Screenwriting : Optioned Screenplay and rewrite by Leigh Stanton

Leigh Stanton

Optioned Screenplay and rewrite

A producer has optioned my screenplay. YEAH! Shopped it around and got some big interest. YEAH! The director wants to make some changes. Yeah? Wants my permission to rewrite two characters. yeah? I would still get full writing credit but he wants his changes. Any thoughts? Thanks.

D Marcus

Make sure you get everything in writing. Make sue you get - in writing - that you will receive full, sole writing credit. And make sure you get - in writing - exactly how your name will appear on posters, all advertising and all promotional material. Now that rewrites are being done and the director doesn't want you to do them you need to make sure all expectations (yours and the directors) are in writing.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Well, it's nice that he's asking your permission. What if you say "no"? They're going to say, "oh, sorry, never mind?" Or they'll just cut you out of any further conversations? Anyway, note that if this director is in the WGA he is not empowered to tell you you'll get sole credit. The credits will automatically go into arbitration and the WGA will decide what the credits are. If he's not WGA, make sure it's in the contract. :) All that said, congratulations. Very exciting stuff. The movie that was produced from my first script sale was dreadful, and bore only a glancing similarity to the script I wrote. So apologies if I sound a little cynical. :) The fact is, they're buying your script and can do whatever the heck they want with it. Enjoy the ride!

Alex Sarris

Ask him what he is trying to achieve and why. Changing a character may change the feel of your screenplay and not necessarily for the best. If he gives you some good reasons why, then amend it yourself to achieve the same outcome without handing over your creative license to someone else.

Chas Franko Fisher

Nice that he/she is even asking permission. Way of the world that they often don't. But yeah, I agree with Alex: if he has started the dialogue, that's an opportunity for you to bring all your background knowledge of this story to him. Oh... and CONGRATS!!!!

Dillon Mcpheresome

Congratulations. Now what?

Robert John Chapman

A little cake is better than no cake at all. And a good production always goes well for your CV and the promotion of your next script, despite the fact you may not get much from the first option.

Sue Melanson

Changing parts of a script is a normal part of pre-production. They may wish to tailor it to an actor. As long as at least 51% of it is still your work, you are technically the writer and should be credited as such. If your intention is to join the WGA (the writer's guild) then you should make sure this is a signatory production and get this in your contract. Congratulations!

Lee Davis

Sounds encouraging. Is your script registered or copyrighted? Did you get any money from the producer?Did you get the right to do the first rewrite? Do you think the changes strengthen the script? If you answered yes to all of the above, you're in good shape. Otherwise, you might want to discuss this with a manager. If he/she gets involved, your rights will probably be protected. Good luck!

Kerry Douglas Dye

What rights are you talking about, Lee? Assuming this is normal option/purchase agreement, she doesn't have a right to love everything they do with her script.

Samuel Rodriguez

First off congrats on your success. As far as the director making changes, I say as long its in your vision and the story that you want to tell. Let the director make them. this business is about comprise too so be easy to work with but stand up in what you believe in.

Leigh Stanton

Thanks for the helpful advice! I'm warming up to the changes and am actually eager to see what they come up with.

Lee Davis

1) The right not to have her work be stolen. 2) The opportunity to do the producer's changes, instead of letting him/her hire another writer to fix her work (or worse yet, make the changes him/herself).

Beulah Jones

Leigh, I'm new to the game. How did you shop your screenplay?

Kerry Douglas Dye

Lee, 1) presumably this is an option/purchase. If they exercise the option, there's no theft. 2) does a producer ever sign a contract with that sort of stipulation? Seriously doubt it. They'd be nuts to! But only Leigh knows what she signed. :)

Tony McFadden

First Leigh, congrats. And second, now you know hoe Lee Child felt when he was told Tom Cruise (5'7" 170 pound elf) was slated to play Jack Reacher (6'4", 230 pound beast) ;)

Dave McCrea

Congratulations! I hope you got paid properly!

Leigh Stanton

Tony - a big Hurumph! Funny :)

Lee Davis

I was not aware that Leigh had already signed an agreement before she posted her question. Obviously, whatever she signed is binding. Perhaps I'm overly suspicious, which is why I recommended Leigh talk to a manager, but why wouldn't a producer let the original writer make his/her suggested changes, Unless the producer plans to take credit away from the author, it's usually cheaper and more efficient to let the original writer do the changes. Particularly since a newbie writer will probably agree to make the changes free. Personally, I'd be hesitant to sign with a producer who wouldn't grant me first refusal concerning doing changes. If I decline, the producer has the right to have the changes made by anyone he wants. Similarly, if needed, additional rewrites can be done by whoever the producer selects. It's non-burdensome to the producer. Getting the producer to pay for the rewrite is another ball of wax.

Leigh Stanton

Lee- The producer did give us first refusal and we okay'd the changes. The producer is most definitely looking after me and I trust her completely. Fortunately the producer knows how to proceed for a successful team effort. I originally posted the discussion to learn from others that may have been in a similar situation. And it is clear to me that at some point a writer needs to let go of each and every written word and become part of a team to create the best finished product.

Lee Davis

Sounds like a good producer and a happy ending. Keep us posted what happens...

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