GETTING NOTES & What To Do With Them, Part Two
by Frederick Bailey IAFT/L.A.
I personally don’t mind changing a script if it makes it better. Or at least if it’s as good as it was before. Where I draw the line is: Don’t make it worse.
That’s pretty simple.
A lot of people don’t see the script the same way you do. They’re not on the same page. If it’s the producer who owns the script telling you to make changes, you have to do it.
But if you still own your script, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
In recent years, the movie business in L.A. has been subjected to widespread change in its financial underpinnings. The result for many writers has been fewer assignments.
So a lot of them have entered more into the world of speculative script work.
What that means is writing a script and trying to sell it, usually through an agent, but also through various professional contacts.
Let’s say it’s my story. People read it, and they say, “I can get this project going, but we need to improve the script.” They ask you if you can do rewrites for free, at no pay, on speculation that they’ll take the newly rewritten script and it’ll be a slam-dunk. They say they’ll sell it immediately.
Don’t believe them. It will never happen. It will never be immediate. If they sell it at all, it’ll be at least a couple of years.
If you agree to do rewrites under the direction of someone else, and if then that person never makes a sale, but if you later make a sale through some third party, you may be open to a lawsuit from that first person, who can say he was instrumental in the sale because he helped you rewrite your script.
The point is, get an agreement down in writing before you do anything to your script under someone else’s instruction. You should stipulate that you’re still the sole owner after the rewrites.
It doesn’t have to be in elaborate legalese—just a simple one- or two-paragraph statement of understanding, signed by all parties involved.
Tune in next week for Part Three.