Screenwriting : Should I Be Worried? by Danna Moos

Danna Moos

Should I Be Worried?

Is it unheard of for a potential investor to want to option your screenplay just by reading the synopsis and not seeing the whole script? Or is that unheard of and fishy?

Kerry Douglas Dye

If you like the deal and have had a lawyer review the contract, what's the downside? Maybe it just means you have a great idea. Kudos. (It could mean he has his own screenwriter and wants your story but doesn't really care whether the script itself is any good. Then I guess you need to decide how you'd feel about that.)

Tayo Akinsipe

It's also not a bad idea to do a little research on the people

D Marcus

Unusual. Not unheard of. I agree with Kerry; if the option deal is a good one I see no reason not to take it. But make sure the deal is in your favor and not one that hinges on hope and "it could happen".

Danny Manus

Could mean they like the concept and want to write it themselves. It's ODD, but not unheard of. Just depends on their intentions. And what they are offering you. Do your due diligence and have a lawyer look at your contract!!

P. Alan Richards

IF they have a check for you and the details in the contract, follow Danny Manus "have a lawyer look", are okay, TAKE THE MONEY..

Danna Moos

Thanks all for your input and advice! I appreciate and agree. Some of this stuff I already knew, but wanted to reconfirm it for myself.

P. Alan Richards

If someone gives you money for an option, let them go shop it around, and get busy on your next script. A paid option gives you some creditability when you pitch your next script. And creditability is a very valuable commodity.

D Marcus

Some options (most) do not give a writer any credibility. A low option to an unknown company does nothing for a writer. So be cautious when accepting an option. More often then not "take the money" is not good for a writer.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Yeah, D's point is worthy. This is why it's important that it's actually a good deal for you. I theorized earlier that the buyer liked your story... But another possible theory: is this a one-dollar option? If so, this guy may just be collecting properties to show off some "development slate" to potential partners. You don't want to hand your script off for a dollar for a long period of time to someone who's just going to pin it to a wall and forget it's there. But if there's actual money involved, that's likely a different story.

Danna Moos

I'm supposed to have a call today with his attorney to see what their intentions are. Obviously, I know I'm going to have to find my own entertainment attorney to represent me if this indeed goes forward. Thanks again for the advice!

Kerry Douglas Dye

Good luck! And have fun! This could really being something! (And if it isn't, you might as well enjoy contemplating the potential for as long as you can.) :)

Kerry Douglas Dye

BTW, Danna, I just checked your profile page and noted you're a fellow New Yorker. I should have known right away: you have a potential script sale, and your post headline is "Should I Be Worried?"! Love it! :)

Danny Manus

Kerry, that's the funniest comment Ive read all day.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Danny, you just earned a Like. :) (And probably some consulting business when I start work on my planned breakout screenplay in a few months.) Your slogan "Hate me today, love me in your acceptance speech" was the funniest thing I'd read all month. (Not to mention scariest.)

Matt Joyce

Is it an original? They shouldn't be wanting to option an original without having read the script. I could maybe see that, IF it was based on a novel or other built in fan base.

Danny Manus

Kerry, I look forward to it! Thanks! I am a native new Yorker as well, but been in LA for almost 12 years.

Danna Moos

Thanks everyone! Some very good points to consider! @ Alle Segretti, thanks for your detailed response. I lived and worked in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry and not totally naive. This is my 1st screenplay however and it's my first time getting to this point, but I do have a pretty good understanding of the industry. I was just rusty on how options work and didn't know if I should be suspicious since I told them the script needs a rewrite (which they always do.) I'm just trying to bounce my own suspicions around. This why Stage 32 is invaluable. As far as the attorney, he is pretty high-profile and legitimate based on his firm's website, IMDB, and extensive articles he's written on the entertainment industry and interviews done on him by other publications and radio. He has had his hand in several high-profile films. I obviously, will not do anything without being represented myself. Thanks again! I really appreciate all the comments!

Ami Brown

I've heard of that happening - and then they get a more established writer to actually write the script.

William Martell

How much are they paying you for the option? Long ago I met a producer who optioned everything for $1 and never read the scripts. Had you fill out a little form with genre, lead info, logline, etc... and put that form in a filing cabinet and put the scripts in a storage unit. Then when someone was looking for a western that can be shot in Canada and has a female lead and a talking donkey sidekick that includes musical numbers... he checks the forms and then says "Yes, I have one of those!" and makes a producer fee. He gets 100 chances to make a bunch of money for $100.

Danna Moos

Thanks everyone again for the comments! Now a huge update! I spoke to the attorney today. As I stated earlier he is legitimate. He has his hand as both legal representative and producer in well-known films. He totally assuaged my suspicions. In fact, he wants to read/see the script before they think about an option offer. I even "nicely called him out" on the fact that they would option just a synopsis odd and he said yes that he needs and wants to see the script. He had asked me what my plans were for my screenplay. We discussed several ways that I might have in besides working with the investor (that I know) and his team. So basically, my question that I posted -- does not really apply to this scenario. Although it was good to post because I definitely learned a lot! The problem really came from his client that I spoke to first (he is not well-versed in how it all works and he was the one that said they want to option the script just from reading the synopsis.) He has the money, but not the experience that the attorney and his producing contacts have. So as of now, no option (yet). I'm finishing a rewrite of the screenplay and then will get back to him and decide where I go from there. Or if I hang onto it and pursue other options and try and get representation from either agent/manager. Thanks everyone! Best of luck to all and your projects!

Kalisa Moore

No, I believe.....Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and Star Wars were both sold off the synopsis..now I may need to go back and check but if Im not mistaken it was $45000 or $100,000 either way..one synopsis was paid 45k and one was paid 100k just for the synop...ill be back to repost if.Im wrong =)

D Marcus

Kalisa, you may be correct about "Star Wars" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ". But it's important to note the the writers who pitched and got the go ahead based on their synopsis were established professionals; one with an Oscar nomination and the other an established, award winning novelist and two produced screenplays. It is very rare for an unproduced writer to sell a script based on a synopsis.

Kalisa Moore

Thank you Marcus! I knew but wasn't absolutely sure on how much I knew about this rarity.

Pj McIlvaine

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID was William Goldman's first original screenplay, according to Screenplayology. http://www.screenplayology.com/2011/09/01/review-butch-cassidy-and-the-s...

D Marcus

It was Pj. And it was his third produced screenplay. He adapted Victor Canning's novel "Castle Minerva" in 1965 and Ross Macdonald's "Harper" in 1966. Before that he had written a play that was produced and the book of a Broadway musical (Hal Prince's directing debut). So when he got the writing assignment based on his synopsis for his first original screenplay he was an established, professional writer.

William Martell

And Goldman was a best selling novelist... who'd had a bunch of his novels bought and made into movies. Robert Redford bought FATHER'S DAY and it was never made, but was a hot project.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In