Decisions, decisions

I finally got the contract for the Bollywood script.

But now I’m not so sure.

See, when I first applied, I said I’d be happy with a ‘Written By’ credit.  And that’s what I’m being offered.  No pay.  No points.  No percentage of the gross.  Some words on a screen.

Have I truly screwed myself over?  Seems like it.

Just about everybody I’ve spoken with says things like ‘if you’re not getting paid, then you’re a producer,’ and ‘sounds like another scam preying on unsuspecting, naive, willing writers’.  I’m inclined to think both are accurate.

Granted, the person did say this was a low-budget film.  AND they appear to be based out of Martinez; not exactly a filmmaking hub.

There’s also this ‘stipulation’ that the story HAS to be 2 hours/120 pages long.  What if it doesn’t work out that way?  Do I get penalized for bringing it in at 104?  I’m under the impression a standard Bollywood-type film is 2 hours long.  Does it have to be?  Exactly?

Another red flag was the condition that apparently discussing the film with ANYBODY outside of the production (or at least this person) could bring down a $10,000 fine on yours truly.  Is this standard H’wood practice?

I haven’t signed anything.  Part of me says ‘walk away’.  Another part says ‘work on your negotiating skills’.  A very small part says ‘sign it and crank it out in 3 weeks.  What’s the worst that could happen?’  I’m not listening to that last one.

I’m considering sending the person a list of questions, like “Who’s funding this?” , “Is there a guarantee it’ll get made?”, “What happens if you don’t like it?  Do I have to do rewrites?”

I may have to send the contract to a former entertainment attorney I know and see what he says.  That would be helpful.

Almost forgot.  The story itself.

I won’t get into details here, but the contract had the story in one paragraph.  Overall, it was okay.  Nothing spectacular, but HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO GET A 2-HOUR MOVIE OUT OF ONE DINKY PARAGRAPH???

I wrote back, saying that wasn’t enough to go on.  The response was “I’m working on a 10-page treatment and will get it to you as soon as I can.”  Shouldn’t that have been there in the first place?  Or at least sent beforehand?

From the very beginning, I said I needed to see as much of the story as possible to get an idea of how to put it together.  And this is what I get?  Give me a break.

I’m sure this is probably par for the course in terms of how it works in the big time, but if you’re trying to put together a movie yourself, I would imagine you don’t want to piss off the writer.

I think my biggest decision is if I think going through all of this is worth it.  On one hand, there’s my chance to show I can write a script quickly.  It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be done.

There’s the chance this thing may actually get made, although I still have doubts.  What if it never gets made?  Also a sad reality of the industry.

But what if it does?  In what way would this impact me getting into the Writers Guild?  I think it has to be a studio film for automatic admission, so maybe this would be worth points towards reaching that.  I’ll have to research that.

Having an actual film credit would also make me stand out more when applying for other gigs, especially regarding query letters and trying to get representation.  That would be awesome.

I’m not even going to get into the issue of having somebody else rewrite it.  The less said, the better.

I think for now I’ll wait, not signing anything and seeing what happens.

While all the while, I’ll be working on my own stuff.  Which is really how it should be.

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