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Miss Plum
07-25-2010, 09:58 PM
My friend is a published author. Her book is the biography of a largely forgotten playboy/tycoon with tons of Hollywood elements in it. When her deal was originally announced in Publishers Marketplace, a big Hollywood production company "expressed interest" in the property when it should be complete. My friend figures the film rights will probably get her more money than the book deal itself.*

After she'd done a few radio interviews and collected some excellent reviews, she called her agent -- a guy who's considered a great catch on these boards, a juniorish agent at a big, successful agency -- and said she'd like to get started on selling the film rights. "Uh, okay, go ahead," he said. She was floored. He works for what is billed as a full-service agency and he has no clue 1) that he's the one who's supposed to do this, much less, apparently 2) how to do it. She was blindsided by his response and got off the phone a little dizzily, but followed up by e-mail to politely let him know that she expected him to hunt up and negotiate a deal. His response was contrite and red-faced, but he gave my friend little hope that he'll be getting on it effectively any time soon. He hasn't been stellar during the whole process, especially when she was treated incredibly unprofessionally by her publisher, a new, small imprint at a big house. She says that after this deal, she's dropping him.

She doesn't post here for reasons of her own, but heck I'm as puzzled by this behavior as she is and I'd like to be clued in. Is she stuck-stuck with this guy? Does she have any leverage to get the service from him that the agency advertises? (Top quality, full-service, blah blah.) Anyone have or know of similar experiences?

Thanks.


*Her book is selling respectably but not wildly, in part because her publisher, like many these days, has barely publicized it and my friend simply doesn't have connections or time to develop them. Harried mom of two babies with day job.

Old Hack
07-25-2010, 10:09 PM
Your friend needs to check her contract with her agency and with her publisher. They should let her know what rights she has, what rights her publisher has, and what her agent will do for her.

And without wishing to put any more of a damper on things, it's relatively common for film companies to express an interest in books; it's a lot less common for them to actually buy an option; and it's extremely uncommon for those options to translate into a real movie deal. And options aren't that pricey to buy: the last time options were sold on a book I'd worked on the fee paid was under 3,000 and nothing more happened. But yes, the agent involved sorted out that deal.

CACTUSWENDY
07-25-2010, 10:28 PM
I even remember that a few years ago one of the big folks here on AW stated that some companies pay even a 'token' amount for movie rights....think in the area of only $1.00.

The money appears to be made when the movie is made and comes out. That's when any bigger money can be made. The company never has to make a movie of it. Not real fun.....:evil

Cricket18
07-25-2010, 10:51 PM
I'm not sure what she should do about the agent.

As for the film rights, if she had a NYT best-seller on her hands, then her agent would probably be inclined to move forward. From what I've read, a lot of books that have done reasonably well get optioned. But the $ is small.

Sometimes you get a miracle--someone big happens upon your little book. I'm not sure how successful True Blood was before Alan Ball happened upon it, but according to Wikipedia (not a reliable source) there were already 2 options on the book.

If I were your friend, I'd directly contact the production company herself. Nothing to lose.

Miss Plum
07-26-2010, 04:27 AM
Thanks, all. Indeed, I think my friend intends to contact the prodco herself, and will probably wind up doing all the legwork while her agent picks up 15% of the profits.

triceretops
07-26-2010, 06:03 AM
My friend is a published author. Her book is the biography of a largely forgotten playboy/tycoon with tons of Hollywood elements in it. When her deal was originally announced in Publishers Marketplace, a big Hollywood production company "expressed interest" in the property when it should be complete. My friend figures the film rights will probably get her more money than the book deal itself.*

Is this book even published yet? Sales figures? If not, how in the heck is she going to negotiate film rights for a book that hasn't hit the stands yet? Announcing a deal is flimsy evidence that this book will warrant a film deal. And we can forget about the premature jump that was made on How Opal got kissed, got a life, and got porked, or whatever.

I think, in this case, the agent might be in reservation mode and ticking off the months ahead, on this one.

And...options are really pathetic, and yes some (or many) are token offerings. Nice to have them, but they mean absolutely nothing, as far as steaming toward a huge film rights deal.

Tri

katiemac
07-26-2010, 07:29 AM
There are agencies that specialize only in selling film rights. She could seek them out if interested.

Miss Plum
07-26-2010, 07:30 AM
My friend is a published author. Her book is the biography of a largely forgotten playboy/tycoon with tons of Hollywood elements in it. When her deal was originally announced in Publishers Marketplace, a big Hollywood production company "expressed interest" in the property when it should be complete. My friend figures the film rights will probably get her more money than the book deal itself.*

Is this book even published yet?

Yes -- that's why my very first sentence is, "My friend is a published author. Her book . . ."

Sales figures?

Yes -- that's why I say, "Her book is selling respectably." That's also why I say that she's "done a few radio interviews and collected some excellent reviews."

If not, how in the heck is she going to negotiate film rights for a book that hasn't hit the stands yet? Announcing a deal is flimsy evidence that this book will warrant a film deal. And we can forget about the premature jump that was made on How Opal got kissed, got a life, and got porked, or whatever.

I think, in this case, the agent might be in reservation mode and ticking off the months ahead, on this one.

And...options are really pathetic, and yes some (or many) are token offerings. Nice to have them, but they mean absolutely nothing, as far as steaming toward a huge film rights deal.

I think we got all that taken care of, except one thing. I never said a word about optioning it. I'm talking about selling the film rights, which my respectably selling, well-reviewed, published author's friend's agency claims it does for its authors.

Tri
...

Ryan_Sullivan
07-26-2010, 09:59 AM
Well, there's likely a good reason for this. Sometimes it's not wise to look for film rights if it's not the right time--sorry to sound at all harsh--but the agent likely knows the right time better than her. Success is wonderful, but to find success for a movie, it takes a specific sort of circumstances. Agents often co-agent when selling movie rights, so he doesn't necessarily need to know how to do it (and he could very likely do it). It's important not to jump the gun, and to discuss things carefully. He probably has good reasons why he hasn't pursued movie rights yet--he sounds like he's at least moderately successful, and he wouldn't get there if he didn't know what he was doing.

kaitie
07-26-2010, 10:16 AM
Am I the only one who say this and thought she probably said, "I'd like to sell the film rights" and the agent misunderstood that to mean "I'd" not "you?" I obviously have no idea if that's what happened lol, but it could really have just been a matter of miscommunication.

I don't know a ton about movie rights myself, but I have heard of quite a few books/series that I enjoyed being considered or having movie rights bought that never went anywhere. It's always struck me as one of those things that everything has to work out just right to actually get a real movie off the package. I do know I've heard before that the reason film deals are good for authors is because they sell more books off of them. It's basically like a massive marketing campaign, after all.

Miss Plum
07-26-2010, 11:50 AM
There are agencies that specialize only in selling film rights. She could seek them out if interested.
She'd like to! But heck, why sign with a "full-service agency" that advertises sales of film rights only to have to chase down another agent to make money off your book? Also, it seems that moving to another agency for this could create bad blood, which she doesn't want to do in the small world of publishing.


Well, there's likely a good reason for this. Sometimes it's not wise to look for film rights if it's not the right time--sorry to sound at all harsh--but the agent likely knows the right time better than her.

(snip)

He probably has good reasons why he hasn't pursued movie rights yet--he sounds like he's at least moderately successful, and he wouldn't get there if he didn't know what he was doing.
Your doubts are entirely reasonable since I've condensed the story, but in truth, he only "waited" because he didn't even get that he is the one who is supposed to do the selling. This became clear to her in follow-up conversations.


Am I the only one who say this and thought she probably said, "I'd like to sell the film rights" and the agent misunderstood that to mean "I'd" not "you?" I obviously have no idea if that's what happened lol, but it could really have just been a matter of miscommunication.

I don't know a ton about movie rights myself, but I have heard of quite a few books/series that I enjoyed being considered or having movie rights bought that never went anywhere.
Again, I've only given a summary of a repeated conversation, so you've got good reason to wonder -- but I assure, you, she didn't mean that she, herself (the author) wanted to sell the rights!:)

What you say about movies actually getting made is quite true, but seeing her name up in lights isn't really my friend's object; she just wants to take the first step, which is to sell the rights.

And continued thanks, all, for your thoughts.

shaldna
07-26-2010, 12:12 PM
Not every book is going to be a movie, no matter how superspeshulawesomecool it is. There are some truly amazing books that have not made the transition. After all, it took 25 years before a terry pratchett book made the leap to the screen, and I've been anxiously awaiting a Song of the Lioness movie or series since I was 13.

Also, the issue here is that it's a biography. Which means that the information is available in teh public domain. So why should anyone pay your friend for the rights to something they can get for free?

Obviously a movie, even if not based on her book, would create interest in the subject area and increase her sales, but she really shouldn't just assume that it's going to happen. Because for a lot of people it doesn't

shaldna
07-26-2010, 12:16 PM
I think we got all that taken care of, except one thing. I never said a word about optioning it. I'm talking about selling the film rights, which my respectably selling, well-reviewed, published author's friend's agency claims it does for its authors.

Optioning is buying. But I'ts just that, they company have the Option to make it.

Many many many books are optioned every year, and only a small percentage actually get made.

Ryan_Sullivan
07-26-2010, 12:23 PM
Hm. At that point, has she really just brought her concerns and dissatisfaction to him, and let him know that she's not happy with the way he's handling this?

ChaosTitan
07-26-2010, 05:12 PM
Your friend needs to check her contract with her agency and with her publisher. They should let her know what rights she has, what rights her publisher has, and what her agent will do for her.


What Old Hack said. She needs to look at her publisher contract and see which rights were retained and which rights were given to the publisher.

She also needs to look at her agency contract, so she knows how to get out of it, if she so chooses. There will probably be a clause in there about the agent continuing to collect their commission on all things related to books on any contracts he/she negotiated on the author's behalf.

Many times, when film rights are optioned, the literary agent works with a co-agent who specializes in film options. I know my own agent does this, and they split a slightly higher commission (20%, half to each agent). But my agent also does the legwork in contacting the film agent, selling them on the project, so they can in turn sell producers on it.

If your friend is unhappy with her agent, she needs to call him up and have a frank conversation about it. The situation won't improve on its own.

Miss Plum
07-26-2010, 09:27 PM
Thanks again and again, all.

Shaldna, I always wondered what the difference was between "optioning" and "buying." :)

My friend says she talked to the agent from the beginning of the project about film rights, and one of the reasons he took her as a client is her showbiz connections, which he apparently thought she could instantly activate once the book was on the shelves. It doesn't exactly work that way.

I think you are all correct; it's a bad business situation that she'll have to address with a frank discussion, and, if necessary, a parting of ways.

Cricket18
07-26-2010, 09:39 PM
It is rare when dramatic rights - motion picture, television, theatrical - are purchased outright by a production company before negotiating an option agreement for the potential future purchase of such rights. Option agreements normally are for twelve to eighteen months, but frequently have extension clauses for additional time periods. During the option period the producer will attempt to develop a screenplay or other format and locate and obtain financing for the actual production of the dramatic work. Proceeds received by the publisher from an option agreement are usually directly correlated to the success or prospects of the literary work; the option could be as low as $1,000 or more than $50,000. The normal practice is for the option price to be considered as an offset against the purchase price. Purchase prices for dramatic works vary widely and frequently are a percentage of the actual production budget along with additional contingency profit participation compensation.

An option is not necessarily buying. It can be a period of time the producer or whomever tries to find a home for the manuscript or screenplay. It's usually starts as 60-90 days and then an extension period follows where hopefully a network, production company or whoever else might be interested, buys the product outright.

Don't ask me how I know this. ;)

IceCreamEmpress
07-26-2010, 11:45 PM
If this were me, I would suggest to the junior agent that he talk with someone higher up, and more experienced with handling film rights, at the agency before I did. I might also suggest to the junior agent that the three of us--me, the experienced agent, and he--have a conference call to discuss the possibilities.

And I, too, have been through the option merry-go-round. Most books that are optioned never make it through to production. A biography is a bit more complicated, because the "life rights" of the subject may be tied up elsewhere. Still, your friend deserves the best possible representation for every potential deal!

shaldna
07-27-2010, 12:02 AM
I think one of the main issues here is the fact that the book is a BIOGRAPHY.

As I pointed out, and as IceCream also said, the fact that it's a biography and not fiction could prove a sticking point here.

After all, say I was head of a studio (I'm not buy the way) and I wanted to make a movie about say, Judy Garland. That information is freely available, no one holds the rights for someone's life, so, in the end, who's going to stop me? I'm not going to pay every Judy Garland biographer. So, that's why the rights could fail to sell.

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2010, 12:05 AM
I've had four screenplays op[tioned, and an option is not buying film rights. An option is only to ensure that you don't sell film rights to someone else before the option runs out. It doesn't even mean you have to sell to whoever holds the option. Most books that are optioned never sell film rights, most film rights that are sold still never get made into movies, and most movies that are made never get a theatrical release, or any release at all.

If whoever holds the option actually decides they do, indeed, want to make a movie, they then buy actual film rights, often for a pre-agreed upon price, or for a negotiated price.

An option genrally covers a repsctable period of time. At least six months to a year, and sometimes up to five years. The purpose of an option is to give the option holder time to see whether or not a movie is feasible. First, the market has to be there. Then the money has to be there, and it takes a lot of movey to make any sort of movie. Then the director has to be on board, and then the right actors must agree.


Film rights do not sell for a dollar. The option itself can run from a low of a few thousand, to a high of forty or fifty thousand, for a big book. Film rights themselves also sell from a few thousand dollar, right up to a million or more, dpending on the book.

I'm not sure what a "full-service" agency is, but many agencies do not handle film rights. Those that do not almost always have a sister agency that deal with Hollywood. But a literary agent and a film agent are often very different things.

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2010, 12:07 AM
I think one of the main issues here is the fact that the book is a BIOGRAPHY.

As I pointed out, and as IceCream also said, the fact that it's a biography and not fiction could prove a sticking point here.

After all, say I was head of a studio (I'm not buy the way) and I wanted to make a movie about say, Judy Garland. That information is freely available, no one holds the rights for someone's life, so, in the end, who's going to stop me? I'm not going to pay every Judy Garland biographer. So, that's why the rights could fail to sell.

Movie studios often buy movies rights from biographers. You're darned sure going to pay the biographer who has the specific trail of information you use, or you'll spend more in court than you would have for movie rights.

You also then get to use that writer and that book in the publicity campaign.

shaldna
07-27-2010, 03:45 PM
Movie studios often buy movies rights from biographers. You're darned sure going to pay the biographer who has the specific trail of information you use, or you'll spend more in court than you would have for movie rights.

You also then get to use that writer and that book in the publicity campaign.


assuming of course that the writer has a unique take or otherwise unknown information.

kaitlin008
07-27-2010, 03:51 PM
assuming of course that the writer has a unique take or otherwise unknown information.

And assuming that the person the book's about is interesting enough to make a film about.

I am with the people who say she should discuss this with her agent on this one. Just because an agency has the connections or ability to sell the film rights doesn't mean they're going to do it for every book.

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2010, 06:09 PM
Just because an agency has the connections or ability to sell the film rights doesn't mean they're going to do it for every book.

No, not every book. But when a big Hollywood production company expresses interest, and good agency should be on it like a duck on June bug. It makes no sense at all that the agency wouldn't pursue it.

Agencies usually do not make the decision of whether or not to pursue film rights. Far more often than not, someone outside, such as a Hollywood production company, expresses interest in a particular book first, and then the agency takes over.

This is the first case I've seen of a legitimate agency not actively pursuing a film deal when someone has expressed interest.

kaitlin008
07-27-2010, 07:06 PM
No, not every book. But when a big Hollywood production company expresses interest, and good agency should be on it like a duck on June bug. It makes no sense at all that the agency wouldn't pursue it.

Agencies usually do not make the decision of whether or not to pursue film rights. Far more often than not, someone outside, such as a Hollywood production company, expresses interest in a particular book first, and then the agency takes over.

This is the first case I've seen of a legitimate agency not actively pursuing a film deal when someone has expressed interest.

I guess I misread--I read it as the AUTHOR was interested in pursuing it, but I missed the part where a production company had interest.

Which is a totally different scenario than what I'm picturing.

Miss Plum
07-27-2010, 07:47 PM
I'm not sure what a "full-service" agency is,
James, thanks for chiming in. Heh, I'm guessing you haven't been on the agent-hunt these days, so you may not be familiar with the standard content on agency websites. Many call themselves "full-service," meaning they handle it all -- film rights, translation rights, international rights, blah blah.

And yes, the big production company announced that THEY were interested. The agency has let this interest languish.

Cricket18, I'm glad I was right to begin with about options and film rights. I almost got talked out of that one.

And those who spoke of the "ease" of having a ready-made story for a biopic . . . I haven't visited the Biography threads here, but maybe you should take a look. It doesn't matter that my friend has a solid piece of evidence to back up every word in her book. She's still been threatened with two lawsuits and continues to receive unfriendly inquiries. No matter how stupid the claims against her, she has to pay legitimate lawyer$ to fend them off.

IceCreamEmpress
07-27-2010, 10:35 PM
And yes, the big production company announced that THEY were interested. The agency has let this interest languish.


Is it "the agency" though, or this one agent? Since your friend is going to have to pay 15% to these folks anyway, if I were her I would try to find someone else to work with at the agency on this. Many larger agencies have someone who specializes in film rights.

Hermian
08-14-2013, 02:57 AM
I'm finding the notion of rights a little confusing, so I thought I'd ask a question regarding contracts. In my contract, the publisher is asking for movie, film, and tv rights as well commercial/merchandising rights. Is this standard in publishing contracts? I was just reading an article online, and the individual who wrote it was adamant that authors should not grant the publisher these subsidiary rights. Any thoughts?

If someone can shed some light on this, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks.

Old Hack
08-14-2013, 03:04 AM
Rights should rest with the person best able to make the most of them. But without seeing the whole contract, it's impossible to say what's best. I assume you don't have an agent, or you'd not be asking this here: if you're in the UK the SoA gives free contract advice to its members, and I'm pretty sure some US writers' organisations do the same.

Hermian
08-14-2013, 04:11 AM
Thanks, Old Hack. And no, I don't have an agent. Muddling my way through all of this on my own and learning lots in the process.

CAWriter
08-14-2013, 05:23 AM
I'm finding the notion of rights a little confusing, so I thought I'd ask a question regarding contracts. In my contract, the publisher is asking for movie, film, and tv rights as well commercial/merchandising rights. Is this standard in publishing contracts? I was just reading an article online, and the individual who wrote it was adamant that authors should not grant the publisher these subsidiary rights. Any thoughts?

If someone can shed some light on this, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks.

It's not uncommon for those rights to be requested in a boilerplate contract. But it's often easy to get those stricken from the final contract. Those clauses were in my most recent contract, but my publisher is a publisher, not a subsidiary of a big conglomeration that includes film making or merchandising. They publish books, and unless the product actually accompanies the book, they don't create book-related products (and even those that may accompany the book are very limited and specific). For example, if my book was The Elf on the Shelf, they'd probably merchandise the elf doll and package them together, but if I wrote Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures they wouldn't be creating a line of rubber reptiles or producing a film. The publisher let us keep those rights and any others that they wouldn't actually put to use. We let them keep foreign publishing rights because they already do a good job with that and it keeps us from having to seek out other foreign rights agents.

My suggestion would be to sign over the rights your publisher can actually optimize. If something is outside their wheelhouse, reserve that right for yourself.

Hermian
08-14-2013, 06:04 PM
Thank you for your response, CAWriter--very helpful. I did a bit of digging around online to learn about subsidiary rights. The more I read about film/tv/dramatic rights, the more I want to retain them. Not that I'm expecting my novel to be turned into a film, but if - by some strange stroke of luck - it were to ever happen, I'd like to be able to exercise a measure of control over who does what to my work.

The issue I'm facing at the moment is that I'm a little shy, and I feel awkward negotiating these things, but I'm doing it... I guess the publisher will either tell me to go pound sand or strike the relevant sections out of the contract.

:)

Terie
08-14-2013, 06:12 PM
Thank you for your response, CAWriter--very helpful. I did a bit of digging around online to learn about subsidiary rights. The more I read about film/tv/dramatic rights, the more I want to retain them. Not that I'm expecting my novel to be turned into a film, but if - by some strange stroke of luck - it were to ever happen, I'd like to be able to exercise a measure of control over who does what to my work.

The issue I'm facing at the moment is that I'm a little shy, and I feel awkward negotiating these things, but I'm doing it... I guess the publisher will either tell me to go pound sand or strike the relevant sections out of the contract.

:)

Do you know enough about how to negotiate those rights to ensure that you make a good deal? Do you know all the contract terminology for film/etc contracts? Do you know what the standard terms are? Can you tell a good contract from a mediocre contract from a bad contract? If you're shy, do you think you could handle dealing with the sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers?

The issue isn't control; the issue is making sure you get the best deal possible for all parties involved. Retaining rights that you don't have any idea how to exploit isn't always in your best interests.

Hermian
08-14-2013, 08:20 PM
Do you know enough about how to negotiate those rights to ensure that you make a good deal? Do you know all the contract terminology for film/etc contracts? Do you know what the standard terms are? Can you tell a good contract from a mediocre contract from a bad contract? If you're shy, do you think you could handle dealing with the sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers?

The issue isn't control; the issue is making sure you get the best deal possible for all parties involved. Retaining rights that you don't have any idea how to exploit isn't always in your best interests.

The correct answer to your questions is probably "no." Specifically, no I don't have any idea how to negotiate with sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers. What I do know, however, is that I would rather sit on film/tv rights and search for an individual who will be able to organize such things for me more effectively than a publisher with minimal experience in the matter. And the issue for me is control. Because if this novel is ever made into a flick, I want to be able to pick who does it.

What I also know is that I may be shy, but I'm not an idiot.

CAWriter
08-14-2013, 09:03 PM
Do you know enough about how to negotiate those rights to ensure that you make a good deal? Do you know all the contract terminology for film/etc contracts? Do you know what the standard terms are? Can you tell a good contract from a mediocre contract from a bad contract? If you're shy, do you think you could handle dealing with the sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers?

The issue isn't control; the issue is making sure you get the best deal possible for all parties involved. Retaining rights that you don't have any idea how to exploit isn't always in your best interests.

In many cases, this is the reason not to let the rights reside with the publisher. Frequently, they don't know how to exploit film/TV rights either. At least if the writer retains them, they have the opportunity to join forces with someone who does/will.

Hermian
08-15-2013, 02:29 AM
Thanks for all the helpful replies. Things are much clearer now.

gingerwoman
08-15-2013, 02:52 AM
I know of a number of books, where the rights were bought to make the book into a movie, but the movie was never made, including some books I LOVED. :-( I gather it happens all the time. Maybe that is why her agent was so uninterested? Still the story the OP tells does not sound good.

Terie
08-15-2013, 10:44 AM
The correct answer to your questions is probably "no." Specifically, no I don't have any idea how to negotiate with sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers. What I do know, however, is that I would rather sit on film/tv rights and search for an individual who will be able to organize such things for me more effectively than a publisher with minimal experience in the matter. And the issue for me is control. Because if this novel is ever made into a flick, I want to be able to pick who does it.

What I also know is that I may be shy, but I'm not an idiot.

I didn't say you're an idiot. However, if you think it's even possible to negotiate film rights where the author of the book has the control you want, that shows how little you actually know about how it all works.

Consider George R.R. Martin. He has very little control over the Game of Thrones TV series, despite the fact that he not only is a bestselling author but also has experience writing Hollywood TV scripts (for example, Beauty and the Beast).

How much control do you think Stephen King has over films made from his books? JK Rowling? Dan Brown? Stephenie Meyer?

The answer is: Almost none. You aren't going to do any better for yourself. Demanding the kind of control you want would mean you wouldn't successfully negotiate an option at all.

As GingerWoman said, a LOT of books are optioned and never made into films. That's the way it goes in Hollywood. Someone thinks the book or short story would make a good film, so they option the rights, typically for one year or two at most, often for a low as $1,000.

I know many authors who have sold film options this way, and nothing ever happened with most of them. I've heard of authors whose books were repeatedly optioned for many consecutive years without ever being made into films. A couple thousand bucks in your bank account every year for doing nothing might not be as grand as getting to see your story on the screen, but it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Micropresses asking for these rights is kind of silly, since they don't know what to do. But the Big 5 and lots of the independent presses actually do know how to handle film options because they do it all the time. So whether you go ahead and sign the rights over to a publisher should have more to do with the publisher's track record of successfully signing options and less to do with a level of author control that you are, quite simply, never going to successfully negotiate.

Hermian
08-15-2013, 06:14 PM
Terie, you keep bringing up Hollywood as if it's the Holy Grail of the movie making industry. With the exception of a handful of creative individuals, I have close to zero interest in Hollywood. If Hollywood = cookie cutter script + ridiculous amounts of rubbish merchandizing to maximize profits, I'd rather give my twee novel to an independent film maker whose primary interest isn't simply profits but doing something different from the norm. Perhaps I'm a freak of nature--that's the way I'm wired.

Second, I understand that many books get optioned but never make it into production. It really is no big deal if mine remains in print form. By the way, thank you kindly, Gingerwoman, for your reply. : )

Third, Terie, you might want to look a little more into the kind of creative control that Rowling and Meyer have had with their works. For example, Rowling was quite perceptive to insist on British actors. After all, there is an element of wonderful about Brits--it must have something to do with a love of afternoon tea and then there's Monty Python... Having said this, there are many film and television makers/producers in the U S. who do a wonderful job, and they're not always Hollywood types.


Demanding the kind of control you want would mean you wouldn't successfully negotiate an option at all.

I think I'm being reasonable to want to have a say in the company that takes what I've put on paper and translates it to a screen. And if my wish means that the creative control I want will never manifest itself or I'll never successfully negotiate an option (because I know so "little" about "how it all works," right?), then so be it. Life is full of other avenues from which I am sure to derive happiness and contentment. The fact that my novel will be in print is more than a gift.

Lastly, might I offer you some advice, friend? Sprinkling a little kindness onto your words goes a long way when authors are asking for guidance.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. You have, indeed, been the utmost help. Have a wonderful day.

Cyia
08-15-2013, 06:35 PM
Film contracts are 50-60 pages of EXTREMELY specific legal jargon. There's a reason that even agents have attorneys to negotiate and finalize these deals. (And the difference between the opening offer and the final purchase offer can be wide enough to more than pay for the agent's commission.)

All of that jargon has to be dissected and interpreted, and then made as narrow as both sides will allow, but all of this is after you get the offer in the first place.

Normally, 1 of 2 things will happen.

1 - You'll get a studio who sees a huge, trendy book coming down the pipeline, and they'll want to make an offer straight off to make sure they have the rights if the book turns into a hit and looks like it might make a franchise. They'll option it, but the notion of picking the "who" isn't even in the room, much less on the table, because it's not in production, yet. If they decide to make the film, they'll go to the producers, directors and writers they work with and see who's interested.

2 - A production company will want the rights, at which point they'll take it to their home studio to see if the studio will back their interest. If yes, then an offer is made and the studio doesn't have to hunt up a few of the people involved because they're already attached. If the studio says no, then the prod. co. can either drop their interest, or take it to other studios in town to see if anyone's interested.

The script will usually come after this. The writer might be asked to write it; s/he might not. Each established name that can be added to the roster, the better chance of the movie clawing its way out of development, into production, and onto the screen.

Also:

If a big name actor has read said book or script and loves it and thinks s/he wants to play a particular part, even if it means fudging the age or attributes a bit, then they'll be in the running for that part - THE MOVIE IS NOT THE NOVEL. If said actor has the clout, they can either produce the film themselves, or can request specific directors or writers.

Hollywood is a completely different medium, and moving from page to motion is a translation scenario like any other. You have to trust the translator and not question every choice they make.

Once you sell the rights, they no longer belong to you. You wouldn't sell a car and then demand to ride shotgun to critique the new owner, and you wouldn't sell a painting in a gallery and then refuse to let the buyer hang it on the wall they chose in their own home.

Old Hack
08-15-2013, 09:37 PM
The correct answer to your questions is probably "no." Specifically, no I don't have any idea how to negotiate with sharks that are Hollywood deal-makers. What I do know, however, is that I would rather sit on film/tv rights and search for an individual who will be able to organize such things for me more effectively than a publisher with minimal experience in the matter. And the issue for me is control. Because if this novel is ever made into a flick, I want to be able to pick who does it.

What I also know is that I may be shy, but I'm not an idiot.


Terie, you keep bringing up Hollywood as if it's the Holy Grail of the movie making industry. With the exception of a handful of creative individuals, I have close to zero interest in Hollywood. If Hollywood = cookie cutter script + ridiculous amounts of rubbish merchandizing to maximize profits, I'd rather give my twee novel to an independent film maker whose primary interest isn't simply profits but doing something different from the norm. Perhaps I'm a freak of nature--that's the way I'm wired.

Second, I understand that many books get optioned but never make it into production. It really is no big deal if mine remains in print form. By the way, thank you kindly, Gingerwoman, for your reply. : )

Third, Terie, you might want to look a little more into the kind of creative control that Rowling and Meyer have had with their works. For example, Rowling was quite perceptive to insist on British actors. After all, there is an element of wonderful about Brits--it must have something to do with a love of afternoon tea and then there's Monty Python... Having said this, there are many film and television makers/producers in the U S. who do a wonderful job, and they're not always Hollywood types.



I think I'm being reasonable to want to have a say in the company that takes what I've put on paper and translates it to a screen. And if my wish means that the creative control I want will never manifest itself or I'll never successfully negotiate an option (because I know so "little" about "how it all works," right?), then so be it. Life is full of other avenues from which I am sure to derive happiness and contentment. The fact that my novel will be in print is more than a gift.

Lastly, might I offer you some advice, friend? Sprinkling a little kindness onto your words goes a long way when authors are asking for guidance.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. You have, indeed, been the utmost help. Have a wonderful day.

Hermian.

I can tell by your post-count that you've not involved yourself much in the conversations which go on here, even though you've been a member of AW for a while. You don't seem to understand how things work.

We have a rule. Just one. It goes like this: respect your fellow writer. You're coming perilously close to breaking that rule in your response to Terie, and I won't have that. Terie has given freely of her time to give you some very good advice, and deserves a more appreciative response.

I suggest you go and read the Newbie Guide, to refresh your memory about the One Rule; and if in future you find any posts objectionable, instead of reacting to it as you have here, use the Report Post button, which looks like an exclamation mark in a red triangle.

Now you have a wonderful day, ok?

Donna Pudick
08-16-2013, 12:21 AM
It's important that a "full service agency" be licensed to handle any film deals that come along. Otherwise, they have to co-agent with one that does (less money for the author). Some of these licensed agents won't handle a book to film deal, unless they repped the book. It should be stated clearly in your agreement with the agent as to who handles what. Many publishers want film rights to the book, with the usual 90 percent to author and 10 percent to publisher. Before signing a contract with a publisher, you should ask them how or if they negotiate with a film maker if such a thing should occur. It's your book. Ask questions. Good guys give straight answers and put them in writing. Any evasions, walk away.

Hermian
08-16-2013, 04:22 AM
Old Hack, please show me where it is that I came perilously close to disrespecting Terie? She and I are adults. We can surely disagree with each other and clear up our misunderstandings and/or miscommunications in a public space without someone stepping in to rap one of us over the knuckles, I would hope.

My response to her explains my views on film companies, especially Hollywood; what I understand as creative control; and the fact that I'm okay with not getting an option negotiated because of my wants. And I completely agree with her observation that I know "little" "about how it all works."

Why in the world would I find her post objectionable or report her, for that matter? In fact, I'm more than grateful that she has taken the time to respond to me and explain things clearly. I do believe that I stated my thanks at the end of my post. Asking someone to sprinkle their words with a little more kindness does not equate to disrespect. What it means is that sometimes words can come across as HARSH when they are not framed with other things, or words can be misinterpreted because of cultural differences. I've been guilty of the same on many occasions. And if you think it's wrong for me to speak my mind instead of reporting her for no good reason, well then...

Also, my low post count has nothing to do with not understanding what goes on in this forum. My low post count relates to me preferring to read and learn from those who know about the industry over posting a bunch of questions to others.

Now, as for respect, would you say your post to me is respectful? Could you have chosen to react and respond differently? You don't have to answer... just think about it.

Have a good day, Old Hack. I mean it.

*** Once again, many thanks to those of you who have provided me with insights into the issue of film/tv rights. I'm left with a lot of useful information and am in a better place of understanding because of your willingness to spare some time to help me.

Old Hack
08-16-2013, 11:14 AM
Old Hack, please show me where it is that I came perilously close to disrespecting Terie? She and I are adults. We can surely disagree with each other and clear up our misunderstandings and/or miscommunications in a public space without someone stepping in to rap one of us over the knuckles, I would hope.

My response to her explains my views on film companies, especially Hollywood; what I understand as creative control; and the fact that I'm okay with not getting an option negotiated because of my wants. And I completely agree with her observation that I know "little" "about how it all works."

Why in the world would I find her post objectionable or report her, for that matter? In fact, I'm more than grateful that she has taken the time to respond to me and explain things clearly. I do believe that I stated my thanks at the end of my post. Asking someone to sprinkle their words with a little more kindness does not equate to disrespect. What it means is that sometimes words can come across as HARSH when they are not framed with other things, or words can be misinterpreted because of cultural differences. I've been guilty of the same on many occasions. And if you think it's wrong for me to speak my mind instead of reporting her for no good reason, well then...

Also, my low post count has nothing to do with not understanding what goes on in this forum. My low post count relates to me preferring to read and learn from those who know about the industry over posting a bunch of questions to others.

Now, as for respect, would you say your post to me is respectful? Could you have chosen to react and respond differently? You don't have to answer... just think about it.

Have a good day, Old Hack. I mean it.

*** Once again, many thanks to those of you who have provided me with insights into the issue of film/tv rights. I'm left with a lot of useful information and am in a better place of understanding because of your willingness to spare some time to help me.

Hermian, if you want to know where you came close to crossing that line, read your posts again.

Next time you decide to disagree with, object to, or question a mod's actions, take it to PM.

And cut the patronising tone and the disingenuous rhetoric. Neither will serve you well here.

Aggy B.
08-16-2013, 08:55 PM
Whether in Hollywood or elsewhere, the only way a writer can exercise any measure of control over the production of a film is to produce it themselves.

And that usually means you're paying everyone else.

If you want to be paid for the property rights, then you surrender the "interpretation" of the property to those who are actually writing the screenplay, casting the talent, directing the movie.

Aggy, sold a 3 page screenplay for $5 in college, did not retain creative control

Donna Pudick
08-17-2013, 03:44 AM
Always remember, and never forget M*A*S*H. Be careful what you sign away.

J.Reid
08-25-2013, 12:51 AM
Hermian, it's standard for publishers to put it in the initial contract. It's also standard for you the author to say no. You reply "please strike --clause/phrase" as these rights are not available.

License only the rights the publisher will exploit themselves (plus Braille and large print)