Screenwriting : Should I Pay a Producer // Strategic Adviser 20% to Push My Two Screenplays? by Gilberto Villahermosa

Gilberto Villahermosa

Should I Pay a Producer // Strategic Adviser 20% to Push My Two Screenplays?

I was recently contact by a producer, with whom I have been communicating with more than a year. He's asking me to sign a letter making him my "strategic adviser" and granting him "20% of all monies I receive as a result of "his introductions and efforts" on my behalf in promoting two screenplays I've written to directors, producer, financiers, actors, and media companies. I have heard of "agents" and of "managers" but not strategic advisers requesting 20%. This producer motivated me to write my first screenplay and has been tracking my work. He's extremely knowledgeable of the film industry, especially the financial aspects. Obviously, if I don't make any money, neither does he. However, if I send him the letter it allows him to take both scripts off the market for an undetermined period of time to shop them (without either outright purchasing optioning either). He has read both of my scripts and has told me he is in contact with the production company of a very well-known star. However, his IMDb Pro page is far from impressive and shows only two shorts. Should this raise a red flag? Does 20% seem excessive to pay a "Strategic Adviser - if he can make the right things happen? Wouldn't I pay at least this amount for an agent and a manager? Your insights and advice would be greatly appreciated!

Joseph Shellim

One way is to imagine yourself in his place, what would you require to invest your time and toil to achive success in another person's works. The 20% is not a large amount, many ask for more, even including ownership rights. No doubt here the merits of the producer is critical. IMDB is not the ultimate source for determining credibility; other avenues are also required. Cheers & good luck.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Joseph - Great comments! I agree - especially that IMDb is not the ultimate source for determining credibility. However, I do have an IMDb Pro account and noticed that even the Entertainment Lawyer I talked to referred to it. So apparently it does play a role. Having said that, this guy has never claimed to be the world's best movie maker. He does claim to be a "money guy" who raises funds for films. He also claims to be very well contacted with most of the major stars and studios. Hard to determine if he is or isn't. Again, thanks for your insights.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Patricia - Great advice! I don't want to do any legwork. I just want to write. I have my next two screenplays already outline. He did give me the star's name and the production company. The star is massive and his filmography is impressive. But that doesn't mean this producer really knows him. Producers tend to name drop a great deal! Obviously they are trying to impress. Asking for references is an excellent idea - one I hadn't thought of. And I have discussed this with an entertainment lawyer in New York who finds it a bit odd, but did not say that this was necessarily a scam. I very much appreciate your comments! Thanks!

Phil Richards

I'm no expert on this, but a screenwriter's agent is, I believe, limited by law to take 10% of what you make from a script sale. It sounds like this guy might be trying to circumvent this by calling himself a strategic adviser. If he's really able to place your script with a big name star, it might be worth taking the short money for the sale just to get the credit. I would at least put some kind of time limit on how long he can keep the scripts off the market.

Bart Baker

You already know the answer to your question or you wouldn't be asking. Yes, 20% is way too much. And no there isn't such thing as a "strategic advisor" except possibly on this guy's business card. If he is a producer, he gets paid when he puts a project together and it doesn't come from your writing few. Even at the beginning of my career I would have said thanks but no thanks. One of the biggest and hardest lessons in the film business is learning who is a bottom feeder and who is legit.

Pierre Langenegger

God no! It's the producer's job to raise the money. You should never pay them, they should pay you. And I can't believe the shonky advice you're getting from others on this thread. The producer is not an agent and he's not a manager and you shouldn't be paying him a cent. I repeat, his job is to go out and get the finance to make your script into a film. It sounds to me like he's trying to shop it around to other production companies so he can attach himself as exec producer with no real power and take an extra 20% straight out of your pocket as a bonus. What the hell! Tell him to go jump because this guy has no power.

Joseph Shellim

The old way of thinking does not apply, when book publishers paid. Today, a fee represents a Producer's livelihood and expenses, and 20% is not high, unless one has an A-Trak record and zillion likes, etc. The Producer has to sell an option and derive initial $ for himself and the author, which involves much effort, lawyers & know-how. However, there are pitfall potentials with a producer who has not repped big successes; getting out from a poor deal is messy. Equally, a writer's work is sacred to him/her. So good luck anyway.

Pierre Langenegger

The OP said two scripts, nothing about books or publishers. I don't know the publishing industry but I can't imagine any author having to pay a publisher to get their work out there. A producer raises funds through his own production company to make a film that he believes will make him a profit. He is not hired by a screenwriter to "shop it around" to other production companies.

Joseph Shellim

Scripts or SPs, both have to be solicited, and this may require time, contacts and effort. If the writer is new, and the Producer good, a compromise of profit, or even a payment to a top producer, makes good sense. A producer asking money can be either a phony or one who knows his worth. Then, when success is achieved, other terms may be negotiated in line with the benefits derived from that success. Best way is to imagine yourself as a Producer, and you have to choose very carefully who you represent - you are going to be highly selective.

Geoffrey Calhoun

I just want to hop in here and say that Pierre knows this industry well and I would trust his advice.

Pierre Langenegger

Thanks for the kinds words and vote of confidence, Geoffrey. Modesty aside, I can provide great notes but I'm still a novice as far as the industry is concerned however I do know that writers don't pay producers.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Gilberto: I'm with Bill C on the "undetermined amount of time." I wouldn't allow the guy to do that in his contract. And since nobody's discussed this yet, you don't have to accept a contract "as is". I've signed several agreements that I've modified based on legal advice I've received. If your "Strategic Advisor" doesn't want to option your scripts for a fee like $10,000 for 18 months, then I would offer him a simple 6-month "right to shop agreement". If he doesn't bring you a deal within that time period you can kick the guy to the curb. Otherwise, I wouldn't tie up your material for unspecified amounts of time. And as far as checking IMDb, it's always better to find someone who has made a feature but that doesn't mean the guy doesn't have connections. Therefore, it no money is being exchanged, the 6-month right to shop is a good way to go.

Bill Costantini

Great points, Phillip. Pierre, Here in the U.S., there are publishers who will charge you to publish your book. It's mostly known here as "vanity press". There's a company not far from me that charges a writer $30,000 to publish their book, which includes "press advice", "press management", and "marketing". I'm not how many actual copies of the book they print, or if that's even included in the fee.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Bill: I wrote a couple of self published books and I had lots o' vanity publishers approach me. Thank god for Kindle, which has made me a good sum of cash and cost me nothing in return. I've also been approached by lots of book doctors. Like me, you're a musician and you probably had guys coming at you that wanted you to pay them to shop your songs too. Music attorneys etc. Years ago, I paid a music attorney that handled a few LA bands. All he did was retain my cash. I only have to get stung by a bee or punched in the face once to know it hurts. So when people want to charge me, I run for the hills.

Joseph Shellim

It will be interesting to hear of some examples, without names, of known deals via producer and first-time SPs in the last 3-5 years. I see no issue of a fee or split profit for a first timer, provided the producer is genuine with an established track record. Here, even 50% or 70% is worthwhile if it goes to a famous studio. Is it not in the box that today, the studios favor package deals before funding, that they also bring in their own writers for polishing big budgets, and fund with a formula that allows no risk if 2 of say 10 projects are successful? This means most SPs are purchased for a one time fee, and the ownership is taken away. Mostly, they are bought for package deals and where the theme has potential. SPs by themselves are very common products today, so we must be reralistic how we get anywhere.

David E. Gates

Pierre said: "I don't know the publishing industry but I can't imagine any author having to pay a publisher to get their work out there." No author has to pay a publisher, well not up front at least - though some companies do try to get you to pay hundreds or thousands in exchange for "work" they'll do on your behalf - work which you can do with the same results yourself and via self-publishing - none of them offer any guarantees in respect of sales or refund if your book doesn't make it. For books, most certainly, marketing is the key. And marketing is expensive. Especially in the saturated market it has become. Nowadays, unless you're already famous, it's near-impossible to get noticed without a significant amount of marketing. People think nothing of paying 2.99 for a coffee which costs pennies to make and is gone within minutes, yet won't give a new author a chance by paying .99 for a book they can share and treasure forever. Mad.

Joseph Shellim

IMHO, the difference between a book publisher and a film producer, is the former provides advertising promotion, the latter access power. If the budget is not a $3-5M, and a $40M +, it is prudent to accept a 50% share with a top producer. I would apply a reasonable, mutually agreed out-clause, and that all his expenses are paid by him or from his 50% share. I would offer big incentives to be focused on, because a good producer would have a host of projects in his portfolio.

Dan Guardino

I wouldn't let that agent, manager, producer or whatever he wants to call himself tie up one of my screenplays for an hour. Use your scripts to meet people that are more successful and you will be much better off in the long run. JMHO

Joseph Shellim

Dan. The problem is many of the studios and talent agents will only accept subs from producers in their list.

Dan Guardino

Joseph. This is obviously a producer that hasn’t really done anything to write home about. Dealing with him would probably be a big waste of time and a screenwriter would have to be out of their mind to let this guy tie up two of their screenplays for an undetermined amount of time which is what the producer is proposing.

Gilberto Villahermosa

All - Thank you for your comments and insights. You made many good points. They were very helpful. I will contact this producer and decline his offer as nicely as I can. Then I will offer him a shopping agreement for a single script and take it from there. Again, Thank You! I'm glad I reached out!

Dan Guardino

@ Gilberto. That is probably a good approach just make sure you always have an exit strategy if he doesn't perform.

Joseph Shellim

Everyone’s views here are good and I don’t mean to contend. But I do see a new reality today. In LA, everyone’s a producer, many suspicious. It all depends what one is seeking – to sell a SP and no more, or to be involved further. If the latter, then you want to know a producer’s access list, if your SP can be put before a specific director or artist – that is my criteria. For such a facility its worth paying or pitching to the producer with an offer he sees worthy. Because today, everyone’s a writer - mothers, retirees, youth, and one gets lost in the sand. The movie process is v tedious, often a 5-10 year affair, so I will be changing two SP’s into 3-part TV series and be fully involved if it happens. Cheers, wishing you all success!

Dave McCrea

Dont' over-judge the guy off his IMDB Pro page - first off he may have other stuff that's not on there, secondly he may be just starting out in this line of work. The best car salesman in the world went on the lot the first day having sold exactly zero cars. This person sounds like they work in real estate or something or has a brother-in-law who is a big deal in the industry. However, that makes me wonder if they know how to judge a script or not. But it all comes down to the contract - if he's getting you to sign something that is based on his introductions and efforts, that is way too vague. Instead, you could just say you'll do a free option for 1 year on one or both of those specific scripts and see what he can do. So if his introduction doesn't sell those exact scripts, but ends up getting you a manager through which you sell some other script, he doesn't get any of that. I wouldn't assume scam just because he's calling himself a strategic adviser, but just be careful what you sign with the guy. And perpetual term contracts are not common, most are for specified terms and specified properties.

Michael Eddy

I got to Pierre's comment and decided to skip the rest and go him one better and say "FUCK NO!!". Whoever this guy is - he's full of shit and if you've spent a year of your time being "strategically advised" by him - then it's a year of your life you ain't getting back. Pierre is correct - by law - agents are limited to no more than 10% of the deal they negotiate for you - and NOTHING if they don't land a payday for you. Managers can go higher. I believe they're capped at 20% (and both entities must be licensed by the states in which they "work") - but in my opinion - why give away another 10% of your gross to someone who essentially does the same work for you. this guy - whoever he is - probably has no contacts at all. I can go on IMDBPro and get contact info for any big star with his or her own production company and send an inquiry letter - which is probably more than this a-hole even knows how to do. He's looking to lock up YOUR work where he stands to make a payday whether he does anything at all - or you make a deal using a legit agent's help. This clown will then swoop in with the signed letter and ask for his pound of literary flesh - 20 friggin' percent of it. Tell him to kiss off - if you haven't already. And finally - if you're smart enough to be on Stage32 and asking advice - you're shockingly naive to even think for a second that this "strategic advisor" (I've been in the business for decades and have never even heard of that term) could possibly be on the up and up. Any advice you get on this post from any others who think you should take a shot with this thief - are as naive as you are and should be listening and taking notes and not saying a word on this subject.

Michael Eddy

Gilberto - don't bother being polite with this guy - and don't give him ANYTHING at all. Even a legit producer with a free option will paper the town with the script (assuming he has the rich contact list that he tells you he does) - and if he doesn't land a buyer - than your script is burned. It's been seen and no deal has been made and you might as well use it to get your grill ready to make hamburgers on the 4th of July.

Joseph Shellim

The #1 criteria: a producer with access power - is a producer with power. Nothing else applies for a newbee. Ignore the money part first time. Only verify fully the #1 criteria first.

Lisa Clemens

Don't give him a penny. If he's a real producer he'll get other investors involved, pay you for your work and have to get his pay by making sure the finished product is a film that can make back the investments and then some.

Anna Maria Elisa Manalo

In my 6 years writing, I've "met" online and in person some of the rudest and shadiest characters that make for great villains in film... As the Pitchfest execs customarily say, "Pass."

Dave McCrea

Wow, a lot of haters on here that think everyone is out to screw them. First off, if he's only asking for a percentage of anything he sets up and nothing else, then he's not a scammer. Especially since you also say you've been communicating with him for 'over a year' and he motivated you to write your first script! And is 'extremely knowledgeable of the financial aspects'. At worst, he's inept or not as connected as he says, but he's clearly MOTIVATED which is more important than competency or connections, so I would say you should tell him you will give him 20% of whatever you get for selling the specific scripts and the offer is good for say 1 year. Why would you suddenly get cold feet about a guy you've been in touch with for a year and motivated you to write your first script? Sounds to me like you're lucky to even have this connection.

Dave McCrea

If you're a writer and you've found someone who believes in your work enough to invest hours of their life on it without any guaranteed income, that is a win for you. However, one thing - the agreement should also put in there that you have the right to refuse any offer that comes along. But I think in your gut you know this guy is an ally not a villain

Joseph Shellim

Dave makes real sense. The 20% is not a deal killer, but a legit reasonable fee. "The show must go on."

Guy McDouall

An agent or a manager would take 10%. This person is asking for double that. I have to say Gilberto, it seems a little weird.

Bart Baker

Then where do you draw the line? 25%. 50%. Exactly where do stop feeling like you should be grateful someone took an interest in you? No ones a hater, they just sense a conman and believe you have to take your own desperation out of the mix and treat the film business as a business, not a place where you are the needy one and recognize that producers and "career advisors" or whatever clever title somone wants to put on their business card, need material or they have nothing to sell and thus nothing to take 20% of from a writer, when an actual, legitimate producer gets his fees not from a writer's money but from negotiating his own deal with the company putting up the money. You work with bottom feeders you can't complained you're getting ripped off or your career didn't actually go anywhere,

Dave McCrea

Well Bart a fair percentage is in eye of beholder. For example, I recently worked with a producer's rep for a film and their initial ask was 25% after $50k expenses to sell a film with A-list actors in it. You would think we would have all the leverage, but not necessarily. Everything is negotiable. This man probably calls himself a strategic advisor rather than a producer because he doesn't want to actually make the film, he has other commitments, but he wants to get it into the right hands, make a deal and walk away. Nothing wrong with that. As far as not being needy, there are SO many screenwriters, actors and other artists, that quite often those artists have zero or minimal leverage. So while you don't want to act needy or appear needy, the fact is that there are a whole helluva lot more aspiring writers and actors writers than there are producers or even would-be producers or dealmakers or even scammers! So sometimes you have to recognize when you don't have leverage. When you do, by all means play hardball

Dan Guardino

I agree a new screenwriter who has never sold anything doesn’t have much if any leverage when negotiating a sale but this isn't a sale.

Lisa Clemens

The "undetermined amount of time" makes me question it as well. I've seen option contracts where the funds have to be raised in say, 6 months or the rights go back to the author.

Michael Eddy

If I'm understanding this "con" properly - this guy is asking for a 20% cut of any money that you eventually might make from the sale of YOUR work - whether he eventually has anything to do with its sale or not. That's akin to his saying - "I didn't write a word of it, but when and if you sell it - I'll be treated like a co-writer and get your story by end of the deal". That's horse shit. If your writing is good - use it to get an AGENT. If an agent signs papers with you - they get NOTHING up front unless your work makes money - or they land you a freelance gig based on circulating your script as a showpiece/writing sample - they're a SILENT NON-EARNING partner in the endeavor - and IF you make money - so do they - and it's capped at 10%. And they're licensed. And (hopefully) on the WGA list of approved agents. And - they have as much or greater access to the studios and networks and talent etc. as this BS artist - it's their JOB to know who's looking for what - and where to send your work specifically - not some scatter gun, paper the town with pdf e-mail approach. Just seeing the tag line for this post in the Stage 32 screenwriter list was enough to make me nuts and have to comment. I do not want to talk myself blue in the face and get my blood pressure up - so I've basically said my piece on this matter. It has nothing to do with "haters" - and everything to do with common sense. This makes NO sense at all. It has BOGUS written all over it. You start with a rock solid belief in yourself as a writer - a belief in your own talent - and hopefully - it manifests itself on the page. If so - and you persevere - it will happen for you. But you have to be smart too - and not let pipe dreams and empty promises cloud your judgment. If this guy is as connected as he says - A). he doesn't have the time or inclination to spend a year working with a newbie writer and B). HE'S THE GUY that the legit agents are sending material to on behalf of THEIR writer clients. Not the other way around. This is like a modeling agent who hands his "card" to some pretty girl in the park and says - I can get you runway work or introduce you to the bigs at the Ford Agency - just give me $500.00 so we can get some head shots made. Kiss your money goodbye. You haven't spent any money yet - but what's valuable to you now when you're starting out is your TIME - the time to think and write and be creative - and a year spent with this clown is time wasted. Turn that spigot off now. As an earlier poster said - if it seems to good to be true - it is. And if he walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and claims to be a producer - he's a duck.

Michael Eddy

And Lisa is absolutely right. "Undetermined" my ass. There are NO open ended deals. Not the way business is done. Used to be that studios asked for 12 month options - sometimes with a 12 month renewal (each time - money gets paid - free options do you no good. Money committed means action. I've done free options with producers who dragged their feet until the option was up - never did squat). Nowadays - the new paradigm is a 6 month option with maybe a 90 day renewal. You don't want to tie up a script any one place for too long - because if nothing happens at the end of the option period - it's considered damaged goods. Somebody tried to make something happen - and couldn't - so you're a cooked goose. I had a project optioned and re-optioned 4X at MGM - they honestly wanted to make the movie. I was paid 5X for revisions and it ultimately was one of the 2 highest money makers of my career. But the regime changed after all that - and the new guys weren't interested. Two and a half years - option expires - rights revert back to me...no takers. Working legit - you also have a turnaround provision - whereby if Studio A decides they're not going forward (for whatever reason) they let you have it in turnaround (before the option expires) to try to set it up at another studio - provided Studio B reimburses Studio A any monies they've spent in development. "There's Something About Mary" was optioned at a small producer - put into turnaround - the writers didn't find a taker. Had to wait out the option expiration. Showed the script to the Farrelly brothers - and the rest is history. But you can't have free rein to run with YOUR work if you have some BS artist "producer" attached to it in perpetuity. people forced to work with people they don't know would rather just go on down the line to the next property.

Joseph Shellim

Why is this become complicated. Look at a producer as a retail store selling your product. That store will require a fair margin to cover his time & expenses, with SOR terms. Or else, imagine yourself as the store owner - what would you require from a writer, considering you have many options from others.

Bart Baker

Because it's an inaccurate analogy. A producer isn't like a retail store. A producer is a manufacturer which puts the pieces together to make a product, which would be a film. Part of those pieces is procuring a script that financiers are willing to put up money for to become a film. A producer gets paid when they set up a movie and/or get it produced. They don't get a cut of the writer's fees when they raise interest in a writer's script. They set up a script with a studio/production house/financier and negotiate their own producing deal. A producers job is to make a movie, not set up a script, that is a piece of making a film. Usually an early piece of their job. Should a director also hand the producer 20% of his salary for getting the job to direct? Should all the actors kick over 20% to a producer because! gosh! you could have picked anyone to be the movie and they got the job! Come on... Hell, even if a legit management company sells a clients material and negotiates a deal for the management company to be a producer on the project, they reimburse the writing client their commission, because as a producer they are getting paid by whomever is putting up the money. No analogy in the world is going to make what's suggested correct or right.

Lisa Clemens

Indeed, Bart. A script is to a film as perhaps the schematics for the blender in the retail shop. The producer would be the CEO of Whirlpool whom I'd say, "Hey check out the blender I have plans for! Buy my schematics and the patent is yours!" So the producer might buy it (unless he's hired me as work for hire and says, "I need a blender that can crush ice AND fit under the counter, can you do it?" and I say, "Sure, give me 10,000 up front and the rest on delivery of the schematics!") Then Whirlpool pays other people to put it together, mass produce it, get it into theaters...er ...stores, etc.

Joseph Shellim

Bart. When reality bites, is this all not subject to negotiation? Both are above-line entities. E.g. many song artists will only accept a song writer if the singer is allowed a % of the dramatic work. Most accept this if the artist merits it, while some writers will not. E.g. "Suspicious Minds" song writer did not accept a split request by Elvis Presley Enterprises and won the stay, while Dolly Parton refused with "I will always love you" and Elvis lost this song option. However, most others accepted a split.

Dan Guardino

The producer is trying to tie up this screenwriter's scripts for an indefinite period of time without offering him any compensation. The reason new screenwriters write spec screenplays is so they can show people already in the business they belong. If this screenwriter lets the producer tie up his scripts he will no longer have anything to send out to producers and agents. Basically he would be putting himself out of business in the hopes that a guy that has two shorts on the IMDb might be able to find a home for his script. If I was a new screenwriter I would probably give him a letter giving him permission to market my two screenplays but I would not let him tie them up.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Again, Thanks for your all your comments. If I knew a lot more about the producer, I might consider it. But no one has heard of him, including one of the screenwriting services that I subscribe to that has a data base of producers and production companies. I've also called an entertainment lawyer in NYC who told me the request was highly unusual, but stopped short of calling the individual a fraud or a con man. I have no desire to tie up two screenplays for an indefinite period of time. And so I will contact the individual and offer him a shopping option for one script for six months that can be extended for another six months. I'm simply not so desperate to get something out there that I'll sign a letter rather than a contract clearly stating the obligations of each party. Again, Thanks for your inputs!

Vince Leone

Hey Gilberto - Sounds like you're taking the right option in this matter, the dude sounds shady to me but if you feel he can actually produce some type of result, go for it. Also I would recommend putting your scripts on the Blacklist site to get some feedback. If they're that good, they'll probably get some interest from "actual" producers. If not, you'll get some valuable feedback that can inform your future writing. Cheers and good luck brother.

CJ Walley

This is common trick. Person poses as a producer, agent, manager and gets writers to sign up to a contract so they can progress a few immediate leads. They then go quiet, the writer moves on, and then the individual surfaces as soon as they catch wind of a sale ready to either collect their percentage or, worse still, claim ownership rights as a co-writer.

Bill Costantini

CJ - Yeah...those sure were the days. We were a great team - but then you had to go and develop a conscience. And I still can't understand why you weren't happy with 30%. I told you over and over...I had to pay taxes in the U.S. and in Sweden. But you sure ruined a good thing And you still have my business card machine!

Erik Linthorst

Red flags galore. First off, a manager takes between 10-15% and an agent 10%. A lawyer 5%. Strategic Advisors get NADA. And anyway, an agent and manager's % is not on "all monies" but on the sale price (not residuals). What are this person's credits on IMDB? What other clients has he repped that have sold material/gotten films made through him? If the answer to the above is "nothing" and "no one" then this guy is not a serious representative. Good luck!!

Bill Costantini

Gilberto is a West Point grad and a retired military officer (congrats and thanks for your service, Gilberto) whose skills include being a "Strategic Intelligence Analyst" and a "Combat Arms Officer". I bet you're a member of the Illuminati, too - aren't you, G? I know...you can't tell us that...but I can see that "Illuminati Glow" in your eyes on your profile pic. Crikey...if you can't use your connections around the world to find out the scoop on this guy, then just stick an M-16 in his mouth and force him into a CTJ (Come to Jesus) moment. Those are usually pretty effective, too - and especially when they're touching a tonsil. Tonsil-touching CTJ moments usually produce successful outcomes that are unmatched in conventional intelligence-gathering methods; are much faster; and you don't have to waste any payback chips.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Bill - After 33 years in the Army, 11 as a Colonel, and multiple tours in Afghanistan, Yemen (I was in our embassy when it was hit by Al Qaeda), Bosnia, Tajikistan, and Georgia (during the civil wars in the last two) I am striving to be Kindler and Gentler. No more pointing weapons at anyone for me. The problem is we don't know what we don't know about individuals, even after doing our due diligence. Neither IMDb nor the internet are perfect. So we need to reach back in a professional manner clearly laying out the standards by which we will participate in a professional business relationship. I've done that and am waiting for a response. Again, if this individual could get one of my screenplays ("The Legend of Pasha" and "Jefferson Davis") optioned or purchased using the contacts he says he has, I would gladly give him 20%. And I would give him first crack on the next screenplay as well. But he would have to sign a Shopping Agreement with me. I'm not too concerned with what he calls himself. I am concerned with covering myself legally through a contract that lays out the responsibilities and obligations of both parties. In the meantime I plan on getting my screenplays out there by entering them in contests and reformatting them as TV series complete with pilots. Thanks for your comments!

Dan Guardino

@ Gilberto. I think you are making a smart move. The thing that bothered me the most is he wanted to tie up your screenplays for an indefinite period of town.

Bill Costantini

CJ - the...the...auto-dialer? My late dad's auto-dialer? Aww, CJ...um...gotcha! I was just kidding around, buddy! let's just change our names again, and get back to doing what we do best. And we'll even go 50-50 this time. With the new name changes...I'm not worried about the Swedish taxes anymore. What are they gonna do - stop exporting Swedish meatballs and Swedish fish to the states? I doubt it. We're gonna have so much fun with all of these new writers, I can taste it already. And that plan of yours to upsell them Writers Insurance is the best. "Get paid even if you don't sell a script!" Pure genius, CJ...pure genius.

Bill Costantini

Gilberto - I'm sure you're going to do the right thing, and I wish you all the best. And sorry for the sidetracking of your post...that sometimes happens.

Gilberto Villahermosa

All - I wrote a letter to the "producer" I've been talking about trying to balance honesty with diplomacy. I told him that I could not sign away 20% to someone I didn't know, had very little presence on IMDb or the internet, and who was unknown by the industry professionals I had asked. I offered to sign a Shopping Agreement with him for six months for one script, which could be extended for another six months. If he managed to get the script optioned or purchased I would give him first crack at the second script. All of this was done via email with a hard copy to follow. Surprisingly, he called me almost right away in a very quiet voice, said he understood, wished me luck, and told me if I found a producer willing to fund the screenplay he would also like to fund it. What does that tell you?!

Michael Eddy

Gilberto - good work on your part. But re: the "producer" - all it basically tells me is that you did some due diligence on your end - and didn't take his "offer" - and rather than step up and put up his own dough - he's waiting for someone else to "fund" your screenplay before he comes in as a secondary player. All that says to me is he doesn't have the courage of his so-called convictions in making a deal with you up front as a principal player who purportedly believes in your work or he never had any money to invest in the first place and it's all just a face-saving stall tactic.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Michael - I agree. I made him a good offer and he blinked. By the way, I'm very impressed with your work. Looked you up on IMDb Pro. You are one of the few qualified to give advice. You've actually been there and done that! I appreciate your comments.

Denzil Meyers

I'd recommend The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers" by Thomas Crowell, it covers your rights as writer, how to assign them,etc. Great basic read.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Denzil - Thanks! I'll get it!

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