Screenwriting : Shopping Agreements by Tony McFadden

Tony McFadden

Shopping Agreements

Anyone here have any experience with shopping agreements? I'm interested in how effective they can be, and if they tend to better representation later in the game.

Dan MaxXx

I have but it's been with shady broke producers and non-union mom/pop prod companies. Keep the agreement short time (under a year) and have your own lawyer look at any legal paperwork.

there is usually no money upfront. It really depends where you are in your writing career, players involved and which game you want to play - the indie world (no rules) or union world (standards).

Dan Guardino

Obviously it depends on the producer but most never get made so make sure you have an exit strategy in case someone else want to buy or option the screenplay. If the book wasn't self published make sure you still own the film rights. Also take Dan M's advise. Screenwriters often get screwed by producers,

Dan MaxXx

This whole business is a dog and pony show.

Phil Parker

I agree with the two Dans. Be very diligent.

- Do all the research you can on the individual you're dealing with.

- Use a professional template for your shopping agreement.

- With the help of an entertainment attorney, modify it to suit your terms BEFORE you send it to the producer.

- Keep it short (I'd say less than six months. Three is even better.)

- Talk with them about what they're specifically going to do with your script under a SA, e.g. pitch it at Cannes, AFM, etc. The quality of their strategy will tell you most of what you need to know about the worth of the shopping agreement.

Whether the SA leads to anything, who knows. It depends on the quality and grabiness of your concept and who is hearing your producer pitch it.

I wish you the best, Tony. Cheers!

Pat Savage

I agree with the two Dans and Phil. You are in the right spot to find out the truth of it. Happy networking!

Tony McFadden

Thanks for the feedbacks. (Feedsback?) Mush appreciated. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kathleen Burke Monju

Good luck

Tony McFadden

Don't you hate when people spam their shit in a comment not related in any way at all with the subject of the thread?

Dan Guardino

I hate it and it is against the rules.

Phil Parker

There are a couple of things that irk me about this forum, I would say.

John Iannucci

Okay, stupid question. What is a “shopping agreement”

Phil Parker

John Iannucci - in screenwriting, for example, it's a short-term agreement between a writer and a producer (usually a producer, I believe) that gives the producer the right to 'shop' the script around and see if there's any interest in the market. If there is, the producer will probably option it from you; if not, the producer's rights over your work will expire when the shopping agreement expires. To use a relationship metaphor (roughly speaking): shopping agreement = dating; option = engagement; sale/production = marriage :)

Anne Devina Reeve

Thanks Phil I was going to Sainsbury's mmm

Erik A. Jacobson

I've done it, but only for a limited two-week period while the producer tried to attach a major star. When he tried to renew for a second two-week period, I refused, not wanting it shopped all over town. (Always insist the producer give you a list of who/where he shopped it so that if a manager asks you at a later date "Who's seen this?" you'll have an answer.)

Tony McFadden

Erik, I'm curious about why you didn't want a script shopped all over town. Isn't that the purpose?

Tony McFadden

Fingers crossed. Heading to the MIFF in August to hit up some financiers. The production company is, that is. More interested in the exposure at this point than a sale. (Not that I'd be disappointed in a sale.)

Dan MaxXx

Tony McFadden did company pay you for a shopping agreement? Exclusive ? Short or long term

Tony McFadden

Shopping agreements are free from the encumbrances of financial gain ;^)

What it does do is allow a small production company who likes the screenplay, but can't afford to make it, have exclusive rights (for a short time) to shop (hence the name of the agreement) the screenplay around. Helps me because they have waaaaaaay more contacts than I do. Should a buyer be found, the production company negotiates their "Producers" deal, and I negotiate my "screenwriter" deal.

Dan MaxXx

Yeah, the “money guy” never has any money. Always. Standard salespitch — “I know someone...”

Good Luck. And welcome to Show Biz.

Tony McFadden

Your cynicism tells loads. There's a producer/financier event at MIFF that the production company is taking the screenplay to. They are a small production company. Really don't have the money to do this without financing. Very few good movies are self-funded. Very few.

And if you could get someone else's money to make a picture, wouldn't you?

Doug Nelson

Why would I tie my script up in the hands of someone who can't produce it? I can shop it around (take it wide) all by myself - and so can you.

Eric Christopherson

I've had two shopping agreements and nothing to show for it (other than developing relationships with producers). But you never know. Financiers look at a lot of material. Good luck, Tony!

Dan Guardino

Good luck Tony. I gave a couple of producers rights to shop a couple of my screenplays. Nothing happened with those two screenplays but I did work for one of those production companies and I am currently co-producing a movie with the other producer.

Tony McFadden

Thanks Dan. That’s the whole point. Legally exposing myself.

Dan Guardino

You aren't legally exposing yourself. Unless it states differently than most shopping agreements you can still market your screenplay. They might have first right of refusal but who cares as long as you find a home for it.

Tony McFadden

My apologies. It was a very, very poor attempt at a joke. I’ll put my clothes back on.

Dan Guardino

Tony. Is the script they are shopping an adaptation from one of your novels?

Tony McFadden

It’s an adaptation of a novel I was a co-author on. Not one of the screenplays I have up here.

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