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screenplay Question about options

A producer is interested in my TV Pilot. He said he will have a line producer come up with a budget and give me 4% of the budget as an option on the script.

This would be my first sale, so I am not sure if this is a good deal. Is this standard? Is there a book or website someone could recommend concerning options/contracts, etc
It might be a good deal. It might not. A more important question will be the portion of the option price that you get paid up front. Let's say the budget for the pilot is $1M. That means you will get paid $40,000 IF the pilot gets made (and depending on his conditions, possibly picked up). An option allows the Producer to pay you a nominal fee up front -- which could be as little as a $1 -- then you get paid the full option price when certain conditions are met: like the series based on the pilot gets ordered. So, the first thing you need to understand is that you will not get the 4% just by signing the option. You will get some small piece of that.

For reference, I looked up the WGA Median for a 1-hour pilot and it's $175K. I'm guessing you are not a WGA writer, so that may not mean anything, but it is a reference point.

Other points you will have to consider in the option are the length of time of the option (maybe 1 to 2 years) and if the Producer has the right to extend it -- usually with another small payment to you.

Bottom line, when that option agreement arrives, you need to have an attorney review it. You need an attorney with lots of experience in motion picture and tv production. That's the person that will let you know if you are getting a good deal.
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IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
You need professional representation. How about "Created by" credits and royalties? They may be rejected but that's part of negotiating and you need representation so you get the best deal for you.
Late to the party...

ANYTHING CAN BE NEGOTIATED when it comes to an option. Be careful of any option that cuts you completely OUT of the deal if whomever's optioning it manages to sell it. If you are the creator and wrote the pilot? You may want to consider turning out a treatment of episodes of where the series or limited series (you didn't say what it might be) overall story is headed.

If you're cut out completely once the pilot actually sells? That means no working on the series for you. Of course, if that's okay with you? No problem.