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View Full Version : Question for agents about book to movie rights



popgun62
02-10-2016, 09:18 PM
I was hoping one of the agents on here could answer something for me. The CEO of my agency and the VP of Filmed Entertainment are in LA this week pitching my book (a supernatural sci-fi thriller) to movie agents and producers. Yes, I am very excited, but I have no idea how this process works. I assume they will pitch my book along with several others. They will also be told that I have written a screenplay as well as several sequels to said book. The book in question was published by a small publishing house and although it sold modestly, it is my best-selling book to date. What I'd like to know is: what are my chances of getting optioned, or of getting my screenplay optioned? Also, how does the process work? Do they sit in a room with a bunch of agents and producers or do they travel from one appointment to another? Thanks for any info.

cornflake
02-10-2016, 09:21 PM
The chances of getting an option vary widely, as does most everything you're asking, based on tons of factors we can't possibly know, like who they're pitching to, what those people are already working with, etc.

The chances of your screenplay making it are invariably worse.

In a general sense, the chances of an option turning into an actual film are very, very low. It happens, but if you get money, be happy with it and don't assume it's going anyplace else.

Old Hack
02-10-2016, 09:44 PM
This is something you really should ask your agent. He will know far more than we can.

popgun62
02-10-2016, 11:21 PM
No problem. Thanks!

Treehouseman
02-12-2016, 01:29 PM
As my friend says: get an option, buy a pair of shoes!

Brian G Turner
02-12-2016, 02:33 PM
Even when a book is successful enough to attract movie rights, optioning is a routine matter for production companies and does not translate into any guarantee of a TV or movie production. I think it's something like only 0.5% of options are ever exercised into full productions.

Additionally, assigning those rights means giving them up to a legal process that can quickly become convoluted and hugely complicated. Look to the debacle over Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" - the biggest selling modern fantasy novel, that is unlikely to ever see production any time soon because of the way the rights have become tangled up.

Also note that it's common for penniless directors to seek options, even if all they can offer is promises and assurances and will never be capable of putting a budget together. Never ever sign away any rights unless there's a clear and immediate financial compensation.

2c.

popgun62
02-12-2016, 07:06 PM
I guess what I'm asking is what goes on when agents actually fly to Hollywood and meet with film agents and producers. Just trying to get a "behind closed doors" look.

Bergerac
02-12-2016, 07:27 PM
I was hoping one of the agents on here could answer something for me. The CEO of my agency and the VP of Filmed Entertainment are in LA this week pitching my book (a supernatural sci-fi thriller) to movie agents and producers. Yes, I am very excited, but I have no idea how this process works. I assume they will pitch my book along with several others. They will also be told that I have written a screenplay as well as several sequels to said book. The book in question was published by a small publishing house and although it sold modestly, it is my best-selling book to date. What I'd like to know is: what are my chances of getting optioned, or of getting my screenplay optioned? Also, how does the process work? Do they sit in a room with a bunch of agents and producers or do they travel from one appointment to another? Thanks for any info.

I'm both a writer AND a producer so though what most of the posters have told you applies I can give you a little specific insight.

Trident knows what they're doing -- they're one of the best literary agencies in pushing movie rights. They're respected by the "biz", especially Scott.

Trust them and the process (it's as slow as publishing).

Since your book isn't a bestseller but (what looks like) a cool independent project, the option probably won't be substantial BUT you have a better chance of getting a low-budget movie made than, say, a bigger budget period biopic from a NY Times bestseller list.

In terms of getting your own screenplay adaptation sold -- close to zero percent, and I wouldn't push that as part of the deal.

As part of a producing group, we like to choose our own writers and the direction for an adaption of an IP and the last thing we want is the original author trying to tell us what to do, yammering on about their "vision". We buy it, you're out... unless you're someone with the status and cache of, say, J.K. Rowling or an exception to the rule, like Emma Donoghue (hooray!). However, that doesn't mean the producing entity won't do an amazing job, and one you'd be proud of.

The problem is that too many novelists think that writing a screenplay is easy, when it's not -- it's a very difficult craft that takes years to get good at. Someone with profound natural talent could write a saleable novel tomorrow; someone with profound natural talent probably couldn't write a decent screenplay until they've written ten or more. Writing screenplays is more like learning to be a plumber -- apprenticeship beats out inspiration any day of the week.

I'm a very-good-selling novelist (and true crime writer) who began life writing television and features (before I became a producer), and was even nominated for the highest awards... but nobody who options my novels is interested in me adapting my own work. It just doesn't happen that often. I wouldn't hire me to adapt my own work since I (the artist) have a "vision" of how it should be which contrasts with how I (the producer) want things done.

But, truly, good luck. You've got a good team behind you.

Bergerac
02-12-2016, 07:32 PM
I guess what I'm asking is what goes on when agents actually fly to Hollywood and meet with film agents and producers. Just trying to get a "behind closed doors" look.

There are no closed doors. They go to lunch a lot at a bunch of great places. Sometimes they stop by the offices to look at the view before they go to lunch. Sometimes they go to dinner too. Sometimes there's tickets involved, to a sporting event, underground supper club, concert, or small theater. It's all about getting acquainted or reacquainted, talking, name-dropping, laughing and listening. And reading the pitches before the next round, usually at night in the hotel room.

popgun62
02-12-2016, 11:17 PM
Thank you, Bergerac, I appreciate the insight. I'd just like to add that when I wrote the screenplay, I did away with a few characters and changed some plot points to streamline the story and keep it under 110 pages. I think it flows much better than the book. But I understand your reasoning.