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You've written a screenplay. Now someone wants to option it.
But what's that mean for you, exactly? Do you know how to make sure you're getting the best deal?
Of course, you should have an entertainment attorney.
But you're going to be hearing a lot of complicated legalese that you won't understand.
This layman's overview gives you the basics so you'll be able to ask your attorney the right questions, negotiate your best price and perks, and protect your precious intellectual property.
Based on the highly rated series of blog posts by an indie screenwriter, drawn from his own successful negotiations. This information has been cited and referenced by the Bluecat Screenplay Competition, ScriptTips, and SimplyScripts, and remains one of the top articles about screenplay options on Google.
- What an option is and how it's different from a sale.
- Why producers don't just buy your screenplay in the first place.
- How much you'll get paid.
- How to ask for bonus payments.
- When to turn down an option.
- What "equity" means, and the difference between backend "points" and "percentage."
- What a "box office bonus" is.
- How to get paid for NOT writing.
- And more.
"Street has some experience with options ... his insight could be of great help down the road, when you become faced with an option situation."
-- BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Release Date: 2018
Genre: Non-fiction, Writing
As an indie screenwriter, I've been through the option gauntlet a number of times now, and I get asked about the experience and the process all the time.
And I know how much I appreciate when I stumble across some good first-hand info.
So I figured I'd gather the notes that came out of my experience and share them, in the hopes that it'll prove useful to others.
Of course, I'm no lawyer, but I did pay one (a really good one, too!) to represent me in my deals. I wanted to learn, so I involved myself in the negotiation process, and reviewed each round of revisions on the offers and eventual contracts, asking lots of questions, and taking lots of notes.
I asked my attorney to mark up the contract with all the items of concern or negotiation he could think of... then I had him go over them with me, and explain things to me that I didn't understand.
I flagged the things I wanted to ask for in my option deal and removed the things I felt were over-reaching or I just didn't think I needed.
Then we finalized the option that eventually led to the sale of that first script.
Now that I've got a handle on the basic vocabulary and have some sense of what it is I should be looking for, I don't feel like an outsider in my own negotiations.
Hopefully, this can help you feel a little more informed as well.