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screenplay I know, but I did it anyway.

Hello,

I have, over the years, read and re-read a particular writer, have done academic work on him, and have, I believe, some non trivial knowledge, understanding, and maybe even insight, into his work.

And so, several years ago, wanting to write something, I started a screenplay, an adaptation of one of his novels. I did it mainly for practice, to work out the format, and just to see what I might come up with. I had no real goal beyond this. I didn't imagine it as a serious project, as something to be sold. But I did imagine that, given enough time, going over and over it until each bit felt correct, it, eventually, would be perfect, in which case it might sell itself. :)

Anyway, the thing is done. It's not perfect, but it might be good. I don't know. I do know that the writing is not bad, and that it has some substance.

I've thought about trying to contact the owner of the intellectual property, the writer's daughter and CEO of the production company dedicated to adaptations of his work, to ask if she would want to read it. I draft letters, trying to show my serious engagement with her father's work, trying to show that I understand that an unsolicited, unsanctioned, adaptation of someone else's intellectual property is a bad idea (but that I have seem to have done it anyway), and trying give some assurance that I believe that the chances of someone simply stealing the script are the same as the chances of my claiming that this has happened. But I'm afraid I sound like some kind of nut. (I'm afraid I am some kind of nut, but, you know, what can you do?)

Anyway, this is my problem. The thing exists, sitting inside my ipad, and I don't know what to do with it. If it's hopeless it's hopeless, but I feel as if I should at least try to let it out.

I genuinely appreciate anyone taking the time to read this, and would really appreciate any thoughts or ideas. Thank you all so much.

Spike
 
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but not only was it a bad idea? You can easily get sued for doing this IF the script does get out. Doing what you did TECHNICALLY VIOLATES tort law in the United States. Without legal permission to adapt and write the screenplay? You risk a LOT by trying to market it.

Having said that... Why not TRY to purchase the RIGHTS to adapt the book? You never know until you try to do this. I've seen bestsellers' rights sold for only a dollar. How can you buy it for a dollar? Not saying you can but anything is possible. Buying it for a sum you can actually afford is the TRICK and that is ALL going to come down to how well YOU come across whether you call or write.

In other words... It'll be no different than trying to get a job from having an interview... You'll have to SELL YOURSELF to whomever holds the rights.

If it were me and I really wanted this? Based on what you've written here? I'd go after the daughter.

Good luck!
 
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but not only was it a bad idea? You can easily get sued for doing this IF the script does get out. Doing what you did TECHNICALLY VIOLATES tort law in the United States. Without legal permission to adapt and write the screenplay? You risk a LOT by trying to market it.

Having said that... Why not TRY to purchase the RIGHTS to adapt the book? You never know until you try to do this. I've seen bestsellers' rights sold for only a dollar. How can you buy it for a dollar? Not saying you can but anything is possible. Buying it for a sum you can actually afford is the TRICK and that is ALL going to come down to how well YOU come across whether you call or write.

In other words... It'll be no different than trying to get a job from having an interview... You'll have to SELL YOURSELF to whomever holds the rights.

If it were me and I really wanted this? Based on what you've written here? I'd go after the daughter.

Good luck!
And OBVIOUSLY? If you were to talk to the daughter? You keep the fact that you already adapted and wrote the screenplay to YOURSELF.

I forgot to mention this too...

I've seen holders of rights sell the rights to adapt and write the script for a dollar but then wanted to see the script after it was completed. Then if they didn't like it? The rights immediately run out based on whether the script is acceptable to them or not.

All of this is negotiable. But since you already have the script written? Don't let THAT cat out of the bag -- assuming you can purchase the rights to adapt the book -- until it's time to show them the script. Many authors and holders of the rights to a book will make deals like this because if the script is good then it then becomes PROOF OF CONCEPT that the book can be a movie.

It'll all come down to how well YOU come across.
 
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Dear Mr. or Ms. Unknown,

It would never have occurred to me that I might be able to purchase, for a nominal fee, the right to simply write, and then to simply have it read. This solution cuts through so much; it's fantastic. And your advice on how to do this is so level headed and helpful. Thank you!

Oh in addition:

I'm so glad I didn't just YOLO post or send a bit of the script somewhere or to someone. I see that this would have been a serious mistake. I see that even the appearance that I am trying to market something I don't own would be dangerous.
 
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And my real motivation, I think, is this.

When I said I thought it, the script, might be good, what I meant was: I think it might be good--through hundreds of readings, fixing this and that, through trial and error, through luck, through whatever. It might also be, as the kids say, meh. Oddly, I don't much care. I'm not a kid, not fragile (mostly because I think I may already be broken, lol). I would just like to know. Anyway.

Thanks again,
Spike
 
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I've seen holders of rights sell the rights to adapt and write the script for a dollar but then wanted to see the script after it was completed. Then if they didn't like it? The rights immediately run out based on whether the script is acceptable to them or not.

Question......What if the holders of the rights do like the script when it's completed.....do they (rights holder and script author) then renegotiate a purchase price of the rights...or is the price negotiated and agreed upon before the script is authorized to be written?....Anyone have experience with this?
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
When I was just starting I did the same thing; I wrote a screenplay based on a little
known Gold Medal paperback from the 1950's. It was great practice. Over the years
I tried to track down the writer. Then he died so I tried tracking down who owned the
rights. Even my agent couldn't find out - 'though I suspect she didn't try very hard.

But I'm glad I did it. And I'm glad I have script.
Question......What if the holders of the rights do like the script when it's completed.....do they (rights holder and script author) then renegotiate a purchase price of the rights...or is the price negotiated and agreed upon before the script is authorized to be written?....Anyone have experience with this?
That is generally what would happen. That "sell the right for a dollar" is just an option.
The rights owner can then revoke all rights or set a price once the script is finished or
if a prodCo becomes interested.

There are many different ways a deal like this could go.
 
Question......What if the holders of the rights do like the script when it's completed.....do they (rights holder and script author) then renegotiate a purchase price of the rights...or is the price negotiated and agreed upon before the script is authorized to be written?....Anyone have experience with this?
Seriously... IT'S ALL NEGOTIABLE. Which is WHY one should have SEVERAL scenarios that they're willing to offer IF they REALLY want the rights.
 
I bought the rights to a Harry Harrison novel for 5 grand, if it's something you're serious about, it might not be as far out of reach as you might imagine. I think all the advice above is good.
 
Unfortunately, it did not end up that way, but it was a complicated situation, and the license itself did not end up factoring in to how it played out. We had several large contracts pending at the time, and it was a perfect storm situation where random events hit multiple groups in a short timeframe, and ultimately resulted in the development team being dissolved before the license could be utilized.

I won't get into the long version, but think along the lines of "We'll pay your team 250k to do the media for this convention, oh wait, the convention is cancelled because we screwed up the paperwork, sorry, if it's not too much of an inconvenience, can you fire your entire team while we pay the guy who screwed everything up a huge corporate bonus"
 
resulted in the development team being dissolved before the license could be utilized.

Sorry your purchase didn't work out and I respect your right not to get into details, but could you explain the above quote?

"before the license could be utilized'? Are you using the word "license" as referring to the rights to the novel you purchased...or something else?

Did you have a time limit to complete a script on the novel? and was it this time limit that you meant by "before the license could be utilized?.....I may have misunderstood your wording but IT guest readers and your followers may be as curious as I am.....Thanks!
 
Sorry your purchase didn't work out and I respect your right not to get into details, but could you explain the above quote?

"before the license could be utilized'? Are you using the word "license" as referring to the rights to the novel you purchased...or something else?

Did you have a time limit to complete a script on the novel? and was it this time limit that you meant by "before the license could be utilized?.....I may have misunderstood your wording but IT guest readers and your followers may be as curious as I am.....Thanks!
Rights are basically leased for periods of time, in this case I purchased the exclusive rights to the franchise for 1 year, with first rights to renewal upon expiration. If we had been able to complete the film, the work we did on it would have become heavily intertwined with the source copyright, increasing the difficulty for anyone else to build upon the original fiction. So you can buy rights for a period, make a product derived from those rights, and then copyright the derivative work which then in many instances locks the IP for your future exclusive use. So let's say the Batman license get's bought by one of these crypto kids with 8 billion dollars and zero experience. They still can't make a Batman movie, because WB will sue them every time they show batman in a shiny suit, or driving a car with 4 wheels. It may be that you could prove that these elements were in the original comics, and are not the exclusive property of WB, but to do that you would have to win a war of attrition with a financially entrenched company. They could tie you up in court until your resources ran out with one challenge after another that required expensive and time consuming arbitration, and eventually bankrupt you. This is the reason we licensed a property that hadn't been previously utilized.
 
Maybe I explained poorly. If, while I had the rights leased, I had completed the film, I can copyright that film. I would still have to lease the rights for any year I published a film from that IP. After first leasing the creative rights, I would have the first option for renewal each succeeding year, and could basically pay subscription for the IP if needed. However, even if I didn't it would be financially dangerous for another company to pick up the IP, since I could make copyright claims if anything in their film was similar to anything in my film. So if it was based on the same book for example, it would typically be tricky for them to make a film from that didn't have some kind of actionable overlap. This is why you never really see this happen. Public domain properties are a different story.
 
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