feature film? Thats not a thing. Did you adapt it from something? Do you own the rights to that material? And Christopher is right, animation studios (the big ones) do not accept outside material. There are a few independent animation houses, but its insanely hard to sell sn animated film. IF you are ever offered a contract, THEN you should def get a lawyer.

Heidi Schussman

Eoin, Thanks for your advice. I will just google it... was hoping for some direct recommendations from my Stage32 peers. :)

Heidi Schussman

Christopher, that's what I've heard too.

Heidi Schussman

Dan, I really appreciate your help. I will make contact with him if I feel I need an attorney, which obviously I hope to. Over at IMSDb there was an interesting negotiation battle that has been waging for a year at least. The script in question is an adaptation of a book from the same era as mine. I have no intentions of backing off because it's difficult.

Heidi Schussman

Danny, Thanks for your advice. I certainly hadn't planned on paying for an attorney until I needed one.

I guess I should have been more clear. This is a feature film based on an adaption of a very old classic novel which is public domain. That is why I am so confident. It's based on something that was already a tremendous success over a hundred years ago.

Dan Guardino

Heidi. I have adapted a dozen novels into screenplays. Since you said this is a animation you might try contacting producers who have produced them in the past.

Heidi Schussman

Dan, I actually think it would be better as a CGI, but I suppose that would be the same producers. The YAs in my life think it would be good as an animation. That's up to the studio to choose the right artistic approach. I will take your advice for sure and appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Doug Nelson

Heidi - Is there such a thing as a "good lawyer". I tend to think of 'em as the sand enmeshed in the gears of life.

Heidi Schussman

Doug, LOL

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